What if Avatar had been cast by music critics?
Bioluminescent vines brushing the knees of your skinny jeans. Cataclysmic explosions so huge and real that you nearly wet yourself with fear. Rampaging alien beasts threatening to trample you -- or at least knock over your popcorn.
I know, right? Avatar was out-and-out awesome, especially in 3D. For almost three jaw-dropping hours, writer/director James Cameron's sci-fi fantasia distracted us from our assorted cares with computer-generated action sequences and eye-popping colors.
But with all due respect to Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang and C.C.H. Pounder -- which is, by the way, totally a porn-star name -- what if Cameron and his brain trust had turned casting for Avatar over to music critics? What if, indeed....
DMX As Tsu'Tey. Kind of a thankless role, this. Tsu'Tey is like the chieftain-in-waiting, and Neytiri's supposed to be his boo; the unexpected arrival of chosen sky person/cockblocker Jake Sully puts the kibosh on all that, and poor Tsu is reduced to Sully's hater/mocker/antagonist, only to become his soul brother later on, once it becomes clear that Sully was willing to throw down against his own race.
Since DMX is the kind of actor who can really only look pissed off and look cool kicking butt (which is more or less what this part required of Laz Alonso, anyway), casting him would've been a no-brainer.
Also, when he raps, DMX likes to bark like a dog, this cartoon-y, half-serious kind of bark that somebody taped him doing once then turned into a keyboard pre-set effect or something. Sure, the tendency of the Na'vi is to hiss like snakes or cats, but DMX's bark wouldn't have felt entirely out of place.
Ziggy Stardust-era David Bowie As Miles Quaritch. Avatar is an inherently odd enough project, I think, that it could accommodate a singing quasi-androgynous alien in place of a grizzled Marine hard-ass commandant with claw-scars across his face.
Would the effect be the same? Would it be believable? I don't know. But I wish someone with time and bandwidth to burn would jury-rig it into being.
M.I.A. As Neytiri. How perfect a storm would this have been? I mean, they're both fierce warrior princesses who are as familiar with their adversaries as they need to be in order to destroy them. They both hooked up with dudes from cultures dead-set on annihilating or marginalizing their own societies. They both have eye gouging senses of style. And they both could probably kill you barehanded in the blink of an eye.
Natalie Merchant As Dr. Grace Augustine. Given that Avatar is a flick where "tree-hugger" is employed as an epithet more than once, Merchant stepping into this mother-hen biologist's shoes doesn't seem especially far-fetched. Plus, better her bleating, bleeding-heart ballads than the bland orchestral scores and Hollywood boilerplate fare of African/world music choral pap that are all over this movie.
(Dear Hollywood: it's time to dig up some new ideas about incidental film music. Seriously, I'm pretty sure I heard variations on every sound in Avatar done in Gladiator, and Gladiator came out almost a decade ago! Please evolve.)
Adam Levine of Maroon 5 As Parker Selfridge. This part, played by Giovanni Ribisi, demands a corporate-suite callousness that has to be at least somewhat sincere; Levine, who has demonstrated time and time again that he's fully in touch with his inner cocksucker - for evidence, we direct you to every videotaped interview that the Maroon 5 front man has ever done - might have been a better fit.
Will Oldham As Dr. Max Patel. Because the idea of Will Oldham pretending to be a rotund, bushy-bearded scientist on stationed a lush, hallucinagenic alien world is just too delicious.
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