Avatar (2009)

I first saw “Avatar” maybe two years ago. I remember a lot of time passed, and that I felt like painting myself blue and living in a space jungle. Then I remembered: I HATE nature.

Let me amend that: I adore nature. I also like keeping it at bay with walls & a locking door. I’m in danger of falling down just walking across a carpeted floor. There’s not a chance in hell I’d be running on tree limbs, flying on ginormous lizard things, and hooking my ponytail into all manner of creatures.

James Cameron made “Avatar,” and it is brilliant. An Earth company has come to a world called Pandora, which is a lush moon orbiting a gas giant planet. The bad company is on Pandora to mine something called (I swear to God) unobtainium. The biggest deposit of unobtainium is right below the giant sacred tree of the Na’vi, a race of ten foot tall blue humanoids who worship the Mother Goddess, Eywa.

The bad earthlings have a project whereby they grew some big blue people, and link them to bad earthlings who control them. The idea is that they will infiltrate the blue people, and convince them to move, so that the bad earthlings can mine the unobtanium from beneath the tree. (This would be akin to having OPEC chiefs try to act Catholic, infiltrate the Vatican, and convince the Pope & Pals to move elsewhere so oil wells could go up in St Peter’s Basilica)

The bad earthling mining company has a security force that could basically be called “The U.S. Military.” They blow up the blue people, burn down trees, and generally are evil.

“Avatar” is a gigantic message movie. You don’t have to look very hard to see its conceit that “nature is good, and the U.S., with their industry and military, are heartless and evil, as they take and ruin everything for poor nature and peaceful people everywhere.”

Fuck you, James Cameron. That’s my reaction to the message.

Well done, Mr Cameron. That’s my reaction to the film.

“Avatar” cost over a quarter BILLION dollars to make. Every cent of it is on the screen. The blue people’s world is flawlessly rendered. The mining vehicles and attack gyrocopters look like they could go to work in the real world.

Would it have killed anyone to have the evil company be a world-wide consortium? Couldn’t we have had a bad French guy blowing shit up?

Nope. All the bad guys are as American as they can be. The blue people, when they do speak English, use that nondescript, semi-rasta island accent, sorta like Tina Turner.

The cast is uniformly good. Standouts include Giovanni Ribisi as the twitchy project manager, Sigourney Weaver as the chief blue people liason scientist lady, Michelle Rodriguez as a badass gyrocopter pilot, and best of all, Stephen Lang as the U.S. Army colonel. Stephen Lang is a hugely underrated actor. He was Ike Clanton in “Tombstone,” and here, he is heartless and evil, and seems to take great glee in killing the blue people.

Regardless of the message, “Avatar” is a beautiful film. Literally beautiful. James Cameron’s message may be a bit ham-handed, but I can forgive him his soapbox as long as he makes a film this amazing.

Semper fi. Hug a tree. Whatever. Avatar is stellar.

Grade: A

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4 Responses to “Avatar (2009)”

  1. Aside from the utter unoriginality of the script (depending on your age it’s either “Dances With Wolves In Space” or “Ferngully In Space”, plus a complete ripoff of Poul Anderson’s “Call Me Joe”), there were so many implausible things — we gotta go to another planet instead of using all the space travel tech/money and hybrid DNA money (really scientifically implausible)?

    AND they’d have us believe Stephen Lang would go along with all this cultural nonsense instead of simply going all scorched earth, Agent Orange, and smallpox blankets on ’em, with firestorms and neutron bombs? No way. Nuke ’em from orbit, I say.

    But that would have been a very short movie.

    Lang is playing the same kinda guy on the teevee nowadays, except he doesn’t kill anyone who doesn’t need it (and even a lot who do need it), plus hugging trees and dinos. Still badass.

  2. I totally agree with you, Tom. I loved the visuals, I loved the naturey spirity blue people, but I thought “Fuck you” to James Cameron for his blatant Amerika Is Evil message.

    There are evil people everywhere. I’ll bet there is an evil Na-vi.

    But I still loved the movie, the moon Pandora, the people the flora and all the awesome fauna. 🙂

  3. I thought Avatar was gorgeously filmed, but unlike you, I couldn’t get past the ham-fisted “message”. Good lord — a little bit of grey in some of the characters’ motivations would have done WORLDS for this movie.

    Glad I watched it once, but I don’t really need to see it again.

    • I haven’t been able to watch it more than the one time, either, Steve. I kept thinking “Gee, what a great opinion James Cameron has of human kind.”
      Sigh.

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