Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

December 23, 2009

Avatar; Star Trek

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 4:29 pm

“Avatar” is a visually spectacular entertainment with a broadly anti-imperialist message. Who could ask for more, especially when most Hollywood blockbusters are such sorry messes nowadays? When my colleagues in NYFCO named it best picture of the year, I wrote: “Apparently this is some kind of anti-imperialist parable. I wonder what would have made James Cameron develop such a movie–leaving aside the question whether he has the ability to hit the target. More later.” Well, later is now.

With a plot that owes much to “Dances with Wolves” and the far superior “Emerald Forest”, this is a movie that champions the cause of indigenous peoples on a distant planet called Pandora in the distant future. Despite being in the distant future, not much has changed in terms of how imperialism deals with indigenous peoples. A multinational (multiplanetary, actually) mining company is running amok on Pandora, digging up an ore called Unobtainium. As it turns out, that term has a hoary past that long predated James Cameron’s movie as the wiki article indicates.

Engineers have long (since at least the 1950s) used the term unobtainium when referring to unusual or costly materials, or when theoretically considering a material perfect for their needs in all respects save that it doesn’t exist. By the 1990s, the term was widely used, including in formal engineering papers such as Towards unobtainium [new composite materials for space applications].

The word unobtainium may well have been coined within the aerospace industry to refer to materials capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures expected in reentry. Aerospace engineers are frequently tempted to design aircraft which require parts with strength or resilience beyond that of currently available materials.

Since the planet is inhabited by 9 feet tall blue people called the Na’vi armed with bows and arrows who don’t exactly appreciate their territory being despoiled by profiteers, the mining corporation has recruited a Blackwater type military force to defend their interests.

One of the ex-servicemen who have just been rocketed into Pandora is the star of the movie, a former Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who like so many returning from Iraq or Afghanistan in recent years has lost the use of his legs in combat. His disability does not prevent him from being used in an “Avatar”, a Na’vi body derived from their genes that can host Sully’s mind when he is asleep in a special chamber. His first encounter inside the Avatar is a liberating experience as he not only recovers the use of his legs, but enjoys the powerful physical abilities of these gifted creatures.

Sully becomes a secret agent for the mercenaries at the urging of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the movie’s villain who repeats the kind of stale formulae about defeating the insurgents heard from Generals reporting to George W. Bush and more recently to Barack Obama. The other chief villain is the mining company’s on-site manager Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) who will remind you of the Paul Reiser character in James Cameron’s “Aliens”, another rousing entertainment. Reiser played a sleazy corporate hack who sought to bring back a monster to earth that could be used to breed living weapons of mass destruction.

Eventually, Sully falls in love with a Na’vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who has been assigned by her tribe to train him in their ways. When the mining company and the mercenaries conspire to destroy the Na’vi’s habitat in order to expropriate their wealth, Sully switches sides and becomes a guerrilla warrior fighting on behalf of native peoples and Mother Nature.

I use the words “her tribe” advisedly since there is very little attempt made to distinguish the Na’vi from the American Indians who were exterminated by the millions in order to pave the way for the growth of the modern multinational corporation. They wear loincloths, use the bow and arrow, and the men wear what appears Mohawk (Kanienkeh) haircuts. When out on a hunt with them, Sully observes a warrior giving thanks to an animal that he has just shot with an arrow. This is a behavior associated with bison hunting on the Great Plains, of course.

Since so much of the movie’s appeal was to be linked with its rainforest-like backdrop, filled with exotic flora and fauna that were figments of the movie’s artistic/technical team’s gifted imagination, it was a natural choice for filming in 3D. Put succinctly, the experience of seeing the movie in 3D is one of the more thrilling experiences I have had in a movie theater in quite some time. Credit must be given to James Cameron for using this technique, because it helps to realize his vision of an unspoiled environment under threat from corporate predators. In some ways, the opulent landscapes and the exotic creatures that populate them hearken back to Walt Disney’s Fantasia, another movie that celebrated the power of the visual imagination.

I am old enough to remember Hollywood’s last foray into 3D. When I was 10 years old or so, there was one 3D movie after another landing in our local theaters. Just as was with the case in “Avatar”, you had to wear special glasses to get the effect. A wiki article on 3D movies states that 1952-1955 were the “golden years” of 3D. Three of them I remember vividly. In “Man in the Dark”, there was a brain surgery intended to remove the main character’s “criminal instincts”. There’s nothing like the sight of a scalpel coming directly into your forehead to creep out any 10 year old. In “Fort Ti” (Ticonderoga), the Mohawk Indians—unlike the Na’vi—were bad guys. A highlight of the movie was a tomahawk coming straight at you, a gimmick used repeatedly. Finally, there was the classic “House of Wax” that made you feel like you were inside the burning museum in the garish climax.

“Avatar” is nothing like these cheap thrills. At the risk of sounding like a PR agent for James Cameron, this was a movie that never once used 3D other than in the way it was intended—or should be intended. Namely, to recreate a real world that has depth and complexity. Since the world is imaginary to begin with, the only way to describe this experience is how Marianne Moore once described poetry: “imaginary gardens with real toads”.

A brief word about David Walsh’s review of “Avatar” that appeared in today’s World Socialist website. Although I genuinely admire Walsh, I have to take exception to his review which boils down to disappointment that the movie was not more like “Burn”, for example. He complains:

That [the movie’s rousing climax] is not enough, however, to make up for the film’s fatal artistic and psychological weaknesses. A work of art makes a difference to the extent that it brings out what is not obvious, and encourages a critical attitude toward conventional thoughts and emotions.

Asking James Cameron to create a “work of art” is an unrealistic expectation. It would be like asking Stephen King to write a complex psychological study set in an urban milieu (although he has made such attempts, usually with mixed results.) Cameron is an unabashed entertainer and should be judged on that criterion alone. From this critic’s perspective, a harsher judge of Hollywood most of the time than Walsh, the movie succeeds.

Speaking of success or the lack thereof, I want to conclude with some words about “Star Trek”, the 2009 movie that attempted to provide a back story on the origin of the characters in the spirit of “Batman Begins”.

Unlike “Avatar”, this is an elaborately plotted screenplay with frequent flashbacks. Additionally, it involves the heavy use of exposition which is meant to fill in the details of a story burdened by the sort of time travel beloved by Star Trek writers. Keeping track of what phase of the time warp you are in becomes as much of a chore as reading Heidegger.

What gave Star Trek movies and the TV show so much charm in the past was their refusal to take themselves too seriously and to use their stories set in outer space in the distant future as a way to provide wry commentary on current events. As quintessential 1960s pop culture, the William Shatner/Leonard Nimoy vintage took up issues of xenophobia, class oppression, warfare, etc. in terms of the liberal humanism of the show’s creator, Gene Rodenberry.

There is no humor, nor is there social commentary in J.J. Abrams’s movie. It is basically a revenge tale involving Romulans and Mr. Spock, the Vulcan who has inadvertently destroyed their planet. The bulk of the movie consists of elaborately orchestrated battles between the starship Enterprise and the Romulan craft which I found tedious in the extreme. They have a mindless milling character associated with video games and movies such as “The Transformers”. After an hour or so of space ships firing on each other, I began to fog out.

Abrams is best known for his ABC television series “Lost”, which also involved byzantine plotting and the overuse of flashbacks. He is also the producer of “Cloverfield”, a movie widely regarded as utter garbage.

Not recommended.

28 Comments »

  1. It’s good to read your objection, however mild, to the racist underpinnings of Avatar‘s plot. I don’t think you go nearly far enough with that, though.

    You wrote,

    I use the words “her tribe” advisedly since there is very little attempt made to distinguish the Na’vi from the American Indians who were exterminated by the millions in order to pave the way for the growth of the modern multinational corporation.

    More precisely, many were exterminated to make way for “superior” white/Anglo-Saxon Christian “civilization.” That kind of white supremacy lingers today, resulting in such things as white-guilt redemption fantasies like Avatar.

    Annalee Newitz explains this cliched and racist plotline very well; there’s a good discussion in the comments here too. White people can poo-poo such concerns all they like, but when they do, they’re acting like ordinary, very well-trained white people.

    Avatar’s isn’t “cheap thrills,” you say? Sure, it’s a marvelous, technologically proficient spectacle, but in terms of how reaches into white hearts and minds in basically the same old racist way, I’d say it’s a very cheap thrill.

    Comment by macon d — December 23, 2009 @ 6:51 pm

  2. Macon, the real way to reach whites is through political propaganda. You are expecting too much from a movie.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 23, 2009 @ 6:54 pm

  3. And I in turn find it odd that, for once, you’re expecting too little from a movie.

    Macon, the real way to reach whites is through political propaganda.

    Reach them? As “whites”? I’m all for that, but how best to do that? By basically catering to their cozy liberal fantasies about a noble, primitive, forgiving Other, and that Other’s relation to a cheaply redeemable white stand-in — instead of challenging such solipsistic fantasies? I obviously beg to differ.

    Comment by macon d — December 23, 2009 @ 7:05 pm

  4. The best way to do that is with print and electronic media written by savvy people. Or to make documentaries like “Sicko” or “Food Inc.”, etc. Hollywood fictional blockbusters have generally proven incapable of raising peoples’ consciousness one way or the other.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 23, 2009 @ 7:11 pm

  5. I loved the special effects in Avatar, thoroughly enjoyable.

    But I do recommend The Awl’s (!) insightful analysis of both its racism and its have-your-cake-and-eat-it combination of anti-war sentiment and war pornography.
    http://www.theawl.com/2009/12/guest-op-ed-i-hated-avatar-with-the-fire-of-a-thousand-suns-by-maria-bustillos

    Also worth a read is this piece on Gawker.
    http://gawker.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like-avatar

    Comment by ish — December 23, 2009 @ 7:19 pm

  6. I find it odd that you did not see any humnor in Star Trek. Did you take downers before the show? The beginning of the show where a youthful Kirk wipes out the Corvette was funny, Kirk’s bout w/ Bones injections, funny; Kirk banging the green lady, funny; Spock getting it on w/ Uhura, funny; you missing these humorous aspects of the show and many more; funniest of all. Maybe humor is in the mind of the beholder, hard to say, but Merry #1@! Christmas and Have A Nice Day! :)

    Comment by scott jeffries — December 23, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

  7. I didn’t find any humor in this Trek movie either. In my opinion, it was intended for the mindless throng who cannot understand or appreciate anything beyond “Wham, bam, thank you ma’am”. Which is all this movie had to offer.

    Kirk driving a Corvette off a cliff was not at all funny. Especially when you consider that in ToS, Kirk did not know how to drive.

    The James T. Kirk I knew didn’t need to be smuggled aboard the newly commissioned Enterprise. Not only was he not old enough at the time, but when he did step aboard, it was because he was asked to. I found it offensive, not funny.

    Spock getting it on with Uhura was not funny either, especially when you consider that Spock was engaged to T’Pring (Spock’s now dead wife).

    Maybe humor is in the eye of the beholder. I like things that build on, and also add to Star Trek, making a great franchise even better. Instead of destroying the Star Trek universe as I know it, as this movie does.

    Comment by Wes — December 25, 2009 @ 3:36 am

  8. I’ve already written a bit about.

    The cliches in Avatar are far too obvious to be not intentional. As a blockbuster it has to be fairly unsubtle if it means to deliver a message to those who need it most — the gamer/grunts who will fill the ranks of the US Army/military contractors of the future. Indeed, both Robocop and Starship Troopers were supposed to be allegories for authoritarian corporatist futures, but the satire was too subtle for most.

    Here’s more:

    I commented on this at io9 and basically stated it is fairly obvious that Avatar follows some very common tropes in Hollywood depictions of colonial struggles. Add to this Gandhi where white actors played a disproportionately large role, or Waltz with Bashir which is told through the eyes of Israeli soldiers as opposed to Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila, and many other examples. The expiation of guilt is a common theme, as is transgressing the boundary between oppressor and oppressed. Even the assumption of leadership is quite common. Just watch The Mission.

    However, so have these hand-wringing commentaries about white guilt become fairly predictable. They come out after every film in this genre. Not to say they are unwarranted, but they have also become part of the dialectic of this type of filmmaking.

    What I find uncharitable though is that these films are indeed difficult to get past Hollywood’s ideological filters. Cameron’s reputation guaranteed that he’d be able to work on this film for four years with wads of cash. Additionally, Cameron’s use of new CGI tech allowed him to bypass the one big controlling factor in films of this magnitude and with this many battle scenes — the fact that the US military is often involved one way or another and thus massages the message so to speak. In Avatar, the US Marines really do get their asses handed to them which would have been impossible if the Defense Department was consulted.

    As for Cameron, Avatar marks a very interesting evolution. In fact, Avatar plays as the inverse of Aliens, as well as serves as his damning comment on the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars and Western civilization as a whole. While the spoken references are fairly obvious there are also some no less unsubtle visual cues from Vietnam to Native American cultures. The female Na’vi even ululate when going into battle. Some other clues abound — the Colonel mentions he is a veteran of campaigns in Venezuela and Nigeria, which points to continual 21st and 22nd century resource wars that eventually wreck the planet.

    And it’s true that Jake Sully represents and relates to the average boy gamer/grunt who the US Army today wants to enlist as their future soldiers. The technical wizardry of the film is for this demographic, but the storyline intends to lead them away from their technological terror to embracing an indigenous/treehugger perspective. Hokey and cliched as it might seem at first, I think Cameron’s intention is to subvert this very militaristic segment of the population and invert they way they see their world. I think there is strong evidence for this intent other than serving as a lame explanation for why Avatar’s plot is so contrived. Rather than catering to the more sophisticated crowd which could probably take offense as the unsubtle script, it is the former group that needs the most enlightening before they march off to another colonial war.

    Comment by ceti — December 25, 2009 @ 9:48 am

  9. Avatar was an anti-PILLAGE movie, not an anti-IMPERIALIST movie. I hate how the two terms have been distorted and combined into one.

    Rome was imperialistic, and in general (barring asinine behaviour of some of the Emperors during the post-republic era) a good one.

    My ancestors, the vikings (with their pocket kingdoms and tributaries throughout Northern Europe and Asia) have more in common with the antagonists in Avatar than Rome ever did, even under the Emperors.

    Imperialism done right is a wonderful system to live under; Pillage never is. Please stop contributing to the mixing of the two.

    Comment by Tardigrade — December 25, 2009 @ 5:06 pm

  10. Imperialism done right is a wonderful system to live under

    Especially for those in the driver’s seat.

    Comment by louisproyect — December 25, 2009 @ 5:29 pm

  11. Well said. Imperialism is inherently oppressive, it cannot be justified. My own ancestors, the Gaelic tribes of Ireland, were suppressed and subjugated by the English-who ran the most successful and widespread empire in history. Surely, that is an example of imperialism ‘done right’, or at least effectively, and it is hardly a ‘wonderful system’. All culturally distinct peoples desire a government, or system of leadership, which they can call their own and which responds to their particular understanding of the world. This is true of the Na’vi in Avatar, the Gauls of pre-Roman France and the Gaelic people of Ireland. Imperialism denies them this right, robs them of their future. It is therefore inherently plunderous and cannot be incorrectly confused with ‘pillage’. They are one and the same in my view. As the old Irish proverb puts it – ‘Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine'(We live in the shelter of each other). Imperialism, unfortunately, turns us against one other and preys upon our fear of those who are different. Also the Romans made grotesque entertainment out of bloodbaths in their Colosseums, they massacred the people of Carthage, crucified Jesus and annihilated any tribes who posed a threat to imperial expansion. They’re definitely the sort of blood-thirst bunchwho can be justly compared to the antagonists in Avatar.

    Comment by Fergus Murphy — December 25, 2009 @ 6:33 pm

  12. I know how you feel about “Star Trek.” I began to fog out shortly after reading your review of it. But when you insisted “Cloverfield” was widely considered garbage? That’s where you lost any credibility. For the record, I haven’t seen “Cloverfield.” I’m just going by how RottenTomatoes.com rates it and, contrary to your assertion, it’s fresher than you think.

    I’d recommend hanging out with a more positive crowd. You might live longer and maybe even prosper. Happy New Year.

    Comment by MisterPL — December 28, 2009 @ 2:23 pm

  13. Louis, I don’t disagree with your analysis of AVATAR. Even though I myself rolled my eyes throughout the film due to its cheap cliches, cheesy dialogue, and total lack of character development, I appreciated the fact that, at the end of the day, it did contain an overtly anti-imperialist message. Though this message is far from perfect, beggars can’t be choosers, and I happily welcome any A-list specimen of Hollywood cinema that so openly criticizes imperialist policies. We desperately need more of them.

    With that said, I want to point out one particular part of the film’s ideology that you don’t mention. Early in the film, the corporate executive Parker Selfridge is talking about the Na’vi. He says something along the lines that they had earlier provided the “primitive” and “savage” Na’vi with schools, teachers, and hospitals but that ultimately these forms of soft, friendly imperialism were rejected. The Na’vi, in his view, simply don’t want to be helped.

    At the end of the picture, however, isn’t Selfridge’s racism confirmed? In the film’s conclusion, it turns out that what the Na’vi really need is a white man to lead them after all. Apparently, the Na’vi can’t come together in solidarity to oppose the multi-national corporations without Jake Sully’s leadership. Such a feat was too complicated for them alone. Does the narrative, then, not ultimately prove the backwardness of the Na’vi population? In this manner, I think comparisons could be made between AVATAR and other films like LAWRENCE OF ARABIA or DUNE.

    Comment by Greg — December 29, 2009 @ 9:05 pm

  14. What a bunch of third-world tripe, from both reviewer and filmgoer.
    What is next with you people? A longing for a Howard Zinn/Noam Chomsky “blocbuster”?

    Grow up for God’s sake.

    Quit feeling guilty long enough to recognize the good that comes from some sense of civilization in this world…decreased infant mortality rates, private property rights and representative government to name three.

    Are there any people over the age of twelve associated with this review?

    Yikes! You folks are truly scary.

    Comment by Sam H — December 31, 2009 @ 7:01 am

  15. While it’s highly fashionable to be a loser or a victim, I can’t participate.

    The strong should reproduce, all others must die. It works well for all other species of plants and animals.

    With that….

    “The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.”

    –Winston Churchill

    Comment by Your Leader — January 4, 2010 @ 3:12 am

  16. Ceti

    I believe you saw Rococop and Starship Troopers when you were a kid. There is no way somone could think those films were more subtle than Avatar otherwise.
    Watching any movie these days is not going to reach a kid, at least not enough to put a dent in the work that computer games do. In a few years the soldiers of the future will be putting in 8 hours at a time in 3-D call of duty….

    Anyway, this film does have themes other than watch the natives and save the planet. I think the most dangerous thing facing society in the next 50 years is augmented reality, and escapism addiction. Cameron describes the whole process pretty well, with Jake’s missing legs representing the emotional problems our children may face in the coming decades. The biggest fear Cameron instills during the film is not that the trees will get chopped down, or that the natives will start to eat mcdonalds (did anyone really care?), but that Jake will no longer be able to occupy the Avatar. For me this is where the movie shows some class, and coupled with the insanely beautiful visuals, was enough to make it the best I’ve seen in years.

    Nice anti-white racism in some of these comments by the way. Real clever stuff.

    Comment by Peteypoo — January 4, 2010 @ 11:04 am

  17. Wow. I haven’t seen so much self-aggrandizing drivel since I completed graduate school. Outside of the special effects this pathetic example of liberal masturbation provides nothing to an educated and enlightened discussion obtaining in any way to reality. A cartoonish Evil Mega-Corporation that doesn’t exist is terribly mean to a cartoonish Noble Savage tribe that doesn’t exist on an Oh-So-Green planet where the Earth Mother has power over all . . . that doesn’t exist. Among this website’s readership alone, in the echo-chamber of sad liberal/progressive activism, this ‘film’ has garnered a following. Elsewhere, outside it’s flashy special effects, it will be relegated to where it belongs: the ash-heap of all the other anti-American/anti-war propaganda films of the later 2000s.

    For a counter-view, see this review here:
    http://www.weeklystandard.com/Content/Public/Articles/000/000/017/350fozta.asp

    Comment by Craig — January 4, 2010 @ 5:43 pm

  18. Nice revew, Louis…accjurate and apt.
    Avatar is meant to be about the present…not the future,hence the eerie resemblances to native peoples here…There no racism in the film on camerons part…other than Selfridges ‘Blue monkeys’ remark….
    If there is any resemblance to native americans…its intentonal!You can also catch references to disabled vegts , vietnam, Iraq and much else…

    Wonderful movie!
    BUT it is under ferocious attack, on places like IMDB…Why? because kits message is so blatant…Its not afraid to say what many lack the guts to do, or prefer more nuanced(read ‘timid’) approaches.
    Film throws down its ganutlett by having shuttle going over open pit mine…that must have rattled a few cages;

    CraigL: evil megacorps do exist..Monsanto?!
    Gref.there are no cheesy lines, and a white man does not lead or even save them…they are saved by Eywa..As Toruk Makto, he is the most suitable…at end he relinquishes that role.

    Go read White Indians for more on white men in indian tribes…and some DID lead them, if they were capable!

    Comment by brian — January 7, 2010 @ 10:03 am

  19. The technical wizardry of the film is for this demographic, but the storyline intends to lead them away from their technological terror to embracing an indigenous/treehugger perspective’

    on tree hugging:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chipko_movement
    ‘On March 26, 1974, the day the lumberers were to axe the trees, the men of the Reni village, and DGSS workers, were in Chamoli, diverted by state government and contractors to a fictional compensation payment site, while back home labourers arrived a truckload to the start logging operations.[6] Finally when a girl on seeing them rush to inform Gaura Devi, the head of the village Mahila Mangal Dal, at Reni village (Laata was her ancestral home and Reni adopted home). Gaura Devi led 27 women of Reni village, reached the site and confronted the loggers. When all talking failed, and instead loggers started shouting and abusing the women, threatening them with guns, the women resorted to hugging the trees to stop the them from being axed. This went on into late hours, and the women kept a whole night vigil guarding their trees from the cutters, till a few of them relented and left the village. The next day, when with the men and leaders back, the news of the movement spread to the neighbouring Laata and others villages also Henwalghati, and more people joined in. Eventually only after a four-day stand off, the contractors left’

    Comment by brian — January 7, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

  20. No humor?

    Ahm.

    I believe the movie was brimming with humor. It was also a very serious story, and I felt the two balanced each other out. And I don’t think it would have been as appealing if it had catered so very much to the Original Series. It’s a whole new fandom.

    Comment by Bai Li Hua — January 24, 2010 @ 9:54 pm

  21. [...] less frequent.) However, this film has become a subject for debate on the left. While some, such as Louis Proyect, have praised this film for its anti-imperialist message, others have complained that it follows [...]

    Pingback by Avatar « The Spanish Prisoner — January 31, 2010 @ 9:25 am

  22. What is with all of the bad critics, when you can make a movie as good as star trek you can write bad stuff but for now appreciate a good movie and dont try to find bad parts where there are none…

    Comment by Hater — October 21, 2010 @ 11:25 pm

  23. I *actually* think that Louis did not watch Star Trek 2009 and am calling BS on this. He states, “The bulk of the movie consists of elaborately orchestrated battles between the starship Enterprise and the Romulan craft which I found tedious in the extreme,” when in fact there are far fewer minutes devoted to battle maneuvering than any of the other Star Trek movies (the first battle sequence is just 58 seconds long – I watched it. And you’re welcome). I’ve seen more convincing BS in middle-school hockey players’ book reports.

    I won’t tackle the critique that there was “no humor” because what’s funny is different for each of us. However, the “…refusal to take themselves too seriously…” did not make the original (or subsequent shows) a comedy. In fact, the “wry commentary on current events” Louis refers to in the TV show was taken quite seriously by many at the time.

    And “…an hour or so of spaceships firing on each other” – give me a break. I challenge Louis to actually watch the film.

    Also, Wes (Dec. 25): you totally missed the fact that the movie is premised on an alternative reality. The inconsistencies you think you perceive aren’t there.

    Comment by Locke — November 29, 2010 @ 3:14 am

  24. You would think that most people here had forgotten the function of a summer blockbuster film, and that both examples are fiction.

    These films are not created to be artsy or informative, no, they exist to generate money.

    Beyond that, I would argue that the review of Star Trek is bias as the reviewer is clearly comparing it to a television series he is obviously fond of. His nostalgia, along with his disregard for the issue of subjectivity and humour, make his “review” quite unfit.

    If you want to analyze; analyze. If you want to provide non-constructive and bias criticism; continue what you are already doing.

    Finally, if you want to pass something off as fact (eg. the audience response to the film, ‘Cloverfield’), you need to support it with evidence.

    Arguments aren’t won with “I said it, therefore that makes it true”.

    Comment by Dylan — December 12, 2011 @ 10:12 am

  25. I just tried to watch the Star Trek movie on TV, totally unwatchable.I got about about 30 minutes in and couldn’t take another minute. What I found totally ridiculous was the film’s need to include every character from the original series in it. So Chekov and Sulu are already at the helm of the Enterprise while Kirk and McCoy are still cadets? How stupid is that? The whole crew from the original series all serving on the Enterprise under Captain Pike? According to the Original series I believe that Spock was the only who ever served with Pike. Too much poetic licence from the Original series made this film, unwatchable.

    Comment by StarTrek2009sux — June 6, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

  26. Concerning “Star Trek”–I’m 60 years old and grew up with the originals. I found this film totally entertaining, and in fact I have watched and re-watched and it is still fresh in most places. Far fetched, yes–but it made me laugh in a good way as did the 60’s series at times. Some of the comments here express disappointment because the events of the movie do not jibe perfectly with what we know from earlier presentations. So what–just enjoy it! I found the primary characters engaging and believable and at the same time, they were capable of poking fun at themselves. I was not inundated with SFX battles, and trust me, I have a low threshold for even a small excess of that stuff. Spock the younger was totally totally cool, and I bought into the younger Kirk being a brash wisecracking hell bent young man who funds direction in Star Fleet. (Remember, he will go on to do mental battle with Landru, M-5 and Nomad and he will trip them up with logic) By the end of the movie, young Kirk has assumed the mannerisms of 60’s Captain Kirk without it feeling affected. In any case, it is all so much more refreshing than the board room feel of the STNG and Captain Picard. Kirk and company, young or old, RULE!

    Comment by Phil — July 19, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

  27. I can’t believe how many commenters on this review failed to understand one very simple premise from the Star Trek film : because of the Romulan ship travelling back in time and killing Kirk’s dad, history from that point on was a reboot. Therefore, differences from the original series in terms of the way characters grew up, their experiences, etc, are explained (and altered) because of that moment. Were you guys even paying attention to the film? Sheesh!

    Comment by Kat — March 16, 2013 @ 1:56 pm

  28. It kind of makes me chuckle, to be honest. I’m really here because I read your review of Wall-E and was curious as to how you saw Avatar and got exactly what I expected. To criticize Wall-E for all of it’s political messages and ignoring the actual story and wonderful animation, then praise Avatar for it’s beautiful use of 3d and pretty much ignore that James Cameron remade “Ferngully” and “Dances With Wolves” into a far worse film. I have no problems accepting that Avatar was a wonderfully visual movie. IT was have been great if they completely stripped it of story all together. No, really, that’s not just blind over-exaggerated anger talking. If all plot was removed, as well as every human, and the movie was just a beautiful 3D experience, I would have loved it. But it wasn’t. It was an abysmal movie about why all humans are bad oh except for like 4. But it looked pretty doing it!

    It just baffles me how easily you yell at Wall-E for Fat-Shaming the human race then praise Avatar while it blatantly scream that all of humanity is the worst thing that has ever existed. I’ve found myself unable to find much useful data in your reviews and I won’t be posting on or reading into them anymore. I like my reviews to be fair.

    Oh, as a little P.S for ya. You can’t really whine about Wall-E being too pro-environment if you’re going to love Avatar for being Pro-Environment.

    Ah, should probably at least say SOMETHING about Star Trek. I enjoyed it. I didn’t mind them changing anything as I follow an idea. When you’ve made a story a certain way and people like it, how can you not be tempted to flush out changes that you couldn’t before? You’re exploring a new avenue with a loved franchise. You don’t have to like it, that’s fine, but it wasn’t as bad as you make it out to be.

    Comment by Joseph Haynes — January 18, 2014 @ 12:26 am


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