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Monthly Archives: December 2009
Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)
James Cameron’s long-awaited Avatar is at once a state-of-the-art journey through imagined interstellar landscapes, and a rather more prosaic expedition through familiar story-telling terrain. “Great effects, so-so story” is perhaps the classic form of review for post-1977 Hollywood movies, and it’s a little sheepishly that critics have arrived once again at this basic conclusion. Yet, they have, in droves, because at the fundamental level that’s the key conclusion to be drawn about Avatar. The more interesting points to make about the film, then, aren’t those most important but most obvious observations. The sub-plots here – like the progress of James Cameron’s once-imposing directorial career, or whether the film is a giant leap in the evolution of film technology – are rather more interesting.
The short answer is “no, that’s silly.” Even the author of the original article talks about it mainly in terms of volume of good films. It’s true, the animation industry is humming along, and we can give bonus points for the return of hand-drawn theatrical animation in the US with The Princess and the Frog, but looking at it by volume just changes the rules so much the notion of a “best year ever” becomes meaningless.
To justify such a claim you surely should be able to point to some really landmark works, or at least a field of such enduring excellence it makes the year special, in much the same way 1939 is often talked about in the live action context. I can’t see anything of that quality about, despite all the good releases this year.
Created in honour of Tony Abbott’s ascension to the Liberal leadership, and his blocking of the ETS.