Avatar, that multi-billion dollar movie that helped spawn the current 3D craze, is now on cable and satellite TV. Most of the original Avatar craze has died down, but it continues to be an excellent movie, one that my daughter wants to watch over and over. I can’t blame her, because I find something new each time I happen to catch a piece of it again.
There are a few things about Avatar that I find annoying but overall, it is a great movie experience.
Avatar’s Conflict-Causing Natural Resource
Avatar has a silly, child-like name for a resource as important as “unobtainium.” I buy that if we’re talking about a children’s movie. If that is the case, forego terms like “goddamn,” “shit,” “punk ass shit” and the like. If some off-color language makes sense, as it does in a militaristic setting, then silly object naming akin to “hard-to-get stuff” makes little sense. Do or do not.
I think Stephen Lang did a great job with the villain he was handed. I do object to the two dimensional characterization of Col. Miles Quaritch as the “bad guy.” I believe that the colonel’s objective is getting hold of unobtainium and by extension, saving the people of Earth in some way not made completely clear. Great. Except that we see little proof of love of humanity. We do see dedication to duty, which is not presented in any positive manner. We also see a great deal of hard-core, the objective is all thinking. The Col is a take charge kind of guy, but only as far as the original objective allows. There’s no growth, only a tired, the-military-is-evil-through-and-through presentation.
Avatar military terminology
“Shaved tail louie.” I love it. A very true to life military style euphemism for a lieutenant who’s just received his bars. Smooth bottom, wet behind the ears. Terms like VFR (“visual reconnaissance”, and never mind the letter in between) bring the story to life for anyone with even marginal contact with military terminology.
What is the evolutionary advantage of six legs? I can imagine it making that animal more stable in its stance, but slower. When an innovation is that much of an advantage, it tends to run rampant through the ecology. For example, most mammals on Earth have four limbs. Never mind that some walk on four, some on two – there are four limbs. On the Avatar moon, most mammals have six legs. So why do the Na’vi look so much like us?
I do understand wanting viewers to be able to identify with the Na’vi. I also believe Avatar audiences could have identified with bipedal aliens with extra limbs, vestigial or otherwise. Perhaps we are not so lacking in understanding and empathy. Then again, perhaps James Cameron understands general audiences better than I.
Avatar, in a nutshell
“It is hard to fill a cup which is already full.” This one statement underlines the beauty that is Avatar. Aside from lessons about war and the environment, Avatar makes us look at how we learn and whether we choose to learn. We cleave to our beliefs, to our ideals, and resist even the thought that another path has merit.
A woman once told me, “It is important for a child to be well trained to the parents’ spiritual beliefs before they see a movie like Avatar. Otherwise, they may become confused.” I can understand her thoughts, even if I disagree. I believe a child should be helped to find his or her own path rather than being so thoroughly indoctrinated. Always question, is what I try to instill in my children. A movie like Avatar questions the very foundation of our society. What is good for humans of a particular society tends to supersede the needs of a weaker society, at least in the minds of the stronger. Avatar makes us rethink those convictions, even our very place in ecology. Can we truly disconnect from all else with which we share the planet and expect a good outcome? As Sully says, “I really hope this tree hugger crap isn’t on the final.”
Perhaps it is, in any way that matters. That is for the viewer to decide.