James Cameron’s recent film Avatar was an exciting, visually amazing ride that ‘did it’ for me as a viewer. I gasped and smiled and even shed a tear. I got completely involved in the characters and their struggles, and I came out of the cinema saying ‘WOW!’ That being said you could be forgiven for enjoying just about anything if, like I had, you had finished watching the spectacularly boring and irritating new bundle of crap in the Twilight saga fifteen minutes before Avatar. The only consolations in the pile of smelly film that was New Moon were a disturbingly attractive shirtless teenage werewolf and half a minute of a vampiric red eyed Dakota Fanning who tortures then pouts. Delightful.
Anyway, after a few minutes of raving about the wonderfulness of Avatar to my less enthusiastic partner, my ‘children’s literature’ brain that had worked so hard at uni a few years ago switched itself on… the movie had reminded me of something. Dinotopia? Lush tropical plants and some pteorodactyl-like creatures, sure, but no. Fern Gully? Yes! In fact, I realised – and bored my partner to death as I explained it all out in excruciating detail – they had the exact same plot!
I got home and instantly googled ‘Fern Gully’ and ‘Avatar’. I was a little disappointed to realise that ten billion katrillion bloggers and youtubers had realised the same fact before me, but at least I knew I wasn’t being crazy. It really was the same plot: human male comes into forest as part of team destroying the forest, upsetting the natives who are in tune with and connected to the forest and who live in the trees. The handsome human man is transformed into a native and learns their ways, slowly (and almost too late) figuring out the error of his own people’s ways. He falls in love with the pretty native lady, pissing off the handsome native man who had dibs on her first, and decides to join forces with her people to defend them against the evil human tree destroyers. In typically unrealistic hollywood fashion a few key-but-not-too-key people kick the bucket, the handsome human gets the girl, the evil treehaters leave, and the natives live happily ever after in their magical forest (one presumes until the next technologically advanced exploitative bunch of humanoids decide to drop in for a visit/war).
That being said, Avatar was way cooler than Fern Gully. If it did copy the plot, it also improved on it. Plus the chicks were way hotter (and isn't that the most important thing, really?). That’s why it pains me to tear into it the way I’m about to. I hope that after analysis it will still hold up as a movie I can enjoy.
Will start posting my savaging/comparison of Fern Gully and Avatar soon...
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1 year ago