CGI: Computer Generated Indolence

Shreya Shankar

avathumb.jpg 1.6 billion tickets. $400 million in America. Over $1 billion worldwide. Two Golden Globes. Probably an Oscar. Is it even worth it?

As movies go, "Avatar" is sitting pretty at the top of the cinematographic food chain, eating lesser movies alive.

At the Critics’ Choice Awards on Jan. 15, the revolutionary film swept the technical categories, but failed to win the awards that counted.

But this was not the case at the Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 17. In light of the time and technical effort that "Avatar" demanded, it’s no surprise that the movie was nominated for four Golden Globes. What’s surprising is that it won."Avatar" has been a huge hit — but do its popularity and technological advancement really qualify it for a Golden Globe? Photo taken from Twentieth Century-Fox Film Inc.

The film is indubitably a technological breakthrough, shattering the limitations of CGI and animation. "Avatar" has shown pop culture what movies today can really do and, chances are, pop culture will never be the same for it. 

But the film, which was made on a $230 million budget, is also perfect proof that magnificent CGI does not always equate to flawless movies. The movie has some glaring downsides, screenplay and originality among them. But due to its sheer technological merit, "Avatar"’s flaws seem excusable — it becomes very easy to feel guilty nitpicking at the film. One can only hope the Academy doesn’t feel that way.

Frankly, "Avatar" pales in comparison with the myriad of quality films currently contending for an Oscar. Technology aside, at its core, "Avatar" is little more than an exotic retelling of Pocahontas complete with blue people and bio-luminescence. It held none of the exceptionally wrenching storytelling style of 2008 Golden Globes winner "Slumdog Millionaire", and none of the gritty emotional clout of 2007 Golden Globes winner "Atonement".

It seems illogical that this film should beat out both an epic rendition of Nelson Mandela’s ascent as well as a visceral, heart-wrenching account of the war in Iraq.  Shoving aside deserving movies like "Precious", "The Hurt Locker" and "Invictus", "Avatar" took the top spot in both Best Motion Picture (Drama) and Best Director at the Globes.

And according to ABC News, "Avatar" could win up to nine Oscars this year.

The gamers out there will testify: it’s never the graphics alone that make the video game; you need good guns, too. And "Avatar" doesn’t have the guns its contemporaries do — whether they’re on the battlefield of Iraq or on the rugby field of South Africa.