Avatar 3D is a sight to behold, if not a story fully to embrace. With sumptuous visual fanfare, viewers are thrust into the contradictory worlds of a futuristic industrial paramilitary complex and Pandora, a distant planet full of beautiful natural wonders and beautiful, though strange, indigenous tribal people groups. Trouble is, it also boast huge deposits of a marketable ore in the area of the Na’vi’s most sacred locations.
Avator offers a simplistic plot with mostly one dimensional characters, save those of the hero, parapalegic Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Na’vi Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who at first are at cross-purposes and later fall in love. A mega-corporation hires Jake to replace his deceased brother in becoming an avatar to reach out to the indigenous Na’vi.
There is much to like about this film. It is beautiful. The musical score is fitting. The director does not resort to gimmicks in his use of the 3D affects, but harnesses the technology to enhance the viewing experience. The world he unveils is spectacular in terms of the geology, indigenous lifeforms, and the Na’vi themselves, who stand an impressive ten feet tall, yet are as agile as any other tree-inhabiting life form found in the forests in our world.
The essence of the film is this. Big business sees an opportunity to exploit the resources of a foreign world, yet recognizes it cannot do so without the impressive firepower of mercenary military personnel. No problem, apparently, since they enlist said personnel, despite the oaths those soldiers once took to protect freedom and liberty. The indigenous people are brave warriors, but like their predecessors in history (think American Indians, etc) they cannot possibly hope to win against overwhelming military superiority. So, Avatar exploits the overmined (indeed, strip mined and pillaged) themes of evil big business and their destruction of innocent lives and precious natural resources. For previous incarnations of said themes, we do not have to look far. Just throw a stack of movie credits in a jar, shake it hard, and chances are one of them will come up with some form of that theme. Just sayin’….
Avatar deploys competent use of foreshadowing, multiple character motives among some of the lead characters, and lovely use of the environs to propel the story along. There is, not surprisingly, a spirituality which manifests in the traditions of the Na’vi. Of course, the spirituality is more in keeping with tribal mysticism than anything remotely biblical. Also, the filmmaker attempts to throw in the scientific plausibility of their mysticism in order to create a sympathy for it.
In the end, the movie portrays most humans (especially those involved in big business or military) as evil, and nature as a symbiotic relation to its indigenous counterparts. The former is just a tired theme. The latter works okay in fantasy, but seems to be the prevailing opinion among the politically correct establishment (think global warming, erm climate change, or is that global cooling? Oh, you know what I mean!).
I recommend Avatar, but with a strong warning to parents. There is a scene of sensuality, and there are disturbing scenes of violence (similar to the kind you might see in Star Wars or Lord of the Rings), as well as mature philosophical themes throughout. The movie is rated PG-13 for these reasons.