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Friday, September 19, 2014

Movie Review:Avatar

Premise:In the future, scientists and soldiers explore a dangerous but beautiful planet populated by Native American-like aliens.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully, Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch, Joel David Moore as Dr. Norm Spellman, Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine, Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacón, Giovanni Ribisi as Parker Selfridge, Wes Studi as Eytukan, C.C.H. as Mo'at

James Cameron

MPAA Rating:
PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language, and some smoking

Action/adventure, sci-fi/fantasy

Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Gorgeous visuals.

The characters. It's not at all subtle. The one-dimensional villains. The plot.

Imagine being sent on a mission to replace your dead twin brother. Imagine that for the first time in years, you could use your legs. Imagine being on a gorgeous planet where everything tries to kill you.

One thing that was highly praised are the visuals. And they live up to the hype. The aliens, the animals, the jungle, it's all stunning. Unfortunately, as great as they are, they don't make up for the film's flaws.

One of my biggest problems with the movie is its protagonist, Jake Sully. He has no training he'll need to survive this place, ignores warnings, and wanders off, getting himself lost on a planet full of hostile wildlife. And he still someone manages to charm the natives when he should have gotten killed halfway through. If the protagonist had to be human, I would have rather heard it from one of the scientists' point of view (which his brother was and who for some reason got killed off).

If you want me to be sad when a character dies, you have to make me care for them first. Honestly, I felt sadder when the trees were destroyed than when a few of the characters died. I kind of felt something, but they were so grating that it took more than I had. There was almost no development or depth to them.

Another issue is the lack of subtlety. It beats you over the head with its environmental message. Plus it takes you 10 seconds to figure out who's going to be the bad guy, who are the stereotypical greedy villains who care more about profits than the environment and call the natives savages. And really, couldn't they have thought of a better name for the rare alloy than unobtanium?

Now for the plot problems. Apparently, you can get paralysis fixed at this point in the future, but only if you have the money. Oh yay, extra angst points. Quaritch gets a scar after one day on Pandora that would have gone inside the breathing unit, begging the question of how he lasted. And according to him, he served three times without getting a scratch. Really, you can do that?

Overall, it looks nice, but doesn't have enough substance to carry it for long (and it is quite long).

Sex:The Na'vi resemble large, nude human beings. They wear loincloths, but not much else. I have to ask why such coverings are necessary if they mate by connecting ponytails. A few female humans show cleavage, and a couple of men wear tank tops. A woman wears just vines in one scene. Jake and Neytiri kiss (onscreen) and mate for life during the night (offscreen). Neither of their respective groups is happy about it.

According to Colonel Quaritch, everything on the planet wants to kill you and eat your eyes, and the Na'vi are hard to kill. The wildlife in Pandora isn't exactly friendly. Jake is chased and almost killed by several species. In fact, he's told this is how he'll know which of a particular animal is the right mount. His first flight with this animal almost gets him and his new friend killed.
Quaritch has claw marks on his face from his first day on Pandora. Neytiri prepares to shoot Jake, but is stopped. She does whack Jake in the face with her bow. Humans punch each other. An angry warrior fights Jake. A man is impaled on a piece of wood. Someone is pistol-whipped. People are shot with bullets and arrows. A man's shoulder burns. An animal is stabbed, with its rider trapped underneath it.
A tree is burnt up and blown up. A place is bulldozed. People are crushed under a falling tree. Forests are set ablaze. The end battle destroys and kills plenty. Soldiers on both sides are blown up, trampled, crushed, and thrown from up high. Choppers and animals are downed.

Some smoking. A woman complains she needs a cigarette. Characters drink a few times. The Na'vi reportedly tip their arrows with neurotoxin. A villain dismissively wonders what the team has been smoking to make them so defensive of the trees. Another says he'll buy the first round tonight.

"G*dd**n", "sh*t", "h*ll", "p*ss", and "b**ch" are used several times. "G*d", "J*sus", "Ch**st", "bas**rd", and "d**k" are said once or twice each.The natives are called "savages", "fly-bitten", and "blue monkeys".

The Na'vi worship a goddess they call Eywa. References to their religion are made throughout, and there are several hints that Eywa is real. Small, dandelion fuzz-like creatures serve as signs from her. Twice, a healing ritual sort is performed. Neytiri calls a place somewhere for prayers to be heard and sometimes answered. Jake says a prayer of his own to Ewya. According to Neytiri, Ewya preserves the balance rather than taking sides. Certain trees can be used to listen to the voices of ancestors.
Colonel Quaritch remarks if there's a Hell, those in Pandora should go there for R and R. A location is called the Hallelujah Mountains.

So what did you think of it?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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