Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Oh, Avatar, where did you go wrong?

I went to see Avatar last night. I heard so many great things about it I had high hopes. My brother did warn me that if it weren't so real and beautiful it would be dorky. Well unfortunately I got hung up on the dorky bits before they even got into the beautiful parts. First of all I was griped by the casual use of the respirators and the needless insertion of one character smoking. I hated it in Battlestar Galactica and I still hate it. How likely is it that 148 years in the future, 5 light years out in space they will still be bothering with TOBACCO PRODUCTS? And why would the BOTANIST be a smoker and not the soldier types? Is she really there to sample the exotic plants of this new world to see if any of them are good rolled up and set on fire?

Then they had to go and refer to this valuable mineral resource as "unobtainium." Now after the movie I discussed this with three other people who weren't engineers and they had never heard that word before so it didn't bother them. Well those of us who have had the misfortune to have to design a product for somebody with unrealistic expectations, we know all about unobtainium. To use the word the way they did is just ignorant of the context and proper use. Since it's a word only used in situations dripping with sarcasm it is simply no good to use that word in normal conversation that isn't a direct insult to somebody.

I was thrown off by the avatars that came through the space trip in the cylinders of blue juice with their hair already in a braid. Who swam in there and braided it? Or is it supposed to just grow that way? And when I saw that there is a central strand of communicative material in this three part braid I got even more irked because you can't make a braid like that with something running down the middle unless you make the braid and then jab the other part through it threaded on a needle. Have none of the people that worked on this movie ever braided hair or done macrame or put connectors on coax? I would believe that it just grows like that if all of them had that same hair do, but they had all kinds of different looks going on. They clearly had to do their own braids. Having those as three strand is just a fail. It wouldn't work. If I had a network cable growing out of my head I would definitely use a braided strain relief of hair, but it would be more like a 12 part basketweave braid like coax cable. And if I lived on Pandora there would probably be some specialized forest creature that could do that for me, too.

And finally I have to shake my head at the Papyrus font subtitles. It just caught my attention because it is an overused font and subtitles aren't supposed to grab your attention at all. It was just a bad choice in my opinion. And I am not alone in this. I Googled it and it is all over the blogosphere and twitter already.


  1. I agree with you on those big time. My things I get get over:
    1) they were INDIANS! OK I know we are really xenophobic, but can you at least make the aliens, alien? (and 6 legged horses are still horses)
    2) The zone where they had big magnetic fields and had to fly blind. How come they could still transmit the consciousness signal or use radio? If you have fields big enough to mess with your flight instruments, you're probably not doing much communicating either.
    3) how did they know the procedure to transfer from a human body to the cloned one? they obviously had no experience with either.

  2. 1) You're right. They were like a cross between Sioux and Masai. What's with all the jewelry and decoration? They're entwined in some symbiotic web that combines the consciousness of all creatures on the planet yet they're still trying to one-up each other with their necklaces and ear grommets?

    2) The Fiber Optic Weeping Willow was like the microwave oven of Pandora -- only interferes on a certain frequency. They must have had multi-band radios and picked a better channel.

    3) They used the same protocol as Jeff Goldblum when he introduced the virus to the alien ship with his laptop in Independence Day. I think it's IEEE 1394-h (for Hollywood)