Why Avatar Is a Terrible Movie

In 2009, director James Cameron broke international box office records with his sci-fi, fantasy, epic about humans colonizing a resource enriched planet and the natives who stand up against the colonization process. The movie, Avatar, would go onto make a record $2.788 billion dollars worldwide and was praised for its revolutionary visual effects. While many people I know loved this film and saw it multiple times in the cinema, I was not at all impressed with Avatar’s lack of original story, one-note characters, wooden performances, predictable foreshadowing and cliché villains.

Why Everyone Loves Avatar…

Did I mention that Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all time? Well it is and almost everyone I knew saw Avatar in cinemas at least 2 or 3 times. Most would fork out the extra couple dollar to see it in 3D as well.

I can’t complain much about the visuals in this film and seeing Avatar opening weekend in IMAX 3D was pretty amazing. I will give credit where credit’s due and James Cameron initially blew my mind with his visuals. It was nothing anyone had ever seen before. However, seeing Avatar again made me understand that behind some of the spectacular visual effects and 3D computer images, there’s not much else going on with this film story wise. In fact, I’d say that after seeing the movie again and not being taken in by the visuals, I was highly let down by the unoriginal and cliché story that Cameron wrote for this film.

Why I Hate Avatar…

Avatar is not that great of a movie. In fact, it’s terrible. Yes, I know I just praised how amazing the visual effects were, but so what? Visuals are only one competent of a film, there’s also the screenplay, direction, plot, characters and story. I can’t deny that one of those elements, visuals, were not only masterful but digging deeper into Avatar has caused me a lot of disappointment and frustration. While I won’t go into too many details, I would like to do an analysis with reasons as to why certain elements in Avatar don’t work and why it adds up to a terrible movie.

Screenplay – With words like unobtainium, the main resource the humans in Avatar are mining on a distance planet, you’d think James Cameron could have some up with a better or more cleaver name. It’s a little too obvious and silly to be taken seriously, then there’s the forced foreshadowing moments that aren’t subtle in anyway. In fact, they hit you in the head pretty hard. I don’t want to spoil anything in the movie for those who haven’t seen it but a main character says they would die to get more unobtainium. You don’t even need to guess what happens. In fact, unobtainium was first used in the 2003 disaster movie, The Core and like many other parts of this story; it’s completely unoriginal in every single way.

Story – It’s obvious to anyone who has seen FernGully that Cameron’s nature-worshiping, mystical story was taken from that early 1990’s Disney cartoon. However, Cameron also directly borrowed from Dances With Wolves and other movies he’s directed. There’s simply next to nothing original in Avatar and while I’ve say that before, it needs to be emphasized. Avatar is not unoriginal because it’s a reboot, remake, sequel or prequel, which is something Hollywood tends to make because they’re safe bets. No, Avatar is unoriginal in the sense that the story of this film has already been done in exactly the same way and done better in so many other movies. It seems to be a formula that works, going back to Avatar’s box office success, but it’s still a big reason why this film is terrible.

Characters – We get it Cameron, people bad, native aliens good. Corporations bad, nature worship good. We get it because we see it in every typical Hollywood movie. Giovanni Ribisi’s character is a terrible, greedy, money hungry corporate official who hates the poor, innocent natives. We get it. His character reminded me of Burke, played by Paul Reiser in 1986’s Aliens, which was a better movie directed by Cameron. Except, Paul Reiser’s character was less awful and very much less one note. Cameron seems to be obsessed with corporations and rich people and that’s all good for him but try to do something more original in your films. You know, considering that this movie made him even more of a billionaire than he already was.

This is the longest article I’ve written for this blog and so I’ll conclude very simply. James Cameron’s Avatar, while visually stunning and innovative is also unoriginal, silly, childish, empty and cliché. Is it HIGHLY OVERRATED and even worst, at its core it’s ONE TERRIBLE MOVIE.

I should have known when the posters read “From the director of Titanic”, a movie I absolutely loath that will be worthy of an article in the future.

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Free the People publishes opinion-based articles from contributing writers. The opinions and ideas expressed do not always reflect the opinions and ideas that Free the People endorses. We believe in free speech, and in providing a platform for open dialog. Feel free to leave a comment!

Mark Tordai

Screenwriter, journalist, Independent Spirit Awards voter, blogger, cinefile, rugby union enthusiast.

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