Thursday, May 27, 2010

Review: Avatar

Directed by James Cameron
Produced by James Cameron
Written by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldanan, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver,
Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, Giovanni Ribisi

For those of you that were somehow unaware of the word or concept (discounting the hindu origins) An avatar is a computer user's alter ego in computer game. At first these were represented as two-dimensional icons or figures but with the advent of more computer power and higher bandwidths, the form is for the most part now a three-dimensional model.

That in so many ways, describes the movie Avatar. A disabled marine is asked to join a project on Pandora, an Earth-like moon of the planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri star system. The project is twofold. One to mine the mineral unobtanium which they really don't go into much other than to tell us it is rare and extremely valuable. However it is this value that drives the second part which is to learn about the native population of Pandora who call themselves the Na'vi, a ten-foot-tall blue-skinned species of sapient humanoids. The RDA corporation which is doing the mining and, ostensibly the research, want to know more about the indigenous population, in hopes to get them to move from their present location which happens to be on a huge deposit of unobtanium. Our protagonist Jake the handicapped marine is asked to join the mission in place of his brother (who died in an accident) to "pilot" a specially vat grown Na'vi to study the natives and that is when thing go totally wrong Jake (piloting his Na'vi) becomes separated from his companions and is rescued by a Na'vi woman who is then tasked with teaching Jake "the ways of the Na'vi".

Even in 2d this is a stunningly visual movie. Everything is rich and deep and incredibly complex. Bravo to the folks that came up with the flora and fauna of Pandora it is breath taking.

That aside you could have traded blue skin for war paint and called this Dances with Wolves. Don't believe me? The Na'vi ride "horses" ok, some of them fly tame flying lizards....same thing, they have bows and arrows, war chants that for the life of me sounded just like native Americans. More? They are the idealized native, one with the earth taking only what they need etc, praying to the earth mother, and on and on.

Even Jake goes native! oh and there is a evil "government" entity bent on destroying the natives....oh yeah, there are differences but if we are going to be honest, the similarities far out weigh the differences.

The ending is out and out wish fulfillment but all of that aside it's not perfect but it's damn good and I would give it a 9. I know, some of you will grumble with the loss of a point, but really, the stereotypes just grated and took away from the film experience. The ubber-marine where winning is the only thing, the honorable native, the greedy but ultimately blind corporate goon....and on and on. But with a 9 you know that I am giving it a must see. And I do.


Anonymous said...

One slight correction. It is a "Evil Corporation" not a "Evil Government" trying to get the Na'vi to Move.

Robert said...

Personally, I much preferred the Hurt Locker to Avatar. The former did more - with less.

Yes, Avatar looks gorgeous, but looks aren't everything, are they?

Beam Me Up said...

Yeah, to be totally correct, you're right. But it was in the comparison that I was making. Where WAS the government in this? Were not the marines a "government" institution? In my mind, that was pretty heavy handed. IMHO the director did not go to any great effort to separate the two. The corporation WAS the government as far as how the Na'vi was treated.

Beam Me Up said...

I haven't seen Hurt Locker Robert, but it looks like this would be a good a reason as any to get a copy, just for comparison sake.

Anonymous said...

I saw Avatar in 2D and loved it. It was good sci-fi in that alien plus human DNA are combined to make a body somewhere between both and a human controls the body remotely to communicate with the alien world's inhabitants.
Exploring the alien world through the avatar was great fun.

I appreciated the spirituality of the film even though I am without spirituality; I love a good story.

I found the American Indian theme to be much too obvious for my taste. The writers could have made a totally new indigenous population to be raped by greedy human colonists.

Also, the primary plot point explaining why the humans were raping the alien world was waved away by the cutesy name, "unobtainium". I want more cleverness in my major sci-fi epics.

Despite its failings I give this movie very high marks. I will watch it again.

Beam Me Up said...

Thanks for your input and opinion of the overall feel for the film. I think you tied it up much better in a few lines what I meandered around with for the better part of a page. Thanks for the post.