Wednesday, December 16, 2009

What if they gave a blockbuster
and nobody came?

Man, I want to be jazzed about Avatar, the big new multimillion-dollar epic written and directed by James Cameron.

Now, James Cameron has done some mighty incredible work in his lifetime. Blew me away with Terminator and Terminator 2. Great, great flicks. I was surprised to see him try to do a sequel to Alien, which didn't need a sequel, but darned if the thing wasn't bigger and better in some ways to the Ridley Scott original.

True Lies was a pleasant surprise, a delightful romp, and The Abyss simply blew me away. Both versions of it. I'm probably the only guy on the planet who thinks The Abyss was Cameron's finest hour, but there ya have it. (In fact, I think the reason I was so disappointed by Know1ng is that it was basically the same story as The Abyss, only above the surface and not as well done. Oh, maybe it's more like The Abyss meets Cocoon, but the point is both source materials were a helluva lot better.)

So if those were the James Cameron canon, I would be in line NOW to see Avatar when it debuts at the local theater on Friday. But there's one other little notation in Cameron's filmography, and that's why I am just not jazzed about the new flick.

It's this gawd-awful thing called Titanic. Man, I wanted to be jazzed about Titanic, it's such a great real-life story, a modern epic of hubris completely humiliated. The supposedly invincible ship that can't even finish its maiden voyage. An enormous human tragedy, so many dreams dashed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean.

But instead Cameron spent oodles of money to deliver an unbelievably trite story about two unpleasant characters who fall in love despite the machinations of her unpleasant mother and unspeakably clichéd rich-guy fiancé, a boring tale that takes half of a three-hour movie — 75 minutes in I was fidgeting in my seat wondering where the frack is the damn iceberg?! — the terrible CGI effects, I didn't for a minute believe I was watching anything except a computer illustration or a giant movie set, and last but not least the old lady has the multimillion-dollar gem that could help the struggling explorer pay his bills AND SHE THROWS THE DAMN THING INTO THE OCEAN! WITH A BIG SMILE ON HER FACE!

As great as every James Cameron film was that came before Titanic, that's how bloody terrible Titanic was. It was the worst time I have ever had in a movie theater. Absolutely the worst, and that includes the time I wasted watching the jaw-droppingly bad First Family, the biggest waste of a brilliant cast ever captured on celluloid.

Now, of course, Titanic is by far the biggest-grossing film of all time. And therein lies the dilemma. Was Avatar made by the feisty and creative genius who made all of those terrific movies in the 1980s and early '90s, or will it be as bloated and overrated as Titanic? The money's on Cameron following the money, trying to capture lightning in a bottle twice. But I'm afraid he will find you can't go home again, no matter which direction he tried to go.

So I'm going to sit this one out, folks. Tell me if Avatar is any good, if you decide to go. Maybe if I hear enough "I didn't expect to love it, but it's incredible I tell ya, incredible" then I'll check it out. If it's still in theaters by then.



Anonymous Tanner said...

I have to tell you, I haven't seen The Abyss or any of those other films that you were talking about, but I did see Titanic, and I hated it. I saw Avatar and was completely shocked by how good of a plot and story it had. I thought it was going to be a bad movie, but some contacts said that it was not bad, I personally have marked it up in my top 3 movies of all time.

11:27 AM  

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