I Hated Avatar, But Here’s Why I’m Going to Watch Avatar 2

So, Avatar 2 has finally received a release date, and it’s going to arrive 11 years after the original film. I watched Avatar in the theater on Christmas Day 2009, and I haven’t seen it since. The first year that I began writing as the Deja Reviewer I wrote a detailed explanation of why I hate Avatar. I’ll briefly recap my main frustrations with that film:

  • Avatar movie poster.The main character is never in any danger of getting hurt until the very end of the film, killing any potential suspense.
  • The Navi have dubious double standards about the sanctity of life when dealing with humans and alien creatures.
  • The Navi, their dragons, and the humans feel like plot devices more than well-rounded characters.
  • The movie’s moral message is ham-fisted and trite, always casting humans as the bad guys. Seriously, the only good humans are the ones who reject their humanity and want to put their souls into alien bodies.
  • The militant humans could easily win any conflict against primitive weapons, making the final battle utterly ridiculous.

Despite all of this and the fact that I feel no desire to ever revisit Avatar, I am going to watch its sequel when it finally debuts on December 18, 2020. In fact, I intend to go to a midnight showing to see it as early possible. Why in the world would I do this, you might ask? There are three reasons. Continue reading

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11 Movies That Sound Like They Should Be Sequels

I’m usually quite verbose in my exploration of films. But today I’m just going to let the films’ titles do the talking. I’ve compiled a list of 11 films that (purely based on their titles) sound like they should be sequels to other films with similar titles. This is all, of course, completely tongue in cheek and it’s not intended to be taken seriously. So get ready to have a good laugh as we seek wool to pull over our eyes. Continue reading

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Pleasant Surprises: Swiss Family Robinson

As a kid, I wasn’t a huge fan of Disney’s old live-action movies. They were so boring and quaint, like The Parent Trap (1960) and Freaky Friday (1976). I probably would have had a whole different perspective on the matter if I had first watched Swiss Family Robinson (1960). This movie is anything but boring, and its quaint attitude towards everything is refreshing and fun. There’s danger around every corner, but there’s also adventure and intrigue. I watched this movie for the first time as an adult, and the whole time I kept repeating, “I really like this!”

I’m sad that I missed out on this wonderful film for so many years, but I’m happy that I can share it with you and hopefully prevent any more lost time without it. Three things make this film a delight to watch: the sense of danger, the celebration of creativity, and the old-fashioned virtues. Journey with me into uncharted territory as we explore these things that make Swiss Family Robinson such a pleasant surprise. Continue reading

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The Right Way and the Wrong Way to Do a One-Joke Comedy

One-joke comedies are so hard to pull off. It’s Pat, The Hot Chick, Chairman of the Board, Bio-Dome, Dude, Where’s My Car? and just about anything by the Wayans brothers and/or Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer are just terrible. And yet there is a way to make a good one-joke comedy. It’s been done before. The joke in Ghostbusters (1984) is that they’re pest control for ghosts, but they somehow manage to make that joke work the whole way through the film. The joke in Arsenic and Old Lace is that two sweet old women are serial killers, and only their nephew knows it. Groundhog Day repeats the same day’s events over and over, but it keeps getting funnier and more dramatic as time goes by.

And then there are the two films I’m going to talk about: Liar Liar and Mr. Magoo. The respective jokes are that one character can’t lie and the other can’t see. Despite both revolving around a single joke, these two films could not be more divergent in terms of execution. Liar Liar is so good that it singlehandedly changed Roger Ebert’s mind about Jim Carrey, suddenly turning him into a fan of the comedian overnight. Mr. Magoo, on the other hand, was so bad that it earned a spot in Ebert’s book, I Hated, Hated, Hated This Movie, in which he described it as, “transcendently bad… There is not a laugh in it. Not one. I counted.”

Both of these films were released in 1997, and I think there are no better examples of the right way and the wrong way to do a one-joke comedy than these two. So let’s go through all the ways that one film got everything right and the other got everything wrong. Continue reading

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Selfish Sacrifices

Sacrifice is such a strange word to me. We usually think of sacrifice as being a selfless act. But is it really? When I sacrifice it’s because I am being selfish. I’m forgoing something I want now for something I want that’s better in the future. Morality is incredibly selfish when you think about it. Studies show that the only three things people have to do to avoid living in poverty are to finish high school, get a full-time job, and don’t be a teen mom or dad. So if people want a better chance of being happy and successful in life, they “sacrifice” laziness, drug abuse, sex before marriage, and other vices that could keep them from fulfilling those three simple requirements.

This is not one of my usual movie discussions, but I trust that if you read to the end you’ll discover some things that will help you live a more fulfilling life. Continue reading

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Bad Problem-Solving Movies Are Just Frustrating

As I noted last week, I love problem-solving movies – when they’re done right. Unfortunately, every now and then a movie comes along claiming that it has some great puzzle to solve, but it turns out to be just an endless series of frustrating problems, leading to an unearned happy ending.

There are two films, in particular, that I think of as truly awful problem-solving movies, both of which came out in 1998: A Civil Action and Armageddon. I saw both of these films in theaters, and I couldn’t wait for either of them to end after about the halfway point. Let’s talk about these two films to shine a spotlight on why bad problem-solving movies are so frustrating. I’ll even compare them to better movies that take a similar concept and succeed where these ones failed. Continue reading

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I Love Problem-Solving Movies

What do Apollo 13, Ghost, and Rudy have in common? Sure, they all came out in the 1990s, but I posit that they share something more substantial than that. They’re all problem-solving movies.

What is a problem-solving movie and how does it differ from other movies? When you boil these three films down to their essence, they are films about people learning to solve very specific problems that would otherwise prevent them from their ultimate goal. Each problem that they solve leads them to another bigger problem and so on until they have overcome so many odds that to fail is simply not an option. Apollo 13 is about survival, Ghost is about becoming more than a noncorporeal entity, and Rudy is about getting onto Notre Dame’s football team.

I love problem-solving movies, so I’d like to talk about why it’s so fun to watch the heroes of these three films overcome their numerous problems. Continue reading

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