The Cameron Inside: How Avatar Echoes Everything He's Ever Done

By Katey Rich and Josh Tyler 2009-12-15 01:11:28discussion comments
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For months we've been hearing snarky fan rants about how unoriginal Avatar is, how it looks like Fern Gully in space, Dances with Wolves with blue people-- really, just pick your comparison. But the truth about Avatar isn't that James Cameron is ripping off other people, he's ripping off himself. In the same way you know Titanic is on cable the moment you hear that pan flute coming from the other room, a James Cameron movie is unmistakable, and fear not-- Avatar is through and through a James Cameron movie.

So how do you know if you want to watch Avatar? Just figure out how much it's like your favorite Cameron movie and decide from there! To help you out, we've gone back through Cameron's greatest hits (sorry, Piranha II fans, you'll have to draw your own comparisons) and figured out exactly how much Avatar resembles each of them. Call it unoriginal, sure. We just think Cameron knows a good thing when he makes it.

Warning: May contain minor Avatar spoilers.


The Terminator
In The Terminator, a man arrives from the future helpless and naked, and relies on a woman to help him survive in this strange new place. They solidify their partnership with topless sex scene in a seedy hotel room.

In Avatar, a man arrives from Earth helpless and wheelchair-bound, and relies on an alien woman to help him survive on this strange new planet. They solidify their partnership with a sex scene, but it's no more topless than every other scene in the movie. In other words, nipple city.
In The Terminator, a muscle-bound droid with a buzz cut (The Terminator) refuses to stop hunting down his target, even when it involves getting stuck in a piece of machinery in order to wound the hero.

In Avatar, a muscle-bound man with a buzz cut (Col. Miles Quaritch) refuses to stop hunting down his target, even when it involves climbing into a piece of machinery in order to wound the hero.



Aliens
In Aliens, a giant corporation ventures into space to mine natural resources on another planet and obliterate the nasty alien population found there.

In Avatar, a giant corporation ventures into space to mine natural resources on another planet and obliterate the largely peaceful alien population found there.
In Aliens, a nasty corporate goon (played by Paul Reiser) ruins everything.

In Avatar, an even nastier corporate goon (played by Giovanni Ribisi) ruins everything.
In Aliens, Sigourney Weaver plays the baddest human female in space, though a Hispanic military chick (Jenette Goldstein) and an alien female might have her beat.

In Avatar, Sigourney Weaver plays the baddest human female in space, though a Hispanic military chick (Michelle Rodriguez) and an alien female might have her beat.
In Aliens, the main male character (Michael Biehn) previously starred in a Terminator film as a man who arrived disoriented in a faraway place.

In Avatar, the main male character (Sam Worthington) previously starred in a Terminator film as a man who arrived disoriented in a faraway place.



The Abyss
In The Abyss mankind's destructive behavior forces an attack by concerned alien creatures.

In Avatar mankind's destructive behavior forces an attack by desperate alien creatures
In The Abyss aliens use the very forces of nature against a team of soldiers and scientists out of their element. Nature has a lot of teeth.

In Avatar aliens use the very forces of nature against a team of soldiers and scientists out of their element. Nature is very wet.
In The Abyss James Cameron used ground-breaking computer generated special effects to create an alien water tentacle which mimics human faces.

In Avatar James Cameron used ground-breaking computer generated special effects to create an entire, fully rendered, 3D world populated with lifelike creatures.



Terminator 2
In Terminator 2, there is not a man or cyborg alive who can defeat the heroine Sarah Connor.

In Avatar, there is not a man, Na'vi, flying dragon, giant powersuit or advanced space weapon that can defeat the heroine Neytiri.
In Terminator 2, a seemingly simple signal of friendship (a thumbs up) is used to signify a deep connection between two major characters by the end of the film.

In Avatar, a seemingly simple statement of fact ("I see you") is used to signify a deep connection between two major characters by the end of the film.
In Terminator 2, there is a CGI special effect (the molten T-1000) that will pretty much make you lose your mind.

In Avatar, there are about 100 CGI special effects per minute that will pretty much make you lose your mind.



True Lies
In True Lies a freakishly muscular ex-soldier named Harry Tasker (Arnold Schwarzenegger) changes his appearance to fool his wife into believing that he's a mild-mannered father and lover of chihuahuas, even though he's really a dangerous and deadly spy plotting to take out a terrorist organization.

In Avatar a reasonably muscular ex-soldier named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) changes his appearance to fool a group of natives into believing that he's one of them, even though he's really a dangerous and deadly ex-marine plotting to take their land, kill their children, and fly their best dragons.
In True Lies our muscular male hero gradually loses more and more of his shirt as he faces an assortment of enemies, explosions, and elevator rides on horseback. This gives him more room to flex his muscles for the camera and distracts from Arnold Schwarzenegger's rather, well, let's face it, bizarrely shaped head.

In Avatar our muscular male hero saves time and ditches his shirt in the first half hour. This leaves him free to flex his computer generated muscles at will and may distract you from the fact that, if he even has them, his testicles are almost certainly blue. There's a hilarious joke in there somewhere.
In True Lies a suburban couple falls in love again while being shot at, blown up, and generally harassed by asshole terrorists desperate to get their hands on a nuclear bomb.

In Avatar an alien and a human fall in love, right before assholes start shooting at them, blowing things up, and generally flattening everything in sight with bulldozers so they can get their hands on a bunch of minerals.



Titanic
Titanic ends with a grating love theme that will encourage you to get the hell out of the theater as quickly as possible.

Avatar somehow ends with an even more grating love theme that will encourage you to get the hell out of the theater as quickly as possible, while screaming.
In Titanic, the female protagonist must eventually save her lover's life.

In Avatar, the female protagonist must eventually save her lover's life.
Near the end of Titanic, thousands of people die when the vessel that had been keeping them alive, the ship, turns over on its side and sinks. Michael Bay tried to do the same thing later on in Pearl Harbor and failed miserably.

Near the end of Avatar, thousands of Na'vi apparently die when their home, the HomeTree, turns over on its side and crashes. Michael Bay is inevitably taking notes on how to make a pale imitation of this as well.
In Titanic, the female protagonist is engaged to a haughty, proud man of her own social class because of the demands of her parents, but falls in love with a guy from another class over the course of the film.

In Avatar, the female protagonist is engaged to a haughty, proud Na'vi of her own tribe because of the demands of her parents, but falls in love with a guy from another species over the course of the film.
In Titanic, the main couple has sex for the first time mere minutes before all hell breaks loose.

In Avatar, the main couple has sex for the first time mere minutes before all hell breaks loose.



Dark Angel
On the Cameron produced television show Dark Angel a ridiculouly hot, waify, but completely badass chick wanders around wearing tight, skimpy outfits and generally kicking ridiculous amounts of ass even though she's built like a twig and almost certainly wearing uncomfortable thong underwear.

In Avatar an uncomfortably hot, skinny, blue, but completely badass alien chick wanders around wearing outfits so skimpy you could easily construct a drinking game around playing spot the nipple, oh and generally kicks ridiculous amounts of ass even though, again, most of the time she's gleefully naked. That's gotta be fun when you're running through the underbrush. I hope Pandora doesn't have thistles.
In Dark Angel the villain is an evil, government backed institution which uses super-soldiers to protect itself from the naturally enhanced hotness of Jessica Alba.

In Avatar the villain is an evil, government backed corporation which uses heavily armed soldiers to protect itself from the computer enhanced hotness of Zoe Saldana.



Ghosts of the Abyss
Ghost of the Abyss is an underwater documentary shot entirely in mind-blowing 3D. Unfortunately, James Cameron uses his 3D technology mostly to show pie charts and rusty forks.

Avatar is an out of this world documentary (no really, this happened!) shot entirely in mind-blowing 3D. Fortunately, James Cameron realized people don't like pie charts and decided to use his 3D technology on naked aliens and neon dragons instead. Kickass.

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