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Hawaii, United States
I'm Kieran. I live in Hawaii. I like to watch movies a lot and I make them too. I also play around with flash animation, so you'll see a lot of that in my blog.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

3 New Reviews


Have you ever been ashamed to be human? Ashamed to be in a species that steals and murders, that destroys the planet it lives on? Then perhaps you have something in common with James Cameron, whose masterpiece Avatar shows humans given a chance to experience the magic of life from a newer, purer perspective, while delivering a fantastically beautiful and powerful hero story as well.

It's pretty much impossible to review Avatar without first giving a nod to its fantastic special effects. Even though this is not an effects movie, the scale and detail with which the world is rendered is nothing short of breathtaking. The groundbreaking new technology with which the film is made allows for the creation of one of the richest fantasy worlds ever created.

The story and characters have been criticized as being simplistic, however, while they are definitely familiar, with James Cameron at the helm you'll be happy to see them return. Avatar is a classic fantasy fused with elements of sci-fi, making for a fresher presentation, and the film is expertly paced. Even though its running time is close to 3 hours, it never drags and is a joy to watch. The characters come off as very sympathetic, and the villain of the piece is the kind that you love to hate. It's important to have these familiar and likable characters to guide you into a completely new universe and a new era in film, and they're strong enough to keep the story grounded; they're never once upstaged by the special effects.

However, I don't think that the film is just an effects-heavy hero story; while it retells a classic fable about nature love and loyalty with enough gusto to make these age-old messages inspiring again, its sci-fi element brings something new to the table.
Many of the main characters are humans who are able to inhabit the world of the indigenous Na'vi by using technology to inhabit Avatars- Na'vi bodies that they can control. However, as the main character, Jake Sully, comments at the beginning of the film, they are always forced to leave the gorgeous fantasy world of Pandora and wake up in the hash reality of the human world, filled with despicable corporate attitudes and led by evil men with no respect for life. As Jake struggles to live in both worlds, he is increasingly frustrated by the fact that he has to wake up. But I don't think James Cameron wants to wake up. By creating the technology needed to create the planet of Pandora, Cameron allows the audience to experience that world- the film becomes an Avatar for them. By doing so, Cameron implies that we can all start again. If we are inspired by the beauty of this film, this Avatar, then it allows us to believe again in peace, it allows us to reconnect with nature. Ironically, even though the film's origins are entirely technological, it is used to allow us to reconnect with the fantasies that can still be fulfilled. This adds greatly to the power of the film, giving the final push that moves Avatar from a great film to a masterpiece. If this is what James Cameron's dreams are like, I'll walk in them any time.

The short version-
||||||||||| 10/10|

Battlestar Galactica: The Plan-
(Warning: contains mild spoilers regarding seasons 1 and 2 of Battlestar Galactica)

I am a huge fan of Ronald D. Moore's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series. I firmly believe that it is one of the best shows ever to air on television, and that is why The Plan is such a colossal disappointment. It not only lacks all the powerful emotions, great characters and compelling storytelling of the series, but the nature of the film allows it to do so while simultaneously ruining some of the best moments of the series.

The idea of The Plan is to re-visit the first two seasons of the series from the perspective of the villains- the Cylons, while resolving some of the continuity issues and tying up the loose ends made during the series. It's a good idea on paper, however, it's filled with disappointment and missed opportunities. Ironically, although The Plan is supposed to resolve continuity gaffs, the first minutes create a very serious continuity gaff that can't be explained away. As it goes through the series, it continues to dispute known facts about the show in order to create poorly executed drama, muddling some of the best moments of the show. Instead of showing the reasoning behind the Cylon actions in the series, it changes them from the unified, powerful, frightening force that they were into the series to a bumbling collection of cranky incompetent bufoons who barely seem to count as villains at all.

Continuity issues would be forgivable if the story was any good- the Battlestar series had plenty of odd plot twists that overcomplicated the show, but it was so relentlessly entertaining that it didn't really matter. However, The Plan's "story" if you can call it that, is incoherent, meaningless, and mind-numbingly dull. A large amount of the footage is recycled from series episodes, and while it sometimes works, watching an entire scene that you've already seen just so you can see one "revelation" that doesn't mean much of anything, or watching a Cylon attack again just to show how it was a complete disaster for the Cylons and they really just had no idea what they were doing at all. The movie seems like a collection of deleted scenes from the show, and if they were, they would have been deleted for no good reason. A lot of the character development goes to Simon- a character who barely appeared in the show. While it would be interesting to give more backstory to the lesser known Cylons, Simon's story is flat and uncompelling. It lacks the long-term development of the series, and instead seems to be rushed and half-baked- then again, that's a pretty good description of the entire film.

The short version-
|||| 3/10|

Family Guy: Something Something Something Dark Side-

Star Wars jokes have been a staple of pop-culture humor for a while now, and Family Guy is no exception. However, the show's nonsensical tangential form of humor works better as episodic television than as a double-length parody. To call SSSDS a Star Wars parody is a bit generous- it's pretty much just Family Guy characters in Star Wars costumes making regular Family Guy jokes. However, that's not necessarily a bad thing, as the show's humor is still very funny, and even though creating an entire Star Wars spoof series just to showcase the show's signature humor seems a bit gratuitous, it doesn't make it any less funny. When the show does take shots at Star Wars, however, it's really spot on. There a lot of great jokes at the expense of the classic trilogy, but not enough to justify the hour run time.
Overall, Something Something Something Dark Side is a fairly funny episode that relies a little too much on novelty value and the type of humor that could appear in any episode of the show, but it's still fairly entertaining and funny.

The short version-
|||||||| 7/10|

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