Update: Guess Who Hates Avatar? Communists, Fidel Castro

Categories: Culture, La Habana

Over the weekend, a Cuban movie critic became the last person in the world to see Avatar.

His verdict: meh.

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In a review in Granma, the official daily of the Cuban Communist Party, Rolando Pérez Betancourt pooh-poohs the money-minting, Oscar-nominated movie as a dumb action flick.

"Dramatically speaking, Avatar is predictable and lacks imagination in plot development, as is expected of many others of its ilk conceived in Hollywood."

Zing! Unmentioned in the review is how Betancourt managed to catch the 3-D spectacle. Are there state-of-the art IMAX theaters in Havana we haven't heard about? Was it a gift from James Cameron to Fidel Castro, from one trend-bucking iconoclast dictator to another?

One can only assume the critic saw it on a projector powered by a couple of hungry wheel-spinning mice, or through a scrambled TV signal like bad porn. Sans 3-D glasses, of course.

Betancourt's review, which appears as a weekly column called "Chronicles of a Spectator," continues:

"Though impressive in its special effects and the motion capture technology it uses to replicate actors' gestures, Avatar is, on the other hand, very simplistic and reiterative in its argument."

Read: You guys, it's totally like Fern Gully. Of all the pans we expected -- from conservatives who called it a pro-environment Trojan horse, for instance -- this is the most surprising.

After all, here's a movie that rails against the materialistic appetite of corporate overlords. And, most relevant to El Supremo, proposes a machine that could keep him alive in perpetuity as a blue hologram.

But Betancourt, who once said in an interview his favorite pastime is watching Last Tango in Paris with a glass of rum in hand, was unimpressed with the tentacle Na'vi sex and was pretty disgusted with the movie's budget.

"Halfway through the film, I had the impression I was watching a story about a cowboy of confused human values who goes to live with a tribe of Apaches and then falls in love with the chief's daughter... And then I read that James Cameron was a fan of Dances With Wolves, and all was explained."

Ouch. We couldn't reach 20th Century Fox, which released the movie, but it's safe to say the pan will affect the film's grosses only in the tens of dollars.

Update: The suits at the studio finally responded with a comment, and they aren't happy with the review or the illegal screening of the movie. "We take piracy very seriously and don't condone it in any format or for any reason," said Chris Petrikin, senior vice president of communications. "Surprised they panned it, maybe because one of the themes focuses on the evils of militaristic societies oppressing indigenous people?"


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