MOVIES

"The Black Swan"

"The Black Swan" is brought to you by Zoloft(tm) and Prozac(tm). If you are feeling like studying ballet is a good career move, don't do it kids!

This movie was actually good, but will set back ballet as an extracurricular activity for little girls, and maybe little boys, "Billy Eliot" comes to mind, for at least a decade. On the flip side, pedicure and manicure shops may benefit from people getting scared of doing their own nails. There would need to be much more lesbian love between Mila and Natalie to overcome the queasiness I felt watching the cuticle tearing scenes.

Tangentially, why are ballet dancers and mathematicians always portrayed as nutjobs in film?

"Avatar-3D"

James Cameron's "Avatar," or should I say "Dancing With Smurfs," is set in a world visually inspired by Roger Dean cover art for the mega group "Yes." After smoking copious amounts of great weed and staring at the aforementioned album art, Cameron has brought it to 3D life! Don't get me wrong, I really liked the movie, it could be one of my top ten science fiction favorites, but I am unwilling to lionize it into something that it is not. What does it do right? True 3D. I really was able to ignore the 3D while watching the film. That alone will allow it to elbow onto my shelf near another ground breaking special effects paradigm shifter, "2001 A Space Odyssey."

The real letdown is the script. I could recite the story, instead I will mention the other works that donate narrative; "Princess Mononoke" and "My Neighbor Totoro" provide a Gaia framework for the indiginous Smurfs. The verdant and danderous Pandora forest is ever so precious, and we humans are there to rip it up and defile it's virtue. I am sure feeling guilty for polluting Earth, and you will too.

Both Mononoke and "Dances with Wolves" donate the hero archetype. I think Pocahontas should get some credit as well, she is the template for the Smurfette, and chief's daughter, Neytiri. Naturally there are villains. Here Cameron has decided to use the villain structure of the "Aliens" franchise. At the top level is the Corporation that projects amazing resources in pursuit of natural resources. It could be Exxon-Mobil, Aramco, Sinopec, or one insatiable and voracious global company. Their representative on Pandora is a weasel named Parker Selfridge. He is the ideal selfish corporation man, identical to Burke in Aliens, or any number of movies with a corporate character. Naturally the company has an operational arm, Colonel Miles Quaritch, who is there to kill the Smurfs if Burke cannot weasel concessions from the natives. Insert your boy meets hot Smurfette story here and move along to the closing battle. All I can say is I wonder what "Starship Troopers" would have been like had the technology in this film been available to Paul Verhoeven for the marine mechs.

As a codicil to this review, I must respond as a physicist to the people who say the humans should have used nuclear weapons. One major reason not to use them, radiation! The entire blast area would not be very nice for mining if it were radioactive. Second, the stupidly named unobtanium, may become unstable when subjected to high neutron fluxes. After all, the premise for needing this element is that it is an energy source. Maybe nuclear weapons would act like a trigger that would explode Pandora.

Roger Dean's "Guardians"

Roger Dean slide show

Avatar is NOT the number one film based on tickets sold.

James Cameron: ‘Like the Redneck NRA Supporters They Are

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