Thoughts on Avatar

By Deane Barker tags: entertainment

So, I saw Avatar the other night. I was finally prompted to go because it’s coming out on DVD in about a month, so I figured this was my last chance to catch it in the theater. Alec came with me, though he had already seen it. I was mildly disappointed that I couldn’t see it in 3D – that version had already left the theater.

I enjoyed it, though it wasn’t as Earth-shattering as many made it seem. The plot was about as clichéd as they come – there wasn’t one bit of original plotting in the entire film. As my friend Joe pointed out, about 30 minutes in, you knew exactly how the rest of the film was going to go.

Plot criticisms aside, however, the CGI was astonishingly good, the action was thrilling, and the little details of the film were extremely creative. I loved Steven Lang as the fantastically evil Colonel Quaritch – I hope I can look that good at 57-years-old.

There have been criticisms of Avatar on both political and religious grounds. I was interested in seeing if any of them hold water, but I come away convinced that the film is just not that big of a deal.

Many have said it’s anti-business or anti-capitalist. I don’t see it. it’s anti-evil business, but so am I. Aren’t we all? The company portrayed in the movie is irredeemably horrible, and I believe that there are real-life companies that have done things on a similar scale. In particular, the actions of the some of the oil and chemical companies in Africa have been pretty evil. But this doesn’t indict all companies. I own a company, and I’m confident in saying we’re not evil. Furthermore, I believe that 99% of the companies on Earth are run by good people with the best of intentions. But I also believe there are some pretty greedy people out there that will do anything for a buck. Those folks are the ones stereo-typed by Avatar, and rightfully so.

Did the film portray primitivism as more appealing that the technology-dominated society we live in now? Yeah, it probably did. But that’s a fantasy. I’m sure some people watching the movie were suddenly disgusted by their decadent lifestyle and were smitten with the idea that they could live in the wild, in harmony with nature. I’m also sure these same people checked their Blackberry for messages as soon as they left the theater, and went home to their 55-inch plasma TVs. If Avatar drives you to give up everything to live in the wild, fantastic – more power to you, I guess.

The religious community (Christian fundamentalists, mainly) has complained about the portrayal of the the spiritualism practiced by the native people of Pandora. Again, I just don’t see this as a valid issue. I’m a Christian myself, but I realize that other religions exist, and have been portrayed in film since the medium was born. This was just another portrayal of another type of religion. I don’t think anyone is more likely to go worship a tree after seeing Avatar, so how is this any different from portraying any other religion on film?

So, there you have it. I enjoyed the film, but it was nothing but a grand cinematic fantasy. I really don’t feel it had any larger point or message worth debating. It was a sci-fi action movie, nothing more.

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