06 January 2010

Dances With Smurfs

I finally went to see 'Dances With Smurfs' yesterday in the second biggest 3D cinema in Dublin. The weather was pretty bad, so I chose a Luas ride to Dundrum over a walk to O'Connell Street, and my frozen ears told me I made the right choice. I did, however, forget that schools are not back until next week, and the 16:40 showing that I went to ended up being an extend exercise in childminding.

I had a big discussion later last night with Tadhg and The Very Understanding Girlfriend (neither of whom chose to accompany me to the film) on state restriction of activity based on age vs parental responsibility, and despite many salient points raised by both I still believe that if a film is classified "Under twelves accompanied" there should be a maximum ratio of under-twelves to adults, as in the eighteen ten year-old girls sitting in the row in front of me really should have had more than one adult with them, not because of the content of the film, more because of that adult's inability to control them much to the determent of my initial viewing pleasure. Herding cats comes to mind.

Despite that initial hiccup however, 'Dance With Smurfs' managed to hold the attention of almost every child in the audience for almost the entire three hour duration, probably because of all the pretty colours, explosions and the 3D, which I have to admit blew me away. I haven't seen a 3D film in the cinema since Jaws 3D in 1983, aged ten, which, with regards to the subject of state imposed age restrictions, I definitely think was too young an age to be exposed to such horrendous film-making; its sheer awfulness permanently scarred my cinematic critical faculties, and no doubt contributed to my ability to stomach (but not enjoy) the oeuvre of Roland Emmerich and Michael Bay.

For a pretty decent review, with spoilers, check out Mr Tim's post on Inessentials, but a few thoughts did occur to me. The first is that James Cameron has bought fairly heavily into James Lovelock's Gaia theory, so no doubt we can look forward to the Na'vi fully embracing nuclear power as their only credible source of future energy in the sequel, "Revenge of Pandora". The second is whether or not there is a direct correlation between the portrayal of environmental themes in over-the-top escapist fantasy blockbusters (Day After Tomorrow etc) and the decrease in the acceptance of Climate Change as either a) real or b) man-made in the general US population.

In 2007 77% of Americans believed in climate change. Today only 57% believe that climate change is real, and staggeringly only 36% believe that human activity is responsible. Rarely has one nation been so out of step with the rest of the world. Has the frequent mining of climate change as the subject for apocalyptic science fiction indelibly labeled it as "science fiction" in the minds of the US masses?

Given Cameron's twee assimilation of New Age spiritualism, Native-American-with-a-single-tear-rolling-down-their-cheek environmentalism and an anti-militarism message delivered with a blunt instrument into what is essentially a day-glow Pocahontas cartoon, will the ideas of genuine pacifism and sustainability be also further moved into the realms of day-glow cartoonism in the minds of the American public?

Despite all this, I really did enjoy the film. The plot is laughable, the acting (particularity Sam Worthington) execrably weak, the music is offensive in a way only achievable by having an X-Factor winner warble the theme music from Survivor in the style of Celine Dion while being accompanied by someone playing 'panpipes' on a Casio keyboard, and at times the pacing is a tad slow. None of this matters however, as long as you see it in 3D on the largest screen you can. Don't think of it as a film, and don't judge it on the same criteria you would a normal movie, think of it as a ride in an amusement park, and go for the sheer experience. Simply amazing.

Its even better than Jaws 3D.



At 8:05 pm, Anonymous inessentials said...

I wasn't as turned off by Sam Worthington's performance, perhaps because he is the viewer's avatar, the one we live through in the film, and thus needs to be blank to let James Cameron's MESSAGE wash over us.

/mood shift/

"Rarely has one nation been so out of step with the rest of the world." That's because we are leaders here in the US of A. We don't follow others' marching orders. We call the shots. We set the beat. So really, everyone else is out of step. Now, fall into shape or prepare to be squashed as we make the world safe for Haliburton.

At 9:09 am, Anonymous Felix said...

I loved Avatar! I had some questions about the use of disability in the plot and the whole issue of the body and the Avatar was very interesting; I was constantly anxious throughout the film about where Jack's real body was in relation to his Avatar and this reminded me of the matrix and other films that have dealt with disembodiment and virtuality...

I also thought of Lovelock's theory of Gaia, and I thought the massive seam of rock buried under the hometree was more akin to the seam of Uranium deposited underneath aboriginal lands in Kakadu National Park - Wiki article on Alligator Rivers.

I thought the mash-up of Aboriginal beliefs, Native-American Indian styling, Zulu-meets Maori costumes etc. to be clumsy and New-Age-esque; however taking off my cynical hat for a moment, I was genuinely moved by the beauty of the belief system on Pandora.

For an anti-military film there was an awful lot of gun porn!

Loved your description of the soundtrack; couldn't have said it better myself, but to be honest, none of this got in the way of me having the best experience at the Cinema that I've had in ages!

At 6:28 pm, Blogger Unkie Dave said...

@inessentials: I think you are right, it is clearly we who are at fault for not accepting that guardian angels watch over us like an apparent 55% of all Americans. Please don't liberate us, we'll try and buy more stuff. ;)

@Felix interesting (and in hindsight completely obvious, bit of a d'oh moment there on my part for missing it) observation on body vs Avatar. I'm waiting to see someone deconstruct it through a Baudrillard lens a la 'Simulacra and Simulation', though its interesting to note that he wasn't too impressed with the Matrix's take on his ideas.


Interestingly enough George Monbiot rather liked Dances with Smurfs, but then as a friend so eloquently put it "George Monbiot can rev up and fuck off on every topic extant or yet to be thought of. The Julie Burchill of the environmental movement and just as charming"

The Pope, however,
is not a fan


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