My thoughts on Avatar

18 Jun

I know I am a few years late, but I finally sat down and watched Avatar today.  My wife and son both enjoyed the movie when they saw it and convinced me I should give it a shot.  My older brother described it as a movie, “With enough of a romantic subplot for it to qualify as a woman’s movie and action for men to enjoy it.  Enough tree hugging to make democrats happy and enough of a fight to make republicans happy.” This interested me.  Having seen the movie, I must confess this seemed a good enough description for it.  As much as I liked it, though, it seemed very derivative to me. 

I didn’t watch it all this time because it seemed like everyone was watching it just because everyone was watching it.  Or they lauded it for being “big” or “cinematic.”  It was too artsy sounding to me.  But years of pressure finally wore me down today and I watched it.  It was a decent movie.  I love a good science fiction movie and it was decent.  But that’s it.  I still think people bragged about it because it was the reaction you were supposed to have. 

I enjoyed the characters and I enjoyed the science fiction aspects.  The alien animal species were fun.  I did notice that the horse animal sounded like a raptor from Jurassic Park.  I enjoyed the Bones squint who was a nerdy scientist in the show.  Many of the vehicles looked like things you would imagine in the future.  As a social studies guy, I liked that various religions influenced the alien species.  Even the title Avatar connects the movie with classical Hinduism and the different avatars of the god Vishnu. 

The movie looked pretty, true, but seemed overly CG.  I am tired of seeing western cultures portrayed as the bad guys in movies.  My biggest problem though was just how formulaic the movie was.  If you have seen any movie in which the “civilized world” comes into contact with the “native world,” you know the themes the movie has to hit on.  My favorite movie like this is The Last Samurai.  The two movies were very thematically similar.  The hero of the movies is hired to deal with a situation with a group fighting against “progress.”  In the midst of trying to do this, our hero finds himself brought into the native tribe and finds love.  The beauty of the native culture eventually wins him over and he fights the group he arrived with.  In a way, I even appreciate The Last Samurai’s conclusion even more.  The heroic side loses because more often than not in the real world, this is what happens. 

Once again, I know I am late, but I will say Avatar is a good movie.  It’s predictable but the acting is mostly good.  The star of the movie is one of my favorite new action stars.  It’s a fun look at different cultures I suppose.  After watching the movie, I checked it out on IMDB and see a potential sequel is planned, if not two.  I must confess I don’t see the need for it.  If you haven’t seen it, I recommend you give it a shot.  If you have seen it, I would love to see what you think.

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