March 11, 2010

Thoughts on Avatar

Laura and I finally saw Avatar last night (for free I might add). Some thoughts:

-Going in I had low expectations of character depth and development, of typical blockbuster plot sturdiness, and of thematic subtly. I had medium expectations for the visuals. It exceeded all of these admittedly low expectations.

-I found it interesting that it lumped together science, spirituality, and environmentalism (as the good guys) against the military industrial complex (the bad guys). Even though there were many details I wouldn’t align myself with, I was surprised that I found myself in agreement with this worldview as a broad stroke. It seems like everywhere you look current culture seeks to drive a wedge between science/environmentalism and religion. I liked the thematic connection between seeing: observation in science, being aware of the natural world around you, and the greeting “I see you” as a connection between two beings.

-We found it interesting that everybody came away with the environmental theme plastered to their psyches (which was definitely there) but no one really mentioned the human rights issues the film brought up. Maybe it is because we recently saw District 9 which used aliens as a metaphor for the human rights issues in South Africa. We have been deeming other ethnic groups inferior as a justification to exploit them since the Fall.

-Even if some of the characters were 1 dimensional, the film did a good job at giving all the characters proper motivation. Likewise even if the plot was simplistic, there were no glaring plot holes or outrageous suspensions of disbelief.

-I realized the benefit to having a film focused on visuals is that it took time just to enjoy itself and didn’t feel like it had to rush through scenes for the sake of moving along the plot. It has been compared to Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas, and while in the exact same story vein I personally thought it was a much better film than either of those (though I didn’t like either one to begin with).

-Not the best movie I saw in the last year but not the worst either. Best moment: when they made it to the top of the big tree and Jake looked over the edge to what I would estimate to be a 500’ drop - it made my day.

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