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.