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  • Vanberge 10:08 am on January 19, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , TV   

    24: Season 8 

    [SPOILERS FROM VARIOUS SEASONS INCLUDING SEASON 8.   IF YOU’VE NOT SEEN EVERY EPISODE OF 24 THEN READ AT YOUR OWN RISK]

    …   …

    24 has been a staple of my adult life.

    From watching season 1 on DVD in pretty much a single sitting, to various fights and “plant activites” with Vanlandw, the awe-inspiring fate of Nina Meyers, and Edgar’s famous “CHLOE?!… AAARHRH” scene – The list of memories goes on and on.

    But, for as much amazing and compelling drama as this show has produced; it has produced at least the equal amount of complete BS and sheer annoyance.  This trend seems to be correlated with each new season that has been released; with the exception of perhaps season 5.  With seasons 1 and 2 being near perfection; I think it’s almost a shame what this show has now become.  So begins my hatred and critique of Season 8.

    I somehow managed to watch all of season 7.  I SOMEHOW looked past zombie-Tony.  I somehow looked past the over-use of “Oh… Are you going to torture him Jack?”.  I somehow looked past the constantly changing good/bad/good/bad Tony.  And, finally, I would say I was able to look past the annoying women characters.  Read: President Taylor; Renae; Chloe; President Taylor’s bitch daughter.  Really, the show is physically incapable of producing a female character that I do not hate with fiery brimstone furiousness.

    I was going to try to reserve judgment on this season to let it get at least half way through – but it’s just not possible.  The list of complete BS that I feel the need to call out has grown past the tipping point and the spillage shall begin.

    • Chloe:  Why this show continues to kill off interesting and relatable characters whilst keeping this permanent annoyance is just beyond me.  I guess it may help female viewers relate to the show, but she adds merely a layer of stupid woman for all the action and real drama to fight through.  I hate Chloe.  In fact, I hate Chloe so much that I have vetoed it as a possible baby name even though it is my wife’s favorite.
    • Dana Walsh:  Apparently the top counter terrorism agency in the country just fails year after year to do standard background checking procedures.  I’m so sick of the mole/badguy/general shady person plot line in 24.  Dana Walsh apparently has some sort of questionable past that she’s running from.  So, she’s apparently used her amazing level of intelligence to create a new identity and get a new job with CTU.  Her hair is always waved over one shoulder.  And, her face just really bothers me.  Her existence enrages me even further since she’s the fiancée of Cole “Freddy Prinze Jr.” Ortiz.
    • Cole “Freddy Prinze Jr.” Ortiz: He is played by Freddy Prinze Junior.
    • Renae Walker:  Imagine this line being spoken in a Swedish Chef type of voice; Cus that’s how I’m saying it.  “Ooooh I’m Renae Walker and I’ve had such a tough couple years that now I’m a female Jack Bauer.”  Poor Renae.  She had it rough and now she’s an outcast who gets by and gets things done via her renegade attitude.  24 Doesn’t need a female Jack Bauer.  She shouldn’t be on this show in this season.  OH…. MAN… THERE IS A RUSSIAN CRIME SYNDICATE INVOLVED AND APPARENTLY THIS FORMER FBI AGENT JUST HAPPENS TO BE THE BEST RUSSIAN UNDER-COVER OPERATIVE ON THE ENTIRE PLANET!>!>!!>!11..1.>.    bs.
    • CTU Itself:  Chloe.  Mole/badguy.  Blue-tool headsets.  “We have our suspect, this is the only possible scenario – even though strong evidence points otherwise”.  Dumb.
    • The Plot:  The assassination plot has been done before.  The nuclear threat has been done before.  Apparently now they are mixed into the same season.  Jack can’t say the work nuclear correctly.  I hate when people say nuke-u-lar.

    So far I am really not impressed with 24, and I’m really doubting I’ll be able to watch it through the rest of this season 8.  CTU feels like a high-school in the valley.  Not a high tech counter-terrorism organization.  This is a pretty big fail.  I don’t like any of the new characters.  I don’t like the ones they’re choosing to bring back.  So far I don’t like the plot.  The only thing I’ve enjoyed this season thus far has been Jack’s kill by way of axe to the chest (Vanlandw where is bauercount seriously!).

    In my opinion this show has long since run it’s course…  There have been quick glimpses of good television at points over a couple of the most recent seasons – but overall they have become fewer and farther between each other.  I’m growing tired of 24, and that is a very difficult thing to pen.

     
    • vanlandw 7:45 pm on January 19, 2010 Permalink

      I wrote a great comment both agreeing and disagreeing with you and included some great discussion points and of course it was lost when submitting a reply here. I’ll just put a few points down to see if we can get anything going discussion wise.

      We discussed slightly over chat and I think at this point I disagree with you on Freddy boy. I can see where you don’t like him as an actor so that is understandable but his character in comparisons with Silver Spoons in season 6 or either field ops guys is pretty decent.

      For the most part a lot of my enjoyment of the show doesn’t come from the content but more so the community and the people I’ve been able to watch the show with. I’ve accepted in season 6 about the part where Jack’s father kililed his brother I could no longer take 24 “seriously”. Now most of my enjoyment just comes from picking it apart and mostly the violence and honestly the discussion that comes from it. Many people I still know watch this show it’s fun when it comes on and everybody is talking about it even if they don’t like it.

      24 is not the same show we used to love so long ago. We know the tricks we’ve scene what it can do. I’ve found a new way to enjoy it and I’m happy with that. I’ve come to accept that things are going to be convenient (as they always have to be honest for two seasons they were able to inject Nina into the main plot).

      Also people seem to love Chloe. I watched the first four hours this season with Suz and she thought she was hysterical. Looking on 24 message boards people seem to enjoy the female characters more then anything (expecially Renee for reasons I’ll never understand I don’t care much for her at all). Of course I thought it was funny when Jack nailed a guy with a fireman axe.

      What I think it comes down to is that NOTHING on television as much as we BOTH wish it could be is created with a 29 year old male in mind. Especially network tv is clearly moving towards generalized non-serial programming. Shows are sadly becoming more geared towards women and even 24 that I would say for a long time clearly was created with men in mind. Now it’s written to get a mass audience. From what I heard the season 8 premiere got the largest ratings ever for a 24 premiere. There is no way anybody could disagree season 1 of 24 was not created with male audiences in mind. It’s a classic revenge/payback/betrayal story. Now it’s mass market hitting all buttons.

      I could write more and might later but mostly I’ll leave it at this for now.

    • Vanberge 9:33 am on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      It is fairly enjoyable to discuss the pros/cons of 24 at beat the horse just way past its demise.

      But at the same time it’s hard for me to stick by it when it has started to go downhill. Fox is king of milking a series drying it up completely until it is a shard of its former self. Prison Break, Sarah Connor Chronicles, 24, just to name a few. Then an interesting show like “Drive” gets the axe after 4 episodes.

      Personally I do take the change in format of 24 personally. You’re right – it did start as a 100% male oriented show. But, the show go popular obviously for a reason. It is written for the masses now and designed to please as many target markets as possible; but I think this is done only in part to garner higher ratings. I think the weakened/changed writing and content is just a bi-product of having 8 seasons of a show like this. There’s only so many national crisis one can write into a show without developing a layer of cheese sprinkled with dumb woman seasoning.

      But, the reality is as you say – shows just dont exist like this anymore. The Shield was the strongest example of what I want in a TV show; and something like that will never exist on the prime time cable; it’ll always have to be on the FX’s and HBO’s of the world.

    • vanlandw 11:41 am on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      In comparison of recent television offerings with what is left on TV the only show I can think of that I would say is “better” is Lost. I recently was able to catch up with season 5 and minus a few things I found to enjoy that season alot. I still like the first and fourth season better but really Lost does one thing that I wish 24 would have picked up on and that is using it’s history better. Lost is still answering questions brought forth from years ago and for a long time viewer rewarding their countless hours of viewership is good.

      24 I think sprinkles parts that hooks males like explosions, small quips to previous seasons (did you catch the salazar reference in the first few episodes), shootouts, and pretty much Bauer. Everything else is for a different audience. 24 personally I feel made huge mistakes killing off earlier seasons staples where just imagine if palmer was still in the mix.

      Regardless 24 is leaps and bounds better then what Prison Break became. I kinda want to “yin your yang” on this with what 24 actually is doing right this season but I might have to do that later.

      I agree with you on The Shield. Seasons 1-3 and 7 are pretty much perfect television fiction. The shield ruined all current television because everything on tv is cop shows and nothing is even close to as good as the shield.

      I’ll write more later brb

    • Vanberge 12:20 pm on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      I look forward to hearing what you feel 24 is doing well this season… 🙂

      I also look forward to hearing vanbergs’ thoughts on this matter at hand.

      If 24 killed off chloe, killed off dana walsh, closed CTU again, and made Jack Bauer kill Renae like he killed Nina Meyers – then I might change my tune.

    • vanlandw 1:53 pm on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      Good: Jack being like a human being rather then a kiilling machine or a plot device. Finding happiness and not being dragged though an impossible living gutter like they did in season end of season 4 though season 6. I’m also glad they are using more investigating and a slower burn to the season. Also the presidential storyline is slimmed not as prevalent. The scenes are quicker and it doesn’t seem like moles or craziness is involved in the whitehouse. A small step seems to be taken to integrate SOME realism and removal of sensationalism. I was also happy to see Aceveda if only for one episode and I like the actor Doug Hutchison who was in Lost and the Green Mile. Even though Bubba Gump’s character is a douche I’m glad they got him cast as well. Older cast I like that..

      Bad: You covered all that mostly the over use of female characters and retread of storyline points. Bringing back CTU was sadly inevitable and a pointless move to NYC means nothing to the story like DC did in season 7. I believe they filmed no scenes in NYC and you can tell. Way to many close shots and I believe backdrops are used. Compared to some of the iconic locations they used in the early LA seasons you can tell either the budget has been tightened or something has changed in production.

      I don’t know if vanbergs is watching I haven’t talked to him about it. After talking with him even his stance on season 6 lightened after rewatching it and actually I feel the same as he did. He might agree with you tho if he’s watching I’m not sure.

      Sadly Kim, Chloe, and I believe Renee is also in the “never going to die” list sadly. It would be fantastic to see Chloe get just absolutely car bombed or something tragic like Edgar’s gassing.

    • Vanberge 3:06 pm on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      I can see where you’re coming from about Jack – for awhile it seemed like they were “rambo-izing” him a bit. “You have to come full circle with who and what you really are” etc etc. But, that seemed to be abandoned very quickly after a 5 second conversation with Kim. They might touch on it more as the season progresses, and if so – then I will give props for that. But my hunch is that Jack goes back to his old self and the struggles he faced in his transition to a normal life are already over with; not to be mentioned again.

      24 is at least making an effort at masking some of their weaknesses and plot re-use, but they still remain. For example, there may not be a mole/bad guy in the US presidency; but Omar’s brother is pretty much the same thing as a whitehouse/presidential mole.

      With the main assassination plot piece has already played out in it’s entirety and now the focus is solely the “nuclear” threat – I just don’t know what this season is shaping up to be. So far though – I honestly do not like it.

      Regardless I’m glad you have adapted your person and are still able to find enjoyment out of the Jack Bauer experience. I honestly wish I could say the same. 🙁

      I love you vanlandw. We should join debate club at GVSU

    • Jeffrey 11:53 pm on January 20, 2010 Permalink

      I have gotten to the point where I never like nor dislike 24. I still watch it, because of diatribes like this one. The last season that I really liked was 4. Everything since then has been pretty much down hill. Although, I did like the direct to DVD movie that took place in Africa. I actually think I would like the show more if they did it like a serialized movie style. Just come out with a made for tv movie/mini series once a year.

    • vanbergs 9:57 am on January 23, 2010 Permalink

      Vanberge, you have used your keen sense of vision to peer directly into my brain as far as this season is concerned. I thought you’d be doing your normal, every-season regurgitation of “I’m not watching any more, I vow this to everyone,” but this time, I am just a skeptical as you. I’ll try to keep this as to-the-point as I can, but I fear as though I will fail…

      Major Issues:

      Plot. This one is crucial to my enjoyment of the series. It’s a show about terrorism, so honestly, I don’t care if they recycle plot lines/attacks/etc. When you have a show dealing with this type of subject, repetition has to be expected and discounted. But the fact is, the show has taken a huge step backwards in terms of how they *approach* the plot, by going back to the tired formula of “Hey, we’re CTU, and we’re a monumentally disastrous organization as far as national security is concerned.” The writers are just lazy at this point. They know they have time to fill, and they know they’ve killed off every character anyone cares a shit about, so it’s time to go back to good old CTU. It’s ridiculous. I’m not even going to repeat everything you mentioned about background checks and perfectly substantial leads being ignored, because you adequately touched on it.

      Freddie Prinze Jr. is horrific, I’m sorry. He spent his whole film career as the posterboy for romantic teen comedies. Had he ventured off a bit earlier, I could look past the typecast…but come on. He is about as believable in this role as Pauly Shore would be as The Terminator.

      Changing the one good thing about the series so much (Jack) while forcing a fucking incomprehensibly bad “femJack” into this already shaky formula is borderline offensive. Still need to see how it all plays out, but at this point, it’s pretty awful, and in no way is it captivating. 24 has seriously run its course, and this definitely needs to be the last season, because if they are putting Jack through character withdrawal, while stepping back into the formulaic nonsense of highschoolTU, then this season is a wash.

      Vanlandw, the fact that you now say you enjoy the show almost entirely as a discussion piece should speak volumes on the quality of this show. I always love talking about it too, but now, every time I watch it, I only notice the shitty things, because that’s just about all that’s left…seems like that’s how we’re all approaching it at this point: what kind of awful things do we get to talk about on Tuesday? It used to be talking about the cool things, and the small community that we spawned because of 24. We’d go to Best Buy and eat at Fazoli’s every week, and watch with sheer anticipatory pre-gasm. Afterwards, it was what we liked and disliked, pointing out how cool or not cool certain things were. Now, we’re disillusioned critics because Fox can’t stop bleeding the goddamn show of all it’s worth. Either let Jack find his happiness, or let him go out in a blaze of glory…there are only so many times you can walk the dog on this yo-yo of a storytelling approach.

      brb.

    • netster007x 7:19 pm on February 15, 2010 Permalink

      I think 24 is one of the greatest shows on television. I got into it a third of the way through season 6 and found it amazing. One of my favorite things was how politically incorrect it was in that Jack did things like shoot a terrorist in one leg, then put the gun to the other. I thoroughly enjoyed the season and watched each prior season online. After watching a few episodes of a season it was very hard to step away. Now, season 7 had some good story elements and suspense, and I liked the idea of Chloe, Bill, and Tony acting as shadow protectors accomplishing far more than the FBI was. Also, I liked how Jack stood up to the congressman judging his actions that have saved millions. However, I think this recent move to realism has taken some from the show. The former bulldog Jack rarely crossed the line in season 7 and has yet to do anything of the sort in season 8. The casting hasn’t helped (who let that dreadful Garafalo near the show?!). I’ve always liked Chloe, but I was never too fond of Renee, and the new CTU people this season seem kind of lame. Why not keep Milo or someone from season 6? Oh well, Jack should be able to keep the season entertaining (that knife out of his chest into the russian’s neck was awesome!), but it just seems to have lost a certain spark.

  • Vanberge 5:52 pm on January 17, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , Russellteee, skype   

    Skype Video Chat 

    Russellteee and I have partaken in a Skype video chat.  He shared his screen, and I said “Yeah”.

     
    • burgetta 3:14 pm on January 29, 2010 Permalink

      that is hilarious

  • Vanberge 1:03 pm on January 12, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ,   

    XboxLIVE – Mission Victor Charlie: Success 

    The mission that I am dubbing “Vacation Catch-up” has been completed as a success.

    As Vanlandw was away this week enjoying a much needed and EXTREMELY overdue vacation – I took it upon myself to catch him in gamerscore.  At the beginning of the week, I was almost 4,000 points behind him – so it was a pretty vast undertaking.

    Originally I didn’t even think it would be possible; but as previously posted Vanbergs and Myself found a solution to that.

    Vanlandw and I are tied for the time being; and I’m sure he’ll fly past me in no time.

    TODAY, JUST TODAY, IN THE BATTLE OF VAN VS. VAN….

    Van won

     
  • Vanberge 9:19 am on January 11, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , sheer death knight   

    LoRD Defeated 

    Today was a pretty impressive Monday.  I apparently defeated the elusive and destructive beast that had been terrorizing “town”.

    **DRAGON ENCOUNTER**

    The Red Dragon approaches.
    Your skill allows you to get the first strike.
    Your Hitpoints : 1,737
    The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 15,000

    (A)ttack
    (S)tats
    (R)un
    (D)eath Knight Attack (4)

    Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D

    ** ULTRA POWERFUL MOVE **

    After exchanging blows & blocks for nearly a minute, The Red Dragon
    gets too fancy, and as a result an attempt to jump a low swing results
    in the severing of your enemy’s left leg.  His remaining leg slips in
    blood.

    You hit The Red Dragon for 2535 damage!

    ** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 739 damage! **

    Your Hitpoints : 998
    The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 12,465

    (A)ttack
    (S)tats
    (R)un
    (D)eath Knight Attack (3)

    Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D

    ** ULTRA POWERFUL MOVE **

    In a swift move you have The Red Dragon by the neck and begin to
    exert huge amounts of pressure.  You hear a sickening crack.
    You hit The Red Dragon for 4005 damage!
    ** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 670 damage! **

    Your Hitpoints : 328
    The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 8,460

    (A)ttack
    (S)tats
    (R)un
    (D)eath Knight Attack (2)

    Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D

    ** ULTRA POWERFUL MOVE **

    In a swift move you have The Red Dragon by the neck and begin to
    exert huge amounts of pressure.  You hear a sickening crack.
    You hit The Red Dragon for 4062 damage!

    ** The Red Dragon hits with its Swishing Tail for 213 damage! **

    Your Hitpoints : 115
    The Red Dragon’s Hitpoints : 4,398

    (A)ttack
    (S)tats
    (R)un
    (D)eath Knight Attack (1)

    Your command, Vanberge?  [A] : D

    ** ULTRA POWERFUL MOVE **

    You duck an uncontrolled swing, and retaliate by slicing a wide gash
    under The Red Dragon’s belly.  You feel sick as steamy intestines
    slither out into a pile at your enemy’s feet.

    You hit The Red Dragon for 4407 damage!

    The earth shakes as the mighty beast falls.

    You find a Gem!

    You have defeated The Red Dragon!

     
  • Vanberge 2:44 am on January 10, 2010 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , ,   

    XboxLive Gamerscore 

    This weekend has turned into a massive achievement fest for Vanbergs and myself.

    I’m not exactly sure when it happened; but at some point within the last 6-8 months I have become completely OCD about my gamerscore and rep on Xbox Live. I don’t spend countless hours getting every achievement in every game that I own; but I spend plenty of extra time hunting down worthwhile achievements trying to boost up my score as much as possible.  I’ve desperately plunged into the multiplayer arenas of Halo 3 and Modern Warfare 2 in search of 5 star rep.  I’ve begged and pleaded my friends and foes to “prefer me”.  The list of XboxLive addiction shame just goes on.

    I’m not enough of an achievement whore to use cheats/godmodes/glitching to blast an easy 1000 points out of my games.  I do maintain a certain level of purism – but, at the same time, I am definitely enough of an achievement whore to seek out and destroy games that give an easy 1000 g. Oddly enough I blame Vanlandw at least partially for starting this: Back on my birthday he purchased me “Avatar – The last Airbender” for my birthday (not to be confused in any way with James Cameron’s Avatar film); this is easily the simplest/easiest achievement booster game known to man. You literally get 1000 gamerscore in less than 2 minutes. (youtube vid)

    Fast forward to this weekend. I notice on my XboxLive account that Vanbergs has magically come within just a few points of my 9,000 point gamerscore.   Somehow he magically discovered through a coworker that the entire slew of the “2k6” sports game franchise offer ridiculously easy achievements.   These NBA/NHL/NCAA/MLB 2k6 games I think must have been developed so early in the pre-launch days of the Xbox360 that they just didn’t quite understand how the achievement system was supposed to work.  Instead of having 40-50 achievements that add up to the 1,000 points, they offer FIVE… this results in each achievement being worth hundreds of points compared to 5, 10, 20 points in “normal” Xbox games.

    The achievements are for things like:

      • Score 50 points with a player
      • Make 15 three pointers with any team
      • Get 6 blocks with any player
      • Score a goal with a defenseman

      Vanbergs and I teamed up each scouring various Game Stop locations for these used games and were able to come up with a pretty darn complete collection of easy 1,000 point games.  In addition to the 2k6 series, we got Fight Night round 3, Madden 2006, NBA Live 2006, Prey, and King Kong.

      So far I’ve done done the 2k6 sports games only, and am working my way up to the others.  The games are just ridiculously easy.  Playing allstar teams against the worst teams in the league results in an easy 1,000 points in a single exhibition game.  Sliders can be adjusted to basically make the opponent team play like 4th grade girls; even if the difficulty is set to super star level.  Playing Duke vs. Princeton in NCAA 2k6, I seriously won 238 – 0.  The Princeton team did not score one basket.

      Now – there are a couple achievements in here that I did have to work fairly hard at.  It’s no small feat to get 20 rebounds with a single player, especially when the team doesnt hardly shoot the ball.  Or, to get 6 blocks with a single player.  Or, to score a goal while you have 2 players in a penalty box.  But I was able to find tactics that covered each achievement and do it in one single game.  I would just shoot half-courters to get my own rebounds, intentionally hack/slash the other team to get penalty box time, and jump around like a mad man at hopes of blocking shots.  etc etc etc.

      I must admit that I do feel a little bit cheap after this weekend’s activities thus far – but I take solace in the fact that I am not cheating whatsoever.  I haven’t entered cheat codes.  I haven’t entered any god mode codes.  I haven’t glitched any games, even though there are published glitches on a few games I own that COULD result in easy 1,000 points.

      I’m simply reasearching and finding games that have easy, high yield achievements – and I’m playing them legitimately.  In fact, it was a pretty frickin’ impressive amount of work to find and procure all of these games!  It was pretty satisfying though.  I paid $2-$5 per game getting them used.

      Could I make more of a sport out of this by playing the games at my actual skill level and not making it painfully easy?  Sure.  Does it take some of the pride and prestige away from blasting past 10,000 points for my gamerscore?  Yes it does, to be quite honest.  Would I do it exactly this same way if I had it to do over again?

      Absolutely.

       
      • Vo 10:52 am on January 10, 2010 Permalink

        You are an achievement whore. That said, Can I borrow some of those games when you’re done. My abysmal GamerScore is only like 1000-ish.

      • Vanberge 1:13 pm on January 10, 2010 Permalink

        Lol. Sure Vo.

        I’ll also give you Avatar that’s an easy 1k.
        You just can’t give any of them to Vanlandw. Part of this undertaking is to catch his gamerscore while he is away on vacation. 😛

      • vanlandw 9:42 am on January 13, 2010 Permalink

        Fun is fun dude. If you guys had fun boosting who gives a rats I think it’s hysterical.

        “Oddly enough I blame Vanlandw at least partially for starting this”

        That made me laugh. Yeah I prob will have a hard time catching you for awhile depending on what I play. Mostly your goal should be defeating JJA and his team of brothers.

        brb

    • Vanberge 3:31 pm on January 4, 2010 Permalink | Reply  

      Avatar 

      I would like to add a disclaimer at the start of this post with 2 primary points:
      1 – Spoilers are coming. If you haven’t seen Avatar and care about the story, then stop reading now!
      2 – I am very picky and admittedly over-critical of cinema.

      With those 2 points out of the way, I submit my review of the movie “Avatar” directed by James Cameron.

      I do not like this movie. I don’t hate it… But I REALLY did not like it.

      The effects, look, and composition of this film are certainly noteworthy. Is it going to change the way films are done for the near and foreseeable future? I don’t think so. For me, given the visual stimulus and photo-realism of the CGI are nowhere near enough to save this film from its plot and lack of several important aspects.

      My first and most significant gripe with this film is the lack of a backstory. What was Jake Sully doing before the Avatar program? Why did he blindly agree to it? Why is he paralyzed? What is he FIGHTING for? With Jake’s character I have no idea what motivates him through any of his actions without saying “oh, he’s just a good person”. This is simply not enough for me in a story such as this.

      It’s also frustrating because it would seem so simple to bridge this gap… With a few small lines of dialogue it could be determined that Jake is disgusted and angry with his physical disability and the Military’s lack of support or empathy for his situation. Maybe that scenario makes him jaded. Maybe once he sees now the Na’Vi don’t do that he attaches on a deeper level to their culture and way of life. Or, maybe he just falls in love with the queen to be in a typical teeny-bopper fashion; leaving him with a weakly formed bond to their culture (in my opinion).

      Another example of the lack of backstory/plotbuilding is the rushed nature in which we learn there is a precious resource on Pandora. I dont remember the name of it – I’m not even sure if they said it. I don’t know why it’s precious; I don’t know why it sells for so much money “per kilo”. Is it a drug? Is it a fossil fuel that can further satisfy the greedy industrial appetite of the evil human race? WHO KNOWS. Giovanni Ribisi does I guess. It’s even further annoying to me that I feel a lack of story to any degree on a movie that is pushing 3 hours. Sigh.

      Aside from the lack of these important pieces (again, in my opinion), the next most disappointing thing about Avatar is it’s “Typical-ness”. Vanlandw has commented on this very same thing to me, and it is with good reason. The TYPICAL love story pulling the TYPICAL protagonist through the TYPICAL war-monger’s evil intentions with TYPICAL results.

      The movie was overall just too predictable… “Oh, look Jake Sulley – there is this crazy huge dragon that nobody has ridden in 1 hundred trillion millenniums!!!” Gee – I wonder if Jake Sully is going to ride it!? Of course he is. From the humans villainous intentions, the love story, the “final battle”, and the end of the film; nothing seemed original to me. Sure, the setting of Pandora and the Na’Vi are original ideas and are note-worthy. But the storyline is exactly the opposite.

      To summarize my experience, I really didnt even like the 3D effects. The movie had a sort of grainy and fuzzy feel to it in 3D. It seemed to lack some saturation in certain parts so I can only hope that minus 3D the film will actually look better.

      Am I being overly critical due to this movie’s insane level of hype? Probably. Should I / Will I watch this movie again? Sure I will. Is Cameron leaving out an intentional level of detail and plot so he can give us a couple sequels? Probably. But, even so, I didn’t like this film. I gave it 2 stars out of 5 on the Netflix scale.

       
      • Jeffrey 5:08 pm on January 4, 2010 Permalink

        One of the reasons this film’s story feels so pathetic is that it is basically Pocahontas in space.

        Let me try to fill you in on some of the back story based on what I remember from the movie. Jack was crippled while serving a tour of during in Venezuela. He could not afford a spinal cord replacement, so his career options were limited. His twin brother was killed during a routine mugging somewhere on Earth. Since Jack was an exact match for his brother he was able to take his place. Jack viewed the transition as starting a new life, since his injury effectively ended his previous life.

        The mineral was called Unobtainium, which is actually a science fiction in joke. unobtainable + ium. It’s been used to classify elements/minerals in series that are physically impossible, such as dilithium in Star Trek.

      • Vanberge 7:13 pm on January 4, 2010 Permalink

        Fulljeff,
        I do recall the piece about the military not being able to provide enough money for him to get this back/legs fixed – but he seemed surprisingly indifferent to the entire thing. Was he mad? Sad? Angry at who, what and why? The whole “setup” if you will just felt extremely rushed.

        I forgot the name of the element. Good call.

        I still maintain that I

      • Vanberge 7:13 pm on January 4, 2010 Permalink

        PS – than you for getting me to 4.5 stars rep

      • vanlandw 8:30 pm on January 4, 2010 Permalink

        I’m positive your brother will put together a perfectly crafted rebuttal but anything I would write about this movie will require another viewing, as my 3D theater experience was anything less then stellar. Still when it comes out on Blu-Ray I will more or less purchase this day one even if many of my thoughts mirror yours.

        Personally as a big action movie fan this movie honestly does show the viewer something new. With the advances if CGI (compare the entirely faked Matrix fight sequences and even Blade 2 to a point to Avatar trumps them all) absolutely perfectly crafted action sequences can be almost entirely faked. Using the “Navi” allows the movie to trick the viewer. Next Cameron needs to get “humans” doing the things he did with then navi where the suspense of belief is gone watching an entirely life like CGI human doing crazy ass shit. Personally I’m more of an “action traditionalist” I would take a good fight sequence or shootout over much of what Avatar shows. What avatar does well is the intensity of the action. The part where Jake gets his dragon is great. The thrill rides were the memorable parts of the movie.

        Honestly the Navi where what I thought would initially turn me off the the movie but the human characters ended up taking me out of the plot. The “humans” were sadly very typical as noted in the post. For the most part they cover it up by saying they are mercenaries that troll around with scientists? Regardless Avatar reminds me of a good videogame storyline. It’s there reason for things to be happening to not get in the way of the jumping the shooting and the fun stuff like explosions. In a few months when I get to watch it at home with a grilled cheese and some kettle chips I’ll post back here.

        At this point it sits at 4 out of 5 stars on netlfix that has a high possibility of getting moved down to 3 after I watch it again. Mostly the emotion/intensity of the final act and clearly mech fighting (see District 9 and my teenage addiction to the Mechwarrior games) will always move me. Ok I’m going to stop this here clearly I could write for ages on this but this should be enough for me to feel like I participated.

        brb

      • Vanberge 7:51 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        This pretty much sums up my “unoriginal storyline” argument.

        http://img31.imageshack.us/img31/3867/poca2u.jpg

      • Vanbergs 9:12 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        Even though defending things like this seems far too fanboyish, unlike Metal Gear or other pieces of media of which I am a devoted fan, I shall, however, respond anyway, because it genuinely seems to me that you went in knowing you’d hate the film, or at least expecting you would. You even stated you read the entire plot synopsis on imdb days before seeing it. And many of your criticisms suggest you held that particular mindset even while viewing it, and it comes across as though you almost didn’t even pay very close attention. That, most definitely, prevented you from liking this film.

        “My first and most significant gripe with this film is the lack of a backstory. What was Jake Sully doing before the Avatar program? Why did he blindly agree to it? Why is he paralyzed? What is he FIGHTING for?”

        As fulljeff stated, he was a marine who became paraplegic. When given the opportunity to once again become useful through a new and exciting program, he took it. Why wouldn’t he? He was an outcast…even marines on the Pandora marine base made fun of him (meals on wheels comment) the second he wheeled down the ramp from the cargo plane. If you devote your life to becoming a marine, and have your mind set to serving your country, especially being extremely physically proficient (one assumes) before losing your legs, I’d say his decision to take part in the Avatar program was fairly well established, without needing a ‘back story’ of marine training or spelling it out ad nauseum. And wouldn’t it be plainly obvious that he is angry/upset about his handicap? The fact that we’re seeing him go through the program should serve to “show, not tell” us he’s ready to get off his useless crippled ass. What lines of dialog could possibly be written to make that any clearer without dumbing down to the lowest common denominator? “My name is Jake Sully, and my legs don’t work any more, and since I am a marine, I am mad. Now that I have an opportunity to make them work again, I will use that opportunity to do so, and I will tell you about how it goes for me throughout the film.” Personally, I’d rather be visually absorbed into his back story through the use of the setting and development of his character throughout the movie.

        What do you mean ‘what is he fighting for?’ He wanted to serve his country, and what he was, was a tool of the government to get inside the native population, gain their trust, and make the human transition into their area less of a hassle. He didn’t know anything about the culture or have any training on language (plainly stated in the dialogue), so his motivations belonged entirely to his bosses/higher-ups, the orders by whom he followed.

        But MONTHS of becoming assimilated into their culture, he clearly grew to have romantic feelings toward one of them, and more than appreciate their way of life. We see his inner conflicts materialize on screen, so, why would he not fight? I’m pretty sure if I knew my job was to force these natives from their land, after spending a very long time immersed in their culture and even accepted as one of their own, then I might consider tendering my resignation as well. I do not understand how you can call that a “weakly formed bond” at all.

        “Another example of the lack of backstory/plotbuilding is the rushed nature in which we learn there is a precious resource on Pandora. I dont remember the name of it – I’m not even sure if they said it. I don’t know why it’s precious; I don’t know why it sells for so much money “per kilo”.”

        It was called unobtainium, and Ribisi flat out states that it would likely solve every energy issue on planet earth. I don’t quite understand how you missed that. Given our current demand for oil and raging gas prices, especially if that resource is dried up, it’s not that far-fetched that a replacement could be invaluable. We know it’s valuable, we know it’s used for energy…honestly, what other back story do you want?

        As for the suggested banality of the overall storyline, I’m not even going to argue that it is original. Cameron obviously used a well-known archetype upon which for his plot to be based. The WAY it is told, however, is a remarkable piece of film-making. Honestly, breaking the story down and calling it a story of Pocahontas in Space really isn’t that unfair, but that’s sacrificing and all-out ignoring the creativity in the visuals, the character development, attachment with the surrounding environment…it’s all so extremely rich and well-told, that only seeing it as a Pocahontas in Space is selling yourself and the movie short.

        And don’t get me started on character originality. Many are saying the ‘gruff marine head honcho’ is too much of a stereotype. Really? He’s a fucking battle hardened soldier, a former marine, fighting previously uncategorized alien species in a completely unknown environment. He’s not supposed to be strong, scarred up, and of the mindset that he needs to follow orders to get the job done as he sees fit? Is this corporation going to hire a fucking poindexter in glasses as their head of SECURITY in a hostile alien situation? Are people serious?

        If you’re open to it, and still didn’t enjoy it, then that’s cool, the film isn’t for you. But your complaints really feel as though they are made by a person who not only expected to hate the movie, but didn’t even leave room for an option to feel otherwise, even after the lights first dimmed in the theater.

      • Vanberge 9:58 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        Your comment is too long.

        You tell me that the setup of this film didn’t feel rushed?

        It felt incredibly rushed.

        The story IS unoriginal. The Characters ARE typical. The CGI/Effects are the ONLY redeeming quality.

        Unless James Cameron authored the software environment in which to render said CGI, that is not enough.

        If I ‘knew I was going to hate it” I would not have spent 30 dollars seeing it in 3D, I’m pretty sure… So that’s a ridiculous claim.

        As Vanlandw says – they have marine mercenaries to back up scientists??

        Jake Sulley’s narratives/monologues giving his point of view and status are nearly completely devoid of any feeling. A marine getting injured could very easily maintain an attitude of “I am happy to have served my country; this comes with the territory” – so it’s not fair to just assume that he’s angry/jaded.

        At this point we are over-analyzing a “shock and awe” film created with a mediocre storyline and mediocre plot; Just told via prettier pictures.

        I’M SORRY IF THATS NOT ENOUGH FOR ME. >:O

        :-*

        kissy

      • Vanberge 11:23 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        A couple clarifications:
        I don’t hate this movie…
        The two star rating in Netflix signifies a “dont like”.

        Also; my wife fell asleep for 30 minutes of the movie. lol?

        The amount of advertising and buzz for this film has built a level of hype that this film is just not deserving of in my opinion.

        Note that I maintain I will be re-watching this film when all the attention/buzz has blown over. I’m maybe with Vanlandw that a 2nd viewing is needed to confirm my feelings on the picture.

        I don’t know if that will change my thoughts or not – my suspicions are that it will not

      • vanlandw 11:30 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        I do have to agree with vanbergs you, vanberge, did go into the film already believing you wouldn’t like it. The thing is that is utterly understandable. I am reading a book now knowing full well I’m not going to like it. I’ve played games (famously Final Fantasy X to completion) again I knowing I’m not going to like. Actually before I saw Avatar I was actually really happy vanbergs liked it because our tastes are normally pretty similar and seeing that Ebert fave it four stars again was a huge win as again I do normally agree with him on movies.

        Going into the movie with higher hopes and actually hardly knowing anything about it as I didn’t watch the trailers and having high word of mouth I think helped my experience.

        Sadly as known my theater experience dimmed my enjoyment but still watching the movie there were points where the thrill ride did get to me and in a perfect world I would have been able to just watch it at home and my enjoyment would have been even higher.

        If JJA posts again I bet you he will say something where he doesn’t mind spoilers and that wouldn’t have changed your mind but I agree with vanbergs. Imagine if you knew in advanced that Nina was going to get murdered by Jack? One of the best moments of my entire life wouldn’t have been the same knowing a week in advanced it was going to happen.

        But again I do agree with vanberge on almost story points oddly enough. I’m just completely torn on Avatar but I would say I “liked” it without question but this is coming from somebody who still likes season 6 of 24 even though there are CLEARLY problems with it and that season is universally panned and loathed.

        brb

      • vanlandw 11:40 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        After finishing sweeping a few moments after my previous comment a flood of thoughts came upon me. This entire comment trail is just a complete testament to the power of media. Looking at the thoughts and feelings brought forth by movies like Avatar and games like Call of Duty 4 it’s a powerful thing to have such strong opinions on a narative or experience.

        Thinking about the history of P4P/ericvb.com I don’t think another movie has driven you to write a proper opinionated review. Even on my site I hardly ever feel the need to put something down on “wax” about video games but two games I ultimately didn’t enjoy much drove me to delve deep into myself and proclaim to the world how I felt about them.

        Vanberge, Avatar has truly driven you to insanity and it’s fantastic isn’t it?

        brb 😛

      • Vanberge 11:41 am on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        Vans sometimes disagree on things… It’s just the way of life.

        I’d love some more insights from Jja as well here; he seemed to indicate that he bumped it higher due to it’s Sci-fi base…

        I think we can all agree that the films visuals, effects, and composition are top notch. So let’s focus on the positives. 😀

      • Vanberge 1:44 pm on January 5, 2010 Permalink

        Vanlandw actually I did do an M. NIght Shyamalan post…

        http://www.ericvb.com/archives/la-villa-my-first-attempt-at-cinematic-criticism

      • Vanbergs 6:15 am on January 6, 2010 Permalink

        I really don’t understand your “rushed setup” claim. Was there not enough back story at the beginning? Did it drop you too far into the story too early? I can’t see how that could be an issue, because that would be like saying The Matrix had a rushed setup, because it shows Trinity running on a wall and defying physics. If it’s setup that you want, should Neo have had his discussion with Morpheus about the Matrix at the beginning?

        Was The Terminator too rushed in setup because a nude Arnold materializes in an orb amid an electronic storm of lightning in the opening scenes?

        Was The Lion King rushed in setup because it started with Simba being displayed to the entire African animal population, rather than showing Mufasa and Sarabi fucking to create him?!

        WAS GLEAMING THE CUBE RUSHED BECAUSE IT STARTED WITH THEM SKATEBOARDING?! HOW DID THEY LEARN THOSE TRICKS?! ANSWER ME >_<

        brb hot pockets.

      • Vanberge 7:46 am on January 6, 2010 Permalink

        The matrix CLEARLY gives the backstory/setup mid-way through the film when Neo meets Morpheus.

        The terminator’s backstory/setup is told throughout the film via Kyle Reese’s flashbacks, his mentoring and “soldierization” of Sarah Conner, and finally through Sarah Conner’s narratives.

        I’m not even going to respond to the Lion King/Gleaming the cube references.

        Interestingly enough you have chosen some movies with very strong, dedicated scenes that VISUALLY show the viewer the backstory and plot setup… which Avatar undeniably does the exact opposite of.

      • Vanbergs 8:07 am on January 6, 2010 Permalink

        lol i did that post out of humor vanberge, vans do disagree, it’s the nature of vanhood.

        the hot pockets were delicious 🙂

      • Vanberge 8:14 am on January 6, 2010 Permalink

        Were they “Lean” pockets?
        lol.

        I love you vanbergs and we are hermanos.
        We should Roenick this weekend.

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