Trope-a-Dope

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Are you trying to say "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts"?
Because if that's what you're saying, then I agree, that's true of anything, books, music, art, life.

But if you're trying to tell people to switch their brains off and just look at pretty pictures, then I disagree.

Dark Templar:

Casual Shinji:

I don't dislike Avatar because it isn't original, but because it does absolutely nothing unique in any way except for the CGI.

I disagree.

I thought the way Avatar delved into great detail about both opposing cultures, all the characters, their motivations, the technology, the biology of the forest, ect.

A ton of the small details where pretty original and the presentation of the whole thing made the movie a blast to watch. I honestly don't see how you can find NOTHING original about Avatar. There is soo much there.

The opposing cultures were unique? Please, the Na'vi were obviously Native American Indians and the Mercs were the invading British. You can't defend their opposing cultures as unique.

And are we still on about Avatar? Over it. It'll probably win the Oscar, undeservedly. James Cameron will continue to ride the hype train, undeservedly. The majority will ride the bandwagon, and we'll all get over it.

Avatar is not a bad movie, much in the same way Juno wasn't bad...both however didn't deserve the gigantic amounts of hype that they got.

dead_rebel:

Dark Templar:

Casual Shinji:

I don't dislike Avatar because it isn't original, but because it does absolutely nothing unique in any way except for the CGI.

I disagree.

I thought the way Avatar delved into great detail about both opposing cultures, all the characters, their motivations, the technology, the biology of the forest, ect.

A ton of the small details where pretty original and the presentation of the whole thing made the movie a blast to watch. I honestly don't see how you can find NOTHING original about Avatar. There is soo much there.

The opposing cultures were unique? Please, the Na'vi were obviously Native American Indians and the Mercs were the invading British. You can't defend their opposing cultures as unique.

And are we still on about Avatar? Over it. It'll probably win the Oscar, undeservedly. James Cameron will continue to ride the hype train, undeservedly. The majority will ride the bandwagon, and we'll all get over it.

Avatar is not a bad movie, much in the same way Juno wasn't bad...both however didn't deserve the gigantic amounts of hype that they got.

I hope Cameron DOES keep riding the Hype train. Because the next stop is supposedly Battle Angel, and he BETTER freaking not ruin that series. Hopefully all these expectations will push him to come up with an excellent film, and maybe bring some more publicity to a shamefully underrated series.

Also, all the CG strides made in Avatar can finally be put to excellent use in rendering the incredible landscape of the scrapland and its denizens. I mean, prior to movies like Avatar I would have said it would be very difficult to make a live-action version of Battle Angel simply because you could never get the CG looking good enough, and practical effects just wouldn't cut it for a movie based on this series.

Damn, Bob. I never read your column before (just watched your videos) but that was an absolute pleasure to read.

MovieBob:

AcacianLeaves:
Out of curiosity Bob, why do you feel the need to defend Avatar every other week?

There are, approximately, THREE "newsworthy" current-events stories in mainstream film journalism: "Avatar" being a huge phenomenon possibly rewriting the rules of blockbuster movies and movie releasing (i.e. EVERY DAMN MOVIE is being made for 3D now,) The Oscars which this year is dominated by the Avatar/Hurt Locker rivalry, and "what's gonna happen to Roman Polanski?" That last one I've previously sworn-off covering until something new happens, so... there ya go ;)

Huh, really? Avatar is the only actual movie worth discussing anymore? You sir, are very silly. I guess there's no point in even talking about Shutter Island, huh? We should just stop making movies altogether, Avatar has conquered all of cinema! Look, it hasn't re-written anything. The same kinds of movies that have been in 3D will continue to be in 3D - children's movies and one or two spectacle action flicks. Not to mention a huge chunk of the movie-going population has no interest in 3D. It will continue to be a nice feature that some people will enjoy, but it's not as if we'll have to wear goofy glasses to every movie we go to see from now on.

Not to mention nobody's really talking about the 3D when discussing Avatar, they're just arguing whether or not its blatant unoriginality discounts its potential merits.

But seriously man, maybe there are only three things that you're interested in discussing about movies - but surely you can see that's not universally true by any stretch of the imagination.

AcacianLeaves:

MovieBob:

AcacianLeaves:
Out of curiosity Bob, why do you feel the need to defend Avatar every other week?

There are, approximately, THREE "newsworthy" current-events stories in mainstream film journalism: "Avatar" being a huge phenomenon possibly rewriting the rules of blockbuster movies and movie releasing (i.e. EVERY DAMN MOVIE is being made for 3D now,) The Oscars which this year is dominated by the Avatar/Hurt Locker rivalry, and "what's gonna happen to Roman Polanski?" That last one I've previously sworn-off covering until something new happens, so... there ya go ;)

Huh, really? Avatar is the only actual movie worth discussing anymore? You sir, are very silly. I guess there's no point in even talking about Shutter Island, huh? We should just stop making movies altogether, Avatar has conquered all of cinema! Look, it hasn't re-written anything. The same kinds of movies that have been in 3D will continue to be in 3D - children's movies and one or two spectacle action flicks. Not to mention a huge chunk of the movie-going population has no interest in 3D. It will continue to be a nice feature that some people will enjoy, but it's not as if we'll have to wear goofy glasses to every movie we go to see from now on.

Not to mention nobody's really talking about the 3D when discussing Avatar, they're just arguing whether or not its blatant unoriginality discounts its potential merits.

But seriously man, maybe there are only three things that you're interested in discussing about movies - but surely you can see that's not universally true by any stretch of the imagination.

Two things here.

For one, don't get butthurt because this guy said something you don't like. I get what you mean, that it just isn't true, but don't get upset.

For two, you cannot say in honesty that the success of Avatar has not contributed to the popularity of 3D moives. Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, Sony's new in-home 3D moive player. A single movie making two billion dollars sure as hell encouraged those along.

Yet somehow, I get a feeling that neither of those movies are going to make as much money or generate as much discussion as Avatar did. I, personally, think that part of the reason Cameron did so well is because of all the hype his unoriginal plot raked in. It was either a clever ploy or a fluke, but it worked.

I wish Avatar had never existed, or that the technology behind its creation was crap. Then, the entire world would brush it off and we would be able to stave off the general decay of artistry. Instead, this Corporate Art behemoth gets to piss all over the film industry. For the kind of budget it had, the technology should have accompanied an exquisitely written story and a cast ripe with talent.
Grumble grumble.

Moviebob:
If even one of them had deigned to take one final look back at the young man they'd been interrogating, they might've seen a smile slowly creep across his face. Something had come to him: Finally, the story he was sure they'd never heard.

"Once upon a time, there were beings who wanted to have seen it all. And to prove that they could, everything they came across - no matter how lovely it may have been - they would cut into pieces tinier and tinier, until they could safely say that 'everything' was just the same old bits of dust. And for a time, this would make them feel superior. Secure."

"Until the day that they would realize, with unfolding horror, the toll of their quest: That in seeking only the 'original' they had forgone the power to perceive all else. That they would never again be able to recognize 'beautiful,' 'moving' or even 'frightening'... unable to truly see anything but for the dust it was made of. That having 'seen everything before' means you never really see anything again."

One of the aliens hollered back to him, without looking back, "Pffft. We've heard that 300,000 times."

A sad story. That's what the Internet is for: the complete and utter categorization of every bit of information humanly comprehensible. Unfortunately, the Internet doesn't concern itself with the big picture.

If I had a dozen or so individual Lego bricks, I could arrange them in a myriad of ways. You could say that you've seen the individual bricks before, but you can't say you've seen them arranged in the way that I have.

You do realize TV Tropes is, in actuality, absolutely NOTHING LIKE THIS, right?

We're not a bunch of jaded douchebags who pick apart everything we see. Mostly, we just enjoy films and anime and games and other media and practice cataloguing the various tools used in them. We couldn't care less about whether we've "seen something before." We just talk about general geekery and discuss the techniques used for world building and such.

We ENJOY television. We ENJOY movies, games , anime, and other things, and most of all, we just want to have fun. Cataloguing the various techniques is simply a way of providing material for aspiring writers to create elaborate worlds and stories.

Perhaps you all missed the part where it says on the front page "TROPES ARE NOT CLICHES". Tropes are tools. They can be good, bad, or both, it just depends how you use them.

Triggerhappy938:
You forgot Haruhi, goddess of tropes herself.

Well, the list was getting long as it was. Regardless, the point stands -- Ken Akamatsu, Terry Pratchett, Nagaru Tanigawa, Joss Whedon, Masaki Tsuzuki (well, more or less), Rich Burlew, Hideaki Anno, and all the rest used tropes from all over as they apply. The difference is that they created their own stories with those components, and James Cameron -- so it is charged -- did not create anything of his own except the techniques used in production.

Maybe there's a division between people who read the site and people who contribute to it?

AcacianLeaves:

MovieBob:

AcacianLeaves:
Out of curiosity Bob, why do you feel the need to defend Avatar every other week?

There are, approximately, THREE "newsworthy" current-events stories in mainstream film journalism: "Avatar" being a huge phenomenon possibly rewriting the rules of blockbuster movies and movie releasing (i.e. EVERY DAMN MOVIE is being made for 3D now,) The Oscars which this year is dominated by the Avatar/Hurt Locker rivalry, and "what's gonna happen to Roman Polanski?" That last one I've previously sworn-off covering until something new happens, so... there ya go ;)

Huh, really? Avatar is the only actual movie worth discussing anymore? You sir, are very silly. I guess there's no point in even talking about Shutter Island, huh? We should just stop making movies altogether, Avatar has conquered all of cinema! Look, it hasn't re-written anything. The same kinds of movies that have been in 3D will continue to be in 3D - children's movies and one or two spectacle action flicks. Not to mention a huge chunk of the movie-going population has no interest in 3D. It will continue to be a nice feature that some people will enjoy, but it's not as if we'll have to wear goofy glasses to every movie we go to see from now on.

Not to mention nobody's really talking about the 3D when discussing Avatar, they're just arguing whether or not its blatant unoriginality discounts its potential merits.

But seriously man, maybe there are only three things that you're interested in discussing about movies - but surely you can see that's not universally true by any stretch of the imagination.

sooperman:

Two things here.

For one, don't get butthurt because this guy said something you don't like. I get what you mean, that it just isn't true, but don't get upset.

Yeah, I just re-read my comment and I did come off a lot more dickish than I intended to. Or, I guess, 'butthurt'. I think Bob was using a bit of hyperbole when saying that there were only three worthwhile topics in cinema. Upon a second inspection I guess he was referring to 'newsworthy' as in something people will discuss who don't normally discuss movies, which is fair enough (even if it does depress me a bit). I still think the timing was meant to fan the flames, and I really just wish we could piss on the fire and talk about something else, which is probably why I came off as an asshat. Also, I'm an asshat.

sooperman:

For two, you cannot say in honesty that the success of Avatar has not contributed to the popularity of 3D moives. Alice in Wonderland, Clash of the Titans, Sony's new in-home 3D moive player. A single movie making two billion dollars sure as hell encouraged those along.

Yet somehow, I get a feeling that neither of those movies are going to make as much money or generate as much discussion as Avatar did. I, personally, think that part of the reason Cameron did so well is because of all the hype his unoriginal plot raked in. It was either a clever ploy or a fluke, but it worked.

I just don't see how Avatar has 'changed the game' as much as many people seem to think. At least I don't think it was successful due to 3D, it was successful because James Cameron knows how to craft a popular movie. It was successful because it had 10 years of hype building up to it. It was successful because it released during a period of a few months when there were almost no movies worth watching, at least as far as 'blockbusters' go. If all it took to get asses in seats was a 3D gimmick, Beowulf would've made a billion. I just don't see it, and honestly the 'new 3D' didn't seem all that different to the 3D we've been watching for the past 10 years or so.

This article is now rated 100% NSFFT (Not Safe For your Free Time).

Loved the epilogue, and great article overall. I myself lost a few hours in Tv Tropes. Luckily, my biological need to sleep was greater than my compulsion to read "just one more article".

AcacianLeaves:

I just don't see how Avatar has 'changed the game' as much as many people seem to think. At least I don't think it was successful due to 3D, it was successful because James Cameron knows how to craft a popular movie.

It really has, if not by much. A new format of 3D was designed recently, and Avatar's success has baptized it by fire.

I also don't think that it made a lot of money because it was in 3D, but it did make a lot of money somehow, and the fact that happened to be in 3D has had that effect on the industry. Cameron certainly knows what he is doing when he tailors a movie, like you said, The Titanic showed us that, and it seems in this case he went the "hype" route.

I mean, hell, "being in 3D" is a trope, so the man knows where the money's at. The Oscars will be interesting this year.

Shay Guy:

Triggerhappy938:
You forgot Haruhi, goddess of tropes herself.

Well, the list was getting long as it was. Regardless, the point stands -- Ken Akamatsu, Terry Pratchett, Nagaru Tanigawa, Joss Whedon, Masaki Tsuzuki (well, more or less), Rich Burlew, Hideaki Anno, and all the rest used tropes from all over as they apply. The difference is that they created their own stories with those components, and James Cameron -- so it is charged -- did not create anything of his own except the techniques used in production.

Maybe there's a division between people who read the site and people who contribute to it?

I don't find myself contributing much, but it more has to do with the fact that my wiki-fu is weak.

TVtropes maintains that "tropes" are not clichés and certainly not a bad thing. The site makes it clear that conventionalism is not only fine, but often necessary for the audience to connect with the story. All that said, there is a difference between what is conventional and what is clichéd.

Avatar borders between highly conventional and clichéd. On one side, viewers will go "yeah, I'm familiar with all what is going on, but it is still enjoyable", whilst the other side will go "come on, there is nothing new here! I'm bored."

I happen to be the latter. Avatar did tell its story very well, but that does not change the fact that I had seen the story done before many times, and it did not make me any less bored. Bob uses the example of the Mona Lisa to show how an idea does not have to be original, simply well executed. But then we haven't, as the general public, seen all that many precursors to the Mona Lisa. Had we have been in Leonaldo's time, there may well have been many people who dismissed the Mona Lisa as something they had seen before in many paintings. Some might admire the craftmanship, but others may have dismissed it as clichéd.

The only way Avatar could get a similar treatment to the Mona Lisa is if we wait until everyone forgets Pocahontas, The Last Samurai, and Dances With Wolves ever existed. Only when the precursors have dissapeared into the past can people regard the work on its own merits, and not judge it in comparrison to the works that appeared before it.

On-topic:

Nice article, Bob. A bit long-winded but I've come to expect that from you. Keep doing it.

Rant:

There...there's so much fail in these four pages of replies that I'm sad that I read them. Are the Escapist boards really full of so many people who have to overanalyze everything just to find the one point they don't agree with and write a vitriolic post about it?

Also: Since when did the article become about Avatar? It was completely within the bounds of the point Bob was trying to make and the most recent example of the content of the article. That doesn't mean we have to commit half of the responses in the forum to it.

Off-topic:

Arcane Azmadi:
One of the reasons I stopped paying attention to internet celebrity The Nostalgia Critic was because of his 'Chester A. Bum' review of District 9 (best movie I saw last year) where he said the film sucks because 'aliens on earth', 'robot powersuits', 'corrupt corporations', 'guys mutating into aliens', 'faux-documentary style' and 'exploding bodies' had been done in other films before and therefore District 9 had NOTHING original about it. This was the point where I just said "mate, you don't know SHIT" and decided never to take his word for anything ever again.

I couldn't find that particular video but...I suspect I'm being trolled here. Are you seriously suggesting that anything That Guy With the Glasses says as Chester A. Bum is supposed to be serious?

I feel redundant in saying this but here we go. YOU'RE RIGHT! If we try hard enough we can pick apart any movie, book, short-story, video-game, ect. ect. We have to look at something as a some of working parts as opposed to each individual piece. After all, When it comes down to it everything is made out of the same quarks gluons and to insult something because it makes us of physical matter is simply absurd. However, are you then saying that we should dismiss cliches completely?

Wow. Never been so excited to see Krull mentioned somewhere.

Zooey Deschanel's character is a "Manic Pixie Dreamgirl"

QFT. All her characters. Probably has a lot to do with the actress.

great article. those aliens were burned before they knew it.

Kevka:

Arcane Azmadi:
One of the reasons I stopped paying attention to internet celebrity The Nostalgia Critic was because of his 'Chester A. Bum' review of District 9 (best movie I saw last year) where he said the film sucks because 'aliens on earth', 'robot powersuits', 'corrupt corporations', 'guys mutating into aliens', 'faux-documentary style' and 'exploding bodies' had been done in other films before and therefore District 9 had NOTHING original about it. This was the point where I just said "mate, you don't know SHIT" and decided never to take his word for anything ever again.

I couldn't find that particular video but...I suspect I'm being trolled here. Are you seriously suggesting that anything That Guy With the Glasses says as Chester A. Bum is supposed to be serious?

That's what I was gonna say. I thought his whole shtick was that he drools over everything and calls everything "the greatest movie I've ever seen in my ENTIRE LIFE!!!!!!!!" So, a movie he hates would be really good? *shrug* Too lazy to go back and check.

Personally, I find it to adds entertainment value to spot the bits of storytelling DNA in a show, game, or movie. It's sort of like Overthinking, and can be fun, just don't be all Comic Shop Guy about it. It's sort of like the viewing equivalent of "close-reading", and can lead to "Well, that's an interesting take on (X)". Yeah, I'm an English Major, how did you guess?

When you think about it, seeing the trees can give us a link back along the chain of storytellers, even further than the Zeroth example.

Lest people be tempted to buy into the notion that using tropes makes a production poor, remember, Tropes Are Not Bad. Bad execution is bad.
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PS: I was the one who started the Moviebob page. The Overthinker's style seemed to fit.

"Until the day that they would realize, with unfolding horror, the toll of their quest: That in seeking only the 'original' they had forgone the power to perceive all else. That they would never again be able to recognize 'beautiful,' 'moving' or even 'frightening'... unable to truly see anything but for the dust it was made of. That having 'seen everything before' means you never really see anything again."

The sweet is never as sweet, without the sour. Its a sad day when you can no longer take pleasure from what you used to love.

Kevka:

Arcane Azmadi:
One of the reasons I stopped paying attention to internet celebrity The Nostalgia Critic was because of his 'Chester A. Bum' review of District 9 (best movie I saw last year) where he said the film sucks because 'aliens on earth', 'robot powersuits', 'corrupt corporations', 'guys mutating into aliens', 'faux-documentary style' and 'exploding bodies' had been done in other films before and therefore District 9 had NOTHING original about it. This was the point where I just said "mate, you don't know SHIT" and decided never to take his word for anything ever again.

I couldn't find that particular video but...I suspect I'm being trolled here. Are you seriously suggesting that anything That Guy With the Glasses says as Chester A. Bum is supposed to be serious?

Yes. Yes I am. It wasn't a "serious review" (because of the Bum's ranting style, he started by pretending he thought the movie was an awesome comedy until he was told it was supposed to be serious) but he made it perfectly clear that he hated the film because it had plot elements in it that had been used before. The video ended with the following disclaimer:

"Seriously though, aliens land and we don't ask them where they come from, how they got here, or what we can learn about the universe? We just throw them in the slums? And then people are ACTUALLY calling it original even though it rips off countless other movies? Dude, this movie sucked, that's right, I said it SUCKED! Bring on the hate mail you mother... oh shit, I wrote a lot!"

So he genuinely hates such a brilliant film because of a minor plot hole which, if averted, would have ruined 3/4 of the whole film and because of his deluded belief that the film "rips off" a bunch of other films. See Bob's column. There's a reason I follow Bob and mostly ignore the Nostalgia Critic.

Arcane Azmadi:
Snip...

So he genuinely hates such a brilliant film because of a minor plot hole which, if averted, would have ruined 3/4 of the whole film and because of his deluded belief that the film "rips off" a bunch of other films. See Bob's column. There's a reason I follow Bob and mostly ignore the Nostalgia Critic.

Oh...that's disappointing.

Granted, I'll keep trying to find that particular video to make sure, but...that sounds like something he'd say.

EDIT: Found it on YouTube.

...I'm kind of shocked he'd say that. I figured he had more sense/intelligence/appreciation for cinema than that.

I have to admit the people that go on about Ferngully and other animated films were what Avatar was based upon bloody annoying.

Some people have their own views on it, hell, like a "Fuck you white man" movie as one put it. Some Russians stooped up a lie that Boris Strugatsky was angry that Cameron had ripped him off so (it's quite a coincidence that the Na'vi, Pandora and it's climate were used in the strugatsky brothers Noon Universe... i've not read them myself, been wanting to though. Eastern bloc science fiction is something i've found fascinating since reading Tale of the Troika/Roadside Picnic)

Before you can say "Get out of here, Stalker!" at me, though, I couldn't help but think of Avatar when I went to see it as a Vietnam movie for some reason. Or, like Arkady and Boris had done so before, a satire of the current political climate told in science fiction. Because it's easy to hide it in plain sight when there's big spaceships and aliens... fancy that!

You have cut me, sir, and cut me deep. I have a bad habit of referring to TVTropes as a source for sounding more insightful than I am. I hope I can be more responsible about it in the future.

MovieBob:
Trope-a-Dope

We're all Mister Know-It-All now.

Read Full Article

I took up your invitation and clicked on the link to TV Tropes to try and kill some time and was amused to see you're method of reviewing described as,

"Yahtzee-like rapidfire commentary"

Whether that was supposed to belittle you or not for somehow pissing them off it ironically enough proves exactly the point you were making.

It must be hard to find the time to watch all the movies you speak of between being right all the time.....

Moviebob, you are officially Jesus. Congratulate yourself.

MovieBob:
Sometimes, this bleeds out in the broader culture. As you may have heard, newly-annointed "biggest movie ever" Avatar has a storyline that's kind of similar to Dances With Wolves and Disney's Pocahontas. This has been so widely commented upon that the film was the official #1 punching-bag for this behavior before it even opened. Finding new stuff that Avatar "rips off" of is a full-time scavenger hunt - name any aspect of the film that reminded you even slightly of at least one other film, there's probably 20 YouTube videos breaking it down already.

Yes, fine, it's not the freshest narrative in the world - but neither were all the "original" films it supposed borrows from. There's very little new in stories - someone once broke the whole of fiction down to three categories: "Boy Meets Girl," "Boy Loses Girl" and "Boy Versus World." Psychiatrist Carl Jung thought there was really only one story, and Joseph Campbell agreed with him.

J.R.R. Tolkien certainly didn't invent "diverse group carries something from one place to another," but he did invent an entire mythology, bestiary, set of races and even the languages they spoke. Avatar's originality - and there is plenty of it - is similarly in the details: It creates an entirely fictional planet, ecosystem and species-heirarchy out of whole cloth. Two fully-realized opposing cultures. A pseudo-scientific justification of Gaia Theory. Sentient beings with what amount to biological USB cords growing out of their heads. Is it really more satisfying to ignore/dismiss all of that innovation in order to roll your eyes about "The Hot Amazon" or Quaritch being a "General Ripper"?

I find it hard to believe that there truly is a large contingent of people who read TV Tropes just so they can be faux-cynical about stuff on the Internet.

It's important to understand that when people call out a trope negatively, they're usually calling something out for being a crappy and thoughless application of that trope, rather than just having it altogether. The Avatar bad guy is a flat "General Ripper" -- and, jeez, given how much your typical action-hero movies totally hang on having an interesting villain to drive things along, that's a serious problem.

Likewise, not all Avatar-Pocahontas comparisons are created equal. There is a deep and legitimate criticism buried under some of that griping. High-level story comparisons mostly aren't about trope-hunting; they're about style and theme.

Even if they're not very well-equipped to discuss this stuff, lots of movie-goers do pick up on it. When the average twice-a-month movie-goer says "cliche", it's usually not to bitch about tropes, or structure, or even characterization -- they don't pay that much attention to that kind of detail. It's the whole thing put together, the synthesis of all the fictional and technical stuff. "Except for a few details, I've seen that whole thing before," this person is claiming. That's entirely the opposite of "missing the forest for the trees".

A friend told me that he liked Avatar but that he was put off by how strongly the combined effect of it all felt like Ferngully and Pocahontas; and then, when I went to see the movie (and I liked it, too), I could tell exactly what he meant -- I felt like I was watching a "Colors of the Wind" montage again. This kind of broad-brush stylistic and thematic stuff has very little to do with tropes. When entire spirit of a work feels lifted, that's saying something much more profound than "It's got Hot Amazons and General Ripper". Despite the similarities between the stories we tell, a work still has to find its own message and identity to stand the test of time.

...

I know a lot of geeks obsess over Tolkien's mythology and bestiary and conlanging. I don't. That's not the stuff that gives Lord of the Rings its fire. The story has this thematic heart that most of Tolkien's imitators can't achieve, because they don't understand failure and sacrifice the way he did. (Hell, since I grew up after most of Tolkien's world details had become worn-out genre tropes, most of that stuff is just a turn-off.)

The science-fictional detail in Avatar is actually the stuff that makes me feel the most conflicted about the movie. On the one hand, I'm happy that Cameron is opening people's eyes up to some of these ideas. On the other hand, I can't watch the movie without thinking back to The Girl Who Was Plugged In; nor can we really talk about the whole sentient-plane thing without a mention of Solaris. Both Tiptree and Lem recognize the profound disquiet created by the kind of monumental shift in how we think about embodied consciousness and identity that "avatars" or sentient planets would represent. Cameron doesn't even seem to give it a moment's thought, which makes the movie feel like a massive waste of potential -- especially given that the story we actually got was a really simple and one-sided narrative. Jeez, even the kid-targeted Wall-E acknowledges the "Inferred Holocaust" implicit in its setup.

Good science-fiction stories -- the ones with literary merit rather than just franchise-fandom appeal -- take the kinds of detail you're complimenting and fold it back into the main thematic ideas of the story. Avatar didn't do nearly enough of that. The weak central plot in turn leaves all the sci-fi side-stuff languishing in a half-examined state. The audience gets a whiff of something cool but no insight into it.

-- Alex

Bob, will you marry me????

This was the greatest thing I have ever read.

Bob Chipman is a film critic and independent filmmaker. If you've heard of him before, you have officially been spending way too much time on the internet.

Clap, clap, clap for you good sir. Very good point on the whole "seen it before" topic.

And nice way to remind us all that, no matter how big we get on the internet, we're not that big.

ClunkiestTurtle:
I took up your invitation and clicked on the link to TV Tropes to try and kill some time and was amused to see you're method of reviewing described as,

"Yahtzee-like rapidfire commentary"

Whether that was supposed to belittle you or not for somehow pissing them off it ironically enough proves exactly the point you were making.

It must be hard to find the time to watch all the movies you speak of between being right all the time.....

Uh, no. Most definitely was not meant to belittle or criticize, but compliment. If anything, I find Bob more enjoyable than Yahtzee because he doesn't hate everything.

While Bob essentially treats games with the sort of "close reading" techniques that are often used in college literature courses, you can't help but wonder why Yahtzee has a console at all, much less reviews for a living.

So I hit an Analogy Backfire. Shoot me.

GamerFromJump:

Uh, no. Most definitely was not meant to belittle or criticize, but compliment. If anything, I find Bob more enjoyable than Yahtzee because he doesn't hate everything.

While Bob essentially treats games with the sort of "close reading" techniques that are often used in college literature courses, you can't help but wonder why Yahtzee has a console at all, much less reviews for a living.

So I hit an Analogy Backfire. Shoot me.

Fair enough, i just read it that describing him as "Yahtzee like" was the sites way of 'counter digging' at him for complaining about the users over willingness to dissect and disprove originality by stating his style of rant like reviewing is unoriginal and even perhaps now a bit cliche.

So thinking that was the case i just found it amusing as that was the exact point he was making.

But now you say that is not the case, so its not very amusing at all....

Incidentally i agree that Bob is the better reviewer / critic of the two. I watch Moviebob videos to get an educated informed opinion on the movie and to hear interesting informed facts or trivia or observations about it or the genre in general,and it can be pretty funny.

I watch zero Punctuation because its amusing i don't really think of him as a critic and i don't really think of his videos as reviews and they have no influence of my opinion on the game. They are just amusing. After all he's just one of us (the gaming mob) who decided to make his opinions in video format rather then the usual forum rants and was lucky enough to get it picked up and paid to continue and fair play to him for it!

As an avid troper, my advice is to put aside your tropes and then deconstruct the movie AFTER you have enjoyed it. I pity those who have no "off" switch for this sort of thing.

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