Avatar Review   December 19th, 2009

Avatar was a fun movie. Plot wise there were lots of familiar and predictable tropes so there weren’t many surprises. It got heavy handed with the themes of the evil imperialists against the magic natives at several times though. There were some sympathetic characters and the interplay between the scientists and the marines butting heads was entertaining.

The biggest fault of the movie was it didn’t fully set up the reason for strip-mining the planet. I believe one of the trailers mentioned something about saving Earth, but that wasn’t in the film, save for a throw-away line near the end about a dying world. Otherwise it was just that the fantastic mineral unobtanium (which was a perfect name for this film) was worth a lot of money and it was all for a greedy corporation. Aside from that, the film did have some characters you could care about and there was some good drama to it. Plus there was plenty of epic action, so while it’s not going to win any Oscars it was definitely engaging and fully entertaining.

The movie’s strengths of course were its visuals, which is to be expected. It was a huge spectacle of modern CGI wizardry, but it also had soul to it. The world they created was in equal turns breathtakingly beautiful, definitely alien and absolutely dangerous. The designs of the flora and fauna were amazing and showed a lot of care went into their design. Every scene immersed you in this wonderful alien landscape and it was a beautiful ride. The first night scenes with a forest aglow with bioluminsecence was very emotionally evocative.

Then of course there are the exotic Na’vi. They were beautiful to look at and there were several shots of fan service appreciating their alien beauty. Beyond that though, the character design was well thought out and intriguing. The size difference between the humans and 8-foot giants was an interesting twist and their slender and elongated forms played well into the design of the lower-gravity world.

Story wise Avatar is much better than Ferngully but not as good as Dances With Wolves, both films it shares plot themes with.

For ratings,
Story: 3/5 stars
Visuals: 5/5 stars
Overall 4/5 stars

AD 016 – Kill 23   December 18th, 2009

Khrysha the hangvixen takes some time alone to relive the past and meditate on a particular execution which affected her deeply.

Rated mature for discussion of capital punishment.

“Kill 23” by Ken Pick

Read by Peter Katt

Music elements by Infinity Squared

Download or listen to the episode here.

If you wanta learn you somethin’, go on down to a place where two roads cross. Get there Saturday ’round midnight, and wait there ’til Sunday morning—do that for nine Sundays, all in a row. The dark man, he’ll send his dog to watch on you while you wait. And on the ninth morning, the dark man will meet you. And he will learn you—anything you wanta learn. But you remember this: that dark man, he don’t work for free.

PodCastle’s story Nine Sunday’s in a Row spins an interesting yarn leading up to one person’s ill-fated deal with the devil. It mixes character drama with a nice southern flavor and is told from the sympathetic viewpoint of the Dark Man’s dog himself.

Pseudopod – Love Like Thunder   December 7th, 2009

Pseudopod’s recent story Love Like Thunder is a wonderful mix of Native American folklore and mythology along with a nice tale of a sympathetic monster.

It has mature content due to bits of violence and horror imagery, but it also has some nice drama.

Catching up on back issues of the Drabblecast, a weekly podcast of weird fiction, I found this belated Halloween treat. The Great Old Pumpkin is a fun story which manages to blend the Cthulu mythos with the familiar world of Peanuts holiday specials. It was a nice bit of clever humor which was a lot of fun to listen to.