So, I just realized that in the past 2 nights, I’ve managed to watch both of James Cameron’s epic movies of the decade: Avatar & Titanic.
Avatar was completely on purpose because I bought it yesterday, Collector’s Edition, for the golden price of $3.00. (A special thank you goes out to my boss for a Pine Centre gift card as a Christmas bonus!) And Titanic was completely by accident because I was bored and it was on T.V. Yes, it is now a T.V. movie and it lasts 4 bloody hours long due to commercials.
And then I thought, “What if Avatar and Titanic duked it out? What would that look like? Who would win?” And never wanting to leave a thought hanging, here I am to explore the idea.
Let’s begin with the obvious.
Avatar is clearly a fantasy, and Titanic is “based on a true story.” They both win in this category for me because I love based on true story movies, and the more based they are in true story, the happier I am. Fantasy isn’t always my favorite, but Avatar went above and beyond in that category, and I’ll expand on that later.
Titanic is a mixed bag for me. When I was younger, I was part of that crew that thought it was clever to call Leo “Retardo DiCrappio” instead. And Kate Winslet, from top to bottom, even to the way she said things, annoyed the yikes out of me. But you know what? I have gained respect for both of them. Especially recently, they’ve both taken on deeper, more complicated roles and handled them with intensity. They are selfish, annoying teenagers no longer.
Billy Zane makes a definitely hate-able bad guy, and Kathy Bates is fantastic as “Unsinkable Molly Brown.” And a very young Ioan Gruffudd has some great scenes near the very end as a compassionate sailor turned lifeboat rescuer. The rest of the actors, I can’t tell if they’re bad or if I just don’t like them personally because of who their characters are.
Avatar is a little more impressive because a lot of the main characters were yet virtually unknown actors and I really liked all of them. And to be able to convey strong emotional connection as you’re playing what appears to be a blue zebra-cat that walks upright…it’s golden. Special shout-out goes to Michelle Rodriguez who played the tough but lovable Trudy. She made me laugh out loud more than once with her badass attitude and I’m always sorry that she dies. And Neytiri will forever be one of my favorite savage women. (In the Collector’s Edition, there’s a moment where she and Jake are hunting and when he kills, he says “Hell yeah!” and she throws back her head and says “Hell yeah!” too.)
Not going to lie, both are kind of weak. For Titanic, it felt kind of like they were trying to squeeze 1997 attitude into a 1912 setting, and it doesn’t always fit. However, I do love the moment where Rose mentions Dr. Freud and what he has to say about men’s obsession with size and how it relates to the Titanic itself.
Avatar feels like it stole its storyline from about 5 other movies. Nothing at all seems very original about it except for the setting itself. I will say that I do get chills every time that Jake makes his “They-cannot-take-whatever-they-want-this-is-our-land” speech, and when Neytiri screams “Eywa has heard you!”
Cuz every movie’s gotta have one, right? =P Not. But anyways. Titanic’s love story kind of pisses me off and yet I understand it at the same time. Jack and Rose are young and impetuous to begin with. Add to it the angst that Rose feels of being trapped into an engagement with a brutal man she does not love, then throw her into a perilous situation where her hero saves her time and time again, and you’re just asking for her to throw all caution to the wind to be with a dude she’s only known 2 days. And Jack’s such a free spirit with no family to speak of that he probably sees Rose as somewhat of a project who he can help and feel good about himself at the same time. Plus, she appears to be the one girl who deflowers him before he dies – who wouldn’t be attached to that? Ultimately, I feel that if Jack hadn’t died, and they’d gone on to do all the things they talked about doing, they wouldn’t have lasted a year.
Jake and Neytiri from Avatar, I can put my faith little bit more in. They actually know each other for a few months before they start steaming up the screen, and it’s borne out of true friendship and although they are different, they are a strong team when they’re united. And I love that when they’re “mated”, it’s considered for life. I have the feeling that there would be a lot less fornicating happening among teenagers these days if they knew they would have to be with that person for the rest of their life. Hey, I think I just found a new form of birth control.
Amazing on both counts. I think it’s the same person, James Horner, who is also responsible for the Mask of Zorro – one of my favorite soundtracks – so that doesn’t surprise me.
You can’t have stories like these and not have special effects. Personally, I think Avatar is better, but that could just be a matter of how far we’ve come in CGI and such since 1997. I believe they were both ground-breaking for their time.
The final half of these movies, for both of them, leave me sitting with a knot in my stomach the entire time no matter how many times I view it. With Titanic, I put myself literally on the sinking boat with those people and think “What would I do?” I know that every person fights for their own survival, but so many times, my heart went, “Oh! Why didn’t they help that person? They could have taken 2 seconds. Frick, how could those first-class people be so selfish as to consider third-class not worth saving? Damn you, money!”
And in Avatar…I’m definitely not a tree-hugger hippie, but come on. Destroying an entire civilization’s home just so you can get access to a commodity like Unobtainium (and what kind of lame-ass name is that? Seriously!)….that is just not cool.
And never will be. End of story.
Avatar made me want to board a spaceship and go live on Pandora forever, and Titanic made me never want to board a ship of any kind. And I think I just contradicted myself.
I believe that about covers everything I’ve been feeling. This may be like the last thing you’d ever want to spend your time reading, but I had fun writing it.
So, who wins?
The answer is neither and both.
After all that.
Frick, James Cameron. Just take my money and run.