Why Hollywood is 50 Years Late

As with any spectacle, I have come to expect the frenzied, completely speculative, white-hot hype around Avatar.

Given James Cameron’s technical inertia—plowing through cinema like a razor-sharp plow—I have very high expectations that the technical merits of Avatar will be nothing less than revolutionary.

Let me say upfront, that I am very interested in watching Avatar for that reason.

However, someone laid some praise at the feet of Avatar that I found incendiary. The person went on to praise Avatar, along with The Lord of the Rings Trilogy as being “unmatched in creativity.”

Now, to many of you who are not creative or overly artistic in any sphere, these films may appear as avant-garde in design, creature design and cultural conception.

But please, do not try to convince those of us that are pathologic engineers of fantasy that these movies represent some bold new frontier of imagination.

They don’t.

They represent a bold new frontier of film fantasy.

Very little in Avatar (based largely on the trailers as I have not seen the movie) is creatively new. It is just one of the few times a director has had the muscle to push a wild idea through the bleak and barren Hollywood idea gristmill.

An arboreal paradise? A feline alien species? Are you kidding me? These have been “so done” they were regular staples of Saturday morning cartoons in the late ’60s and early ’70s. That’s how well-tread these ideas are.

Anyone who has an eye to any form of media other than film (and sometimes including a century of cinema) has already seen these concepts and ideas in books, comic books, Japanese Manga, role-playing games and computer games.

Hollywood is 50 to 100 years behind the curve. It is an industry that is a century late.

The reason we are just now seeing this level of imagination in film is because of the extreme costs associated with movie-making. Now, with the advent of computer-generated imagery (CGI), more and more directors are finally able to explore the phantasmagorical.

Yes, it is a great time to be alive if you like film, but please keep these films in context to other media from which they draw inspiration.