Avatar *is* the iPhone of movies

The newness of the Droid has worn off, and the need to document every discovery has fallen off as well. That’s why I was pleased when Mike Arrington called the movie Avatar the iPhone of Movies. That gave me an excuse to write a new post for the Droidie blog. :-)

I went to Avatar last night with Cori, a new Droid user — and I hope to recruit her to write for this blog. She likes violent noisy action movies, which is probably why she likes the Droid. But Arrington’s point is that the movie is a game-changer for the movie business, as the iPhone was a game-changer in the mobile device business. I’m not an expert on movies, maybe he is, but I kind of see his point.

He said the movie shouldn’t be judged by the plot — he conceded that the plot was pretty boring — rather it should be judged by the virtuality that it creates. Ahhh. Interesting. I hadn’t considered that.

It is a wonderful movie that way. They achieve suspension of disbelief in a complicated world, rendered in 3D. We saw it in an IMAX theater. I explained it to my mother that my uncle, who has been gone for only six years, wouldn’t understand what we saw in this movie, that’s how much progress has been made. He would also love my Droid or an iPhone, because it’s like carrying a library full of encyclopedias with you everywhere you go. Probably more like the Droid because its Verizon connection actually works most places you try to use it. Which is another reason I think Arrington might be right about Avatar being an iPhone, but not in a positive way.

The iPhone is the phone of dropped connections, 3G that doesn’t work, and every third word inaudible. Lots of “Wait a minute say that again.” I lost the suspension of disbelief in the movie when the characters broke out of jail (we didn’t even know they were in jail!) only to be assaulted by the evil security chief who couldn’t shoot straight enough to hit them even though they weren’t moving. It was at this point that I leaned over to my companion and said “This movie just started to suck.” And it continued to suck until almost the end when the two lovers joined up in a very interesting and creative way (no spoilers).

No doubt whoever owns the technology that Cameron used to make this movie will rent it out so that other movies will be made with it. They will remake old movies. Why bother inventing new plots or characters or new ideas when you can just rehash a mishmash of old ones with new special effects? Well, I care and hope they bother. I am much more enthralled with an intricate movie with great characters and acting I saw a few days before Avatar. Its special effects were limited to using real airplanes instead of mockups. Wait that isn’t a special effect! :-)

That said the world of Avatar is appealing, sexy, vibrant and itself interesting, as the iPhone was two years ago. But the plot of the iPhone never developed because the reason you have all that sexy appealing vibrance is so you can make a call, or send a text, look up a fact, or plot a map, and the iPhone fails to deliver. And the reason you go to a movie is to fall into a story deeply, to feel the suspension of disbelief, and ultimately, like the iPhone, Avatar sucked at that purpose.

What I can’t wait to see is an original story that uses the virtual reality techniques of Avatar. The Matrix of this layer of technology.

Posted in Droid. 13 Comments »

13 Responses to “Avatar *is* the iPhone of movies”

  1. Jeff Marsden Says:

    “But the plot of the iPhone never developed because the reason you have all that sexy appealing vibrance is so you can make a call, or send a text, look up a fact, or plot a map, and the iPhone fails to deliver.”

    I know that this is a “droid” blog, but how does the iPhone fail to deliver?

    “Probably more like the Droid because its Verizon connection actually works most places you try to use it.”

    Ummm, the NYT (of all places) demonstrates that ATT’s network is actually FAR more reliable (and faster)

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/13/business/13digi.html?_r=3

    Good blog – but a little better on the facts would be good.

  2. Matthew Says:

    iPhone is great in Canada. I’ve used it as a tether to run Skype video calls a number of times with no problems, and I don’t get dropped calls any more frequently than in the past when I used other devices (Nokia and Sony-Ericcson). Having used my iPhone a lot in various locales in the US, I know how much it sucks. (SF was by far the worst). I’d question whether it’s the phone or the combo of the phone and the network that makes the FAIL so frustrating.

    • Dave Winer Says:

      That’s like asking whether it matters that Avatar has a boring predictable almost idiotic plot.

      The special effects are great!

      See what I’m saying. You can split the hairs however you want. I got tired of using a piece of art that didn’t work.

  3. Matt Terenzio Says:

    After following both links, I’m left wondering what the truth is.

    Are journalists standing by. . .to check up on other journalists?

  4. Jeff Kirvin Says:

    A few minor corrections.

    As mentioned above, your mileage may vary regarding the iPhone and your phone du jour on Verizon. In the biggest city in the United States, AT&T is faster and more reliable. FWIW, I’m as happy with my iPhone on AT&T as I was with WM phones on Sprint.

    As to Avatar, first a nit. The guy couldn’t shoot straight because he was outside without a mask on an alien world and couldn’t breathe. Or did that detail escape you?

    But regarding the plot, why do you think it so similar to Dances Wolves, or Pocahontas, or so many other movies, books, etc.? Is it derivative? Or is it merely pulling from the same mythic structure that they pulled from? It’s odd you mention The Matrix as an example of a truly “original” story because to anyone who has actually studied myth and literature, it’s quite obviously anything but. In fact, the Matrix was an interesting merging of Buddhist philosophy with the messiah myth that’s common to nearly every human civilization. A thousand years ago, they called Neo Jesus, but he’s gone by so many other names.

    Don’t mistake the simple for the inferior. All too often the best stories are those we know by heart.

  5. Austin Burbridge Says:

    AVATAR — like every entertainment whose appeal is the sophistication of its special effects — is the kind of movie that one makes when one controls the system of exhibition (as Hollywood does in USA [very few independent movie exhibitors exist anymore]).

    Its appeal is centered on the means of its maker, rather than on the desires of movie audiences. In other words, the emphasis is on its abundance of features, rather than on the benefits to its audience.

    I think of the circumstances of AVATAR’s manufacture — and distribution — as indicators of a conservative industry which is desperately trying to avoid change (or dealing with the realities of today’s movie market and the actual demands of its customers).

    To the extent that — on the basis of its “success” — more capital would be invested in similar vehicles — it would decrease the pool of investment available for other, forward-facing productions. This product may provide serious near-term benefits for its producers, but it does no service to the overall business of the cinema, IMHO.

  6. Ashok Says:

    I brought 2 boxes of Goobers to see Avatar… unfortunately for me I needed to have brought 4 boxes! Think the storyline of “Furn Gully” all grown up and using the Tech of “The Matrix” with the heart and Soul of the story line right out of “Braveheart”! Enough said.

    This is the extraneous stuff you do not need to read to know that you need to go see this film. Unfortunately I need Ten lines of text! The acting was superb, The graphics unparalleled, the sound was Tres’ Magnifique! I can not await the arrival of a heartwarming “Mechwarrior” film that really needs to be made! the tech is here and in place lets get on with it people!

  7. Lisa Kolstad Says:

    Avatar is the Chinese food of movies, yummy while you’re eating it but an hour later you are hungry, grumbling and wondering just what you ate! A Golden Globe? This is a scary shallow pool we are swimming in.


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