Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Avatar - The Metacontextual Edition

Rudyard Kipling would be proud

THE MOVIE OPENS WITH A MONTAGE SHOWING THE MAIN CHARACTER, AN EX-MARINE "JARHEAD", BEING RELEASED FROM A V.A. HOSPITAL, HIS FLIGHT IN SUSPENDED ANIMATION TO THE MOON-WORLD PANDORA, AND ALSO A BACK STORY OF WHY HE HAS BEEN SELECTED TO BE IN THE AVATAR PROGRAM.

Image: some_doctor

SOME DOCTOR: So, basically, you had a twin brother who did stuff like "training", and had an "education", and was actually prepared for this job. But he died, so we got you to replace him, even though you're basically a dumb jock.

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JUGHEAD: You will soon see that what I lack in "education", "training", "competence", "listening skills", "ability to obey orders", or any of that other stuff, I make up with by having "heart". But since you don't know that yet, why did you choose me to replace my brother?

Image: some_doctor

SOME DOCTOR: Because of the genetic match, and the brain matching, or something... whatever... look, the point is that the audience doesn't want to see someone who worked hard to get where they are, because that that might make the audience feel inferior for being the fucking sheep that they are. What they do want to see is somebody just as stupid as them, who falls ass backwards into awesomeness by having some vague quality like "heart" that everyone believes is true for them too. That way they can fantasize about making something of themselves without having to earn it. And, amazingly, our technology creates situations that do just that!

CUT TO SCENES OF A SPACE SHIP ARRIVING AT PANDORA, AND THEN A TRANSPORT OF SOME KIND LANDING IN A MILITARY SAFE ZONE CARVED OUT OF THE JUNGLE - A "GREEN ZONE", IF YOU WILL. ALL THE TROOPS GET OUT. WHEN JUGHEAD GETS OUT, WE DISCOVER THE BIG REVEAL:

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: I'm in a wheelchair! Hah! You didn't see that coming, did you?

Image: soldier

SOME SOLDIER: I bet that wheelchair is going to be a source of constant difficulty, dramatic tension, and an opportunity to heighten the risk in action scenes.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: I think you'll be surprised at just how little a role my wheelchair will play in all this.

AS JUGHEAD IS MAKING HIS WAY THROUGH THE GREEN ZONE, HE MEETS TWO OTHER SCIENTISTS, RED-SHIRT AND SOME OTHER SCIENTIST

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Dude, do you have time for me to spout some exposition? It's really the only time my character will contribute anything meaningful.

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JUGHEAD: Knock yourself out.

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Okay, so these over here are the bodies we call "Avatars". They're artificially created versions of the native Smurf creatures that inhabit this planet. While you sit in a modified tanning bed, you mentally hook up with the body that has been genetically matched to you. Well, to your brother, but that's good enough. Or something. Anyway, being in Smurf-mode takes a lot of training to be able to handle, but we're pretty much going to just throw you in because for some reason, we're in a super rush to get you into the program. Despite the fact that, precisely because you have no training, our lead scientist is going to regulate you to vague security duties you can't even perform because of the overwhelming difficulties of the hostile environment we're in. You won't even know how to handle the first creature you encounter while we do scientific studies you can't help us with.

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: I guess I won't have much to contribute to this scene.

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RED-SHIRT: Yeah, get used to that.

CUT TO JUGHEAD MAKING A VIDEO BLOG

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Hey, why do I have to do these video blog things?

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: To provide a context for the voice overs you do where you explain to the audience things that should have been shown through action.

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JUGHEAD: I get the lazy writing angle, but mostly I've been describing things that are already obvious.

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Oh, you want the justification used within the context of the story? It's for a complete recording of everything, for a complete scientific record. And completeness. Or something.

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JUGHEAD: But if we have a level of technology where we can transmit our consciousness into another body, couldn't you just record that transmission and then you'd have all my thoughts and experience as they happen, making a more complete record than I could ever describe in words?

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Huh. Yeah, I guess we don't need you to do the voice overs then.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Yay!

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JAMES CAMERON: Oh no you don't. I've got a scene later that hinges on what you say in your video blog.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Boo!

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JAMES CAMERON: Sorry, can't hear you over the one and a half billion dollars I'm grossing world wide.

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AUDIENCE: We only have ourselves to blame.

JUGHEAD IS TAKEN TO SEE THE MAIN SCIENTIST, RIPLEY

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RIPLEY: Hey Jughead, fuck you. Seriously, just... fuck you. Fuck you for being you, for being here, and for everything. Fuck. You.

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JUGHEAD: So... you don't like me?

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RIPLEY: I don't have to spend any time finding out about you to know I don't like you. Everybody knows that as a scientist, I am high and mighty and quick to judge. I wouldn't ever evaluate people by the observable evidence of their behaviour or anything sensible and in keeping with my training.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Whatever. Your dislike of me isn't going to slow me down... or the story... or have any impact whatsoever beyond expository dialogue.

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RED-SHIRT: I'm in this scene too. Let me speak a little Smurf language just to highlight how untrained Jughead is.

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RIPLEY: Who the fuck are you?

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RED-SHIRT: I'm the actually trained scientist?

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RIPLEY: Whatever. I don't really have any identifiable disposition toward you, so I'm just going to maintain a minimum of interaction with you for the rest of the movie.

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Okely dokely.

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JUGHEAD: Anyway, I'm going to deflect all your legitimate concerns about my presence in the project with a whole bunch of smart ass responses, because it's quicker to inflate the tension between us that way than having any scenes where my lack of training actually causes any problems.

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Are you sure? Because if we took the time to develop your character by having you actually be not good at your job for even just a little bit, that would give a legitimate depth to the rift between our characters. It would also legitimize the established concept that somehow this Avatar program is difficult to do somehow.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Mmm... nah. I don't want to be anything less than totally awesome, so I'm not going to spend any part of this movie being un-awesome, except for one scene where I'll fall off a horse.

RIPLEY GETS FED UP AND GOES TO SEE THE BOSS OF THIS WHOLE OPERATION TO COMPLAIN.

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RIPLEY: I'm tired of the Weyland-Yutani corporation dicking me around!

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: The Weyland-what now?

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: When you sent me back to the colony on LV-426 ... oh, wait... sorry, elements of your symbolic purpose in this movie are so similar to that other situation that I got confused about who I was mad at.

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: Come into my office for a conversation that we would never have had before this in all the years we've been working together.

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RIPLEY: About how the harsh realities of capitalism are what pay my salary?

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: Yes. See this hovering clump of rock?

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RIPLEY: This is the first time you have ever showed that to me. Strange that you never did.

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: This is "unobtanium". It's a magic energy crisis solver. Back on Earth it has a high enough value that we can simply gloss over all the ridiculously high obstacles to an interplanetary profit making venture that would completely gut my character's motivations and the whole anti-capitalist message of this movie.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: "Unobtanium"? Really?

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EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: Hah! You're all lame. It's an in-joke with fiction writers .

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Alright, we'll allow it.

MEANWHILE, BACK IN THE LAB, JUGHEAD AND RED SHIRT GO INTO SMURF MODE FOR THE FIRST TIME.

Image: some_scientist

SOME SCIENTIST: Wow, Jughead has a beautiful brain!

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AUDIENCE: That was an awkward thing to say. What does it even mean?

Image: some_scientist

SOME SCIENTIST: Don't sweat it. It won't come up again.

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JUGHEAD: Never mind that, look at me! I'm such a fucking maverick that I won't even listen to a doctor who makes the perfectly reasonable request that I sit up slowly! And check this out! I'm already perfectly good at using this body in literally two seconds. Training? Fuck that. I'm running! And smiling! You see, because in my real body, I'm a cripple, so this already establishes how much I love being...

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: We get it. Move on.

Image: ripley_smurf

RIPLEY: Hey there. Despite how much I was pissed with you for even being here, I'm not even going to mention the fact that three seconds into your Smurf body you're already blowing off instructions and proving that you're every bit as unreliable as I suspected. Instead, here, have a fruit.

LATER, AFTER JUGHEAD GOES TO SLEEP AS AN AVATAR, HE WAKES UP BACK IN HIS HUMAN BODY. THE AUDIENCE WONDERS WHEN EXACTLY DOES HE ACUALLY SLEEP. THIS WILL NEVER GET ANSWERED. THE AUDIENCE SUSPECTS THIS WON'T BE THE LAST UNANSWERED QUESTION.

JUGHEAD IS BEING SHOWN AROUND A FIGHTER PLANE BY THE ONLY NON-BLUE, NON-WHITE-ARYAN PERSON WITH A SPEAKING ROLE IN THE ENTIRE MOVIE.

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: Hey! I'm not white!

WOW... REALLY? ... HUH. WELL, SORRY, BUT YOU COULD BE TRANSPARENT FOR ALL THE IMPACT YOU MAKE.

SO, ANYWAY, JUGHEAD IS BEING SHOWN AROUND BY THAT HOT CHICK WHO PLAYED A TOUGH L.A. COP IN "LOST", AND LIKED THAT CHARACTER SO MUCH THAT IT'S PRETTY MUCH WHO SHE IS HERE, TOO. EXCEPT WITHOUT THE "CHARACTER" PART.

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: So, even though the whole reason you're here is because of the outrageous expense of training people to do your job and genetically matching them to Smurf bodies, because we're short on staff we might need you to do high risk work as a gunner on my ship, which could get you killed.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: The way this movie drops threads, I'm sure I'll never actually have to do any gunner duty anyway, so I'm sure I'll be fine. Hey, you're pretty hot, want to develop a love interest that will cause a visceral emotional conflict when I start to date a Smurf chick?

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: That would be really exciting and dramatic. But no, I'm just going to wander away now. I have about as much impact on the story off screen as on screen anyway. Oh, the commander wants to talk to you.

JUGHEAD WALKS OVER TO WHERE A SUPER MUSCULAR DRILL SERGEANT TYPE GUY IS BENCH PRESSING ABOUT A TON OF IRON.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Is that a lot? Isn't the gravity different here? We're really not sure if that's a lot of weight or not.

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JUGHEAD: You wanted to see me, sir?

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Yeah, I've got a deal for you. If you basically spy for me so that I can blow up the big tree where the Smurfs live, I'll arrange it so that you can have your legs back. That should provide a suitable justification for your character's duplicity.

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JUGHEAD: Yeah... I guess...

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SERGEANT STRAW MAN: What, you don't want your legs back?

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JUGHEAD: Well, it's just that I've already been a Smurf that can run and jump and move in ways that even a human can't, and the audience already knows from the trailer that I'm going to go totally native. It just seems like the whole incentive of getting legs in my human body is kind of null before it's even offered.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: How 'bout we work it into the plot that later on, when it comes time to choose being a full time Smurf, your Smurf body is by that time crippled and can't walk, so it means giving up the chance of having legs as a human in order to be crippled as a Smurf?

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Wow! Yeah, that would be an intensely dramatic dilemma! By forcing me to give up something instead of just becoming more awesome, that would show the love for my upcoming love interest and the sacrifice I make to be with her, as well as how deep my bond with the Smurf society has become. It would show real heroism, and conflict, and hard decisions, and...

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Shut the fuck up.

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JUGHEAD: Er... yeah, okay, I'll spy for you, Sarge.

LATER, JUGHEAD, RIPLEY, AND RED-SHIRT EXPLORE THE JUNGLE IN SMURF MODE

Image: ripley_smurf

RIPLEY: This place is an extremely hostile jungle environment.

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JUGHEAD: But if we can find the huge ape and bring it back to New York, we can call it the eighth wonder of the world and make a fortune on tickets.

Image: ripley_smurf

RIPLEY: What?

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JUGHEAD: Sorry, I got confused, because I have a feeling the next little while is going to be about wandering around a jungle being chased by one ridiculously hostile creature after another. Is there anything in this movie that isn't derived from other movies?

Image: red-shirt_smurf

RED-SHIRT: I keep it straight by remembering that the animals here are way more colourful.

Image: ripley_smurf

RIPLEY: Who the fuck are you again?

WHILE RED-SHIRT AND RIPLEY START POKING THINGS WITH NEEDLES AND DOING BORING "SCIENCE" SHIT THAT EVERYONE KNOWS IS STUPID AND DOESN'T TEACH YOU ANYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE "HEART", JUGHEAD WANDERS OFF. HE FINDS SOME PLANTS THAT ARE WAY PRETTIER AND DO THINGS WAY COOLER THAN ANY DUMB OLD PLANT ON EARTH WOULD EVER DO. THEN SUDDENLY HE IS FACED WITH A HUGE FOUR LEGGED ANIMAL THAT, LIKE ALL ANIMALS IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, IS RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING AGGRESSIVE

Image: huge_ass_animal

HUGE ASS ANIMAL: RAWR!

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RIPLEY: Don't move! It's a much more comical interaction if you don't move!

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JUGHEAD: Okay! But I'm going to add a touch of awesome so that I can claim this interaction as my own, and not based on anything you have ever "learned" by your stupid and boring "observations" or "studies".

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD (TO HUGE ASS ANIMAL): RAWR!

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HUGE ASS ANIMAL: RAWR!

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JUGHEAD: RAWR!

HUGE ASS ANIMAL TURNS AND RUNS

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JUGHEAD: Hah, I knew that eventually I would scare it off.

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AUDIENCE: This must be one of those moments seen in every movie where he thinks it was him who scared it, but actually when he turns around...

AN EVEN MORE RIDICULOUSLY AGGRESSIVE SPECIES OF ANIMAL SNEAKS UP BEHIND JUGHEAD, COMING OUT INTO THE OPEN, GIVING JUGHEAD PLENTY OF TIME TO REACT, AS OPPOSED TO SIMPLY JUMPING ON HIM STRAIGHT AWAY

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Ah, there we go.

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JUGHEAD: I don't remember - what did they do in Jurassic Park when there was a situation just like this?

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RIPLEY: Never mind that! Run! Run the other way, away from us and all the contingency plans we don't seem to have for this situation, even though we've established that this is a hostile environment where shit like this probably happens frequently!

JUGHEAD RUNS THROUGH THE JUNGLE, NARROWLY ESCAPING ONE RIDICULOUSLY CLOSE CALL AFTER ANOTHER

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: This would be a little more exciting if it weren't such a blur of leaves and motion so that I could actually tell where anything was.

JUGHEAD EVENTUALLY ESCAPES BY JUMPING OFF A CLIFF INTO A POOL AT THE BASE OF A WATERFALL

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Thank god no body of water below a high dive off a cliff ever has shallow rocks.

LATER JUGHEAD IS MAKING A TORCH OUT OF STUFF.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Don't even ask me how I know this liquid I'm dipping my torch into is flammable when it's been clearly established that my character knows nothing about anything. I can't even identify the two largest species of ground animal, and yet I've got mad camping skills.

A PACK OF DOGS THAT AREN'T DOGS EXCEPT THAT THEY ARE DOGS ATTACK. BECAUSE THEY ARE RIDICULOUSLY FUCKING AGGRESSIVE.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Okay, one at a time now...

THEY ATTACK ONE AT A TIME

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JUGHEAD (WHILE FIGHTING): Damn... I thought if a wolf pack showed up, I would dance with them, and win the hearts of the natives that way... But I suppose not everything will be like that movie...

JUGHEAD KNOCKS DOWN EACH DOG, UNTIL ONE FINALLY GETS THE BETTER OF JUGHEAD. IT LOOKS LIKE IT'S ABOUT TO BITE HIM WHILE THE OTHER DOGS STAND AROUND AND WATCH. THE JAWS GET CLOSER AND CLOSER... AND CLOOOOOSER... AND...

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AUDIENCE: Cue the arrow or spear or dart or whatever the fuck it's going to be already!

SUDDENLY A SEXY BUT EMPOWERED FEMALE SMURF, POCAHONTAS, JUMPS IN AND SHOOTS AN ARROW, KILLING THE DOG ON TOP OF JUGHEAD. SHE THEN OPENS UP A CAN OF WHOOPASS ON ALL THE OTHER DOGS.

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JUGHEAD: Nice.

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POCAHONTAS: Not nice! Bad! Must respect nature!

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JUGHEAD: I can literally hear the timer counting down to when you and I get it on.

SHE LOOKS AT HIM COQUETTISHLY, BECAUSE THE SUBTLE WAYS THAT PEOPLE SHOW AFFECTION AND ALL OTHER MANNERISMS ARE UNIVERSAL AMONG ALL SPECIES IN THE UNIVERSE.

AS HE FOLLOWS HER THROUGH THE JUNGLE, A WHOLE BUNCH OF DANDELION SEEDS LAND ON HIM, AND AT THAT MOMENT SHE KNOWS HOW AWESOME HE IS AND SHE TOO CAN HEAR THE COUNTDOWN TIMER TO WHEN SHE WILL GET IT ON WITH HIM. SHE DECIDES TO TAKE HIM BACK TO THE TO SMURF VILLAGE UNDER THIS HUGE TREE. THEY MEET THE CHIEF OF THE VILLAGE, PAPA SMURF

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PAPA SMURF: Daughter, why have you brought this guy here?

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JUGHEAD: So the chick who is totally crushing on me just happens to be the daughter of the chief? Awesome.

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MAMA SMURF: Hang on, let me make some vague pronouncements originating in my ill-defined spiritual nature, which is sort of derived from the actual biological network of this planet so that more sceptical audience members won't be too put off by the new-age analogies, but is kind of an obvious analogy for mother Earth style Gaia spiritualism to appeal to people who read horoscopes.

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JUGHEAD: So church and state are all bound up in this one family, and if I seduce the daughter, I've got a shot at running this tribe one day! Nice! Thank god nobody who makes films ever fantasizes about democracies.

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MAMA SMURF: Okay, I know all I need to know after about ten seconds of waving my hands around. He can stay, but you, Pocahontas, must teach him everything about us.

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JUGHEAD: Three months, tops.

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JEALOUS BROTHER: Fuck you! You are an outsider! You don't know our ways! You can't be here! Fuck! You!

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JUGHEAD: Hey, Ripley was kind of saying the same thing to m... ooohhhh, I get it. Parallels. Who exactly are you, anyway?

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JEALOUS BROTHER: I have been chosen by the undefined and arbitrary rules of our traditions to lead this tribe, and as part of the package I get Pocahantas as my mate!

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JUGHEAD: So, you're like, her fiancé? That's weird, because I am sensing, like, zero vibe between you two. I thought you were her overly concerned brother.

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JEALOUS BROTHER: Don't tell me I can't impact the story just because Pocahontas doesn't show the remotest interest in me, nor do I to her! I'm also a big shot warrior or something, so I still have potential dramatic inroads to the story!

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JUGHEAD: Oh yeah? I'd need an electron microscope to see how much influence you're going to have on the course of action for the entire rest of the movie. I'm willing to bet you just stand around like an uninvolved bystander and watch me be awesome, while gaining grudging respect for me, until ultimately I take your place as the most awesome member of the tribe.

JEALOUS BROTHER THROWS A HISSY FIT AND ATTACKS JUGHEAD. THEY FIGHT, JUGHEAD GETS KNOCKED DOWN. POCAHONTAS PROTECTS JUGHEAD BY USING HER POWERS OF FEMALE EMPOWERMENT.

LATER, JUGHEAD AND POCAHONTAS FALL ASLEEP WRAPPED UP IN HUGE LEAVES THAT THEY USE AS BEDS AND CAN EVEN BE WRAPPED AROUND YOU LIKE A SNUGGIE , BECAUSE IN THIS ENVIRONMENT, WHATEVER ISN'T TRYING TO KILL YOU IS A NATURALLY OCCURRING PRIMITIVE VERSION OF A USEFUL COMMODITY, SORT OF LIKE THE HOUSEHOLD APPLIANCES ON THE FLINTSTONES.

JUGHEAD WAKES UP FROM SMURF MODE AND IS BACK IN THE LAB

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: I don't even know who...

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Wait! You don't say it yet.

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JUGHEAD: Thought I'd get the obvious out of the way.

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RED-SHIRT: If we give in to that thinking, this movie would be shorter than the trailer.

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JUGHEAD: Right. Anyway, you'll never believe where my Smurf-me is. One fucking day out there, and I am already way past anything that anyone with an education has ever done. Simply by being as awesome as I am, I have been invited by the most awesome babe in their tribe to go back to the centre of their tree and start learning how to be the most awesome member of their tribe.

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RIPLEY: Fuck you. But with slightly more respect.

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RED-SHIRT: Aw, man, I am so fucking jealous!

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RIPLEY: At least that gives you some kind of characteristic to identify you with.

UP IN THE CONTROL TOWER, JUGHEAD IS SHARING ALL SORTS OF INFORMATION WITH THE METAPHORICAL INDUSTRIAL MILITARY COMPLEX BY POINTING STUFF OUT IN A 3D DISPLAY.

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JUGHEAD: You see, all the juiciest energy resources are directly underneath their home. What does that remind you of?

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SERGEANT STRAW MAN: I give you three months before I basically ignore everything you learn and go ahead with a plan I have now anyway, because military people aren't ever interested in "information" or "options".

A MONTAGE ENSUES, SHOWING JUGHEAD AND POCAHONTAS JUMPING AROUND IN AN ENVIRONMENT THAT IS WAY MORE COOL THAN STUPID EARTH AND IT'S STUPID PLANTS THAT DON'T GLOW WHEN YOU TOUCH THEM.

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JUGHEAD (VOICE OVER): Okay, over the next little while, Pocahontas taught me how to do stuff.

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AUDIENCE: Yeah, we know. We can see you doing it.

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POCAHONTAS: You must learn how we move through the forest.

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JUGHEAD: Basically, you guys do parkour .

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: That's about it. Your training is complete.

CUT TO SCENES OF RED-SHIRT TEACHING JUGHEAD THE SMURF LANGUAGE

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JUGHEAD (VOICE OVER): Red-shirt has been teaching me the language. Which I find hard, but it doesn't matter, because that's studying, and obviously studying isn't as important as being white, male, and good looking. And awesome.

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JUGHEAD (TO RED-SHIRT): Hey, Red-shirt, aren't you jealous anymore that I am doing everything way better than you, even though you did so much training and I basically just wing everything but still win so fucking hard?

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RED-SHIRT: No, I'm over it now.

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JUGHEAD: Really? Because that seemed like a potentially awesome plot device, where your internal conflict could be developed into a morally ambiguous character that could make decisions that would challenge the audience by being unpredictable at key moments during the adventure.

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RED-SHIRT: No, I'm good. Really.

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JUGHEAD: Even with all the messages it sends to kids watching the movie that achievement is a matter of just being awesome, and that only losers actually work and study to try to attain goals that they'll never get because they weren't born with inherent awesomeness?

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RED-SHIRT: It's a-ok, my friend.

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JUGHEAD: Even though without that one defining characteristic, you're an amorphous blob of a character without a single identifying trait that would make the audience give the slightest shit what happened to you?

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RED-SHIRT: I'm so fine with it that we'll never have to even mention it ever again for the rest of the movie.

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JUGHEAD: Okay then.

CUT TO POCAHONTAS SHOWING JUGHEAD HOW TO RIDE A HORSE. IT'S NOT REALLY A HORSE, THOUGH. IT'S AN ALIEN HORSE LIKE THING. BUT NOT AN ACTUAL HORSE. LOOK, IT'S GOT MORE LEGS THAN AN EARTH HORSE. AND IT'S GOT THESE ANTENNAE TYPE THINGS. DEFINITELY NOT A HORSE.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: ...

OKAY, IT'S A HORSE.

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Okay, take the USB connector at the bottom of your ponytail and connect it to the port on the horse's antennae.

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JUGHEAD: Holy shit, you mean I can interface directly with the network of this planet directly by plugging into various connections that living creatures everywhere seem to have? That's fucking wild! And if you think about it, since we humans have the technology to remotely connect my consciousness by WiFi to this body, then that implies we have the ability to network our consciousnesses as well. There could be potentially all sorts of wild story elements of trying to use mechanistic technology to hack into an organic network, pitting an artificial neural network against a biological neural network and highlighting the diff...

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Shut the fuck up.

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JUGHEAD: Sorry... Uh... Oh - whoops! I fell of the horse! What an amusing comedic moment! Hah hah.

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JEALOUS BROTHER: Hi, just riding through so I can look at you with a sneer. Sneer! Sneer! Okay, my work here is done.

JUGHEAD WAKES UP FROM SMURF MODE

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JUGHEAD: I don't even kn...

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RIPLEY: Not yet!

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JUGHEAD: Oh, for crying out loud, we all know I'm going to say it.

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RIPLEY: We have almost three hours to fill.

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AUDIENCE: Really? These glasses are kind of uncomfortable for a whole three hours.

JUGHEAD, RIPLEY, AND RED SHIRT GO IN A HELICOPTER LIKE THING, FLOWN BY VASQUEZ WANNA-BE, UP TO A REMOTE CAMP WHERE THEY HAVE ALL THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO RUN THE AVATAR SYSTEM. TO GET THERE, THEY MUST FLY THROUGH THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE, AN AREA WHERE MOUNTAINS FLOAT, WHICH IS ACTUALLY KIND OF COOL LOOKING.

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: You need to be a hot shit pilot like myself to fly though here, because this place scrambles all sorts of electronic transmissions, making my whole navigation computer and other types of scan not work.

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JUGHEAD: But the WiFi signals that we use to control our Smurf bodies all still work just fine, right?

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: Yeah, funny how that works.

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JUGHEAD: What about our nifty walkie-talkie throat communicator things?

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: Yep. We can do all the stuff we need to do, just not be tracked by anyone we don't want to be tracked by, if that situation should ever arise.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Gee, I wonder if that will ever happen.

THEY ARRIVE AT THE SHIPPING CONTAINERS ON TOP OF A FLOATING MOUNTAIN WHERE THEY HAVE THEIR REMOTE STATION.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: So... why was a remote station ever made if our WiFi Smurf Control system seems to have absolutely no problem broadcasting to anywhere and everywhere on the planet?

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Um...

BACK IN SMURF MODE, JUGHEAD IS TAKEN TO THE TOP OF A FLOATING MOUNTAIN SO THAT HE CAN CATCH A DRAGON THING TO BECOME HIS RIDE. WE'RE TOLD THAT HE MUST CHOOSE ONE AND THEN FIGHT IT, AND THEN HE CHOOSES ONE AND FIGHTS IT. SINCE THERE IS NO CHANCE IN HELL THE MAIN CHARACTER WILL LOSE ANYTHING AT THIS MOMENT IN THE STORY, AND WE WERE TOLD EXACTLY WHAT WOULD HAPPEN, IT'S ABOUT AS EXCITING AS WATCHING AN EQUATION BEING SOLVED.

WE ARE THEN TREATED TO LENGTHY SCENES OF JUGHEAD AND POCAHONTAS FLYING AROUND TOGETHER ON THE MOST AWESOME FLYING PET THAT YOU COULD NEVER GET ON EARTH BECAUSE EARTH SUCKS AND NEVER LETS HUMANS HAVE AWESOME ANIMALS THAT BASICALLY EXIST TO BE OUR PERSONAL EXTREME SPORTS EQUIPMENT. STUPID EARTH AND ITS STUPID EVOLUTION.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD (VOICE OVER): Everything became blurry... the time I was in Smurf world was becoming more real to me than my life as a person...

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Dude, we're watching the same movie you're telling us about. If you're going to tell us stuff, tell us what we don't know.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Hey, you can't see into my soul to know how I feel.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Yeah, you're sooo hard to read. Just fucking say the line we've seen coming since the start.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: "I don't know who I am anymore".

BACK IN HUMAN FORM, JUGHEAD TELLS RIPLEY THAT HE AND HIS GIRLFRIEND FLEW TO THE TREE OF SOULS, AND RIPLEY IS JEALOUS, BUT NOT JEALOUS ENOUGH TO DO ANYTHING THAT CHANGES ANYTHING ABOUT HER CHARACTER OR THE STORY IN ANY WAY. THEN JUGHEAD TALKS TO SERGEANT STRAW MAN.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Hey, great news! I got you that whole operation we talked about. The one that will get your legs back.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: You got what...? Oh! The legs... yeah, I forgot about that offer.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Us too.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Uh, well... um... can I go back in one more time? Because they are going to officially make me the most awesome member of their tribe. I mean, I was from the start, but tonight it's going to be official.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Oh, alright. You get one more chance to try achieve a peaceful resolution that I am so obviously going to disregard anyway. I'm a military man, so I hate peace.

BACK IN SMURF MODE, THERE'S A CEREMONY WITH LOTS OF ARBITRARY RITUALS OR WHATEVER. AFTERWARDS, POCAHONTAS TAKES JUGHEAD THROUGH AN AREA FULL OF GLOWING THINGS, AND THE PATCHES OF GLOWY STUFF ON THE GROUND LIGHT UP UNDER THEIR FOOTSTEPS, WHICH MAKES THE PEOPLE IN THE AUDIENCE WHO ARE OLD ENOUGH BE AWKWARDLY REMINDED OF MICHAEL JACKSON'S VIDEO FOR BILLY JEAN

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JUGHEAD: Just want to be clear on something... you guys have all your weird alien ways that take our scientists so long to figure out and all... but... you guys still kiss, and show affection, and all your flirtations, and ways of sending "signals"... and... uh... stuff... it all works just like humans do, right?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: What are you getting at?

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JUGHEAD: Fucking... there's fucking, right? Just like humans?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Oh, yeah. It's just like human fucking, and we sort of hiss and stuff like cats so in a weird way it's kind of hot even though we're blue cat people.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Thank god it's all basically the same. I thought I might actually have to learn an actually different mode of behaviour instead of just a few arbitrary rituals and shit.

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Then you are one of us.

THEY FUCK.

Image: people_at_furry_conventions

PEOPLE AT FURRY CONVENTIONS : Thank you, James Cameron, for the highest budget masturbation material ever made.

THEY GO AT IT FOR KIND OF A LONG TIME. ESPECIALLY CONSIDERING THAT THERE ARE SCENES THAT STRANGELY GET NO TIME AT ALL, LIKE THE UPCOMING TAMING OF THE BAD ASS FLYING THING. ANYWAY, NEXT MORNING POCAHONTAS WAKES UP TO THE SOUND OF HUGE ASS BULLDOZERS COMING TO DESTROY THE FOREST. SHE TRIES TO WAKE JUGHEAD, BUT HE'S NOT IN SMURF MODE, SO HIS SMURF BODY WON'T WAKE UP. SHE SCREAMS AT HIM TO WAKE UP BUT HE DOESN'T FOR A LONG TIME. BUT THEN JUGHEAD FINISHES HIS BREAKFAST AND GETS BACK IN THE TANNING BED AND SMURF-JUGHEAD WAKES UP.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: What the fuck is going on?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: It's the start of the third act! We have to run!

THEY GO BACK TO SMURF VILLAGE AND JUGHEAD AND RIPLEY TRY TO CONVINCE THE SMURFS TO RUN BECAUSE SHIT IS ABOUT TO RAIN DOWN REAL HARD. RIPLEY ACTUALLY GETS A PRETTY FUNNY REACTION SHOT WHEN SHE FINDS OUT JUGHEAD HOOKED UP WITH POCAHONTAS.

Image: papa_smurf

PAPA SMURF: Pocahontas! You bonded with this guy?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: It's okay! I did it before the whatever-it-is ceremony that would have bound me to that other dude who I'm supposed to hook up with. And, so far as anyone can tell, there are no reprocussions for completely disregarding our traditions like this, so we're all good.

Image: smurf

JEALOUS BROTHER: Ooooh... you're so lucky you hooked up with her before she hooked up with me, because if you had, I'd be a hundred times more jealous!

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Meh... a hundred times zero is still zero. Anyway, it seems that I've managed to avoid yet another potentially dramatic challenge without even really knowing what the fuck is going on. Go me!

SUDDENLY JUGHEAD AND RIPLEY FALL DOWN BECAUSE BACK AT BASE THEIR TANNING BEDS HAVE BEEN DISCONNECTED BY THE MILITARY, FORCING THEM BACK TO HUMAN MODE.

JUGHEAD AND RIPLEY ARE TAKEN TO GO TALK TO SERGEANT STRAW MAN AND EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Listen, the whole planet is wired up by ethernet, and everything links through The Great I.S.P., and it's totally fucking amazing if you think about it. If we could learn about this, we could exploit the learning to develop technologies that would make us richer than any mineral resource. Especially considering that mineral resources are potentially all over the fucking universe on uninhabited planets, but the life forms here are certain to be unique, and thus far more valuable...

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: NAH NAH NAH... I CAN'T HEAR YOU AND YOUR POTENTIALLY HUGE BIOTECH STUDIES THAT I COULD MOST LIKELY EXPLOIT WITHOUT KILLING ANY NATIVES AND MAKE ME INSANELY RICH WITHOUT ANY MORAL PREDICAMENTS...

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Here, look at this vlog of Jughead saying that the Smurfs will never leave their home. That pretty much seals the deal. Good thing James Cameron insisted you keep recording your vlogs!

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: Ah, fuck it... let's give them one more hour anyway, for no good reason.

JUGHEAD AND RIPLEY GO INTO SMURF MODE AND TRY TO CONVINCE THE SMURFS TO LEAVE.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Hey, Smurfs, we have to go because...

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: You lied to me! I had sex with you and everything! I hate you now!

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Hey, how come when everything is good, we can link up with our ethernet, or have all this spirtual bonding or whatever, but now when I need you to understand me most, you won't even let me finish one fucking sentence of explanation. Seems like fair-weather spiritual bullsh...

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Fuck you! Smurfs - tie them up!

JUGHEAD AND RIPLEY GET TIED UP AND IT LOOKS LIKE THEY ARE ABOUT TO HAVE THEIR HEARTS CUT OUT TEMPLE OF DOOM STYLE OR SOMETHING

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Huh... Maybe this society isn't so idyllic after all. Seems they have some pretty rough justice when you look past all the pretty rituals, and glowing 'shrooms, and shit.

THE POTENTIALLY SAVAGE EXECUTIONS THAT RAISE QUESTIONS ABOUT JUST HOW AWESOME THIS SOCIETY REALLY IS ARE CUT SHORT BECAUSE SUDDENLY A WHOLE BUNCH OF MILITARY FLYING SHIPS SHOW UP AND START SHOOTING AT THE BIG TREE. VASQUEZ WANNA-BE, WHO IS FLYING ONE OF THE HELICOPTER THINGIES, REFUSES TO FIRE AND BREAKS FROM FORMATION. THE AUDIENCE IS A LITTLE UNCOMFORTABLE WITH THE POSSIBILITY THAT THE ONLY REASON THIS CHARACTER IS CAST AS A NON-WHITE-ARYAN IS BECAUSE THAT'S SUPPOSED TO BE ENOUGH EXPLANATION AS TO WHY SHE HAS SYMPATHY WITH THE NATIVES, SINCE NO OTHER EXPLANATION IS EVER OFFERED.

THE TREE FALLS OVER, AND LOTS OF SMURFS DIE, INCLUDING PAPA SMURF. POCAHONTAS IS SAD, JUST LIKE THAT EWOK THAT WAS SAD WHEN THAT OTHER EWOK DIED.

BACK AT THE GREEN ZONE, MILITARY DUDES TAKE RIPLEY, RED-SHIRT, AND JUGHEAD TO A PRISON

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Aw man, now we're in prison in the middle of a military complex swarming with people with combat ability. I can only assume that the place is covered in surveillance technologies. And no offense, Jughead, but even though I respect that up until this point your wheelchair has been a complete non-issue, it seems like it would be a serious hindrance in the middle of a jail break. All it would take is a couple of stairs to maybe create tension through the possibility of getting captured...

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE, WHO IS MYSTERIOUSLY NOT IN PRISON HERSELF DESPITE HAVING DISOBEYED ORDERS IN THE MIDDLE OF A COMBAT MISSION, SHOWS UP AND BREAKS THEM OUT.

Image: red-shirt

RED-SHIRT: Huh. I really thought the wheelchair might have actually come into play that time.

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OTHER SCIENTIST: Hey guys, remember me?

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: No.

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JUGHEAD: Dude, you need to stay here because we need someone on the inside.

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: Why? It's not as if me staying here will make any difference. All events are going to proceed from this point like a freight train without brakes. It's because my character is completely extraneous in every way, isn't it? Be honest.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Yeah, pretty much. But hey, you can call us by Skype video later if you get lonely.

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: Okay, we're all on board my helicopter thing and we're flying away from this surprisingly unattended air hanger. Wow, that was easy. What did that take us? Like, a minute?

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Hey, it wasn't that easy. I got shot. Not in any way that would slow down our escape or anything, mind you. Just at the end there.

THEY FLY OUT TO THE REMOTE STATION WHERE THEY DETACH A MODULE AND THEN FLY IT TO ANOTHER SPOT DEEPER WITHIN THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE. JUGHEAD THEN TAKES RIPLEY'S HUMAN BODY TO THE TREE OF SOULS AND CONVINCES MAMA SMURF TO TRY AND USE THE GREAT I.S.P. TO PERMANENTLY TRANSFER RIPLEY'S MIND TO HER SMURF BODY. MAMA SMURF IS DOWN WITH THAT, BUT JUGHEAD THINKS HE DOESN'T HAVE ENOUGH STREET CRED WITH THE SMURF SOCIETY, SO HE DECIDES TO GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING THAT WILL NOT ONLY RECOVER ANY LOST AWESOMENESS, BUT ACTUALLY CRANK HIS AWESOMENESS UP A FEW NOTCHES FROM IT'S PREVIOUS HIGH LEVEL.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Okay, I think I'll do this incredibly difficult task of catching one of these super bad-ass red flying dragon things that only two people in the history of their civilization have ever been able to tame.

THE AUDIENCE GEARS UP FOR A FIGHT THAT WILL CONVEY THROUGH ACTION THE IMMENSE DIFFICULTY OF THE STRUGGLE THAT JUGHEAD MUST UNDERTAKE TO SUBDUE THE...

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Done!

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: What the fuck?

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: I've got director's cut DVDs to sell later on, bitches.

JUGHEAD RETURNS TO THE BIG GLOWING WILLOW TREE WHERE ALL THE SMURFS ARE TO SHOW OFF HIS NEW RIDE. THEY ARE SUITABLY IMPRESSED BY HOW FUCKING AWESOME IT IS.

MAMA SMURF PROCEEDS TO TRY AND TRANSFER RIPLEY'S MIND TO HER SMURF BODY.

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Watch what happens to me very closely.

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Huh? Why?

Image: ripley

RIPLEY: Foreshadowing, moron. It's obvious at this point that by the end of the movie you'll...

RIPLEY DIES

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: What? What happens to me?

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: You want us to tell you?

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JUGHEAD: Nah, I've got a Braveheart style speech to give to rally all the tribes to fight the invading army.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Is there anything in this movie that isn't from another movie?

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Umm.... no.

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JUGHEAD: Hear me Smurfs! I am pretty much complete in my awesomeness! I am better at being you than even you are! White man's burden isn't just for primitive human cultures anymore, we're taking it galactic now, bitches!

Image: smurfs

SMURFS: Yay...?

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Now go gather more people to bask in my awesomeness. Bring the ones who live on the plains, the ones who live on the rocks, and the ones that... um... wherever there are people who are not yet aware that I have arrived to show them what true awesomeness is!

MONTAGE OF SMURFS FLYING AND RUNNING AROUND EVERYWHERE GATHERING MORE SMURFS TO ENGAGE IN A BATTLE THAT WILL ULTIMATELY GLORIFY THE NEW GUY.

MEANWHILE SERGEANT STRAW MAN IS SPEAKING TO A ROOM FULL OF SOLDIERS.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: This is going to be tough! Really tough! Lots of you might die! But we are going to go in there and unleash an orgy of violence that I am going to masturbate to before, during, and after. Because I love fighting. As anyone, military or not, who has not ever experienced direct combat themselves knows, all military people just love to get into war. We are impervious to post traumatic stress disorder, we love to fight! We love death and violence! Because we are military! Hoo-rah!

Image: soldier

SOLDIER: Couldn't we just bomb from orbit? Instead of flying the bombs in and risking having our asses handed to us, we could just press a button from a satellite and obliterate the enemy without a single loss of life on our side.

Image: another_soldier

ANOTHER SOLDIER: Hey, since they have this whole bio-electronic network that for some reason we're not at all interested in, doesn't that open up the possibility that we could use a large electromagnetic pulse to knock out all their communications and leave them defenseless? Seems like the battle might be a lot easier that way.

Image: yet_another_soldier

YET ANOTHER SOLDIER: Ooh, ooh... what about some kind of gas attack? Germ warfare is probably unfeasible since they have an entirely different biology here, but toxic gases could probably suffocate every living thing within miles, and then we could go in and the engineers could clear the land.

Image: another_soldier

ANOTHER SOLDIER: I'm kind of surprised we don't have any crowd suppression technologies, like microwave guns or sound waves that we can use to repulse the natives. We could potentially make the area unbearable long enough to force them out.

Image: yet_another_soldier

YET ANOTHER SOLDIER: Yeah, it seems like there are definitely lots of ways that this could be handled without putting any of us in harm's way, and some of them might even leave the natives mostly, if not entirely unharmed as well. Did you really think through this operation? Seems to me that there is only the pale imitation of what military strategy looks like from a watching movies, and no actual thought about what would work.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: ...

Image: soldier

SOLDIER: Ooh! Hey! Hey! I just had another idea! How come we haven't already started a siege to blockade their resources...

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! We go in and fight with guns. Got it? Guns. Guns are symbolic of military excess, and bombs from space aren't!

MEANWHILE THE OTHER SCIENTIST STILL BACK IN THE GREEN ZONE CALLS TEAM JUGHEAD BY SKYPE VIDEO.

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: Guys, they're about to head on over and blow shit up. It's some serious shock and awe stuff.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Dude, did you just say "shock and awe"?

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: Uh... yeah. So?

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: I don't know... that just lacks subtlety. Obviously there are some Afghanistan and Iraq parallels being made here, but to just say it outright like that...

Image: other_scientist

OTHER SCIENTIST: Says the dude who is fighting to protect a literal fucking tree of life. A LITERAL TREE OF LIFE. And you want subtlety? Suck my balls.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Fair point.

THE HUMAN FORCES FLY THEIR HUGE ASS BOMBER THING INTO THE BERMUDA TRIANGLE, SURROUNDED BY LOTS OF SMALLER FLYING HELICOPTER THINGIES. MEANWHILE, SOME GROUND FORCES ARE ALSO DEPLOYED, DESPITE NEVER IN THE HISTORY OF MODERN WARFARE ANY MILITARY THAT HAD SUFFICIENT AIR RESOURCES EVER SENDING IN GROUND FORCES WITHOUT FIRST ESTABLISHING AIR SUPERIORITY. THESE PEOPLE, HOWEVER, ARE TOTALLY FINE WITH THE HIGH LIKELIHOOD OF BOMBING THEIR OWN TROOPS.

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Mmm... nothing like a sip of Starbucks hazelnut latte as I go into battle, symbolically representing my position as the violent arm of capitalist excess while making me look callous about violence at the same time.

Image: another_soldier

SOME SOLDIER ON THE GROUND: Why do we even need a ground offensive if our only objective is to bomb the tree and destroy it?

Image: sergeant_straw_man

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: Shut up and get ready to kill some natives.

Image: yet_another_soldier

SOME PILOT OR GUY ON THE GROUND OR SOMEONE: My scanner thing shows movement.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: How come yesterday in the military briefing you were able to scan this area from orbit and determine how many hostiles there are, but today you can only scan with enough range to see them two seconds before they attack?

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: It's different places. Or something.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Wait, but... are they attacking in the Bermuda Triangle or not? And where were the Smurf forces amassing if not there? I'm not sure I understand where everything is... if the ground forces are underneath the flying things, then don't they risk being bombed, and if they aren't, then where are they attacking...?

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Uh... Hey, look! A big fight has started!

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Oooooh! Exciting!

A FIGHT IN THE AIR AND ON THE GROUND STARTS. IN THE AIR, JUGHEAD NOT ONLY GETS TO BE ON THE MOST BAD-ASS FLYING DRAGON THING, HE ALSO HAS A HUGE MACHINE GUN, GIVING HIM WAY MORE EDGE THAN ALL THE BULLET CATCHERS AROUND HIM.

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE, IN HER STOLEN HELICOPTER THING, GETS A FEW SHOTS IN, AND FOR A MOMENT IT LOOKS LIKE SHE MIGHT DO SOMETHING LIKE CRASH HER HELICOPTER THING INTO THE BIG BOMBER THING AND MAKE HER DEATH A HUGE HEROIC ACT THAT AFFECTS THE STORY, BUT INSTEAD SHE JUST GETS SHOT DOWN.

Image: vasquez_wanna-be

VASQUEZ WANNA-BE: But it's sad, though, isn't it? I mean, I demonstrated that I had a conscience by not shooting at the tree. That makes me a good guy, and you should be sad when a good guy dies.

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Maybe if we knew a single fucking thing about you, like why you sided with the Smurfs other than a vague sense of sympathy.

JUGHEAD JUMPS ON THE MAIN SHIP WITH SERGEANT STRAW MAN IN IT, BECAUSE EVEN BEGINNER SCRIPT WRITERS KNOW THAT REALISTIC BATTLES WHERE THE COMMANDERS NEVER MEET FACE TO FACE LACK HUMAN DRAMA.

MEANWHILE, ON THE GROUND, THE SMURFS ON HORSES BASICALLY ALL GET SHOT IN THE FACE AS THEY RIDE STRAIGHT INTO THE BULLETS OF THE HUMAN FORCES. RED-SHIRT DIES IN A BLAZE OF... ACTUALLY, HE PRETTY MUCH JUST GETS SHOT IN THE FACE LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. NOBODY NOTICES OR CARES, AND WHY SHOULD THEY? ONCE HIS SMURF BODY DIES, HE IS SAFELY BACK AT HIS TANNING BED, HIGHLIGHTING THE FACT THAT FOR HIM, AND FOR JUGHEAD, IT'S ALL JUST A BIG AWESOME VIDEO GAME, AND OTHER PEOPLE'S LIVES AND CIVILIZATIONS ARE AT STAKE.

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Hey, shouldn't we have maybe tried some different tactics? I thought this was going to be more like the "Battle for Endor" scene at the end of Return of the Jedi, but actually it's more Last Samurai, and the guys in that movie expected to get all shot to pieces. Isn't it standard that if you're a local force resisting against a technologically superior and more organized military that you use asymmetrical battle tactics, like guerrilla warfare or running and gunning? At least the fucking Ewoks used the environment to their advantage and set traps and shit. Our plan doesn't even have the level of military competance you get from a bunch of fucking teddy bears!!

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD (VIA THROAT WALKIE TALKIE): Whatever. I skipped military history classes when I was learning to become a marine. Studying is for losers. Fuck strategy. I am awesome, and that's all you need to know.

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: I'm not looking for a wildly detailed strategy that might confuse the audience, I'm just saying... running straight at people who have machine guns and grenade launchers is obviously fucking retarded! Everyone around me is fucking dead now!

Image: jughead_smurf

JUGHEAD: Wait! Everyone else is dead? Well, that's different if now it might be my future trophy wife who dies. Do not engage the enemy! Do you hear me! Do not engage!

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: No, I must. You see, I have some fucked up sense of primitive honour code or something, so I'm going to make a futile gesture of fighting even though it means my certain death. No sense of self preservation. We primitives are silly that way.

SUDDENLY, HORDES OF THE VARIOUS SPECIES OF ANIMALS THAT WE WERE INTRODUCED TO IN THE FIRST ACT SHOW UP AND WIN THE FIGHT. IT'S THAT EASY.

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Hey, couldn't The Great I.S.P. have pulled that move, say, 15 minutes earlier? Would have been nice for us to not have been massacred and all... We did fucking tell the Great I.S.P. about the whole plan yesterday, so what the fuck was it waiting for?

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Shut the fuck up.

EVENTUALLY THE HUMAN FORCES ARE ALL BUT DESTROYED, EXCEPT FOR SERGEANT STRAW MAN IN HIS ARMOURED BATTLE SUIT THING, WHICH IS ACTUALLY PRETTY BAD ASS, AND HE IS IN A FIGHT WITH POCAHONTAS AND JUGHEAD. POCAHONTAS AND JUGHEAD WIN BY USING THEIR POWERS OF PREDICTABILITY. HOWEVER, DURING THE FIGHT, WHICH TAKES PLACE RIGHT BESIDE THE REMOTE STATION WHERE JUGHEAD'S TANNING BED IS, JUGHEAD'S TANNING BED GETS DAMAGED AND HE LOSES HIS LINK TO HIS SMURF BODY.

JUGHEAD STUMBLES OUT OF THE TANNING BED AND NEEDS TO GET AN OXYGEN MASK TO SURVIVE THE PANDORAN ATMOSPHERE, BUT SINCE HE'S CRIPPLED, IT'S KIND OF TOUGH. FOR THE FIRST TIME IN THE WHOLE MOVIE, HIS HANDICAP SORT OF MAKES A DIFFERENCE, EXCEPT THAT EVEN A GUY WITH FULL USE OF HIS LEGS WOULD ALSO BE DISORIENTED AND DISADVANTAGED BY BEING ABRUPTLY CUT OFF FROM SMURF MODE AND THROWN INTO AN ATMOSPHERE WITHOUT OXYGEN, SO IT'S NOT REALLY THAT BIG OF A DIFFERENCE.

FORTUNATELY, POCAHONTAS REALIZES WHAT'S GOING ON AND JUMPS OVER TO THE TANNING BED AND GETS AN OXYGEN MASK ON JUGHEAD, AND EVERTYHING IS COPACETIC.

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: How did you know I was over here? You seemed to suddenly sense where I was and come directly over here. Even looking past the fact that it's entirely unclear how much you know about how whole WiFi Smurf Control technology works, how did you know I would be here beside this tanning bed just now?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Maybe I heard you crashing around?

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Maybe... except that with all the blowing up going on and machines falling apart, how did you know it was me and not just another piece of debris falling down?

Image: pocahontas

POCAHONTAS: Um... I could sense you?

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Yeah, but you never seemed to have a sense of where exactly my consciousness was before. Like when we woke up to the bulldozers, you thought I was asleep...

Image: james_cameron

JAMES CAMERON: Shut the fuck up!

Image: jughead

JUGHEAD: Oh... uh... I see you. Get it? "I see you" is what we say to mean we really connect, but it's more poignant because I'm in my human body... or something... what a tender moment!

CUT TO A SCENE OF THE REMAINING MILITARY FORCES AND EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM BEING FROG MARCHED OFF THE PLANET.

Image: embodiment_of_capitalism

EMBODIMENT OF CAPITALISM: Um... we could still bomb you from orbit...

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Is this over then? The glasses are hurting my nose...

CUT TO A CEREMONY JUST LIKE THE ONE WHERE THEY FAILED TO TRANSFER RIPLEY'S MIND TO HER SMURF BODY. JUGHEAD MUST PASS THROUGH THE EYE OF THE SOMETHING OR OTHER, WHICH MIGHT BE DIFFICULT SINCE NEAR DEAD RIPLEY WASN'T STRONG ENOUGH TO DO IT, BUT WE HAVE NO IDEA BECAUSE WE NEVER SEE ANYTHING THAT HELPS US UNDERSTAND THE STAKES INVOLVED.

JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE, JUGHEAD SIMPLY DOES IT IN TWO SECONDS, AND HE IS OFFICIALLY MADE PERMANENTLY THE MOST AWESOME MEMBER OF THIS AWESOME ADVENTURE WONDERLAND SOCIETY THAT IS SO MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL AND COOL THAN ANY LIFE HE WOULD HAVE HAD OTHERWISE. IT'S ESPECIALLY AWESOME FOR HIM BECAUSE ONLY PEOPLE THAT BOTH HE AND THE AUDIENCE HAD NO CONNECTION TO MADE SACRIFICES, SO THE WHITE MAN WINS FUCKING HARD, BITCHES!

Image: smurfs

SMURFS (SINGING): It's the circle... The Circle of Life!!

SUDDENLY THE ENTIRE AREA IS BOMBED FROM SPACE

Image: michael_bay

MICHAEL BAY: Planet go boom! Whee! Explosions! Now that's a movie!

Image: george_lucas

GEORGE LUCAS: Oh, man, I can't wait to get my hands on the technology they used to make this movie. Did you see what I did with Jar Jar Binks? Imagine that, but times a billion!

Image: audience

AUDIENCE: Oh god... no... NOOOOOOOOOO!!!!

Comments

comment by pecosdave on Friday, January 8, 2010

The very end, the George Lucas thing, that actually sends an unwelcome chill down my spine.....

Otherwise, awesome! You looked at it the same way I did.

comment by Chad on Friday, January 8, 2010

This may be the funniest thing I have ever read. No lies. Absolutely awesome. I will repost it.

comment by FTWinston on Friday, January 8, 2010

Absolutely awesome write up, that's pretty damn funny, mainly on account of how true your observations were. Though I thought that Jealous Brother *was* actually Pocahontis's fiancé or whatever.

comment by Autotelic on Friday, January 8, 2010

Thanks, guys! Glad you enjoyed it.

I also thought it was Pocahontas's fiancé when I first sat down to write this, and my first draft was written with that angle. Only after checking with an online synopsis did I realize it was her brother. And to be honest, I'm still not really totally sure either way, which says a lot about the strength of the character and the impression he made.

Also, I made a small edit because someone reminded me that RED-SHIRT didn't actually die. Which raised another issue...

comment by Schmerto on Saturday, January 9, 2010

The torch was all Rambo

comment by reece on Sunday, January 10, 2010

Awesome. This is hilarious and has some brilliant observations. It would have been interesting to see some of your ideas in the actual film.

SERGEANT STRAW MAN IS WATCHING HIS PEOPLE BLOW THE SHIT OUT OF THE TREE OF LIFE.

SERGEANT STRAW MAN: I love the smell of napalm in the morning!

comment by shmoo on Sunday, January 10, 2010

He was her brother, but I'm almost sure that she says that she'll marry him one day when the time is right or whatever, how's that for an angle

:P

comment by Sgt Straw Man on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Genius! You articulated everything I could not.

Suck my balls. Guns rule.

- Sgt Straw Man

comment by John on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

We read it. We laughed. We cried. We want more!

comment by Joe C on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Awesomely well done. And it's funny because it's true

comment by Crimson Hyper Sloth on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I loved this as it's what I thought throughout the movie, only I was more snide about it. I'm glad I wasn't the one to pay to my admission, I was insulted front-to-back by the film.

I'll be passing this article along to everyone I can.

comment by DaveSedg on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Great stuff, D!

I'm pretty sure the "brother" WAS actually her fiancé, or "promised one", or whatever. She specifically mentions it early on.

(The brother is what he would be if they were copying Pocahontas, you know, slightly more exactly.)

But of course she had no emotional conflict about falling in love with someone else later on...

Great analysis of all the plot flaws and missed dramatic opportunities.

Still, I watched it and went, "oooh! pretty graphics!"

- Dave in NYC

comment by Autotelic on Friday, January 8, 2010

Thank you everyone for the comments.

I did some more looking around, and I found out the deal on the JEALOUS BROTHER.

He's been "chosen", probably by being awesome at warrior stuff, to be the next leader. Part of the package for being chosen is that he gets to marry the cheif's daughter.

Because he was next in line, it seemed like he was also the son of the leader, thus the confusion. Turns out it's not a monarchy, though.

So, he is her fiancé after all.

I had to make some edits to keep things accurate, because for the satire to work it's got to be correct. Hopefully I didn't lose any of the comedy in the revision, though.

comment by kikz on Tuesday, January 12, 2010

just reinforces the fact that the 'crew' who run hollyweird pander to the intellectually lowest common denominator.. @@. yawn.

great metacontext :) thanks for the effort, bravo & cheers! :)

comment by John on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

This is absolute genius. Thank you!

comment by Michael Adams on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Congratulations on this piece. It really is hilarious and a very clever and accurate deconstruction of Avatar (which I nevertheless enjoyed immensely). I'll be passing this to everyone I know in movie-site land.

comment by N. on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Although I know that books and reading are stupid, and no awsome movie would ever bother to take ideas from a book, it seems to me that the ideas from Avatar are weirdly similar to "The word for world is forest" and "Vaster than mountains and more slow" - Ursula le Guin

only in those books there was alot of stuff about motives, motivations and problems with encountering completely different cultures and life forms, and sublty in general.

comment by Yakko Warner on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The part that made me LOL the most was when you mentioned his "Braveheart" speech, only because during that speech in the movie, I actually leaned over to my friend and said "...but they cannot take OUR FREEDOM!"

The best part of this write-up? It's a pretty darn accurate re-creation of the movie. It's a feast for the eyes, but a famine for the brain.

comment by smurfopolis on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The craziest part is that for all the potential dilemmas you mention that Cameron could have fleshed out, the simple A to B plotline really made it the great escapist movie it is. Titanic For Dudes. I unabashedly loved it for that fact. Best of all? You had some great ideas for conflicts. One can only hope some of those get pulled into the sequels. I mean, this is a pretty substantial platform to release sequels from, isn't it?

comment by Autotelic on Wednesday, January 13, 2010

smurfopolis, I think that calling it a "simple A to B plotline" is being much too forgiving.

I enjoyed the movie, it was pretty. I don't feel like I got ripped off for having paid the ticket price.

But my enjoyment was in spite of the plot. It wasn't just missed opportunities, it was glaring inconsistencies and errors. Mostly it was terrible characterization.

A story doesn't have to gloss over problems in order to be simple and enjoyable. I would hold up Pirates of the Caribbean (the first one only, of course!) as an example of a movie that was high budget, a simple plot, enjoyable by kids and adults, and if it did have continuity problems, they weren't anywhere near as obvious.

We can expect better of the story writers with the resources to create spectacles. I don't expect them to create complex literature all the time. Escapism is fine. But escapism does not have to equal carelessness.

comment by modernSerf on Thursday, January 14, 2010

You hit it bang on Autotelic. The entire thing was a massive derivation of other works, and a poor one at that.

I am curious if you think the changes you suggest, which would have definitely made it a better movie, would have made it less attractive to the lowest common denominator that this movie was clearly targeted at.

I also find it unfortunate that people are moved so deeply by it (http://edition.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/ ), when the same story of mass natural and cultural destruction for takes place right here everyday with hardly any notice by the masses that are drawn to Avatar.

comment by gilgunn on Thursday, January 14, 2010

hilarious rendering of the movie. so true. loved the "Cameron" dialogue. I wish he'd really done justice to "Vasquez" as the portrayal of that character in Aliens was a real bright point.

but I have to take exception with your characterization of sully as a dumb jarhead who disdains training and edumacation. we're told Sully is some kind of elite, recon special-forces-kind-of-awesome marine, trained and hardened in jungle combat (Columbia?). now I don't know first-hand, but I'm going to bet the training that prepares you for that role and environment is rigorous and demanding on many levels, including intellectual. so, sully's existing skill-set makes him better suited to survival on Pandora than the education of Red-shirt and Grace. Jake has the same genes as his obviously elite, dead scientist brother, so he probably has raw intelligence, too. So, on behalf of all those intelligent, highly-trained, physically elite folks who get looked down on by smarty-pants, book-learned, desk-bound intellectuals who'd get their @sses handed to them if they stepped out of the office, library or lab into the jungle, I respectfully request that you reconsider your characterization of Sully.

comment by barryheadwound on Thursday, January 14, 2010

Deeply wonderful writeup. I want you to re-cut it for DVD, since without the epic 3D visuals this film will blow HARD, and it needs some livening up.

comment by dacres on Thursday, January 14, 2010

but was Pirates of the Caribbean nearly as unoriginal?

comment by Autotelic on Thursday, January 14, 2010

moderSerf, I am deeply allergic to the idea that there are "lowest common denominator" masses out there that can only understand simple things and need to be pandered to. (The beginning where I use the doctor character to talk about "sheep" reflects my perception of the movie maker's disdain for their audience, not my own)

But without getting political, what I will say is that what makes stories good is their humanity, and by putting the audience in a place of confronting emotionally difficult choices. There is no bar of intelligence people must pass in order to be able to understand a love triangle, or conflicting loyalties, or trying to save a loved one from danger. Those are human dilemnas.

In other words, precisely what makes a story better is what makes a story appeal to anyone.

The problem with this story wasn't it's simplicity, it was it's outright disregard for the meaning of "challenge". Especially for the main character. Jumping onto a vine from a floating rock is something that gives the illusion of challenge, but it's up to the director to simply say he makes it or he doesn't. Choosing between walking as a human, or being crippled as a Smurf, that would be a dilemma that no one can say has a right or wrong answer, and everyone in the audience is challenged by pondering which they would take.

Not to mention there's nothing about having a story that is actually challenging that would mean you wouldn't still have all the pretty graphics that seem to be the real draw. I think the worst that could happen if you had a challenging story with this level of graphics is that people would still go see it for the effects.

gilgunn, you're right that as a highly trained combat specialist, JUGHEAD is not without some kind of training. What he is not at all trained for, however, is for survival skills on completely different planet with an entirely different environment than anything he has encountered in the past. You can't just take a Navy Seal and put them in NASA and expect that they can complete an astronaut's mission on the moon.

RIPLEY and RED-SHIRT are far better equiped to survive on Pandora because they actually know what's there. Because like real life scientists, they are not "desk bound" - just like actual scientists, they know what they're talking about because they are out in the field. That's one of the most annoying myths to be advanced by Hollywood - that there is this thing called being "book smart" where you know stuff but don't actually know stuff, and that scientists are unqualified in their own fields because they somehow don't have actual experience. Or "heart".

JUGHEAD, as mentioned, literally does not even know what to do with the first species of ground animal he encounters - his first instinct is to shoot at it, completely ignortant of the fact that its hide is impervious to the bullets from the callibre of gun he is carrying.

The flipside to the "book smart" mythology of Hollywood is to think that people trained in combat - particularly "special ops" and New York cops - are the bestest at anything and everything that needs doing.

In real life, I don't think any actual Green Beret or SAS would want to be given the job of an anthropoligist and have to interact with a wildly different culture of people out in some remote forest, because they are at least smart enough to know they wouldn't be able to do it. In real life, other cultures are actually different enough so that you don't just win them over by having "heart" (which is itself a cultural concept), you have to actually know what the fuck you're doing.

comment by Danny Pockets on Thursday, January 14, 2010

I love you so much right now.

comment by 2s on Thursday, January 14, 2010

amazing in every way. a great piece of writing!

comment by Dances with Smurfs on Friday, January 15, 2010

That's one of the funniest and most perceptive articles I've read in a while. Can you do The Phantom Menace now?

comment by Autotelic on Friday, January 15, 2010

The Phantom Menace has been done to death, I'm afraid. I doubt I could really add anything new. My personal favourite analysis (a bit long, and some people might not like the side jokes about the narrator being some kind of serial killer) is here:

70-Minute Video Review of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace

comment by ChrisG on Friday, January 15, 2010

Way more entertaining than the actual movie.

comment by David Gerard on Friday, January 15, 2010

Paraplegic remote-controls body, goes native? "Call Me Joe" by Poul Anderson. And I'm not the only one to spot it:

http://io9.com/5390226/did-james-cameron-rip-off-poul-andersons-novella

comment by James Cameron on Friday, January 15, 2010

Hey, "Autotelic", or Dave, or whatever your name is. You think you're clever for calling me out for being so derivative? It's not like these kind of mock scripts for other movies haven't been floating around the internet all over the fucking place.

Hell, Mad Magazine has been satirizing movies like this since the sixties!

"Ooh, look at me... I'm so post modern and ironically cynical - which is why I don't get paid anything to sit around and bitch on the internet".

You wish you were me.

comment by Autotelic on Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh yeah, Cameron? Well... I mean... but...

Fuck.

You win again, Cameron.

comment by Nevin on Friday, January 15, 2010

Your Avatar spoof is one of the funniest things I have read in a long time.

That is all.

comment by Athena Meteor on Friday, January 15, 2010

Thank you for saving me money while giving me a (sardonic) laugh!!! Now I will most definitely not be going to see Avatar. I don't care how splendiferous the visuals are, with no plot-line to speak of, $15+ is way too much to pay for canned stereotypes and a self-inflicted DOA ass from 3+ hours of sitting in a non-ergonomic IMAX sardine can/profit machine. I think that investing the admission price of the film in the purchase of a dose of the entheogen of one's choice would probably be the wisest move here...

comment by Nevin on Friday, January 15, 2010

I actually think.. if I recall correctly, Red Shirt not just survives, but right after he survives you see him stumbling out of the cabin with a gun and oxygen mask on.

Not much better than him being there, but the joke you made about him being there and not doing anything just isn't factual with the movie.

I'm sure you can do something with him leaving the safety of the cabin to join the battle poorly armed for no apparent reason ;-)

comment by Autotelic on Friday, January 15, 2010

Really? I remember him stumbling out of his tanning bed, but I don't remember him rushing out with a gun. I could be wrong, though. In any case, he would have found the fight pretty much already over, and couldn't have made it that far on foot through dense jungle, so he should be nearby. The question might be, why didn't he take a few shots at SERGEANT STRAW MAN...

comment by Lindsey on Friday, January 15, 2010

I am glad somebody else saw the same movie I did.

comment by Val on Saturday, January 16, 2010

This was hilarious. As was the Cameron comment, whoever posted it (it was you, Dave, wasn't it...)

Tweeted it, will probably facebook it after the MA Senate idiocy stops taking up all of my status space. Solid job. And this is as someone who was in tears through the credits (don't judge me, the visuals overrode the plot- and no, I'm not suicidal :P).

comment by Autotelic on Saturday, January 16, 2010

Oh, that was James Cameron alright. That guy has been trolling my blog since, like, forever.

comment by IG on Saturday, January 16, 2010

Funny stuff, thanks, I really enjoyed it :)

Couple things that IMO are explained in the movie but you seem to have missed:

1. Jake sleeps at the same time when his avatar sleeps. I mean, at night Jake sleeps and during the day he controls his avatar. Something like that.

2. As stated above, the red shirt guy goes to the jungle with a machine gun.

comment by Autotelic on Saturday, January 16, 2010

Damn, I'll have to take out the last RED-SHIRT reference. Oh well.

But about the sleeping... the problem is that we see Jake doing lots of stuff when not in Smurf mode. Talking strategy with the military people, recording video blogs, studying the Smurf language... it's the kind of thing where an audience can start making their own assumptions about when he might sleep, but it shouldn't be up to an audience to compensate for gaps in the information a movie provides. Especially, as in this case, there is plenty of information given that directly counters any indication that he sleeps while in human form.

comment by Nehesi on Saturday, January 16, 2010

(this user starts a slow clap)

Its funny - When I bring up the "awsomeness" of the Aryan character(s) and the parallels to Dances With Wolves and all the other movies where the wonderous Whitey goes native and is somehow better than the natives, because of his awsome Whiteness, people assume that just because I'm Black I'm being oversensitive.

Thanks for more than a few good laughs. I only wish more directors would run their movies past people like yourself before putting them out there. In spite of the racial stuff, this could have been an instant classic had Cameron merely addressed 1/3 of your critiques.

comment by Jen on Saturday, January 16, 2010

I think I just fell in love with you a little bit.

comment by SugarB on Saturday, January 16, 2010

Thank GOD there are other people who recognize the idiocy of this movie!!

comment by gilgunn on Saturday, January 16, 2010

Hey Cameron, I'm on your side. Let's kick Autotelic's ass! Ooo-rah.

Autotelic, you're feeling a little jealous because you think Jughead is portrayed as too super-awesome in some bs way. That might fit your pre-conceived anti-"heart" narrative, but while Jughead has some skillz, he also screws up a lot and it's only because Eywa steps in to save the day that he isn't responsible for wiping out the Na'vi. Diff is, that unlike a pansy ass-scientist, a little bit of failure doesn't send Jughead back to his lab to figure out what went wrong, develop a new hypothesis for success and run a few simulations. He just rolls.

comment by Autotelic on Saturday, January 16, 2010

gilgunn, JUGHEAD screws up, but not in any way he has to take responsibility for. How convenient.

But I think the main thing is you seem to have bought the whole Hollywood anti-"book smart" narrative hook line and sinker. Like, somehow it's bad to stop and think about what went wrong, or that just rolling through will always succeed (of course it does, in Hollywood, for those with "heart"). Not to mention you're arguing against a straw man stereotype of scientists who never think on their feet in fluid situations. Even James Cameron doesn't hate scientists that much. RED-SHIRT, as it turns out, returns to the battle as soon as his Smurf body... wait... wait! Am I defending this movie? What the fuck...?

Look, the thing is that the movie is a big amorphous mess. It's not any template to be using to discuss the actual merits of what scientists or soldiers are actually like, because a movie like this has nowhere near enough consistency to draw any serious conclusions about anything.

This satire isn't trying to make stances against anything except bad storytelling, where whatever messages the movie is trying to get across is undermined by its own internally inconsistent narrative.

comment by gipsyblu on Sunday, January 17, 2010

I thought I loved this film. It was so pretty, I was like "OOooo...so colourful!"

Then I read this -hilarious! And so true. Loved your take on it!

comment by AliasMarlowe on Monday, January 18, 2010

Even the ancient Greeks knew how to stage a play better than this.

Aristotle ranked plot as first in importance, followed by the characters portrayed in the plot. Thought (by which Aristotle meant revealing truth or maxims) was third, and diction or acting style was fourth. Song or music is ranked fifth, and the least important factor is spectacle (see chapter VI of http://www.gutenberg.org/files/1974/1974.txt ).

In Avatar, Cameron has almost reversed Aristotle's order, with spectacle as the only really strong point of the movie, accompanied by a tolerable sound track. While there is a kind of moral clarity in some characters, they appear confused and confusing against the inconsistencies in plot and hought that you have pointed out. The movie is no more than eye candy with a few disjoint fairy tale elements bolted on.

comment by Margui on Monday, January 18, 2010

What you wrote is truly funny and true, I'm glad I typed "I hate Avatar".

At least something good came out from that shitty, dumb and bad movie.

comment by mDuo13 on Monday, January 18, 2010

You forgot to riff on how the Mobile WiFi tanning beds were supposedly "glitchy" in ways that apparently never manifested. Go figure.

comment by diver on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

well, gatta admit, it's funny. i honestly thought the movie was entertaining, but i knew it was unoriginal. i just stopped caring to enjoy what there was while i was there.

i disagree about there not being a difficult enough decision about the whole "going native" thing. i mean, he gets his legs back either way, yet he still chooses to become navi. that is supposed to show how it isn't just because now he can walk, but because he now actually prefers being one of them (like so many others apparently after watching that movie, which i still think is ridiculous, lol)

it's like "you've got your legs back, it's what you were in for all along (he only went along with the whole thing so he could get the money he would need to get his legs back), go take your old life back" but he goes against his original plan due to his apparent "enlightenment" or whatever it is supposed to be.

comment by Autotelic on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

diver, you're right that by levelling the playing field between his human body and his avatar body, we are at least assured he isn't just in it for the legs. With that approach, though, given how being in a wheelchair had absolutely no effect on the flow of the story, Cameron might as well have not put in the wheelchair at all.

In any case, by evening things out, it's only a matter of him deciding which lifestyle he likes better. That's not a dramatic challenge, that's just a matter of preference.

To make matters more clear, consider that in his human life he had no wife or girlfriend, no family, no friends, no career aspirations, no property, no one depending on him... not one mention of anything that he is giving up to run away with the Smurfs. The audience might assume he has some of those things, but it shouldn't be left to the audience to fill in gaps. We can't viscerally feel any of it without at least some kind of indication of what specifically matters to him.

The ability to walk was the one thing we knew would really matter to this character. But all that came of it was that he was going to be able to walk no matter what, so who cares which way he goes?

A good story doesn't just give characters choices between options. It gives characters struggles over difficult decisions.

comment by The Dude on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Thank you for this. You thought of everything. I expected there to be millions of people commenting positively on this but maybe only 1 in 100 people saw this side of it.

comment by John Wilkins on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Out. Stand. Ing.

Every plot hole exposed, every ripoff declared. A true work of art, unlike the target.

comment by Jay on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I thought RED-SHIRT got shot in the arm... Maybe because I WANTED to assume that a smurf death would overload the nervous system in a way that would cause a human death as well...

comment by crown royal on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

haha. I couldnt stop laughing during the "sex" scene.

Thanks for putting my thoughts into words. I never saw the last scene at the theater - I walked out when the bad humans were being escorted off the planet..

comment by jimf42 on Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I cant believe they used "unobtanium" ...Insofar as I recall...the term was coined by Mark Donahue, when asked about the material making up the tube frame on the early Porsche 917 race car (magnesium tube)...probably about 1970.

comment by credit where credit is due on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Speaking of ripoff, Rod Hilton is on line one.

comment by Autotelic on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

credit where credit is due... Rod Who?

Had to look it up after you mentioned it. For those who, like me, don't know Rod Hilton, it turns out he does parody movie scripts like the one I did here.

(And, just for the record, I did post my Avatar thing before his...)

But... ripping him off? Give me a break. Like James Cameron says in the comments above, it's not like there aren't movie parody scripts all over the internet . It's a format, not a style, so no one has a lock down on the satire script schtick.

In any case, the concept of metacontextual movie spoof goes back before the 'net. I had in mind Mad Magazine's movie spoofs that I used to read as a kid. If I had the time to draw, I would have done it in comic format.

I enjoyed Rod Hilton's Avatar: The Abridged Script . Naturally we both hit some of the same things that everyone has been talking about, but we also made some different choices on what to focus on.

One thing he caught which I would have liked to include in my script if I had known, is the fact that pretty much all the actors doing the motion capture for Smurf characters were non-white, which adds a whole new dimension of metacontextual racism.

comment by Opie on Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Best thing I've read all day. Thanks for posting it Autotelic.

comment by ed on Thursday, January 21, 2010

Well done.

comment by prospero on Friday, January 22, 2010

It's still purty. Stupid, but purty.

The ancient greeks were limited in the spectacle arena, 'course they ranked it last.

Eventually someone will combine the eye-popping purtiness with something like an original, internally consistent plot and great characters. I've seen movies with good plots and characters before, and like em, but never saw anything that looked like this one before.

comment by VinceOz on Friday, January 22, 2010

3D graphics. 1D story..

comment by Megan on Saturday, January 23, 2010

Thanks for making me laugh! I see a lot of other stories mentioned here that Avatar supposedly rips off. The one that came to mind for me was Alan Dean Foster's Midworld. Apparently even Foster himself made some (sarcastic) comment that a book of his was being adapted into a movie. I saw Midworld immediately when watching Avatar. Anyway, apparently Cameron was asked if ADF would do the novelization (since ADF did Aliens) of Avatar and Cameron not only dismissed the idea as ridiculous, but said ADF wrote garbage. Kind of amusing considering Avatar is such derivative stuff. Pretty movie though. I love the director's cut line! My husband and I were like, "These people have been riding the dragon things for how many years and no one thought to drop on the giant dragon thing from above? Really? Maybe he should have tried shiny beads, too."

comment by awne on Saturday, January 23, 2010

It's the best thing I've read in a long time! I still like the movie though;

I know, I'm weak.

comment by Some Old Nobodaddy on Sunday, January 24, 2010

This is incredibly amusing & fun. I must also say that you are incredibly lucid & erudite in your comments.

So... It's the MetaText for the 'rubes' to enjoy, and your comments for the 'thinking people/desk-bound' types, eh? lol....

Keep up the good work!

comment by Il Pedante on Sunday, January 24, 2010

Great stuff, but I think you got the red dragon plotline wrong. I'm pretty sure that Sigourney Weaver dies and then he gets the red dragon.

comment by Siggy Weaver on Monday, January 25, 2010

I'm surprised you skipped Doctor Augustines's ridiculous dialog with Ribisi's capitalist pig character describing the complexity of the forest.

Her big speech as a last gasp attempt to prevent armageddon sounds like she's reading awkward numerical quantities verbatim from a textbook.(perhaps if she'd exaggerated a little and said ten to the twentieth power he'd have dropped the whole operation, not)

I felt Ribisi looked at her like he thinks she's retarded.

comment by Quokka on Monday, January 25, 2010

Great read. Very funny. Thanks.

I'd hazard a guess that the very speccy floating mountains were straight out of the French animation series 'Skyland - The New World'.

comment by Jason on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Appreciate the work. However, can you permit the possibility that cinema can operate beyond the level of dramatic narrative? No movie could withstand the level of scrutiny you've applied to this movie. But applying an intense dramaturlogical frame to an animated movie is like applying a purely cinematic analysis to Hamlet.

comment by Autotelic on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

"Dramaturlogical"?

Anyway, yes, I think it's perfectly reasonable to expect better than this from a movie. It doesn't matter if it's animated or not, or intended for kids or not, or whatever.

Being internally logically consistent, having clear characters, and presenting actual dramatic challenges are not a high standard to aspire to, they are the base minimum to start from.

Toy Story, Finding Nemo, and Wall-E, just to pick a few animated stories for kids off the top of my head, all succeed very well in accomplishing decent "dramaturlogical " standards. James Cameron himself can do better, with Terminator and Aliens as examples of stories that easily meet the level of scrutiny I've applied to Avatar.

Plenty of stories in plenty of mediums accomplish far better than this, which is how we know far better can be acheived. Talking as if somehow writing stories that are good is some kind of intellectual snobbery is missing the point of storytelling entirely.

comment by LittleMissBossyPants on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Awesome sauce!!!

Thank you for writing this. I couldn't understand why people I truly respect were raving about this film, and showering it with award nods (for BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY no less!!!), while my six year old and I were sitting there, thinking, okay... when's the story going to start?...

Thank you. You hit the nail on the head. And I think I may share some of that aforementioned love for you! ;-)

I remember watching an interview with M. Night Shyamalan in which he explained that he made "Signs" for the Denny's crowd (after Unbreakable tanked at the box office).

Cameron got wise to this philosophy long before that (IMO the turning point was T2).

And NOT. ONE. SINGLE. QUOTABLE. MEMORABLE. LINE. FROM. THIS. MOVIE.

Straw Man shoulda put Hudson in charge!

comment by Blau on Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Brilliant. And the saddest part is that there is no exageration whatsoever.

comment by Renard on Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Amazing writeup. Shared it with all my friends who paid to see that movie, and especially the couple that can't stop squeeing over it. I'm surprised there's no Ferngully reference, considering you've touched on the plethora of ideas pulled from other 'epic' movies. Appreciate a heartfelt laugh.

comment by Alex on Thursday, January 28, 2010

Just curious—I haven't seen anyone deal with this issue yet, but...

the movie's set in 2154, so far as I understand. I'm reasonably confident wheelchairs will have been long obsolete by then. If we can travel to distant planets to mine their "unobtainium" you'd think we could outfit a guy—a Navy SEAL, no less—with a decent pair of super-future space-age prosthetics, no? It's just not something I envision still being a real issue 144 years from now.

comment by King of the World on Thursday, January 28, 2010

You don't get it do you? The movie is making a lot of money so it is good. Period. End of story.

Like Titanic. I mean look at how that movie is still celebrated today and is still deeply woven into out culture, loved, and continually watched by people of all ages.

JC

PS. Now I have to get back to telling myself "I am better than Lucas, I am better than Lucas, I am better..."

comment by Autotelic on Thursday, January 28, 2010

King of the World, you raise a good point that I hadn't really thought about. Now that you've brought it up, though, I realize the only times I ever really hear the movie Titanic talked about is when people list off the top grossing films. Other than that, it has had about zero cultural impact.

On a related note, I was talking with a friend about the impact of the special effects in Avatar, and in that conversation I was reminded about Jurassic Park.

At the time, everyone was blown away by how real the dinosaurs looked, and how movie making would be revolutionized. However, while special effects kept going onward and upward, Jurassic Park itself faded in the rear view mirror. The only real relevance it has now is to people who talk about the history of movie special effects.

Et tu, Avatar?

PS: I think James Cameron is a better film maker than George Lucas. Lucas is a fucking hack.

comment by Visual tonic on Friday, January 29, 2010

Didn't Cameron do Pearl harbour too? Oh wait, um....

comment by Jen in Tenn on Thursday, February 4, 2010

Great piece! Loved the "recap."

FYI, the scene where Jughead gets his very own Pterodactyl to ride is straight out of the super-corny Dinotopia movie!!! I swear!

comment by Dorque on Friday, February 5, 2010

A few other bits about the starting briefing: Why detail how dramatically poisonous their weapons are if they are six feet long and throw you back ten feet when they spear you?

And how do Carbon Fiber Bones stop bullets?

comment by David on Sunday, February 7, 2010

I agree with you, and the fanboy love for this movie sickens me. The over 2 billion dollars in just over a month is worse as it, to me, shows a genuine decline in overall human intelligence. No longer are story and characters needed. No, just throw some 3D graphics on the screen and call it a day. I watched the movie in 2D with some friends, and none of us could understand the hype surrounding it.

However, it seems the movie was close to being better, but for whatever reason, they decided to cut the story elements:

http://chud.com/articles/articles/21969/1/PROJECT-880-THE-AVATAR-THAT-ALMOST-WAS/Page1.html

- Earth and its environmental problems are explored

- We see Josh Sully's Avatar being born

- It's revealed the Avatar program exists to train Na'vi to be an indigenous workforce for the Corporation, since it's so expensive to send human workers

- There are more humans, including a bioethics officer on the take, a video journalist, a head of the Avatar program and a second military dickwad

- There is an Avatar controller who is burnt out because his Avatar died with him in it. He committed Avatar suicide because he had fallen in love with a Na'vi girl who had been killed by the military

- The Avatars have a Na'vi guide named N'Deh, who is sleeping with Grace

- Grace survives the soul transfer

- Josh Sully gains the Na'vi trust by being a member of the community. He also excels in a major hunt

- Josh Sully shows his leadership not by taming a dragon but by leading a raid on Hell's Gate to rescue prisoners

- Josh Sully isn't the only Na'vi to ride a big dragon

- Pandora is a living entity and it sees the humans as a virus; it has been mobilizing the plants and animals to attack all along because it wanted to force the humans out

- There is no unobtainium beneath Hometree. The military just wants to wipe out the local Na'vi to send a message to all the tribes that they must be obeyed.

- Some of the humans and the Avatar controllers rise up in the final big battle

- Josh Sully tells the Earth that Pandora will give any humans that return a disease that will wipe out humanity

comment by Autotelic on Sunday, February 7, 2010

Thanks, David for that link with the dropped plot elements.

One thing I just wanted to make clear, though, is that I am in no way in agreement with the opinion that there is any decline in human intelligence.

One of the unfortunate impressions that people often get from reading a satire like I've done here is that I am making a statement that if people didn't see the flaws that I saw, then they are not as smart.

Enjoyment of a story is not a measure of intelligence. People can indulge in escapism and be forgiving of flaws, but that does not mean that they are deficient in anyway. Just that they are more willing to suspend their disbelief in order to find entertainment.

As I've mentioned, I didn't feel ripped off. I expected nothing more than a visual spectacle and that's what I got.

The satire here is for fun. It's at play with the missed potential of the story, not a condemnation of the audience for having watched it. The lines about the audience being "sheep" are my impression of how a Hollywood marketing team views the audience, not how I view an audience.

I know lots of very smart people who enjoyed to movie, and it's because they chose to enjoy it on terms they set out for themselves.

The argument could be made that by supporting stories like this, that only degrades the potential for storytelling in future movies. That might be true. But that only indicates the marketplace doesn't value storytelling as much as it values visual spectacle. It says nothing about how smart any one individual in the marketplace is.

comment by David on Sunday, February 7, 2010

Oh, I know you didn't say that. It's just my personal opinion (and, sadly, observation where I am from).

comment by Autotelic on Sunday, February 7, 2010

Sorry if I got defensive on you there, since you weren't implying what I thought you were.

Still, I think it's probably something I should make known in general, just in case people get the wrong idea.

comment by pawsy on Monday, February 8, 2010

wonderful and clever and funny. the na'vi,like most neo primitive wonderland societies have no sense of humour and this is why it is sooo much better to be a human.

comment by Connie Jacobs on Tuesday, February 9, 2010

I haven't laughed so hard in a long time. Your view of the film is exactly how I saw it too. Thanks for writing this! lmao

comment by JB on Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm in tears laughing at your script. It would make a great mock movie like they do (scary movie etc).

I love the part about the USB and port. Didn't think of it when I watched the movie but GREAT observation. And you are correct about ethernet and ISP. Hilarious stuff.

comment by Winter on Wednesday, February 10, 2010

LOL great stuff! Few days ago, I was arguing how stupid this movie really was and I used a few jokes (tapping into wireless comms to see, what's happening seems a problem, Wasquez, USB 4.0 etc.), then I read this. You hit the spot and added a lot more (: Funny thing - until the end I thought remote controlled smurfs were lobotomized with heads stuffed with electronics (you don't want your blue toy to have mind of it's own, do you?)

Anyway - anyone sees resemblence with Matrix?

Expensive, massively hyped movie that didn't actually make sense (just tried to look like it does), that is just a collection of ripped off movies without adding anything of it's own (except of technology)?

comment by Reallyrichard on Thursday, February 11, 2010

Interesting is it not that "Avatar" is up against "The Hurt Locker" for best picture? (And the director of THL is Cameron's ex-wife)

THL is a movie that actually contains elements like complicated, conflicted characters, truly tense situations whose outcomes cannot be predicted (creating actual suspense), and many moral ambiguities, not to mention cool special effects of stuff blowing up. And a movie about an actual war that is, come to think of it, still going on today. Yet THL is a "small" movie seen by a relatively small number of people, and therefore not nearly as "important" as Avatar.

Go figure.

comment by meltmaster on Thursday, February 11, 2010

Genius. Pure and simple.

comment by alan dean foster on Saturday, February 13, 2010

Laughed 'til it hurt. Brilliant stuff.

comment by neophyte on Tuesday, February 16, 2010

As for me, I was wondering why, in the first minutes of the film the script spends so much effort banging it over the audience's collective head, telling us it is a Hostile Environment however, except for the visual prop of oxygen masks and aside from Smurf Jarhead, Smurf Ridley, and Smurf Red-Shirt fighting big animals in the first minutes of the movie, they never really face another hostile situation (except wrangling dragons which wasn't hostile). And when the battle rolls, the earthlings just fly in and have no problem wiping everything in sight out in spite of this alleged Hostile Environment. Oh that's right, the big animals rolled in (summoned by the spirit) to save the day in the final moments but where were they during the rest of the movie? All I saw were soft and psychadelic animals. Or is the audience meant to assume that the evil capitalist war machine was making up the Hostile Environment to justify their bloody war? Now that's a formulaic plot everyone in the audience recognizes only too well.

comment by Smurf-Hater on Thursday, February 18, 2010

I totally agree with ReallyRichard. The Hurt Locker actually made you feel for the characters, who were in no way invincible by way of their innate awesomeness. The ending of the moving, without ruining it for anyone, embodies the difficult choices that, based on everything I read, were lacking in Avatar. I'm quite proud that the trailers instilled no desire to see this schlock whatsoever, and perturbed that The Last Airbender cannot have its original title because it was highjacked by this tripe.

comment by Patrick on Friday, March 12, 2010

Simply amazing!!!! Funniest thing I've read in a very very long time.

comment by wolfman on Monday, March 15, 2010

Well you made a very realistic point of view on the movie. Although watching the movie with you and hearing you comments while watching or after the movie (being that I am a romatic reader and writer) would make me want to punch you in the face, reading this was very entertaining and funny. Very well done. My props to ya. ha ha

comment by IMS on Friday, April 16, 2010

Wow, that was brilliant! I went to see this abomination with my family when I visited them for the holidays and about twenty minutes in, I wanted to walk out. The only thing that kept me at the theater was the fact that I didn't pay to see it, and I didn't feel like walking back to my parent's place. Oh, and p.s. not only was this movie derivative, but the visuals were fairly ho hum to me. Maybe I'm alone in that opinion, but I was far more impressed with District 9 and Moon, both in terms of plot and character depth and visuals. Thanks for giving me one good thing to take away from the "experience," of Avatar!

comment by Zootsutra on Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Brilliant on every count. You even brought up plot inconsistencies that I missed the first time I saw this movie. I also thought that nearly all the characters took turns tossing around the Idiot Ball when the plot required them to. One question that still bugs me...if the Na'vi can use their USBraids to connect to plants and animals and whatnot, and Jake in his Avatar body can do so, why hasn't Grace (and by implied extension, the other avatars) done so in the first place? Grace would have learned that Eywa was a biological entity long before the events of the movie and probably could have convinced the Burkeclone of the financial incentives of studying and possibly exploiting such an amazing phenomenon. Think of it...learning an entire semester's worth of knowledge within seconds, true parallel processing developments (Skynet-style AI without the malevolence, anyone?)...even possible immortality. Hey, they can make genetic science their bitch by fusing Na'vi code and human DNA together, a human clone should be no problem. And for that matter, why haven't the Na'vi prayed to Eywa to get the humans to leave? No, nothing can happen in the movie till our Designated Jerk Hero can set wheels on Pandora and demonstrate his inner awesome and get his Tarzan on to save his new tribe (which he will become chief of, natch) with a Zerg rush. I won't even get started on how many original sources Cameron plundered to lash together this crappy demo reel together.

Am I bad for thinking that Sergeant Strawman was hot?

comment by Phil on Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Hilarous, completely, I was laughing like a whale.

Too bad you just missed the best opportunity to use the most cynical quoting from Sigourney Weaver's character:

"Dr. Grace Augustine: They're pissing on us and not even giving us the courtesy of calling it rain."

Because, this is exactly what I experienced the movie.

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