Movie Trailer: Crazy Heart

This is getting nothing but raves. I am seriously looking forward to seeing this.

Fantastic trailer.

Screenwriter: Scott Cooper
Director: Scott Cooper
Actors: Jeff Bridges (Iron Man), Maggie Gyllenhaal (The Dark Knight) and Colin Farrell (In Bruges)

Movie Quote: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Now sword of truth, fly swift and sure, that evil die and good endure!

The Pacifier (2005)

Should I see it?

Short Review:
Aptly titled - it sucked.

Vin Diesel is the steroid version of Ernest. Instead of Ernest Goes to Camp or whatnot, we now have Vin Goes Into Space (The Chronicles of Riddick), Vin Goes To Spy School (XXX) and now finally Vin Goes To The Bottom of The Barrel.

You may be thinking that since this is supposed to be a family film that my standards should be lower. I believe it should be the opposite. When filmmakers ask to spend and hour and a half with my family, they had better have their best product to show. This pathetic mess is an insult to everyone who sees it.

To make my point, look at a movie like Uncle Buck. It is the same premise with a slightly different turn. The basic story is a fish out of water watches over a gaggle of kids for a few days. Where Uncle Buck is human and funny, this movie is contrived and just plain stupid.

This movie eagerly rushes into its gags and propped up conflicts without bothering with that pesky characterization stuff. You’re thrown into confrontations between the thick-necked Vin and the teenage kids before you even get to know the kid’s names.

The lack of engaging characters is reason the whole piece fails so miserably. It could have survived with the lower expectations given to family movies. But since there was no attempt to draw the audience in on a gut level, there is nothing to see. This sums up my review. Move on, there’s nothing to see here.

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Whale Rider (2002)
Hometown Legend (2002)

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Shadows on the Wall
The Critical Critics

District 9 (2009)

Should I see it?
Probably not.

A race of aliens have come to Earth and land in South Africa. The twist is that they arrive starved, frightened and living in squalor. The authorities do what they can for the aliens and group them in their own neighborhood. Before too long their neighborhood becomes a slum. Their slum then descends into a hotbed for criminality and decay.

The first half of the film is like a tongue-in-cheek version of Cops. We are introduced to the characters in documentary style, each one talking about the fate of poor Wikus Van De Merwe (Sharlto Copley), a government agent who is put in charge of relocating the aliens (who humans have given the slur "prawns".)

Wikus is a bureaucrat with a clipboard who is slightly out of his depth knocking on the shantytown doors of the tall, bug-like aliens. As he deals with a variety of situations, Wikus nervously barks out orders while also keeping one eye on the cameraman following him around.

This opening half is simply great film making. The obvious intent of the film is to draw parallels between the government and aliens and the black residents of real South African slums. Unlike the deeply racist film Avatar, this film acknowledges its analogy and then moves on. It doesn't wallow in its agenda, director Neill Blomkamp let's it develop on its own.

The film runs into a huge wall however. The second half of the film suddenly drops the pseudo-documentary style. It also loses its sense of humor. Wikus gets spun into a government web of deception, torture and violence.

The film abruptly switches gears and becomes a messy chase film. A secondary character is promoted to become the villain and a plot bonding Wikus with the aliens is quickly concocted. The move is jarring and the film doesn't survive the transition.

I understand why so many people found this to be an enjoyable film. The first half includes some very clever and enjoyable film making. Blomkamp obviously has talent. It is also obvious that he can take things too far. I can't recommend the film because I don't think the first half makes up for the latter portion. I will say that if you do find yourself watching it, the second half of the film won't be the worst thing you'll see on film, but it will leave you pining for the opening scenes of the picture.

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The Thing (1982)
AVP: Alien vs. Predator (2004)

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Commentary Track
Movie Cynics

Movie Trailer: Brooklyn's Finest

This looks like it could go either way - another "cops and criminals are no different" flick or it could have some actual value.

Don Cheadle, Wesley Snipes, Vincent D'Onofrio, Will Patton, I think I saw Michael K. Williams flash by in a couple shots (he was my favorite part of The Wire) there's Ethan Hawke doing his Training Day deal, and Richard Gere, if nothing else this is one heck of a cast. Hopefully, the script and director Antoine Fuqua will bring something out of Snipes. I always thought he has been underused by Hollywood.

This hits theaters in March.

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Screenwriter: Michael C. Martin
Director: Antoine Fuqua (Tears of the Sun)
Actors: Richard Gere (The Hoax), Wesley Snipes (Blade), Don Cheadle (Hotel Rwanda), Ethan Hawke (Before the Devil Knows You're Dead), Ellen Barkin (The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension), Vincent D'Onofrio (The Cell), Will Patton (Aliens), Lili Taylor (Household Saints) and Jesse Williams

Movie Quote: Rounders (1998)

Mike McDermott
In Confessions of a Winning Poker Player, Jack King said, Few players recall big pots they have won, strange as it seems, but every player can remember with remarkable accuracy the outstanding tough beats of his career. It seems true to me, cause walking in here, I can hardly remember how I built my bankroll, but I can't stop thinking about the way I lost it.

Movie Quote: Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)

Chancellor Gorkon
You haven't heard Shakespeare until you've heard it in the original Klingon.

Movie Trailer: I Can Do Bad All By Myself

His bit is getting a little old but I have to admit I do enjoy Tyler Perry's routine. As far as trailers go, if you know the deal you might be brought in by this clip. If not, you probably have no idea what the heck this is about. Not a good bit of advertising by my standards.


Screenwriter: Tyler Perry (Meet the Browns)
Director: Tyler Perry (The Family that Preys)
Actors: Tyler Perry (Medea Goes to Jail), Taraji P. Henson (The Family that Preys), Adam Rodriguez (Take), Mary J. Blige, Brian J. White (Fighting) and Gladys Knight

Movie Trailer: Tron Legacy

My regular readers know I am not a fan of all of rehashing of the 70's and 80's that has been going on for the last decade. In this case, I will make an exception. I'm not saying I should, I'm just saying I am.

When I was a child Tron was one of my favorite movies. Back then it was stupid, but it was a visual powerhouse. It looks chintzy today but back then it was fantastic. This is the kind of film that deserves another run only because the technology has caught up to the concept (such as it is).

I will be honest, I am looking forward to this obviously stupid McMovie.

So is my son, except he doesn't think it looks stupid. He thinks it looks great.

Then again, he's eight.

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Screenwriters: Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Actors: Michael Sheen (The Queen), Jeff Bridges (Tron), Olivia Wilde (Year One), John Hurt (1984) and Bruce Boxleitner (Gods and Generals)

Movie Trailer: Fifty Dead Men Walking

Ladies and gentlemen, the most useless trailer ever.

Watch this thing and tell me what the movie is about. No, tell me WHY you should go out of your way to watch the movie. The whole point of a trailer is to capture my attention and make be believe I have to see this film. Other than the idea that some guy has crossed some line and he can't "turn back" (whatever that means) there is no other information. Oh wait, there's some fire. I know there's fire. And Gandhi is wearing a wig.

So, we have a guy walking over lines without turning back while there's fire near a hairy Gandhi. The more I write, the more this is starting to sound like something I'd be interested in seeing.


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Screenwriter: Kari Skogland (The Stone Angel)
Director: Kari Skogland
Actors: Ben Kingsley (Sexy Beast), Rose McGowan (Planet Terror), Kevin Zegers (The Jane Austin Book Club), Jim Sturgess (21) and Natalie Press (Cass)

Movie Trailer: The Cove

"A cross between Flipper and The Bourne Identity."

Are you freaking kidding me?

Looks more like a cross between wealthy white pissant liberals and their insufferable self-importance.

I'm willing to allow they may make some good points, but I am also willing to bet I will want to punch them in the face the whole time they're doing it. You see, the problem with liberals is not that they don't reveal important things, its that they make it about themselves. Honestly, who gives a darn your personal sissy reasons for what you're doing? Just tell us what the issue is!


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Screenwriter: Mark Monroe
Director: Louie Psihoyos
Actor: Hayden Panettiere (I Love You, Beth Cooper)

Merry Christmas

Because its funny and true.


Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas. He is born.

...and to all of you atheists, happy Friday.*

* - Just kidding, Merry Christmas to you as well.

The Nativity Story (2006)

Should I see it?

Short Review:
The film succeeds in a nearly impossible task, making a story you’ve heard a thousand times seem fresh and interesting.

Mary is given the Christ child. Her and Joseph traipse across the land to Bethlehem where she gives birth to God in a manger. Throw some wise men and shepherds in for good measure and you’re set. This is seen every in churches around the globe and has become a visual backdrop for the Christmas season. What can a film really offer to the tale that is new?

As it turns out, quite a bit. I believe this film is well done and deserves more praise than it received during its initial run. Director Catherine Hardwicke (The Lords of Dogtown, Thirteen) has an ear for teenage voices. As with her previous work, she delivers accurate and real young characters looking for their way in the world. Mary is not the deified virgin we know today. She is what she really was, a teenage girl living in brutal times.

Hardwicke, through sixteen-year-old actress Keisha Castle-Hughes (
Whale Rider) establishes the opening of the film on Mary’s teenage concerns. By concentrating on the human drama, which is usually missing from this story, Hardwicke and screenwriter Mike Rich (Radio) actually enhance the miraculous events of the narrative.

I understand that many will not be thrilled with the humanizing of Mary or her reduction in the overall story. As the story progresses, it becomes less about her and more about Joseph and the choices he faces. It would seem odd to tell the story of the nativity without directly focusing on Mary, but it makes sense. Joseph directs their journey from Nazareth to Bethlehem since he was the male in the relationship, not to mention not swelling with child. Mary spends a great deal of time sitting on the back of a mule. This hardly makes for a thrilling narrative.

By placing the focus on Joseph the story moves forward and he really becomes a figure for both himself and Mary. Their troubl
ed marriage is shown strengthening through the trials. Their love grows as they choose to do God’s bidding. Pushing Joseph to the forefront of the narrative also gives the story more humanity. No one assumes any deity status on old Joe, just Mary. By having him in the spotlight, again, we are served with a deep human drama not a sanitized Sunday School play.

The movie itself is well written and strongly directed. Some have had issues with Castle-Hughes’ performance as Mary. I will agree that she isn’t brimming with charisma, but I think she still did a good job expressing the fear a teenage girl would have being thrust into history as Mary was. One day she is living a normal life, the next she is the mother of the Christ child. I think she gets across the fear and then acceptance that Mary faced.

The real star of the piece is Oscar Issac as Joseph. He handles his role and the conflicting issues swirling around the character very well and provides a likable lead. His vibrant performance compensates for Castle-Hughes more timid presence.

I do recommend this film even outside of the Christmas season. It is obviously a great story and told in this fashion, I do believe it gives the story more power. To understand the potency of The Bible and its stories you have to see it not as just scripture and history but as drama involving real, flesh and blood humans. Once you begin to see the people of scripture as what they were, people like you, the scriptures themselves become more alive. This film shows this wonderfully.

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The Jesus Film (1979)
The Passion of the Christ (2004)

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The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard (2009)

Should I see it?

It could have been funny but they went for crude instead. Saying filthy things in place of actual punchlines doesn't equate comedy, it just means you're copping out.

Don Ready (Jeremy Piven) and his crew of mercenary used-car salesmen are brought in to help a dealer who is facing being bought out. This is a great concept, but there is absolutely no payoff. There is some sparks at the opening, in particular with Piven's character. Once the plot begins to mix we discover that all of the ingredients are flavorless.

The comedy comes in two fashions here. There are semblances of some good comedy setups but no payoffs or the setups are so stupid they have nowhere to go. An exmple of both of these issues melding into one disjointed bit that comes up multiple times: Craig Robinson plays a d-jay who refuses to conform to his audience's tastes. He grumbles with a psychotic mantra about not being pushed around as be throws out vile rap to a crowd of shoppers. There is nothing that comes from this set up and no reason for it to be introduced in the first place...which essentially sums up the movie.

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Smokin' Aces (2006)
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Sky Movies

Movie Quote: Walk the Line (2005)

Record Company Executive
Your fans are church folk, Johnny. Christians. They don't wanna hear you singing to a bunch of murderers and rapists, tryin' to cheer 'em up.

Johnny Cash
Well, they're not Christians, then.

The Grudge (2004)

Should I see it?

Short Review: I kept hoping this was the tape from The Ring so that damp little girl would pop out of my TV and put me out of my misery.

If you saw The Ring (staring the impeccable Brian Cox of Super Troopers fame,) you have seen The Grudge – except the lighting is better. This opus, like The Ring, is actually a remake of a Japanese horror film. That means this mindless crud is infecting two cultures at the same time. Moreover, they released The Grudge II (I believe it will be called The Grudge Takes Manhattan.) And you thought the invasion of Pearl Harbor was reason enough to go to war.

The interesting thing about this film is that it goes out of its way to make certain we know the victims are wholly innocent. Morality has nothing to do with one's fate in this film. Much like The Ring, each character happens across an unstoppable evil that consumes them for its own private pleasure. There is nothing intentional to get on the death list and there is nothing one can do to stop it. Actually, in The Ring you could stop it by propagating the evil. It’s as if the movie wants us to believe we’re all just flies trapped in a large web. The spider will get you sooner or later.

What's fun is that? That the thing about fatalists, they're so darn boring. Everything is always so gloom and doom.

The film isn't well done. The Ring was cheaper looking but at least had more detail and depth. This film is flat. The writing is still and wanting. There is not a serious moment of suspense in the whole piece. You know up front that everyone is going to die, so there is no shock when everyone eventually bites the dust. Furthermore, the only reveal is the crime that brings the curse into being. The problem is the situation that gives birth to the curse is not compelling. I've see worse situations in the morning paper every week. The reason for the curse should be a huge payoff and it isn't even chump change.

Looking to the acting: Sarah Michelle Gellar should stick to the facial astringent commercials. Leave the acting to the adults. I’ve seen mimes with more subtlety. Bill Pullman is apparently in a good portion of the film, I don’t quite remember him being in there. I do remember a large chunk of driftwood lumbering about muttering lines, but no Pullman.

Overall, if you’re over thirteen and can read books without pictures you can skip this one. If you want scary go watch MTV for an hour – if that doesn’t get you begging for the mercy of our Lord, nothing will.

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Movie Trailer: Alice in Wonderland

I can't imagine watching Helen Bonham Carter looking like that for a whole movie.

I'll be upfront with my bias: I do not like Tim Burton movies. I think his visuals are obtuse and a tad too precious. I can never get lost in his movies because he insists on reminding me he's directing. There is nothing in this trailer to show he's found a way to restrict his eager designing.

My bias aside, Burton fans appear to have plenty to look forward to. Have fun with it.

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Screenwriters: Linda Woolverton (The Lion King)
Director: Tim Burton (Planet of the Apes)
Actors: Johnny Depp (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), Helena Bonham Carter (Sweeny Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street), Anne Hatchaway (Brokeback Mountain), Crisin Glover (Back to the Future), Christopher Lee (Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers), Michael Sheen (Underworld), Alan Rickman (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire), Stephen Fry (V for Vendetta) and Mia Wasikowska (Defiance)

Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008)

Should I see it?
Sure. I wish I could be more excited than that.

Animator Nick Park's claymation duo Wallace and Gromit has an international following of devoted fans. For years, Park has delivered the goods with clever, well-structured short films Wallace and Gromit in A Close Shave, A Grand Day Out with Wallace and Gromit and the brilliant Wallace & Gromit in The Wrong Trousers. Following the success of these shorts, Park was given license to expand his inventive work to the full-length film Wallace & Gromit in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit.

Were-Rabbit was loaded with puns and fun but seemed a little stretched in its full-length format. With Wallace & Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, Park returns to his more comfortable short form. Made for television, this film clocks in at thirty minutes. Too bad Park is working with about ten minutes of material.

The pair get wrapped up in a murder mystery while they run a bakery. The production has a rushed feeling, as if it wasn't done cooking. A few more runs at the script perhaps? The visuals don't compare to the previous films and the jokes lack Park's joyful punch.

I hate to write these words, but it appears Park phoned this one in.

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Monsters, Inc. (2001)
Toy Story (1995)

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The Mutant Chronicles (2008)

Should I see it?

The Mutant Chronicles

What do Thomas Jane, Ron Perlman and John Malkovich all have in common?

They're all too good to be in this listless waste.

I wrote "This thing stinks of tedium." in response to seeing the trailer. I was wrong. Applying the word "tedium" to the film would give the impression something happens over and over again - tedium would be exciting by comparison.

The 28th century is a cheap looking place where a solider played by Jane fights some mutant alien guys and leaves for Mars and stuff. The entire plot is is just the rejected parts of b-class video games.

Forget this one, assuming you can find it anymore.

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Comment of the Day: Avatar

Today's thoughtful retort comes from Brian. Here is his reaction to my review of Avatar.

Obviously, you are a radical right wing Republican with no sense of decency. This film, if you actually took the time to think about it, shows the evils of Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft, Rove, Haliburton, Blackwater, and Big Oilm (sp) of course in a different context because if James Cameron showed them instead, he would be put in Guantanamo Bay with the other innocent, non-Christian, indigenous peoples of the Middle East that dare dissent from Bush's illegal wars on dark-skinned peoples who don't bow to that Jesus fellow or read the fictinal (sp) Bible and act like it is fact. Plus, look at how much you care about the use of the word race. Obviously, you didn't vote for Obama and don't support him because he is black.

I saw this movie and it was as brilliant as any Orwell story. I think every American should see it and understand the context. If the redneck cracker homophobe racist sexist nd (sp) Islamophobic Republicans don't like it, they shouldn't go see it.

The Christ = "that Jesus fellow"

"If the redneck cracker homophobe racist sexist nd (sp) Islamophobic Republicans don't like it, they shouldn't go see it."

I'm an independent redneck cracker homophobe racist sexist and Islamophobic, so I guess I'm cleared to watch the movie again.

"Obviously, you didn't vote for Obama and don't support him because he is black. "

Well, that's half right. What can I say, I'm blameless. I voted for the American.


OK, let’s hash this out a bit because I’ve been getting tons of comments and my post has become the topic on a number of forums. Which is one of the reasons I posted this comment in the first place. The main reason is because I have a fondness for sharing comments from hyperventilating lefties.

Yes, I am a Christian
Yes, I am a conservative
No, I don’t hate the Earth
Yes, I loathe liberal-minded movies that don’t have the common decency to bury their agenda.

Avatar has a rudimentary script that is far below what should be expected from someone with James Cameron’s resume. The story is terrible. Even forgiving the open-faced social marketing Cameron peddles in, the actual plot, the substance of his screenplay is sophomoric.

Cameron intended to make a political/social statement with this film. Pointing out his flawed thinking and the inherent racist ideology that is threaded through the film is not only fair game, it is compulsory. Any critic that focuses merely on the historic aspect of the technical advancements this film makes is not doing their job. It doesn’t matter if the car is some fancy new mode of transportation if it drives you off a cliff.

Had the story been better my review would have been better. I welcome you to all to search my reviews, available above. You will find numerous reviews of films that have political agendas that I do recommend even though the politics made me ill.
I hope this clears things up.

Movie Trailer: Robin Hood

You have to appreciate the use of period music. It really sets the tone.

This doesn't look like a good film at all. It looks downright silly, actually. It is written by Brian Hegeland and directed by Ridley Scott. These ain't chumps leading this pack, so I have to give them a big benefit of the doubt.

Here's to hoping we don't have another Kingdom of Heaven in the wings.

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Screenwriters: Brian Helgeland (L.A. Confidential)
Director: Ridley Scott (Kingdom of Heaven)
Actors: Russell Crowe (American Gangster), Cate Blanchette (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Mark Strong (RocknRolla), Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon), Kevin Durand (Smokin' Aces), William Hurt (History of Violence) and Max von Sydow (The Adventures of Bob & Doug McKenzie: Strange Brew)

Movie Quote: How Green Was My Valley (1941)

Mr. Gruffydd
But remember, with strength goes responsibility - to others and to yourselves. For you cannot conquer injustice with more injustice - only with justice and the help of God.

The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 (2009)

Should I see it?

Short Review:
Ryder is a bad guy with a soul. Walter is a hero who need redemption. We’re an audience in need of some entertainment.

Like Assault on Precinct 37 or The Italian Job, this a remake that was done for no apparent reason. The original is hardly a classic and this reworking doesn't shine as well. Are we wallowing so deep in post-modern muck that we need to recreate mediocrity?

John Travolta and Denzel Washington spend time in this rehash of the 70’s flick about the hijacking of a New York subway. Ryder (Travolta) and his crew of highly expendable thugs jump Pelham 123, a subway car. Walter (Washington) is a dispatcher with a troubled past.

When the cops show, Ryder insists on only negotiating with Walter. This sets up a long series of hostage phone conversations which are just like every other series of hostage phone conversations we’ve seen in film for forty years.

Director Tony Scott employs his usual sharp edged stylization in an attempt to mask his hollow script. Neither Travolta nor Washington have much to do since their character don’t have notable arcs. They yap and yap as they wait for the next plot point to arrive.

In order to make the final confrontation happen the plot has to discard any logic and/or acknowledgment of police procedure. All of the narrative acrobatics leads to a resolution that is dissatisfying and when considered, pretty darn distasteful.

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American Gangster (2007)

Other Critic’s Reviews:
Commentary Track
Movie Freak

Guest Review: Avatar (2009)

Short Review: A long movie without one humorous scene. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t laugh-out-loud funny.

Avatar is a half a billion dollar toilet seat of a movie. Because Home Depot toilet seat movies like Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas aren’t good enough. No expense is ever too great to remind us of a central dogma of our age: that our culture is bad, bad, bad and “indigenous cultures” are oh so very good. Throw in a couple of corollary doctrines relating to new age spirituality and Gaia worship, and you have the perfect leftist didactic fairy tale disguised as a sci-fi adventure.

But a strange thing occurs to one as the expensive toilet seat comes crashing down on one’s head. How disconcerting it is, how un-humanizing it is to turn indigenous peoples into aliens. Cameron’s intention is to make we humans into the aliens, but because of the film’s central metaphor, that’s not how things work. Usually metaphor is employed to get someone to see something from a different angle. The central metaphor of this movie is that hominid Na'vi of the moon Pandora are just like the aboriginal inhabitants of North and South America and Australia. Except that their blue skin and tails are about the only thing different. Their rituals, weapons, religion, even war cries, are pretty much the same. So why did we have to go to Pandora to listen to this Rousseau-ian sermon? Beats me. The metaphor eventually becomes so thin and the parallels so heavy-handed that you may find yourself, as I did, laughing.

While the plot is a tedious checklist of the civilized-savage-meets-enlightened-primitive genre, the visuals help to redeem the effort, at least as purely aesthetic diversion. The word is beautiful and richly realized. The creatures are wonderful, with a subtle, unspoken evolutionary backstory*. The huge CGI budget can’t make this thing successful, however.

One final, disconnected note: this movie fails utterly as science fiction. The central science fictiony element (the telepathic link between human minds and Na'vi bodies) is never explained or explored. It functions only as a convenient plot device.

* A thoroughly inconsistent one, however. The animals we see close up have a six-legged body plan and four eyes. The Na'vi, however are humanoid. Where are their evolutionary cousins?

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