Unlike the Blair Witch Project which received 3 stars from the Motion Sickness Association of America and the latest Jason Borne installment which scored an amazing 4 1/2 stars on the Motion Sickness Scale, Avatar received an impressive and yet-to-be achieved 5 star rating. It will most definetly take movie goers a full five days to fully recover their equilibrium.
Avatar starts us spinning from the very first scene and spits us out with a terrible case of sea-sickness that would rival any rough-water dinghy ride in the Cayman Islands. (This movie reviewer’s personal worst motion-sickness episode.) But Avatar is a such a mesmerizing and new ride with such special effects and amazing scenery, that no matter how sick you start to feel you won’t ever want to ask to get off.
Avatar will be just like the Tea Cup ride at Disney World. You will both love and hate it.
First, the plot: Donning 3-D glasses in an IMAX setting, movie goers are introduced to Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine who is going to an alien-filled planet, Pandora, which is rich with natural resources. Sully’s mission, along with other new recruits, is simple: take on an Avatar body like those of the natives, infiltrate the native’s society, gain their trust and then betray them. It is the age-old story of white man taking what is not his. But much like Avatar’s special 3-D effects, the plot takes its own expected twist. To no one’s surprise, Sully falls in love with the native people and a certain native maiden named Neytiri, and a John Smith/Pocahontas/Dances with Wolves scenario is introduced.
And a total and complete nauseating sickness overtakes the 3-D movie goers.
Now to the dialogue: The most sickening part of the movie was not its special effects or cheesy plot, but the terrible dialogue lines and sterotypical roles assigned by writer/director and cheesy “King of the World” himself, James Cameron. Here are a few examples: The head scientist, Dr. Grace, who obviously hates meat-head Marine, Sully, tells him, “Let your mind go blank, that should be easy for you.” Later, the hard-ass helicopter pilot Trudy (Anna Lucia from LOST) smacks her gum (of course), then smirks and triumphantly spouts off, “You guys should see your faces” as the new recruits are introduced to the visually breathtaking scenery of Pandora.
But the most gag-inducing dialogue was assigned to the bad guy, Colonel Quaritch. The queasy feeling begins to creep in right from the start when Col. Quaritch explains to the new recurits, “You’re not in Kansas anymore” when they land on Pandora. How original. And you really feel the need to hurl as he rounds out his terrible dialogue perfumance with, “Come to Pappa” when challenging the hero to duel in the final scenes.
And finally, the most dizzying effect: Mother Nature. Compounding the motion sickness caused by the incredible visual effects, the gut-wrenching dialogue and unoriginal plot line is the appearance of the Mother Nature-diety character, Ewya. It’s not the nature part that we turn “green” over, it’s the obvious parallel to Oprah Winfrey that Cameron draws here.
Ewya is the spiritual leader. She is all knowing, she loves everything, runs everything and even gives and takes life. She’s an expert on mating rituals and lifetime mates, although there’s never a Father Nature in the picture. Instead there’s just a stand-in “Stedman” tribe leader who lets “Gail,” his wife, run the show. And Gail and Ewya are pretty close. I think Ewya is so excited when Sully comes back to save the day that you hear a “Jaaaake Sullllly!!!” coming from the Life tree at one point. Nauseating.
By the end of the movie, you just wish that it would all end. Like nighttime in the forrest, movie-goers are going to feel like they are taking a bad trip at a neon-lit Rave. You will be begging Ewya to make the ceiling stop spinning.
The final word: You will be sickened by Avatar, but you must watch it and you won’t be able to look away. Take a few deep breaths, keep your eyes on the horizon and have a barf-bag at the ready. You’re in for a visually stimulating and vomit-inducing ride.