2012 over Avatar?
I had someone read my Top Movies of 2009 post and asked why I had the movie 2012 on the list, but not Avatar. Let me see if I can offer a decent explanation.
I saw both films on their opening weekends and can say that I enjoyed both movies. Both obviously used the latest in technology to make the special effects and characters come alive on the big screen.
Roland Emmerich has a history of making high end productions that involve aliens [Independence Day], water and ice havoc [The Day After Tomorrow] and now Mayan prophecy.
James Cameron is no stranger to large productions and top-grossing box office films. Titanic holds the worldwide record for the film that made the most money. And I really liked the first two Terminator movies a lot.
Both directors have their own similar patterns for making movies, taking some standard plot structures that are shared in most of their movies. Every filmmaker does this to a certain degree. It’s their mark or their style.
But the main reason for me that kept Avatar off my top list was due to how unoriginal the story of Avatar was. If I were to have based it solely on special effects, Avatar would have been included. The realism of the characters were so well drawn out. But no new or compelling plot left me feeling let down a bit.
*WARNING SPOILER ALERT*
For me, Avatar was Titanic told on another planet with different characters. People dying due to the greed of others. A person gets a chance at a new life. The bad guys are after something with great monetary value, with no regard or concern to a large group of people. Nothing really all that original in the overall plot structure.
*END SPOILER ALERT*
It took me a year to see Titanic because there was so much hype over the movie. Once I saw it, I enjoyed it, but to me, it wasn’t anything grand or incredible. I enjoyed the story, but it was really a take it or leave it. I have not seen the film again since.
Avatar has those same elements. A great feat of special effects, but the lack of an original story will most likely have me with only a single theatrical viewing of this movie.
So what did 2012 have that made it good enough to be included on my list?
It had a really good mix of special effects combined with a plot that was not only entertaining, but exciting and original.
So wait a minute here… I know what you are thinking.. “That story and plot has been told over and over before in other movies” and “the cheesy lines and cliches didn’t bother you?”. Yes, those elements are there in this movie, but there was something completely different about the approach taken. It was based on a real story/legend without being overly political or shoving some sort of agenda into your head. It made the few cheesy lines [including the final line of the movie being overly cheesy] not seem all that bad, as the plot tied itself up at the end, leaving no noticeable loose ends or questions of what happened to any of the characters.
There was an element of difference and excitement for me with the movie. John Cusack in the lead role actually worked well. He wasn’t an over the top Will Smith trying to coin the next popular action movie phrase. He wasn’t some gung-ho Dwayne Johnson trying to show he’s strong enough to save the world. Just a published author, separated from his wife, a couple of kids, trying to escape pending doom and destruction. I would enjoy seeing 2012 again to see if my experiences are the same. And I suppose I should be fair and give Avatar another viewing. But I personally don’t think I would change my stance or feelings.
Agree or Disagree
So am I off my rocker? Off in left field? Spot on? Tell me what you are thinking.
Can’t really comment as I haven’t seen either movie 😉 Of the two though, I think I’d rather watch 2012. Everything I’ve read about Avatar seems to be some variation of “amazing effects, story quite lacking” so still not sure if I’ll watch it when it comes out on DVD. Like you though, it took me ages to watch Titanic so maybe by the time it does come out, I’ll be more enthusiastic about it 😉
I haven’t seen either movie. I think you sound right. 🙂
kevin – Another one that took a long time to see Titanic. I think visually, Avatar is entertaining. But you need a good original story, too. I will be curious to read your thoughts on 2012 when you watch it. 😉
sybil law – Thank you. I would be curious to hear your thoughts if/when you decide to watch either movie.
Yeah, I think you’re totally off your rocker. I saw both in theaters and while 2012 was fun, it was stupid as all hell, too.
Haven’t seen either to be able to compare.
For me, I’m not sure which I’d rather watch if I had to pick one. I like Independence Day a lot, but never had any desire to see The Day After Tomorrow. And I love Aliens, Terminator, and a few other Cameron films, but disliked Terminator 2 (blasphemy, I know, but the Terminator is a BAD GUY! HE CANNOT BE REPROGRAMMED!)
avitable – Off my rocker I will be. I admit (and agree with Kim) that the last line of the movie was ultra cheesy.
kapgar – wow. I think you are the first person I’ve known to have dissed T2. But you have a good consistency reason.
Yeah, that’s always been my reason for not liking anything other than the original Terminator. I prefer to think that the other films never were made. The Sarah Connor Chronicles were decent mostly because Summer Glau is hot and there was no T800 (Schwarzenegger model, I think). That made it forgivable. Until it became unwatchable.
I’ve seen Avatar’s plot likened to “Fern Gully in Space” or “Dances With Wolves”, both of which seem more apt than “Titanic”. But even those are honestly quite different stories. I’d like to see your point-by-point parallelism between Avatar and Titanic — I suspect you could successfully drop in any number of movies into such a comparison, 2012 included.
What’s funny (to me) about this comment is that I didn’t think Avatar was all that good and wasn’t even looking forward to it. When I did see it, it was a bit better than my expectations, but certainly nothing spectacular. The 3D seemed no different than other recent efforts, and that took something away from the visuals for me. It was a Catch-22 though, as I would’ve been left wondering about the 3D if I hadn’t seen it that way. I thought the story itself had some interesting aspects, but much was not very well explored — particularly unfortunate giving that it clocked in at nearly three hours as it was.
Regarding “2012”, I haven’t decided if it will be added to my wish list. I own and enjoy rewatching both “Independence Day” and “The Day After Tomorrow” (the later is still on my “watch annually” list), but I don’t have the same feeling for 2012, at least not yet. It had its moments, but I don’t think I was ever really compelled by the story.
kapgar – I still have yet to see Terminator 3, but I know what you are saying about The Sarah Connor Chronicles. It seemed to lose steam towards the end.
ren – Point by point… that may need an extended comment, but one strong comparison that I saw was how Billy Zane’s character in Titanic was very similar in his fervency to Stephen Lang’s character (Colonel Quaritch) in Avatar. Both seemed so bent on making sure that their goals were met, even if it meant the death of many. Once his relationship faded with Rose, Caledon (Zane) became hell bent on making sure his agenda would be done. Same with Quaritch. He took Jake (Worthington) under his wing. Once their relationship soured, Quaritch stopped at nothing to make sure his agenda was met.
Sure, that kind of thing exists in all films, but with both being Cameron films, it’s as if the characters were different, but the same in screenplay interaction.
The story of 2012 just seemed to resonate well with me.
We saw Avatar over the weekend. And while I haven’t yet seen 2012, I don’t blame you for choosing another movie over Avatar. It was definitely cool and the technology behind the movie was amazing, but the story line itself. Stale at best.
nilsa – Stale is a good word to describe the story line.