Sunday, January 17, 2010

Movie Avatar

Avatar is the latest in a series of 3D, CGI movies to hit the big screen. Critics have panned the movie mainly due to it's overdone plot of evil, technologically-advanced people over-running poor indigenous peoples. Nevertheless, audiences are returning in droves to see Avatar again and again.

In Avatar, humans have come to the planet, Pandora, for it's mineral wealth. Trouble is, Pandora, a beautiful, lush planet in pristine condition is inhabited by the humanoid Na'vi race.

Parapalegic Marine Jake Sully takes his brother's place on a mission to infiltrate the Na'vi tribe. Humans have discovered the mother-lode of unobtainium is located under the Home Tree that a large Nav-i tribe lives in. His mission is to learn more about Home Tree and to try to convince them to move so that humans can mine the mineral. Since the Na'vi world is toxic to humans, they have developed a means of living on the planet through the use of Avatars - Na'vi bodies that can be inhabited by a human mind.

To accomplish his task, Jake inhabits and controls a man made Avatar body with his mind. His blue, tall Na'vi body has both human and Na'vi DNA. Gradually, Jake begins to bond with the Na'vi tribe and falls in love with Neytiri, a young Na'vi female who helps Jake integrate into her tribe and live in the beautiful, but poisonous world of Pandora.

However, Colonel Miles Quaritch, who controls the military operation on Pandora, eventually decides to use force and destroy the tree since Jake's mission appears to be failing. But the Na'vi don't intend to go quietly and with Jake Sully and Neytiri, they begin to resist the humans. The central question then remains: can the Na'vi throw off their human occupiers and rid their planet of these people who have come to rape and destroy it?

The film is both visually thrilling and appealing. The special effects are beyond this world and watching the movie in 3D only enhances the experience, although the 3D glasses gave me a headache. Despite the fact that the plot has been done a million times before, Avatar has exciting action scenes and several climatic battles.

Avatar is heavy on pantheism, which isn't surprising given the current environmental global culture. But one can't help but experience and identify with the terror and disbelief that Na'vi feel when their world is attacked. Especially terrible is the destruction of the tree of life, which is central to the Na'vi's existence.

Home Tree
What is happening on Pandora is also a parallel for what happened when the European explorers came to America to colonize the continent in the 18th and 19th centuries. The first Europeans came in search of a route to Cathay and then, in the case of the Spanish, to find gold. It was a clash between a primitive culture and a more technologically advanced one. It was also a clash between Christian nations and peoples who were essentially pagans. However, unlike say, the Aztecs who practiced human sacrifice, the Na'vi are relatively peaceful and appear to have no such beliefs. Uber warrior, Colonel Miles Quaritch represents all those dull-minded European brutes who are intent upon subjugating a people they don't understand.

Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington are well cast and Steven Lang, an actor of considerable talent,  is brilliant as the homicidal crazy warrior who just has to complete his mission and subjugate the primitive people of this planet.

See Avatar for the visuals, the action and the gorgeous special effects. You can check out the movie's website here, Official Avatar Movie

No comments: