Yesterday I finally gave in to the hype, pushing aside my apathy for the latest and greatest in special effects, and saw James Cameron’s Avatar. After seeing the film, one could easily deduce that the military is an evil entity ran by a maniac whose previous career was probably either the bad guy in a G.I. Joe cartoon or portraying Guile from Street Fighter.
For months I had seen the trailer that made me completely unexcited about going. Then it was finally released, and I heard the reviews! “It’s purty, but the script is stupid,” along with comparison to Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas. After finally seeing it for myself, I can safely say that my reaction was a euphoric… “eh.”
“Eh,” pretty much sums up my feelings. I chuckled at a few parts I probably wasn’t supposed to (i.e. Na’vi sex, overtly corny Na’vi dialogue, campy dialogue, etc.) and the movie really was simply a purty version of Dances With Wolves, which, ironically, was pretty itself. I truly was mesmerized that after writing the script, Mr. Cameron didn’t think to himself, “Gee, this whole ‘white man overtaking the natives as one of them learn their ways and ends up fighting alongside them,’ might have been done before…”
All that aside, I’ve decided to write about something else in the movie that hasn’t gotten as much attention (I think) as the special effects (the dazzle of which quickly faded for me) and the script. I shall be focusing on the film’s antagonist, Colonel Miles Quaritch portrayed by Stephen Lang.
Colonel Quaritch is about as cartoony as they get for film villains. In a movie that’s supposed to be a serious commentary on exploitation of indigenous cultures and the environment, it’s odd that they chose such a one-dimensional, hilarious evil character. I mean, the guy stays ripped because of some throw away line about light gravity and keeps the scars on his face to remind him of the horror on Pandora.
While I don’t think they ever explicitly said this was the United States military in the film, it was pretty damn obvious what Cameron was commenting on, so let’s take a look at a well known general in the United States military.
General David Howell Petraeus
Give him some black framed glasses and he’s the Clark Kent of United States generals. He’s hardly comparable to the turd-waffle of a commander in Avatar.
Then there was the roid-raging bald guy who kept yelling “Get some!” I’m sure you can find someone in the military who also yells “Get some!” but in the movie it just felt insanely ridiculous. Mostly because I’m pretty sure that’s all he said everytime they cut to him.
In the end, I (and Courtney for that matter) felt bad for those who serve in the military. It’s probably not the first time the United States military played the role of the bad guy (i.e. DANCES WITH FREAKING WOLVES!!!), but for a film that will probably end up setting the box office record, it’s sad that essentially every military character was portrayed as a dick, except for the ones who sided with the Na’vi, that simply wanted to kill things for the sake of killing things.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not against having the United States army play the role of the bad guy in a movie. We’ve done some pretty shitty things in our history (i.e. the plot from DANCES WITH FREAKING WOLVES!), but even the villains in our history weren’t one dimensional cartoons. The worst of the worse always feel like they’re doing the right thing for some greater good. Avatar’s Colonel was just looking to blow shit up, which was perfect for Cameron’s desire to drag every special effect out for 20 minutes.