Is it an ereader? Is it an ipad? Also: 3D Movies

There’s a few trends I think are interesting at the moment.

IPad – people are starting to realize that the apple app store is isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. I think it’s directly due to the influence of the droid, which lets you run unsigned code. If I were apple I would do a full court press on the fact that (up until release 2 anyway) the droid was crashy, slow, and wouldn’t run applications equally. They’ve gotten their crap together, but the early adopters paid the price. The early adopters always pay the price, and this is especially true of apple, which is why I’m surprised they haven’t thought long and hard about throwing that stone. “Hey look, apple has it’s shit together, droids the new guy just trying to be apple. If you got burned by your early adoption experience, why do it again?” I’m guessing it’s because apple assumes the ipad/iphone is entrenched via contract, but lock in only helps you in the beginning when you’re looking to protect your head start. Once there’s competition, especially competition which prides itself on being open, lock in becomes a trap. On Star is a good example of this – because the lock in is complete on both sides of the fence, no-one has challenged On Star despite ODBC and cellphones being ubiquitous. OS X is built on open standards and trying to lock it down is why the jailbreak bit is so high profile.

Amazon Kindle versus the Nook – Both of these are dead out of the gate. The pricepoint is high enough that anyone interested in it realized they could buy a low end iphone/ipad (see above) and get the app from the apple store. Those of us with droids or whatever already rip books to PDF. They industry won’t cop to it but they basically tried to legitimize piracy of printed materials the way the MPAA legitimized MP3s but they tried to do it without the lawsuits. With little deterrent effect and high price of entry, the ebook is a nonstarter. Add to the fact that PDFs can be shared as many times as you want and are basically free and the next pricepoint becomes the used book on half.com. Trying to take away the used book via lock in when the old method was to take away the used book via “updated material” (see most college courses) and there’s no reason at all to buy one of these. This is why the kno boggles my mind. Not only is it trying to compete in a struggling market with a poorly thought out economic drive but it’s neither a computer nor an ipod while being as expensive as either one.

Speaking of Piracy – the 3D thing boggled my mind as to it’s popularity up until one recent idea – AVATAR was done in 3D and James Cameron, despite being a thieving bastard, isn’t stupid. He steals tried and true scifi ideas, because he wants a sure fire way to make money. Why take the risk on 3D when it means making the most expensive movie ever? Maybe someone else was footing the bill. Someone else like the MPAA. You see, it’s a lot cheaper to help pay for 3D filming versus a giant legal team of dubious effacy. Not only that but lawsuits are pure deterrent, and people don’t like being threatened. The idea here is to replace the paddle with a carrot on a stick. Instead of saying “videotape our movie and we’ll track you down and sue you”, they said “look at this gee wiz new technology”. What they left out was that a videocamera cannot film a 3D movie.

Avatar Sucked and James Cameron Should Kill Himself

Avatar works by two basic premises – It’s not racism if they’re blue and no-one remembers Heinlein.

Basically it’s like a Japanese videogame. It’s beautiful, it’s got wonderful imagry, you can get lost in the film. The foreign culture lends it alien wonderment. But ultimately, the plot paints itself into a corner, and there’s precious little plot to begin with so it has to end with a hail mary pass where suddenly this magical tree can do soul-tranfers as to let our human antihero become a blue tribal idiot.

If you’re saying “This sounds like Stranger in a Strange Land“, you’re right. It is SiaSL, but instead of being born in a foreign culture and coming to earth, Jake Sully is a human who never feels at home on Earth and then goes to Pandora where he meets and alien cast and finally understands people. He’s disgusted by how people have “lost touch with nature” and love the blue’s treehugging faggotry and then the movie ends with the blues having a huge war on humans. Great – so all the beauty and whatnot he fell in love with and the movie ends with him picking up a spear. Suddenly there’s powered armor, nuclear weapons and if you’re saying “I saw this when it was called Starship Troopers and it still sucked” you would be correct. To add to this, Sigourney Weaver washes up playing the same role she played in the Alien series (a doctor – a series of video logs) and basically you could rip out all her dialog, plunk it down in Alien 4 and not notice anything amiss.

Now, don’t get me wrong – there’s a ton of great imagry in there. Cameron probably watched the garden in Coraline about 100 times and then some kind of shangri-la generic crap to figure out how Pandora looked. The problem is that he wanted to make a movie like The Thin Red Line (still one of my favorites) but the problem is he’s not willing to go into the madness that is war. He wants his actors to be squeaky clean and he wants there to be some deep moral message against a beautiful backdrop. The problem is that he’s not willing to make his people bleed. Yes, the “bad guy” warmonger gets killed. Yes the hotshot pilot gets shot down (you’re not sure if she’s KIA or just out of the fight). The blue guys have their “betrothed” warrior get killed so Cameron won’t have to deal with a weird lovetriangle. And finally, when he’s rained fairly generic and nonsensical destruction down on a generic, beautiful and nondescript planet, he has the chance to really say something about the cost of violence, war and greed but instead of killing Jake Sully, we suddenly find out there’s a tree which can move his soul into a new body (conveniently supplied by a soulless avatar used as a meat spacesuit so there’s no cost to that either) and we realize that there’s no sacrafice anywhere except in the backdrop – the very nature the blues are supposedly fighting for in the first place.

This movie borrowed much from much greater works, and all of it was wasted.

Update: Global Politician calls it “Dances With Wolves in Space” and I think he’s spot on.