Originally Posted by bigmac31391
OK, let me elaborate. You may not have seen Aliens, I would guess.
I used to be a huge fan of James Cameron's work. Up until Titanic. OK, Titanic was to many people a great epic movie, and it was epic. But it was a very thinly veiled attempt at manipulating the audience, pushing their buttons; it borders on contempt.
Avatar is more of the same with the addition of cultural guilt.
It's a shame because James Cameron used to have a very creative sci-fi mind and it showed from his blockbusters like Terminator to the flops like Strange Days. He's got some great notches in his belt; Aliens, the Abyss, Terminator, et al.
Now, with Titanic and Avatar, if you look past the superficial and obvious manipulation of the audience, it seems Cameron holds his audience in contempt.
Watch Aliens (1986), Cameron's sequel to the original. Interstellar travel requiring hibernation, space marines, a confined fortress in a hostile alien world, mech suits, a gung-ho butch female hispanic space marine (Pvt. Vasquez in Aliens, Lt. Chacon in Avatar), Earth is barren and needs to exploit the alien world, the space marines are pawns of a ruthless corporation. Heck the mess hall the space marines were in was virtually identical. The Avatar pods were almost identical to the stasis pods in Aliens, the Avatar control room was like the sick bay on the Nostromo. Virtually all of the elements of Aliens were recycled for use in Avatar, except the "enemy" isn't a faceless alien monster but misunderstood Indians, I mean Naa'Vi; and the world isn't a hostile wasteland, it's a magical wonderland that can still be hostile and deadly; all that was missing from Avatar was a little girl saying "they mostly come out at night, mostly". Fittingly both films feature Sigourney Weaver. Watch Aliens and then watch Avatar, the Deja Vu will be overwhelming; as I said, James Cameron ripped himself off. He may have pioneered new special effects but didn't put much thought into the rest. Watch Aliens and you will recognize that it is 80% of Avatar, with a love story and likeable aliens added in to the newer effort.
Now the "plot". It's been told a million times. Classically as Pocohontas. More recently as "Dances With Wolves". Soldier for Western culture gets lost and falls in love with native girl, learns her ways, changes sides and defeats his former army.
It's hard to find a truly "new" story and I'm sure people are aware of the archetypes, Joseph Campbell, etc. One can argue every story told is similar to a story we already know going back to the Greeks. However, some work a little harder at it than others. Cameron mailed this one in.
In my case to prove Cameron has contempt for his audience, need I go any further than "unobtanium", really? I just picture Cameron writing the script. "Hmmm, I need a reason for them to be here, some kind of precious element they need. How about 'unobtainium'? Nah that's way too stupid. Wait, I think the audience is stupid. Let's leave it. It's a giant thumb in the eye to the audience." I don't know how they stopped him from naming Jake Scully "Private Cripple J. Hero".
Unfortunately, the money that Avatar and Titanic hauled in have sealed the formula and turned James Cameron into another George Lucas, stealing from himself and recycling old ideas. The formula is now a lock -- manipulate the audience and push their easy emotional buttons, add in cutting edge special effects, and skimp on plot, story, and creativity. It's a formula now.