Pushing Avatar off a Red Cliff

Avatar the Film

Zoe Saldana in Avatar

Hype for film technological breakthroughs is apparently still what leads us into the cinema these days… next to word-of-mouth, of course.  Fortunately for Avatar (2009), it has both – its opening weekend has easily smashed all existing box office records for a 3D film, and has its eyes on taking the top spot overall.  A strong opening weekend is perhaps to be expected, however, for a film that reputedly cost half a billion dollars to make and distribute.  Lumbering James Cameron behemoths like Terminator 2 (1991) or Titanic (1997) were also very profitable gambles in this respect – the former was effectively one long chase scene that demonstrated how the latest CGI could be mobilized to tap into white American male emotion, the latter a five-act tragedy that tapped into white American female emotion.  Cameron’s films are the kinds of films people see more than once:  they tug on enough emotional strings to produce occasional vertiginous feelings while keeping the visual effects rolling to catch your heart at the next turn in the plot.  His films are effective because they are affective, his plots predictable but oh-so “classic,” his high concepts putting even Steven Spielberg’s successes with Jaws (1975) and E.T. (1982) to shame.  Avatar is no exception.

So why didn’t this latest film, which was up my alley in terms of its sci-fi premise, colonial struggles and gratuitous deployment of mecha, bowl me over as it did countless cinema-goers?

Because I saw John Woo’s Red Cliff (2009) first.

******THE SPOILER BOUNDARY — YOU’VE BEEN WARNED ******

Chiling Lin in Red Cliff

“What?!” you exclaim. “But Avatar was so awesome!  All the special effects majors (save Pixar) put their heart and soul into it:  Digital Domain, Industrial Light and Magic, and Weta Digital.  It’s in 3D and looks gorgeous.  Sure, the plot is clichéd, but what plot isn’t?  It totally has a subversive message against colonialism and the exploitation of our Earth.  This is the future of filmaking.  You’re living in the past, man.”

Gentle reader, Avatar itself is definitively a construct of the past:  James Cameron actually wrote the treatment back in 1994, but shelved it until 2006 out of film-technological concerns.  This means that those who are making Dances of Wolves (1993), Pocahontas (1995) and *ahem* FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992, see also 20th Century Fox, Avatar’s distributor) comparisons with the film hit the nail on the head:  Avatar has much more to do with those “going native” narratives than, say, the postcolonial violence depicted in District 9 (2009).  It lives and breathes the multiculturalism of the early 90s, rather than the stale air of globalization and colonial legacies of asymmetrical exploitation in places like South Africa, Israel/Palestine or Pakistan.  As an “adult fairytale,” it offers an almost suffocating sense of nostalgia for the days when we audiences were just starting to think about things like the environment and social inequalities of race/class/gender in terms of mainstream action.

Despite the principal emphasis of all reviewers on the film as an “effects achievement,” I find its major successes to be located in its subtext rather than its revolutionary 3D stereoscopic cameras, etc.  Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as a believably stubborn handicapped marine.  Three strong women characters – Saldana’s Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver’s Grace and Michelle Rodriguez’ Trudy – give the viewers a variety of models of positive femininity.  Neytiri even manages to save our hero protagonist’s life twice at the end, though the other two women have to die in “exchange.”  The map the Colonel (Stephen Lang) puts on the wall of the gathering tribes reminded me of the animated map at the beginning of Fritz Hippler’s Nazi propaganda film Feldzug in Polen (1940), in which the gathering Nav’i armies seem like a bacteria or disease encroaching on the borders of “civilization.”  The implication that the neural network established throughout Pandora was in many ways more advanced than the artificial networks generated by man is a pleasant and original fantasy in our Internet era.

All of this subtlety (which I assume emerged because there were many intelligent people working on this project) proved fragile, however, against the blubber-filled weight of the film’s Hollywood exportable aesthetics and the Campbellian three-act screenplay.  Complex institutions such as colonizing empires are reduced to simplistic, one-dimensional characters: the greedy project organizer (Giovanni Ribisi — capitalism/corporations), the bloodthirsty colonel (military) and the aloof xenologist (science).  The viewers are delivered the biotopia with the exotic landscapes and species without being in the dubious position of conqueror/explorer (since Jake Sully feels bad and changes sides).  And most importantly, the resistance strategies offered by the film are reduced to A) global solidarity among the Nav’i tribes, B) heroic sacrifice by noble savages with their bows and arrows, C) the hero happens to be *sigh* the Chosen One and D) Pandora puts nature itself as a weapon at the heroes’ disposal.  Aptly put, we are given the feeling of resistance to imperialism without being given any of the methods, beyond the magic of Hollywood.

Why Red Cliff is Better

Red Cliff is a better film than Avatar because it is a bountiful wealth of said resistance methods (though – fear not! – John Woo loved Avatar).  Woo’s first directorial effort in China since Hard Boiled (1992) tells the famous Romance of the Three Kingdoms historical epic through the eyes of two of its master strategist heroes – Zhou Yu (Tony Leung Chiu Wai) and Zhuge Liang (Takeshi Kaneshiro) – as they lead a desperate battle against the invading armies of the fearless Cao Cao (Fengyi Zhang).  At a fifth of Avatar‘s reported price-tag ($80 million), the film was nevertheless the most expensive Asian film to date and not the least bit short (runtime 238 min., cut down to 148 min. for international release) to boot.  Budget spent in Avatar on obscenely high-tech effects was deployed toward armies of hundreds of extras and several expensive-looking fight sequences.  Nevertheless, Red Cliff‘s visuals in 2D look equally stunning as Avatar‘s in 3D.  This is to say – using Peter Wuss’ PKS model – the films stand toe-to-toe with each other in terms of perception-leading structures, which leave us with narrative-leading and stereotype-leading structures to differentiate the films (Don’t get me started on stereotypes in Avatar).  Whereas Avatar insists on narrative-leading structures that produce affect against the backdrop of unreflected war imagery (i.e., destruction of home-tree, the final air battle sequence, etc.), Red Cliff seeks narrative-leading structures that both engage the intellect and produce affect against war itself.

Yes, Red Cliff is an anti-war movie in a way that Avatar cannot possibly be.  Significant screen-time is spent discussing strategy for many decisive battles, and such discussions lead directly into intellectual engagement with the battle sequences:  how does one beat an overwhelming enemy?  What formations are to be used?  Why will atmospheric conditions shift the conflict one way and not another?  Like Howard Hawks before him, Woo concentrates his films on professionals who are forced into the greatest professional challenge of their lives.  Whereas Avatar persists with visually articulated moralizing discourses about native populations and environmental exploitation, Red Cliff takes discourse of oppressor/oppressed as a given and instead preoccupies itself with the material waging of war.  The anti-war message is imparted by Tony Leung’s beautifully tragic facial expressions as he watches his strategies work.  Rather than reducing all characters to multi-dimensional heroes and one-dimensional villains who are justified in killing each other over their respective moral principles, all of the violence crossing the screen in Red Cliff comes with a moral price tag.  Clashes of civilizations transform into precisely the relationship of symbiotic violence portrayed in the hunting rituals of the Nav’i (that is then abandoned in favor of the action movie/revenge motif).  Resistance is not mythical and leap-of-faith efforts, but intellectual work.

All of this ranting and raving is, of course, intended to get you to see Red Cliff, or at least think about it as you fork over $14 for your 3D ticket.  If you’re seeing Avatar for its fantastic visuals, then by all means go and enjoy the colors.  But if you’re looking for a solid story that offers a moral perspective on current events, China has beaten the USA/UK/New Zealand conglomerate at a fifth the price.

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5 Responses to Pushing Avatar off a Red Cliff

  1. Kevin says:

    I’m only two hours removed from Avatar, and your analysis/comparison was the first thing I read after I got home, Evan, so I feel like I need to respond while I’m still fresh, even though I’m still wrapping my head around both the film and your essay. I’ve not seen Red Cliff, so I can’t comment on it, but I’m going to dive into the Avatar stuff headfirst and try not to drown.

    ***

    [Spoilers for Avatar ahead]

    I want to challenge you a little on three points that lead to a fourth that is critical of your post as a whole.

    First, I think Avatar‘s discussion of military tactics is fine; I was actually impressed by how it handled both tactics and strategy in-film and was a little taken aback when you claimed implicitly that Avatar had no tactics, no strategy, and Red Cliff had it out the ears. I’ll take your word both that Red Cliff does this more and does it better, but I want to point out that Avatar engages tactics and strategy and does both well, and I think you might want to think about the following.

    Tactics

    When Jake Sully, desperate to reintegrate with the Na’vi, tracks the Big Red Dragon (I don’t recall its Na’vi name at the moment, though I’ll edit this when I see the movie a second time), he mentions that the biggest hunter in the sky doesn’t often have to look up, which is how he manages to bond with the beast. Later, in battle against the human contractors, the Na’vi use the same tactics: fight from above against an enemy not expecting it; Cameron’s foreshadowed exactly how to come at a more powerful aerial opponent.

    Also, just prior to that epic aerial battle, Sully brings up that despite the technological advantage the humans have, the Na’vi can use the terrain and humans’ lack of instrumentation to their advantage. The Hallelujah Mountains and the surrounding area are so familiar to the Na’vi that they can use their superior knowledge and senses to win in sighted combat and the technological advantage is muted; in fact, the only technological advantage the humans have is armor and firepower, which is substantial but not necessarily decisive when the Na’vi have numbers and information.

    Once engaged from above and minimizing the humans’ technological superiority, the Na’vi attack the humans’ weakest points. Whereas the Na’vi had just thrown spears and shot arrows haphazardly at the massive helicopters and dropships in the attack on Hometree, during the aerial battle, the Na’vi made straight (rather than glancing) blows on glass (rather than metal) targets, took out exposed humans, invaded open bay doors directly, and Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez) used her distractingly human firepower to draw fire away from Sully so that he could regroup and bring down the bombing shuttle before it reached the objective.

    All this was clearly shot, beautifully laid out for the audience, and while it might not have all been discussed in the way Red Cliff‘s battle sequences and tactics were (again, I concede these points), it was set up in such a way that the discerning viewer who was paying attention could tell all this was going on; all these were the tactics of a technologically inferior opponent.

    Strategy

    Sully’s strategy against the humans was based on his knowledge of the contractors’ strategy. He couldn’t run a guerrilla-style insurgency campaign, because the remaining sacred places of his local Na’vi tribe were in danger of being destroyed. In fact, if destroyed, the Na’vi tribe itself might have fallen apart.

    Furthermore, Sully had to deal with the fact that the corporation (was its name ever mentioned? I’m going to have to look for that next time through) and humanity itself was almost certainly bringing reinforcements if there wasn’t some sort of statement made with a decisive battle. This was explicitly mentioned, though I don’t remember the exact context.

    Finally, Sully knew that Colonel Quaritch was committed to his technological superiority as both a tactic and as a kind of dominance strategy: he is Donald Rumsfeld with military experience. Sully used his knowledge of Quaritch’s arrogance against him, by getting Quaritch to commit to an immediate technological attack rather than waiting for reinforcements to squash the Na’vi over a six-year reinforcement cycle: bringing the Na’vi tribes to the Tree of Souls (or whatever it’s called) drew him into a conflict he shouldn’t have fought. The corporation will have been pushed away from Pandora for at least the short term, though a long term forbearance is unlikely, unless they have solid R&D on another unobtainium-bearing planet. (note that an Avatar 2 is possible)

    Therefore, Sully’s strategy, made explicit in the film, is to draw the corporation into a major conflict and defeat them using the tactics outlined above so that the corporation withdraws once they realize the bad publicity makes inhabiting Pandora unsustainable financially.

    Avatar and Current Events

    I think you’re absolutely right that this film is best compared not to current films like The Hurt Locker, Brothers, or even Iron Man, but rather the early 90s films about integrating with other cultures and the world around us. But there are two reasons I want to place this film firmly in the context of this moment rather than that one, and that draw me back to my larger criticism of your essay when I conclude.

    First, just after Sully is captured he claims to be a soldier who failed to make a peace, a line that bothered me at first because it seemed to be saying that war can’t bring peace ever, when human history has pretty clearly proven that statement to be false – war brings peace all the time. It brings more war all the time, too, but Sully was even wrong this time around: he ceased to be a warrior almost from the moment he set foot on Pandora. What was Cameron saying?

    It became clear later. By pursuing the goals of the soldier (and the capitalist), by following orders, Sully had failed to negotiate for the withdrawal from Hometree. While he had formally become a member of the tribe, he had still been an arm’s length away. He put his own goals ahead of theirs; he was still using them for his own ends, despite his guilt and despite his skill with their battle techniques. Instead, one of the chief messages of this film is that when we engage in dialogue with other cultures from whom we need something, we must sublimate our need to theirs: we cannot put ourselves ahead of them, it must be a true partnership. You say this yourself, Evan, and say the film abandoned this symbiotic relationship as metaphor, and yet I think Cameron understands this partnership completely. When Sully and Grace Augustine (perfect character name, especially for a scientist) come back to the Na’vi tribe, they do so having abandoned all ties to the humans with serious, clear consequences for their actions, and Augustine’s death is a direct result; the alienation from Earth life that starts when they get on the sleeper ship has now become complete, and they are truly partners with this alien society. Their goals are truly one with the Na’vi.

    I think this has pretty clear resonance today, what with the recent troop escalation in Afghanistan and our ongoing resource and information exchanges with societies all over the world (think China and India, for instance). How are we going to win the war in Afghanistan? It’s not going to be by increasing troop levels qua troops or by sending in more helicopters or machine guns; instead, we have to deal with a problem that plagued us in Iraq and that David Petraeus has to a large extent solved (though not completely) and that he and General McChrystal are trying to solve in Afghanistan: there’s just a lot about the various factions in Afghanistan that we don’t understand. Building the true partnership, learning to make the goals of the Afghani people our own and vice versa, finding the dialogue, is something that we’ve only begun to really accomplish. So adding troops may help us do that and it may not, but until we reach a more full integration, like we did in Iraq, and like Sully eventually did in Pandora, we can’t accomplish our shared objective, whatever that ends up being (and note that while I think that our objective is to defeat the Taliban and create a safe, constitutionally stable Afghanistan, I leave that open because our partnership might not come up with that exact result; we have to discover that in the dialogue).

    That integration happened in Avatar: Sully became committed to the Na’vi tribe’s goals, they recognized it, and they worked together toward a common end. That end was not revenge. As I laid out above, their strategy was to remove the threat to their society from their proximity by means of a decisive confrontation. Had revenge been the goal, all the non-linked humans would have been destroyed.

    Second, I think this film should be considered in light of recent environmental films like Wall-E or The Happening, one of which was good and one of which could have been. Both those films include the unavoidable, extremely important lesson that we are biologically interconnected with every plant and animal species on our planet, just as Avatar does; while we might be able to survive without them (as we do in Wall-E), the more ways we over-extend our resource extraction and use, whether it damages other species or it damages our atmosphere, we are just as responsible: Wall-E shows most poetically, I think, just how each extraction has consequences on several levels, from killing off life to destroying land to leaving waste in space to blackening the sky. The Happening shows just as clearly what happens when our interconnected species are attacked too long; they can eventually be forced to fight back, just as occurs in Avatar.

    And yet even as we watch these films, we see the disappointing results of our most recent global accords on climate change, the most serious threat to the global environment and the long-term health of human society and the species we interact with regularly. Avatar‘s central themes are clearly cultural and environmental, and yet we cannot find a multinational consensus on environmental issues even now, after decades of damning evidence proving how far behind we’re falling on our emissions goals as a planet. How does justice change in these circumstances, when different countries have different burdens, different needs, and different technological capacities? How much can we work together toward one goal when that goal is only partially shared? When that goal is long-term rather than short-term? The multi-cultural implications of cooperation implicit in Avatar‘s narrative are implicated in the Copenhagen accords.

    The Final Word

    But why I want to bring this to the present, and make this about multi-culturalism, or perhaps more correctly, inter-culturalism, is because I think you wanted this film to be something it wasn’t and that Red Cliff is, but I don’t think that’s fair to Avatar or to Red Cliff. You want Avatar to be an anti-war film, and it’s just not. It’s an anti-colonialism film, an anti-exploitation film, an anti-corporate film, an environmentalist film, and most importantly, a film that invites the viewer and societies to treat other societies as partners rather than as means to ends, but it’s not an anti-war film. It very clearly states that when you have the right tactics and the right strategy, war can bring peace, because the superior strategist won the battle and (most likely, at least for now) won the war and the peace. It came at great cost, but those costs were not as important to the story or the characters as were the spoils: the removal of the humans from Pandora and the short-term safety of the Na’vi. War solved their problems. That is, by your account, not the case in Red Cliff, a film that is much more clearly anti-war.

    Instead, if we’re judging the quality of Avatar as a film “that offers a moral perspective on current events”, I suggest you consider it as a film that offers a partnership/symbiotic perspective on international affairs with important lessons about just how much knowledge we need to have about a society to be able to usefully share experiences with them (as in Afghanistan, we have to do better), and also as a film that teaches us that our close biological connection with our planet is precious, tenuous, and deeply affected by all we do. We might also consider it a film deeply concerned with the ability of shareholder-focused CEOs of publicly- or privately-held corporations being able to engage in the kinds of analysis appropriate to either kind of symbiosis narrative. But in either regard, I’m not sure Red Cliff is the right point of comparison; the war imagery in both films certainly links them, but they have very different messages, at least as I understand your analysis of Red Cliff. I certainly believe that seeing RC first altered your experience of Avatar, but I worry that it made you look for something that wasn’t there because it wasn’t supposed to be: Cameron just wasn’t making an anti-war movie. And I think we should be fine with that. This movie has plenty going for it thematically, enough that we’ll be talking about it for years, I think, even if enough of it is, if not cliched, at least borrowed, that Cameron had to integrate it into his narrative in interesting ways.

    Again, I’m still processing, and I’m going to watch again, but that’s my first impression.

    And I look forward to your rebuttal. Apologies for any and all indecipherability: it’s gotten pretty late and I’m tired.

    –Kevin

    PS One thing I was extremely pleased about: this is by far the most thematically rich of Cameron’s works; after all, Titanic and the Terminator movies were basically the same films in a different setting, and this film goes through way more material in a much more interesting way than any of those films do, and I think they’re probably his best work (though I’ve not seen The Abyss in a while and I’m not counting Aliens).

  2. guyintheblackhat says:

    Apologies for the tardy rebuttal, Kevin – I was in Prague for the holidays and had little Internet access!

    In hindsight, my overall purpose in writing the original comparison between the two films was not arbitrary. I wanted to illustrate that, seeing as China and the U.S. released their most-expensive-to-date film epics this year and which both treat a similar theme – inherently justified and successful large-scale military resistance against the overwhelming force of eager imperialists – the Chinese entry proved more intellectually mature in virtually all respects. To be perfectly blunt, I found Avatar (for all its glitz, glamour, hype and relentless fan defenders) actually quite boring, and decided to qualify said boredom with a work I found more engrossing, rather than merely issuing a jeremiad on what didn’t suit me about the film. The essay also forced me as a film scholar to speculate about the affective and societal dimensions of the film on the fly – speculation that likely appeared sufficiently half-cocked on the Internet.

    To address your specific points (SPOILERS):

    * Re: Avatar and Military Tactics – The film’s treatment of tactical aerial dominance is, as you pointed out, carried out in small scale during Jake Sully’s hunting of the Toruk and later – on a larger scale – during the final aerial battle. You assert that this is dramaturgically elegant and aesthetically satisfying. I contest neither point, but argue that this very elegance and visual pleasure also renders such battle scenes pre-processed and easily consumed. Red Cliff’s battle sequences are no less opulent, but they are underscored with an element of intellectual strategy (i.e., equal opponents trying to outthink each other) and/or a bittersweet emotional edge that always gives the viewer a moment’s pause before consumption… kind of like a prayer before a meal, or a dedication at the beginning of a song. It’s about the film’s stance toward the viewer: its presumptions about the viewer’s intelligence and overall glorification of violence. When I can spot the Campbellian plot at the beginning of the movie, I say to myself: “Okay, so I know this protagonist is going to become the Chosen Hero and journey into the Special World and then return to successfully confront the Old World and so on… What’s in it for me otherwise?” Star Wars (1977) offers a host of great tongue-in-cheek genre references, as well as the heavily World War II-influenced battle sequences. Star Trek (2009), as I argued in Star TrekWarsThulhu, provides this added value through excessive geek foreplay and over-the-top Freudianism. Red Cliff (2009) follows the 19th Century historical theater strategy of thesis/anti-thesis/synthesis, intercut with a few moments of dramatic heroism. Avatar offers us crystal clear, sober 3D CGI images. (And flying mountains – I liked the flying mountains.) But this eye candy is so thoroughly convinced it is founding something “new” that it fails to provide enough ironic/self-referential/poetic moments of intelligent suspense premised on systems the film has set in motion – with the exception of the scene where Jake is quickly grabbing a bite to eat while bulldozers approach his sleeping avatar (my favorite scene of the film, btw).

    * Re: Avatar and Strategy: Red Cliff also pits the underdog against the arrogant invading force. Both films are about strategically necessary battles fought at the right moment against an overconfident foe. What Red Cliff doesn’t do is elevate the outsider (i.e. Jake for the Na’vi, Zhuge Liang for the citizens of Red Cliff) to the status of Chosen Leader over the underdog force. That’s right: just as the Colonel’s arrogance proves to be his downfall in the film, the film’s arrogance that its hero-protagonist is good enough to become the leader of the “oppressed people” proves to be its moral downfall. Instead, Zhuge Liang and Zhou Yu are cast as tacticians cut from different cloths with a common interest. There’s none of the implications that A) one man is predestined for greatness over the other or B) that one’s cultural location gives one additional strategic knowledge over the other. All the white guilt that dominates Avatar’s hero mythos is replaced by China’s “war guilt,” which seems somehow more universal.

    * Re: Avatar and Current Events: To take a phrase from President Obama’s Copenhagen speech: “We can again choose delay, falling back into the same divisions that have stood in the way of action for years. And we will be back having the same stale arguments month after month, year after year – all while the danger … grows until it is irreversible.” Obama may have been discussing environmental policy, but I feel strongly about our cultural output as well. Certain films such as (to put some more cards on the table) Hamlet 2 (2008) and The Fall (2007) successfully introduce new ways of looking at multiculturalism in the context of fiction and fantasy. Shouldn’t this “anti-colonialist” film do something similar, rather than simply try to jerk us back to the 1990s? I mean, Obama’s comment is more or less about the clichés of capitalism-perpetuated asymmetrical economic conditions promoting strife during climate change negotiations. This is the true obstacle to the world’s bright future, rather than some isolated band of corporate capitalists extracting surplus value from exploited goods for their dying world. What’s lacking in Avatar is the notion that there are systems in place that encourage all of these assorted forms of behavior. A glimpse at these internal workings of colonial power (used often to suppress domestic conflict) and the strained cultural flows across metropole/colony beyond characters set to personify certain aspects of colonialism would have been nice. It is in fact necessary that we move beyond the FernGully/Dances with Wolves anti-colonial/anti-environmental destruction model for any of us to begin to effect the kind of change we all really need right now. Cameron’s idealism, I’m afraid, isn’t likely to inspire the right people to make the right decisions.

    As to your final criticism, I only wish that Avatar could have been the anti-corporate/anti-colonial movie to Red Cliff’s anti-war movie: a suspenseful, bittersweet, visually stunning underdog battle waged on terms that project a meaningful resolution to a thoroughly human problem. I feel as though Avatar is a very successful piece of psycho-technology for convincing so many intelligent people of its greatness, but its use as a piece of propaganda for change is limited at best.

    Not while 20th Century Fox makes all the profit.

    -Evan

  3. TheGnat says:

    I just saw Avatar (in 2D, sorry). I’m putting off Red Cliff partly because it isn’t available where I am, and partly because I want to get ahold of the original, rather than the cut down international release. I can never get enough of stuff based on that era.

    Avatar was a fun movie. About as subtle as a sledgehammer, mostly just pretty, and the plot and dialog could have been swapped out with Dances with Wolves and I’m not sure anyone would notice.

    Honestly, I didn’t go into it expecting or hoping for anything as…I’m not sure what word would be best here. In any case, I wasn’t looking for what Evan was looking for. I would have been pleased by something deeper than what I got. There were a lot of missed opportunities in all sorts of directions. I would have called it “good” if they had bothered to flesh out more than just Jake. He was a believable character. Everybody else was a cut-out pulled from other movies.

  4. guyintheblackhat says:

    What was I looking for?

    The epic movie to set the tone and aesthetic for the next decade of filmmaking (I seem to recall a minor Star Wars Episode I: Phantom Menace (1999) vs. The Matrix (1999) scuffle at the end of last decade, during which the former squeaked and died). My expectations were not so much “high” as they were absolute.

    You were looking for something deeper, Nathalie, because you’ve seen such gems as Ghost in the Shell: Stand-Alone Complex, etc. and were thinking: “Shouldn’t there be more protein in this sci-fi story for my money?” I asked myself the same question.

  5. […] A disabled veteran becomes a blue cat-person and saves the same.  Read my longer, contentious review. […]

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