Movie Review: Avatar

Just got back from seeing Avatar. And, uh, it was… interesting.
As a side note, can I just say there are more fonts available than just Papyrus, people!?! Scott Kurtz, you are my hero. I feel a little better now.

I have to admit right off the bat that watching Avatar is like candy for the eyes and the imagination. Mystical and exotic beasts, riding flying ‘horses’, fauna that lights up when touched, floating mountains, and colors – oh, the endless amazing colors! Like Fantasia on steroids. Watching it I couldn’t help thinking, “This is what it must be like to be tripping on acid!”
Sooooo pretty!!!
Not to mention that the rendering was fantastic. I kept forgetting I was watching computer animation.
Perhaps I should have read more about it before going to see it, but I didn’t. All I knew what that it was getting fabulous reviews (currently #22 on IMDb) and several friends I knew had seen it and said it was good. And long. Oh, and I guess I also knew that “avatar” is most commonly associated with the characters in video games – your alter-ego, as it were. But I should have done my homework. Really, I have no one but myself to blame.
So, basic overview – I promise not to give away too much! – this is set in 2154 on a planet called Pandora. The only reason we’re there is to mine something super valuable called Unobtainium. (Really? That’s the best name you could come up with?) However, there’s some trouble with the native people so we brought along scores of marines to shoot them if they get in the way.
There’s also some scientists who are there that run the avatar program. Unlike video games, though, the avatars aren’t virtual. They’re zombies. Well, okay, not really zombies as in, “Braaaaains….”, but they’re essentialy dead bodies of native people. The scientists plug into them Matrix-style and can run around with the natives pretending to be them.
A marine hangs with the scientists because his twin brother who used to be in the cool science gang (word!) got killed, and because the avatars are matched to your DNA he’s the only other person who can possess that zombie. This main character is disabled in human life and sounds so much like Sylvester Stalone that it made me smirk.
One of the scientists is played by Sigourney Weaver. That probably should have given me a clue, but as I said before I’m kinda stupid.
So the scientists plug into these zom– I mean, avatars and go running around collecting fauna samples (soooo pretty!!) and teaching the natives how to speak English. True to form for both video games and stereotypical depictions of indigenous peoples, the natives don’t wear clothes except for loincloths and necklaces with double-sided tape.
Here’s the kicker, which didn’t really hit me until about 90 minutes in – probably because it’s Christmas vacation so my brain is gone leaving me really thick-skulled: the movie’s all about (1) environmentalism and (2) the Europeans driving out Indians. With some good ol’ new ageism thrown in.
The protagonists for the movie: the natives and scientists. (That is, Sigourney Weaver.)
The antagonists for the movie: miners, big business, and the military! Of course!
The miners don’t care about the natives and are not opposed to killing them as long as they can have a good quarterly report. So the military assists with the latter, led by an unfortunately very stereotypical bad-ass and prejudiced colonel. (Sorry, but it really bugs me when the military is the bad guy.)
The natives are ‘in-tune’ with their environment. I kept waiting for Pocahontas to skip through singing Colors of the Wind. There’s electrical signals that connect all the trees to one another like neurons in a brain (which Sigourney Weaver tries to explain to bad-ass colonel). Hmm, all of nature is connected by a universal life force – sound familiar? They can talk with their ancestors through a tree, and they connect with this tree and their mother earth through their ponytails. Seriously, their ponytails. At one point when a whole group of them is chanting and swaying with their ponytails stuck to the ground, I literally started laughing.
Anyway, I think you can guess what the climax of the movie is…
Kinda Ewoks versus stormtroopers-esque…
Overall, did I enjoy the movie? Well, actually I’d have to say yes. (Did I mention soooo pretty?) And even though there were a lot of character stereotypes, I generally don’t mind them for the sake of entertainment.
But I did feel a bit like I was lured somewhere under false pretenses, which kept me from enjoying it more. Then again, Sigourney Weaver? I should have known better.
I’m all for being a good steward of what God’s given us, but I do take offense with environmentalism as a religion. I also take offense at generalizations. Yes, the antagonists in this movie were soul-less jerks. But militaries as entities aren’t soul-less. All big businesses aren’t bad – remember that all big businesses started as small businesses. And I personally don’t think there’s anything wrong with mining if done appropriate, i.e., not clear-cutting forests and driving people from their homes.
So, now if you go see it, you’ll know what you’re getting into.
By the way, I TOTALLY think God’ll have those cool floating mountains waiting for us in heaven…
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