There have already been many reviews written about this movie. So far, the critical consensus has been positive it manages an 82 on Rotten Tomatoes and an 83 on metacritic. That’s not too shabby for a big blockbuster that managed to rip off Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully, and just about every other “evil white man” movie out there. Oops, sorry. Did my last sentence give away my opinion of the movie? The title of this review sums up my thoughts about it. It is one of the most visually stunning movies I have ever seen with one of the most rehashed and cliched stories I have ever seen.
What worked- As already stated, the visuals in this movie are simply stunning. Pandora as a world is believable and it is easy to get lost in the scenery. Cameron did a great job of creating a believable ecosystem and populating it with lifelike creatures.
What didn’t work- Where to start…
1. The story is completely unoriginal, only the setting has been changed to protect Cameron from being sued for copyright infringement by the makers of Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves.
2. It’s anti-military. While the soldiers in the story are said to mercenaries hired on by a company, it’s made clear that most of them are ex-military and the movie takes pains to show their glee as they gun down the Na’vi. In this movie it is the military that are savages and they are portrayed as mindless killing machines.
3. It’s a half billion dollar PSA for environmentalists. I will be the first to tell you that we need to take care of our environment, but this movies puts forth a ludicrous ideal that somehow things were better when people had to live in fear of being eaten by wild animals and that living in the forest is somehow a superior lifestyle to what we are blessed to live with now.
4. Its pantheism is disturbing. The worship of nature always disturbs me. When creation leaves out Creator and begins worshiping creation terrible things happen. We seem to forget that many native cultures of yesteryear engaged in horrible practices such as child sacrifice, ritual murder, and cannibalism. Yup, that’s the ideal world that we should apparently be striving to get back to. No thanks, I’ll keep my blog and my X-Box and not having to worry about if my neighbor is going to bludgeon me in the night so that the rain god can make his crops grow. The movie expects me to view the pantheistic ceremonies as something beautiful and reverent. I have a hard time doing that when Hollywood continually portrays my faith as being populated by a bunch of bigoted, apocalyptic rednecks.
5. I’m tired of people feeling the need to apologize for evils done in generations past. This is pure selfish condescension on the part of the one doing the apologizing. Why? Because they do it to make themselves feel better. Eventually we have to get to a point where we stop blaming the past for all our present circumstances. We live in a country where someone can make something of themselves if they really want to. It’s time for people to step up and take responsibility for their own lives instead of blaming their present circumstances on something that happened hundreds of years ago.
Avatar is a stunning visual achievement that ends up being a mediocre film thanks to the tired story and ridiculous attempts to once again assuage the evil white man’s guilt by falsely glorifying a mythical culture that exists only in the mind of those Hollywood elites who have not taken the time to read history.