Two Movie Reviews: From Paris with Love and Avatar
“Let us pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere.” C. S. Lewis
What I love about watching movies is that, no matter the area of interest, there are endless choices and film genres to keep one stuck in a seat for quite some time. My interests run the gamut from epic romantic films, docudramas, foreign flicks, musicals, historical accounts, to comedy and action movies.
I can safely say I love almost all types of movies except – Horror Movies. I remember, years ago, when I saw The Exorcist (Linda Blair), I had nightmares for months and vowed never to watch stuff like that ever. I know… As friends often tell me, some people are able to maintain some distance from what they see on a movie screen and simply view it from its technical aspects first; storyline, camera angle, character development, script, dialogue and originality.
Others, like me, throw ourselves into the plot and swim along with the characters; dodging bullets, lame lines or humorous exchanges as they hurtle past us in the theatre. I go for the entertainment first and critique the film last. Last week, I saw and enjoyed two movies that had completely different effects on me. Last Sunday, I saw Avatar (science fiction on genetic-engineering with a spiritual bent) with my good friend Esme; it made me sad. Then on Thursday, I saw From Paris with Love (Action flick on undercover operatives) with another friend, Cass, at its New York premiere; this movie made me laugh out loud.
Esme and I debated the merits of seeing Avatar in 3D and settled on the HD (High Definition) version because of the potential vertigo-inducing special effects. The cinematography was stunning, and the storyline sad yet compelling. I plan to go back to see it in 3D after all. Bring tissues and a prayerful heart to this one.
Cass and I are members of Gofobo, an online experience designed to help members see movie premieres and live celebrity events first. I love Gofobo because they give out free tickets to fantastic events with great seats and From Paris with Love was one of those premiere events attended by both the director, Pierre Morel, and the key actors; John Travolta (Pulp Fiction) and Jonathan Rhys Meyer (Bend it Like Beckham).
One of the treats of our Gofobo experience was that we got to take up-close pictures of the celebs at the Ziegfeld Theater and the atmosphere was one of congeniality and goodwill. The movie was action packed, tongue-in-cheek, over the top humor, with a storyline on love, betrayal and vicious operatives. The banter between John and Jonathan is hysterical and worth the go-see. Just don’t take yourself seriously at this crazy movie.
“To sit patiently with a yearning that has not yet been fulfilled, and to trust that, that fulfillment will come, is quite possibly one of the most powerful “magic skills” that human beings are capable of. It has been noted by almost every ancient wisdom tradition.” Elizabeth Gilbert
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, as James Reese, plays the part of a low-level intelligence operative; a junior attaché to the U.S. Ambassador in France hungry for more exciting assignments. He has a doting French girlfriend, Kasia Smutniak, who makes fabulous dresses out of their bedroom curtains and shops for fabric in dodgy neighborhoods – foreshadowing the betrayal to come.
James Reese’s moment to shine comes in the shape of his new partner, John Travolta, who plays special agent Charlie Wax; a crazy foul-mouthed, head-bashing, trigger happy, senior level operative sent on a special assignment to take out a terrorist cell bent on killing the US delegation to a World Summit in Paris.
The hi-jinks these two carry out include high speed chases, shootouts, blowups/blowouts with the usual cast of bad guys in tow. Watching Jonathan Rhys Meyers transform from a stiff, order-taking attaché to a trash talking, gun-slinging agent is pretty funny. John Travolta plays the armed agent lunatic to the hilt and even though his character’s crass ways make him an unlikely candidate for a tender heart award, he shows touches of compassion and grace at key moments in the film.
While there are some surprising transitions in the film, I won’t be giving away spoilers here, the basic premise is based on good guys battling bad guys; on par with real life, right? This is a typical action flick recipe with wiseguys, hoodlums, wisecracking lines and lots of humor tossed in. From a purely entertainment perspective, I’d say I enjoyed it thoroughly! This is worth the popcorn. In theaters on February 5, 2010.
“Just as treasures are uncovered from the earth, so virtue appears from good deeds, and wisdom appears from a pure and peaceful mind. To walk safely through the maze of human life, one needs the light of wisdom and the guidance of virtue.” Buddha
Sam Worthington plays the role of, Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-marine who joins a military group, sent from planet earth, on a covert mission to the distant planet – Pandora. The plan is to retrieve the precious ore found on Pandora; home to the blue-hued, spiritual, nature-worshiping, peace-loving indigenous Na’vi race.
The Na’vi are ten-foot-tall, blue-skinned aliens who earlier had welcomed the visitors from earth, but soon realized the earthlings motives were not about education and indoctrination but merely to invade their land and procure the metal under their homeland. The ensuing war led to humans growing genetically engineered Avatars; a half-alien/half-human body through which consciousness is transferred, thus; allowing a human to mingle in the Na’vi world.
The protagonist,Jake Sully’s, late brother had an incredibly expensive Avatar grown for him. Jake willingly takes on both the Avatar and the undercover role of mingling with the Na’vi to find out all their strategic locations and make the earth team’s mission a success. This complex, genetically-engineered avatar/suit provides both protection against the hostilities on Pandora and an opportunity to meet and bond with the indigenous group.
During one of the earth team’s visits to Pandora, Jake (in Avatar mode) is separated from his team; Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore, and finds himself fighting off fierce creatures until rescued by Na’vi Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Princess Neytiri introduces him to her tribe and gradually a special bond and love grows. Soon, the earth leader, Col. Miles Quaritch, (Stephen Lang) recruits Jake for special undercover spying and this soon triggers a moral dilemma for Jake as he becomes conflicted by his love for the Na’vi and his military duties as a soldier. The final battle is a stark and painful reminder of the destruction and horror inflicted by war; the Na’vi homeland is decimated and taken by force until Jake joins them to fight back.
What makes this movie painfully close to the nerve is the fact that it mirrors the oppression we see in the world today. This is a classic case of big corporations/nations taking over, with impunity, land and minerals mined in poor, docile nations. Their onerous intentions are often couched in conciliatory language; education, aid and friendship. The movie made me sad even as the Na’vi battled to gain back their land.
The pain people speak of when watching this movie has to do with watching a planet rich in all forms of animal/plant life and beautiful vegetation destroyed, in one fell swoop, by the ugly metal teeth of industrial greed. Pandora, perhaps, is simply a codeword for the ugly pandora’s box of insatiable greed that we observe in our world as the powerful take, take and take without consideration of future outcomes.
This deeply disturbing storyline touches close to home on planet earth too. Look around the earth, observe the use and abuse of our ecosystem, the depletion of our resources, and then you’ll understand – I See You. The Na’vi survives by fighting back with Jake at their side and at great cost to life and community. In the end, they defeat the oppressors from earth; mainly because Mother Earth intervenes in the 11th hour. Will she intervene on Planet Earth? Many believe she will or perhaps she has. What do you think?
Mother Earth is fighting back in our world as we continue to see the impact of climatic change and reckless waste of resources. My prayer is that this movie will serve as a frightening warning of where we are all headed unless we nourish our planet and stop raping her of her resources in a greedy frenzy to make more and more consumer goods for billions of dollars in profits and earnings. What good would these trinkets serve if we have no food, water or natural reserves to sustain the body or leave something for our children and grandchildren?
This $2 billion grossing movie from James Cameron, Academy Award-winning Titanic director, is an impressive, digital 3D, sci-fi, epic movie. It uses both live-action performances and computer-generated effects to showcase a motion-capture system created for the film. The motion capture system allows the facial expressions of actors to be captured while a virtual camera system shows the actors what their computer-generated counterparts will see on film. This is definitely a case of – “I See You!”
Both movies Avatar and From Paris with Love shared something in common; the incredible violence humans inflict on everything we find objectionable; no discussion just elimination. We also see glimpses of the human spirit when compassion finds a home; albeit temporarily. Where did this violent tendency come from? Why such greed on a planet with sustainable options that can nourish all life? Can we ever find permanent peaceful solutions to conflict? Can we learn to live with each other from a place of L.O.V.E?
What are your thoughts? Do share. Thank you!
Trailer Photos for Avatar and From Paris with Love ~ via Google Images
From Paris with Love Premiere Photos from my collection
Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©