thinglets: James Cameron's Avatar Rips Off Nick Jrs' Wonder Pets

Over the past week I've been subjected to a torrent of children's programming on television. We're not talking after school specials here. I'm talking good ol' repeat a word or phrase 8000 times until we've brainwashed the yard ape fare. And while I can't say the experience was thrilling, it did galvanize into one stirring nugget that I'd like to assert presently:

The Wonder Pets pre-school serial operetta is an obvious inspiration for James Cameron's final cut of Avatar. I'm not saying one has to love Wonder Pets to appreciate this conspiracy (although the premiere episode where they save a baby chimp in outer space is perhaps one of the most surreal television experiences I have ever had). 

And sure, there are always going to be subtle differences, but hear me out Cameronites.

  • Avatar has a core team of three scientists working as an offshoot group in a human military/industrial complex on the moon Pandora in order to study and save the Na'vi natives. Wonder Pets has three pets that live in a schoolhouse and, during off-hours, they assume alter-egos to save baby animals around the world and in outer space.
  • Avatar has the brainy leader (Sigourney Weaver), the bold over-confident warrior (Sam Worthington) who tries to save the Na'vi alone at first, and the caring, but overmatched (Joel Moore). Wonder Pets have the brainy guinea pig leader (Linny), the bold over-confident duckling (Ming Ming) who often tries to save the babies herself,  and the caring, observant turtle (Tuck).
  • The Avatar scientists have to adapt to harsh and unknown alien environments to help the Na'vi survive. Wonder Pets adapt to jungles, tundra, ice floes, oceans, and outer space to help the baby animals survive.
  • Avatar scientists sync into an Na'vi genetic "host" to get the job done; the name for these hosts are Avatars. The alter-ego inspires the title of the film. Wonder Pets transform from school animals to Wonder Pets by jumping into costumes which makes them Wonder Pets - inspiring the title of the show.
  • The Avatars fly around on dragon-like creatures. The Wonder Pets fly around on the Flyboat.
  • Avatar's animation was based on rendering of live actors combined with CG environments. Wonder Pets uses photo-puppetry, allowing animators to use photos of live animals combined with drawn objects.
  • Avatar used an orchestra for a complex musical score. Wonder Pets uses a 10 piece live orchestra for every episode.

Oh, I could go on, but I believe it's painfully obvious that Cameron reached into pre-school programming to construct the final cut of Avatar. Cameron was desperate after years of being unable to come up with a follow-up to Titanic. Sure, the PR spin says he's been working on it for ten years, but that's an obvious fallacy.

I know that many of you have become Avatar devotees of late, and I hate to burst your bubble, but the Wonder Pets achieve in 8 minute blocks, what it takes Cameron almost 3 hours to do in Avatar. If Cameron cannot find a way to tell the tale of the Na'vi in 8 minutes with musical numbers, how am I ever supposed to take him seriously (I mean "seewiusly") again? ...if you watch Wonder Pets, you'll get that joke.

And I know you'd think I was pulling your leg here: "It's that crazy lovehatethings guy on about his pop culture bullshit again!" And if you thought that, you'd be right. But who cares? Like 3 hours of Avatar or 8 minutes of Wonder Pets, sit back and enjoy the ride in 2010.

thinglets: Film-A-Month Faves for 2010 (Part One)

My second annual Film-A-Month Faves starts with this January to June 2010 list. The release dates may change over the course of the year. I'm taking this year's information from While I'm not saying that I won't see other films that come out, the thoughts of the lovehatemind may surprise you as we look into the future.

And if you're keeping score, my fav film of 2009: UP

My tweet review of Sherlock Holmes: "Imagine Basil Rathbone in Snatch and there you go."

My tweet review of Avatar: "Just went to see Avatar IMAX 3D: Good film that would've been great had it not tried to be amazing."

And so, on with 2010...


While Legion and Daybreakers kind of look cool for the popcorn munching side of my brain and Youth in Revolt promises more Michael Cera playing Michael Cera, (which, don't get me wrong, I dig most times) I'm going off book and choosing Saint John of Las Vegas. It's got Steve Buscemi, Sarah Silverman, Peter Dinklage, and Emmanuelle Chirqui in it. It's got Las Vegas in the title. Now don't get me wrong; I'm not the kind of guy who's gonna go for the obscure indie film just to score cred, but I really think this one has promise, and the thought of some of these actors getting the chance to play off of one another intrigues the hell out of me.

I'll also admit that this is a bit of a cop out as the film only releases in NY and LA in January and wider in February... I'm hoping they just forgot to put Toronto in the January limited release, so I can see it there.


Okay, The Wolfman looks is the popcorn muncher, and Cop Out (formerly A Couple of Dicks) is probably a film I'll make it to eventually out of respect for Kevin Smith and Bruce Willis, (because Tracy Morgan annoys the hell out of me) this month's pick will be Shutter Island. I'm not a DiCaprio devotee, but I'll admit to forming increasing respect for his abilities over the years. While this film also has an awesome supporting cast, including Mark Ruffalo, Ben Kingsley and Max von Sydow, the biggest piece of the puzzle is Scorsese.

On seeing the trailer of this film it looks like your average horror/thriller, but why do I know there's got to be something more? Answering this question is what's going to take me to the multiplex to see this one.


Anyone else tired of the Burton/Depp matchup? I know I am. I like Depp in almost anything, but lately Burton's stagnation in his own style has made me disaffected. I mean, more power to him if he can make the films he wants, the way he wants to, but I can't take it anymore. Needless to say Alice in Wonderland won't be my March pick. Neither will Clash of the Titans, because while the camp value of the original picture was enjoyable, to scoop branding for a big budget epic they could have easily rebranded is disgusting. (The original Bubo was Da Bomb Yo!) 

Instead, I'm going with Green Zone. It's got three things: espionage, Matt Damon and Paul Greengrass directing (remind you of a trilogy). While it's not going to have a crazy made-up Depp or freaky CG dragons, [TROGDOR!!!] I do know that I'll probably be walking into the stylistic equivalent of the Bourne films. And while Burton's style has grown tiresome to me, Greengrass' hasn't... yet.


While Kickass and The Losers both look fun for pretty much the same reasons. Repo Men is going to win April for me. Jude Law is not always great, but is usually good. It simply comes down to the fact that in addition to Law, Forest Whitaker AND Liev Schreiber are also both in this film. That, combined with the quirky premise means it's something I've got to see. I know that friends will come screaming to me about how I may be missing out on McLovin' in a cape.

SPOILER ALERT: As far as I know, Repo Men, thankfully, does NOT include Emilio Estevez, though a Harry Dean Stanton cameo would've been off the hook.

And by the way, I will never, ever, EVER, EVVVVER! see MacGruber the movie.


Iron Man 2. Really. No shit Sherlock. I know it seems like a populist pick. While the cast of Robin Hood looks interesting, and CG of Prince of Persia will remind me of The Mummy Trilogy and probably be swallowed up by Sex in the City 2 on opening weekend, Tony Stark is the man... the Iron Man... wow, wasn't that clever? 

I suppose if I have to go beyond the limits of my suspended disbelief for a weekend I'd rather NOT go to Nottingham, be PERSUADED by Persia, or be CARRIED away.

Apologies for the wordplay. I'll refrain from doing that again and wrap up with...


June is going to be a HUGE box office month. First off, the films I will NEVER see: Killers, Marmaduke, The Karate Kid, Grown Ups. Films I will see at some point: The A-Team (though I dread its failure), Get Him to the Greek (could be hilarious), Jonah Hex (cast and curiosity).

My June pick, however, is Toy Story 3. It's been a long time coming, but no one tells a story like Pixar. I don't even need to know what the plot will be about because the characters and reputation are enough. There are not many films that you come out of feeling like you've been on a ride, but Pixar makes such films. I'm an unabashed fanboy... although why do I fear that Mickey might make an appearance?

And a sad final note to Part One of this two night epic post: The third Twilight is slated for June 30th, and I SOOOO wish I could say I'll never watch it, but I saw the first while typing a particularly angry blog post, and I was happy with the result. I may just need the Sparklevamps for inspiration.

Stay tuned tomorrow for Part Two...

lovehate: The 3D Movie Resurrection

I know that some people are split on the entire 3D "thing" that has blown up with films over the past couple of years (especially animated ones). I mean let's face it, we're touting technology that has been around for well over half a century in film and longer than that outside of film. Detractors will decry being forced to wear glasses which may be ill-fitting or otherwise poorly-designed. Some people get queasy upon the assault of visual images assaulting their cerebral cortices (alright brain geeks, tell me what part of the brain it really is). Some people just don't like paying an extra three bucks to see the 3D versions of the films that their friends drag them into.

Is the 3D experience really any better than the 2D - hell no! Sure it's different, but if 3D was the "shit", why they hell wouldn't all films go there? At one point the 3D film was a fad, and a production company could bank on a certain percentage of box office just because the film was in 3D. Now it's de rigeur. And your brain may get tricked for the first five minutes into believing that Dr. Tongue's 3D House of Pancakes is really a blast of syrupy goodness, but your brain quickly works out the effect and soon it's pretty much nullified.

There is only one reason to push the 3D experiment to redundancy in film and soon in television: piracy. While 3D certainly won't stop piracy, it may give pause to a certain percentage of the movie-going public that want to have the full experience of seeing a film. I know this is going to sound ironic because if someone wanted a full "film experience" why would they download a pirated copy anyway? Quite simply the growth of the home television screen, and the balance of having to deal with the general idiocy of the public, starts to balance out the fan that is willing to watch the leaked DVD screener of a new film versus going to see a 2D version of it.

If, however, you've convinced yourself that the film just HAS to be seen in 3D, you're pretty much SOL in terms of a pirated copy you can watch on your home system. The movie industry is moving towards 3D not out of any artistic sensibility, but instead out of plain protectionism. And I suppose I don't blame them, but they are sticking themselves between the Scylla and Charybdis. They know that if they release a film ONLY in 3D, box office will suffer. On the other hand, if they release a 2D version, the odds of piracy go way up.

If you've somehow convinced yourself that 3D is truly a better experience than 2D, you've been led astray. I'm not saying it's worse; I'm just saying it's different. Your brain does an amazing job of filling in the gaps and your imagination will overcome flaws in production, environment and often even direction. There are plenty of people in this world who still own black and white televisions or whose color TVs have 14 inch screens. Are they necessarily missing out on an "ideal" experience? Can't I enjoy content whether on my iPod screen or my 67" LCD DLP?

We've forsaken music and still claim to enjoy it. We used to listen to scratchy ceramic cones with no fidelity and eventually grew through vinyl, 8 track, cassette, and compact disc to a level of fidelity that became consistently better and clearer. Yet now we choose 128kb mp3 files that sound like crap compared to a CD or wav file because it sounds "good enough". It's the same reason some people have no trouble downloading films, because to watch even an inferior copy is "good enough". And it's the reason that 3D is really unnecessary from an artistic perspective as the mind's eye can create far richer and vaster conceptions that ever a pair of 3D glasses will be able to construct.

When will Hollywood realize that content is king? When will the focus be put back onto plot and character development with original dialog and concepts that weren't even dated to Shakespeare? I'd rather watch The Godfather on a Casio Wristwatch than watch My Bloody Valentine 3D in an IMAX arena. You don't remember a 3D film or 2D film any differently. Sure you may recall a "cool" scene or two, but is that what a director should be going for - to shock you out of your disbelief for the purposes of thinking "dude that was cool". I loved the film Up, but I don't think back on it in 3D. I simply think back to the story.

If 3D doesn't really add another dimension to films, and does little to improve my memory of them, I suppose the only real value is negative in the cost of an extra 3Dollars out of my pocket to get plastic Chinese factory glasses so that I look like Buddy Holly or Elvis Costello - what a DDDeal!

thinglets: 10 Reasons You Should Not Go To See Avatar

Really, go see it if you want. Just be appropriately disgusted as blue slinky creatures fill the screen in a world reminiscent of Endor.
  1. It cost $237 million US to make, which is bigger than the GDP of nine countries!
  2. The Na'vi killed and ate the Ewoks before taking over their planet.
  3. Sigourney Weaver doesn't answer to the name Ripley.
  4. James Cameron hasn't made a film since Titanic and may blow a gasket when posts a copy a day early.
  5. Leonardo DiCaprio ain't the king of this world.
  6. Big let down when you find the entire story is just John Connor playing a video game on Skynet.
  7. The film could never live up to Cameron's masterpiece Piranha Part Two: The Spawning.
  8. If there's not a place for Tom Arnold in a film, I just can't support it.
  9. Sam Worthington's in a remake of Clash of the Titans; don't encourage him, or next he may re-imagine Krull.
  10. Remember the budget for Waterworld? I'm just sayin'!