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Avatar: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
George Dvorsky   Dec 24, 2009   Sentient Developments  

Great science fiction films are few and far between, so it was with great anticipation that I went to see Avatar on opening night…

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I had been looking forward to this film since 2006 when James Cameron began working on the script. My expectations were significantly heightened after learning that Cameron, the director of Aliens, the first two Terminator movies, and Titanic, was drawing inspiration from Japan—namely through such directors as Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell) and Hayao Miyazaki (Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away).

I was particularly interested to see if Cameron could pull off the Miyazaki. As fans of his films know, there’s nothing quite like a Miyazaki picture; they are as delightful, provocative and as imaginative as they come. Not since the early days of Disney have animated films been so good. Miyazaki weaves a magical touch that has eluded Hollywood since their Golden Age (think Pinocchio and Snow White).

After watching Avatar, I can honestly say that Cameron gave it a good shot. The Pandoran jungle was as atmospheric and alive as anything that Miyazaki has ever produced. The 3D element added an immersive and visceral component that was particularly powerful; there were times when I truly felt lost in the jungle alongside Jake and Neytiri. The bioluminescent forest was truly jaw dropping.

Further, the tastefulness and care with which Cameron added the CG elements is unparalleled (with a tip of the hat to Lord of the Rings). This is the kind of film that George Lucas could watch but not have the slightest clue as to why Cameron’s CG works and his does not. Cameron, unlike Lucas, has learned to weave the fabric of all on-screen elements into context such that nothing is superfluous and everything adds to the entire composition and story. Where Lucas works to bash viewers over the head with a ‘look what I can do!’ approach to movie making, Cameron has taken a more thoughtful and artistic course.


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Take, for example, the floating seeds that land on Jake when he first meets Neytiri. I was genuinely moved by the delicacy and beauty of each tiny seedling as it floated through the air. Moreover, my feelings were heightened after learning about the sacred status of the seeds and the implication to the story. This is exactly the kind of aesthetic moment I imagined when I thought about the potential for CGI back when it was first introduced so many years ago.

Spoilers follow.

In addition to the visual elements borrowed from Japan, Cameron also dipped heavily into one of Miyazaki’s most famous films, Princess Mononoke. Indeed, one could say that he borrowed perhaps a bit too greedily. Rarely does imitation of this sort lead to anything deeper or superior than what was provided by the original.


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Specifically, both films feature a majestic and beautiful forest teeming with a life that’s intimately interconnected with itself and an ethereal spiritual realm. And both feature a nature that is under threat. The balance of the natural worlds are in jeopardy from greedy miners who are consuming its resources at an alarming rate. The miners are in turn threatened by an outsider who, after learning the ways of the forest, has come to protect and preserve it at all costs. Ultimately, the creatures of the natural world are forced to band together and deal directly with the parasitic elements. Even the character of Neytiri is a close parallel to San; both are deeply connected to the natural world, borderline feral and ride on the backs of wolves.

Interestingly, Princess Mononoke was Japan’s top grossing movie until Cameron’s Titanic usurped it from that position in 1999. This certainly looks like a case where if you can beat them, you should still join them.

Princess Mononoke wasn’t the only story co-opted by Cameron; aside from the Miyazaki touches (both graphically and narratively), Avatar closely resembles another classic story, Frank Herbert’s Dune. In fact, Avatar is essentially Dune—Cameron simply replaced the desert planet with a jungle and removed all the depth, complexity and profundity that made Dune the classic science fiction story that it is.

Again, the comparisons: A young man arrives on a strange and inhospitable planet occupied by hostile natives—natives who are perfectly adapted to the planet and live in harmony with it. The young man’s civilization is there to exploit the planet for a precious resource and at the expense of the planet’s ecological balance. Our hero, awkward at first, learns the ways of the locals and eventually ‘goes native.’ He finds a girlfriend among his new clan and is accepted and revered by the natives on account of signs that point to his unique purpose and status. The hero-messiah then starts to exceed the abilities of his new comrades—there’s even a test of manhood involving the taming and riding of a dangerous animal. In the end, the hero leads a charge against the outsiders by banding together natural resources and the local population. They eventually win and drive the outsiders out.


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Now, while this certainly describes the general plot of both stories, Herbert’s universe is filled with intelligent and provocative commentary that touches upon such themes as ecology, evolution, commerce, politics, religion, technological advancement and even social Darwinism. The best that can be said of Cameron’s adaptation is that he got the environmental message across. But where Herbert’s discourse on the environment was treated with subtly and complexity (including the issue of terraforming), Cameron chose to bang his audience over the head with a blatantly overt, simplistic and ridiculously biased sledge hammer.

In Avatar, Cameron rekindled the tired and cliched “noble savage” myth and set it in space. It was an effort that seemingly attempted to romanticize Stone Age culture and promote a Gaianist agenda. The film was anti-technology, anti-corporatist, anti-progress, and dare I say anti-human.

Gaianism in space? Really, Cameron? That was the best story you could come up with on a $237,000,000 budget?

Okay, some credit where credit is due. Given that the story is, whether I liked it or not, a Gaianist treatise, I did appreciate how Cameron achieved the sense of interconnectedness between the characters and Pandora. The ability of the Na’vi to link with other animals in a symbiotic fusion was very cool, as was the ability to upload conscious thought through the very fabric of the planet (a nice interplay on the high-tech/lo-tech theme knowing that the humans were also dabbling in mind transfer). I also liked how the humans could not breath the air of the planet, a strong hint that they truly had no business being on Pandora. The natives, on the other hand, were at complete peace with their environment.

So, overall some very mixed feelings about Avatar. The graphical and aesthetic achievements were certainly impressive, and for that it’s a must-see film. And for those with a pronounced environmentalist bent, you will likely swoon over this movie. But if you’re looking for a story with depth, complex characters and some challenging commentary, you’re going to have to look elsewhere. And in this sense, the movie is a significant let down. One that I’ll gladly watch over and over again.

George P. Dvorsky serves as Chair of the IEET Board of Directors and also heads our Rights of Non-Human Persons program. He is a Canadian futurist, science writer, and bioethicist. He is a contributing editor at io9 — where he writes about science, culture, and futurism — and producer of the Sentient Developments blog and podcast. He served for two terms at Humanity+ (formerly the World Transhumanist Association). George produces Sentient Developments blog and podcast.



COMMENTS

One of the best commentaries I’ve seen on Avatar! I was blown away by the visual feast but I thought the plot could have been developed better.  As George says, for almost $250mill, it shouldn’t have been so Unobtainium .. wink

Inspired to check out Princess Mononoke now.

I highly recommend you do some study into african shamanism and experience the mysteries of the shamanic world.  although, this film may appear one dimensional to most people, it’s depth and knowledge about the shamanic universe has never been engaged before in a film. 

avatar moves way beyond discussions of race, culture, interconnectedness, etc.  it moves into what the body is capable of remembering and experiencing, which, is not something recognizable in the film unless one has dipped into their own body’s wisdom.

I hadn’t reallly considered Avatar’s similarities to Dune, a story I’m very familiar with.  However, it must be pointed out that film treatments of Dune have not faired all that well at the box office, most likely due to difficulties in adapting the complexities of the story as mentioned in Mr. Dvorskys article.  I believe Cameron has a pretty good handle on just how much information audiences can absorb in a film like Avatar-thus his more simplistic approach regarding plotline.  Dune had many other societies and planets involved in the story (Bene Gesserit, Spice Guild, Emperor, House Harkonnen, House Atreides, Fremen…etc.), while Avatar has only humans, the Na’vi, and the discovery of the interrelationship between the natives and the planetary environment.  Cameron’s plot is not perfect by any means, but I think few doubt that he got his message across as intended.

“Cameron chose to bang his audience over the head with a blatantly overt, simplistic and ridiculously biased sledge hammer”

“The film was anti-technology, anti-corporatist, anti-progress, and dare I say anti-human.”

That is the best description I have heard yet.  If Avatar just had a bad plot, the awesome special effects would have made up for it (barely), but there’s more.  Be VERY warned, this is not your typical movie with a political slant.  It is extremely in-your-face and anti-human.  I wish I had known this before-hand.  I won’t be seeing any sequels.

Boo to this ‘Review’. You really didnt get Avatar at all if you really criticized it like this. You act like complete uniqueness in hollywood can be done, because it can’t. Everything has been done in a basic sense but what other combining elements add into it to make it its own “Unique” story is what ultimately makes it good or bad. I dare you to try and create this story as Cameron did, cuz you really can’t. To say that this story has no depth is utter bullux… please hand in your resignation sir cuz you obviously dont have what it takes to take in all elements of movies and review them accordingly.

I think the author of this article spent too much time looking for a literal comparison and missed some of the more significant points of the movie.

Like, what about the character of Jake Sulley, a paraplegic who is reborn in his Pandoran “dreamwalker?”  What about his internal conflicts with parallel realities?  In this sense, one could argue this film has as many parallels to “The Matrix” as it does Princess Mononoke. 

And while the plot of “Dune” and “Avatar” might be similar, the criticism that Avatar fails to pick up the social subtleties is utter garbage.  You’re comparing a book to a movie.  And even if we look at some Dune motion pictures, the feature film certainly wasn’t as nuanced as you indicate, and the Dune mini-series isn’t something I’d compare to a film.  It’s a different sort of beast altogether.

I would’ve hoped for a broader analysis of the film, that focuses on what’s new and different, instead of what’s the same.

“Gaianist”? What sort of mystical mumbo-jumbo is that? It’s not Lovelock, because he was writing about Earth.

The scientist Grace in “Avatar” notes that there is an electrochemical relationship between trees on the moon Pandora—related to the electrochemical relationships the Na’vi have with direhorses and banshees via the neural membranes at the ends of what look like hair braids.

That’s why Sully and Neytiri jacked into the trees to make wishes. That’s why everyone (including Sully) prayed to Eywa (Pandora) at the Tree of Souls.

There’s nothing remotely like this extracorporeal peptide-reaching in Lovelock.

“Avatar” could just as easily be considered a movie about religion. You seem to have missed the pieta-moment near the end of the movie, where Sully (in human form) is draped across the knees of his wife. Don’t forget Sully’s comments about his “birthday.”

This could be a metaphor for the story of a lapsed Methodist from Milwaukee who travels to Taiwan and encounters the rich traditions of Daoism.

Researchers have noted that the “noble savage” idea works best when the victor believes the “savage” will be vanquished and driven out of existence.

The Maori defeated the white settlers although primarily armed with weapons every bit as “primitive” as those of the Na’vi (read “The New Zealand Wars”). However, the settlers owned the printing presses, so they could spin the story however they liked.

Comanches never were “noble savages” because anyone (any race, gender or religion) could “go native” simply by promising to obey Comanche laws.

Seems to be that something similar works on Pandora.

You just give it in the nail, Miyazaki all over.

Now I would to expand that perseptions a little bit further, including other 2 movie from Miyazaky as important for the Story as Mononoke. 

First and I thing this one will battle with your analysis of Dune, is base in big percentage to Miyazaki’s first film, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind. The concepts of the Forrest, the toxic environment, the resurrecting energies of the Forrest, the balance between society and nature are fully exploited in Nausicaa. Also, the importances to Fly and the Legend of this Mythical Man in flying a mighty being, sounds alike Nausicaa Legend. The tentacles of the tree at the time of exchanging bodies, is like the ending scene of Nausicaa with the Ohmus.

Adding to this, I think you should include Laputa: Castle in the Sky. All the plot surrounding the Flying Mountains are base in this Miyazaki’s Film. The Vortexs, the inability to use compasses and flying technology in the are, the look of the Mountains is base of Laputa.

Something else that I found extremely well placed was the Native American Cultures and the African Spirituality together. Women we more African, Men more Native American. The Pilote is Latin, the main Character is Disable, the Scientist/Educator ( Gorillas in the Mist style) are putting together to fight a common enemy, the visceral destruction of the natureal and the spiritual by the money and the Guns.

That a theme really recurrent at Cameron’s film. Aliens, Terminator, Abyss and Avatar there is a constant conflict between Science and the Military, the prepotence of the Military and the scientist saving the Day. But in Avatar, as difference with the other ones, he is predicting the future of the Military, and force of repression and execution in defense of the Private Corporation. The Privatization of the Military Forces.

10 Kudos for James Cameron.

Yago

This review effectively sums up my opinion of Avatar, in much better words than I can put it into.

I was drawing exactly the same comparisons between Avatar and Mononoke before I had even gotten out of the theatre. The more reviews I read, the higher the number of previous works using the same concept grows. You can add Fern Gully and Dances with Wolves to previous examples of the “noble savage” concept.

I do agree that Avatar is a feat of visual effects and is probably the best executed film using the 3D technology. Its just hard to follow on with the people lauding it as a Coup d’état by Cameron over the film industry.

Just like Titanic, the visuals are stunning, but at 3 hours, the plot of Avatar (and Titanic) turns the film into a test of endurance…

Just wanted to say the flashback scene in Princess Mononoke when humans armed with firearms drive out the boar god Nago visually resembles the Avatar battle where Neytiri sees a stallion (whatever the alien horses are called) fleeing the marines with its back on fire.

The seeds from the holy tree also reminded me of the kodama forest spirits in princess mononoke.

As for your review, I would agree that the story appears to be simplistic with heavy-handed moralizing that fails to examine the subtleties of this conflict between nature and technology. However, I think that is perhaps more an indictment of the general audience than the director. James Cameron knew that without a built-in captive audience like, say, Star Wars, he had to cast the widest possible net to ensure the success of his astronomically expensive film. This meant stripping down the plot, the themes, the characters, and killing all the nuances that he was more than capable of exploring but simply decided against due to concerns about the film’s accessibility. Remember the new Star Wars? How convoluted the plot was? How too much was happening, and you can’t remember what they were actually about? James Cameron knew he would have to drastically streamline his story to not have to split it into an HBO miniseries.

When I think of my viewing experience, the first thought that comes to mind is that the true star is not Jake Sully or Neytiri; it’s the world of Pandora. And James Cameron devotes as much time as reasonably possible to exploring this mesmerizing land. Too much plot would simply have detracted from the experience. And “too much plot” perfectly exemplifies the Dune series with which you made the comparison to show the paucity of Avatar’s depth. There’s a reason no decent film treatment of Dune has ever been made, and it’s not because of its simple plot (I think a reviewer before me also pointed out the problems with adapting a complex story like Dune to the big screen).

The general audience doesn’t want to be confused or given morally ambiguous messages and characters. Even The Dark Knight, which pretended to such moral ambiguity, has a clear hero: Batman. He’s a classic example of the dark, conflicted anti-hero, but because this archetype has been so overdone that it’s turned into the new McPackaged Hollywood hero, there is no doubt in the audience that for all his supposed faults, he’ll always be our dark knight in not so shining armor. The audience is given the illusion of conflict and angst and twists when in fact, if you think about it, the plot in TDK didn’t make an ounce of sense. Not so much plot holes as plot chasms, but still we loved it. It was a terrifically entertaining film, and that’s what counts when you are making a movie that cost $300 million and 15 years of your life to make. This is why the Avatar you see in theaters is the film James Cameron had to make. Maybe, now that the world has apparently embraced Pandora, he can make some heavier stuff to please the more cerebral viewers with his next entry.

PS I do think some of the dialogue needed re-working. This is where I feel James Cameron should have had another experienced screenwriter give his script the once-over. His ego probably got in the way and prevented anyone from making the necessary revisions.

PPS
Here’s a hilariously incisive review/crucifixion of The Phantom Menace. Be forewarned, it’s very long, but worth the time imo.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FxKtZmQgxrI

Followed another blogger here to read this review—and I thank you for the dead-on description of the elements that made this film work!!!

I took a Maya 3D studio class last summer, and can appreciate not only the effort it took to produce what Cameron produced…but also how he managed NOT to get so immersed in the technical creation as to forget the importance of storytelling. The tree seeds were particularly moving to me…and my bf (a marine biologist) had great fun pointing out all the oceanic details to me…like the over sized Christmas Tree Worm’s (which really do close when you touch them, like it did with Jake…https://www.edulink.networcs.net/sites/teachlearn/science/Image Library/Christmas Tree Worm.jpg)

However, in regards to the film being “anti-technology, anti-corporatist, anti-progress, and dare I say anti-human”...well, I think I came away with a different view. Not to say that I didn’t have my moments when I was like “Whoa Cameron, did you really really need to spend that much to bring us something as patronizing as FernGully in CGI?!?” But….there was something to be said about the relationships between the scientists and the mining boss.

As an environmental scientist (with Copenhagen fresh on my mind), the struggle Sigorney’s character had to keep science as part of the decision making process was very true to the struggle(s) I’m faced with everyday. Politicians and businessmen constantly want to find the compromise between economic interests and environmental protection….EVEN IF no such compromise exists.

I go into this a bit more (specifically in regards to CO2 target lvl’s) here @ “Avatar and Copenhagen”: http://ariellesimmons.blogspot.com/2009/12/avatar-and-copanhagen.html .

Also, I find it hard to watch this, about shaman Davi Yanomami of a S. American indian tribe and not think about Neytri’s mother. Even with her limited screen time, I thought the characterization of the shaman was uncannily dead on in this film…

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/video/2009/jun/13/davi-yanomami-climate-change-dangerous

IMO the plot said a lot about the USA vs countries with oil. Actually not just the USA but any ‘civilized’ country. Sure it was a comment on the environment but I found more so it to be a comment on how we will stop at nothing to get what we want.

The film was anti-human?  That wasn’t a message I came away with.

This wasn’t explicit in the film, but when I saw the humans who like the pilot girl who refused to fire on the home of the Omatikaya, like Grace who cared about them, I was reminded of humans throughout history who have fought for the “other”.  When blacks weren’t really human and were treated like slaves but there were whites who helped them escape.  Like the Jews who weren’t really seen as human and people hid them and helped them escape.

The Na’vi may not be of our own species, but in that fictional world they shared the human condition.  And in our own real world we have no problem referring to actions committed by serial killers, etc as inhuman.

So when you say its anti-human, its because it makes our species look bad.  But we don’t have to go to fiction to make our species look bad.

I think the movie was pro-human.  We saw people at their worst and at their best, and the Na’vi to me were about as human as any of the other characters.  They had families, relationships, emotions, suffering, and joy.

My own review, with some interesting links related to Avatar and transhumanism:

http://giulioprisco.blogspot.com/2009/12/3d-and-transhumanism-in-james-camerons.html

Heh, I noticed the parallels with “Mononoke-hime” myself, but of course that piece was a 10/10 (not least of all because I saw it _before_ the older film “Kaze no Tani no Naushika”), while “Avatar” got only a 9/10 from me.

After two viewings so far, my impressions are quite different from these negative reviews. The strengths of Avatar go well beyond the evocative visuals into varied layers of meaning beneath a seemingly straightforward plot.

With their brain interfacing, and capacity to transcribe neural patterns from one body to another, the Na’vi way of life appears rather post-technological than primitive, as if the People had stayed behind from the move-out of a prior civilization that endowed Pandora with a self-sustaining maintenance system. So, my own take on Avatar resembles Ron Blechner’s
http://secondtense.blogspot.com/2009/12/james-camerons-avatar-is-about.html
in that Cameron seems to be pitting two kinds of possible high-tech futures against each other. On the one side, existence as an alienated worker (soldier) bee achieving smarter smartphones and fancier head-up displays but so little in the way of personal growth and transformation. On the other side a biocentric-transhuman path to greater autonomy as well as awareness of the Other.

The lead character’s quest through this conflict hardly strikes me as “anti-progress”. Jake Sully makes use of a wide range of technologies to eventually remake and refine his humanity in leaving behind his old broken shell. The neurology he assumes of his own considered volition - an underused concept in a fantasy/SF movie world otherwise crowded with protagonists who incurred some involuntary mutation - facilitates enhanced perception and empathy. What of the movie might be seen as Luddite-flavored is utterly turned on its head by that.

Avatar rebukes human-essentialism. As Charlie Jane Anders wrote on io9:
“Cameron deliberately avoids any of the usual cop-outs you’d see with this kind of story. The natives know from the first time they lay eyes on Jake that he’s a “dream walker” (their word for alien meat-puppets operated by sleeping humans. And they call humans the “sky people.”) When they come to accept Jake as one of them, it’s with the knowledge that he’s actually a tiny pink-skin in a tank somewhere. And the movie’s arc isn’t the standard one, of Jake realizing that he’s “really” a human and should stop trying to pretend to be one of the aliens. Rather, becoming a genetically engineered, and hence synthetic, creature allows Jake to discover who he really is.”

I like how the Na’vi rational animism compares to familiar human delusions. Grace Augustine’s claims about a planetary neural network are demonstrably correct in the narrative; Cameron makes a point of that by letting her cut through to the fact soon enough before she gets corroboration from subjective experience in the end. It’s not Gaianist hooey if it’s true.

And Eywa shines her light on the failure of theodicy. Christian apologists often say God won’t stop evil from happening so as to keep our will “free” (however defined). No: it would be fully within the powers of a benevolent deity to not micromanage our lives and yet step in to prevent inordinate suffering and irreparable damage.

Too many Karl May clichés in the Na’vi society’s depiction, yes, but overall, this was the most intriguing mainstream-oriented SF movie in decades.

I watched Princess Princess Mononoke for 3 times. And each time learn more.  - Gindart

this movie is awesome , i don’t have worlds to descrive it. And don’t forget is only an movie SF ...

This movie was awesome…and the story line was not hard to follow, it was perfect!  Perhaps if you are not conscious of yourself, as Jake above refers to, and don’t understand about the capabilities of your own body and mind and what we’re capable of, then you’re going to think the story is ‘lacking’.  It is not a movie plot for the sleeping…it’s there to wake people up, and those starting to awaken to themselves see it for what it is…Excellent!  I’ll be seeing it again…It’s like Titanic, it has to be seen a couple times. 

Someone had this to say, and I agree….”“It’s the Iphone of movies…

Movies will never be the same after Avatar. Like the iPhone in the mobile world, this movie disrupts an entire industry.”” 

And hopefully wakes up a world!

Consider this!
The movie is awsome, i like the idea, i like everything in it, but i must say there is something that make me think about: we all watched movies with the aliens attacking us(human kind) but this is the first movie that we were the attackers and not the defenders and to me it looked really bad after i watched, it make me realise that once again in our world the only thing that rulles or maybe should i say “matters”
is MONEY and the way to make them.I watched the movie and i realised that the hummans are just like “all others”,no americans(u all know “american dream”(for me a bad joke),in this movie it shows our real nature(part)) as conquerors(by this meaning that"nothing else matters”).“I didn’t really like what i saw” but hey what the hell its the REAL THING(sorry to say that, but its TRUE).
Sorry for my bad english but i guess u all see what i was trying to make u see^^.

This film blew me away beyond anything i’ve sen before!!  i thought it was fantastic. The specail effects were out of this world and the whole movie sucked you in from the first few moments. i was blown away by the awesomeness!!  The message was strong and passionate and it really got to me.  Us humans have a LOT of problms. i mean its always all about the money!!  You really feal emotional for the natives.  Even though i dont agree on their weird religion thing (i’m a catholic) its like a huge comunity with love and respect and faith.  It is a very long film but its worth seeing in the cinema in 3D before its too late it action packed scary, exciting, romantic sad AND REALLY AWESOME!!!  please go see it….  if u have enough money.. peace!

Beautiful film: the message, God ( Universe) is light and energy and is all around and there are different astral layers of consciousness. Human evolution is evolution of consciousness. This is why in the film we were as humans referred to as ” children” meaning we have not reached higher levels of astral planes. Our societies today are based on Pythagor, Aristotles logic, Descartes cartesianism and have excluded all other forms of esoteric sciense and thinking/BEING and in this sense, core materialisme and dry logic/ maths will kill the human being. I am of no church , I just see here Spinoza’s pantheism, everything is Universe/God, even in the eyes of my cat looking at me….

While one cannot mistake the american blockbuster good-vs-evil thematic demands that were checked off (neatly, text book), I adored Avatar for lots and lots of reasons, most notably:

A: Gorgeous, Creative, Immersive
= Artistic and Technological achievement
B: Inspiring, Uplifting Idea: Humanity does not have to be soul-less bully
= Spiritual achievement

I literally witnessed the wisdom of the ages in my human body yearning to be in this paradise, spiritually, physically and socially. The idea that all relationships of everything on the planet being in balance resonated with me on many levels. In my own personal spirituality I imagine reality ‘beyond the veil’ would be in similar balance, though I do not purport it would be on a rare, if not unique, garden-paradise-planet (that’s Earth, by the way, folks).

When Sigorney Weaver’s character Grace passed despite hope that her consciousness might be transferred to her lovely and strong animal Avatar, I cried pretty bitterly. This movie hinted to me that WE are the spirits inside and partnering with our beautiful and strong avatar-human bodies.

I don’t care that as american movie goers, some will say ‘hey it was predictable that the attempt to transfer Spirit would work for the Jake Sully character’. By the time that happened, if it hadn’t ended that way, I would have suffered pretty intensely, and might stop going to american movies altogether. I might as well just rent European films like Spain’s Pandora’s Box over and over, and revel in my pain as audience payoff is snatched off the table at the end - just because that’s what seems more realistic to Life over there. European ennui apparently makes it easier for the movie makers of those cultures to admit the brutality they have seen or can imagine, (oh Geez, ‘Happy Together’?? there’s a nice little film). Yes the movie makers in other cultures are not afraid if their movies cash in on outrage over an unfair fight, or a bad ending. If I’m going to be completely immersed in a high-stakes fairy tale, I don’t care, I’ll take the trumpets and the calvary coming over the hill to save the day every time. In Avatar though, the saviour, the hero, was ‘Spirit’.

The message to not aggressively trounce around on individuals or whole cultures for monetary gain is important, and I don’t care how many movies get made about it. It creates a visceral response. It’s offensive. It’s wrong. It might be uncomfortable. Yes, it might be uncomfortable for some people to envision a world where our military service men and women are portrayed, (mind you, this film is set in the ambiguous way-way, future-future), to be pillaging, corporate time-clock punching, ‘peace keepers’, while the corporations ruthlessly gouge in and take their astronomical profits. Hmmm, yeah that might be uncomfortable for some people to see, uh, mirrored.

Gaia-ist? Anti-human? Guffaw. The life forms on Earth are the only life we know of in the whole ridiculously gigantic, physical Universe. This analogy is about humans against humans, and humans against other living creatures - on Earth. The inventiveness in this movie is that it postulates that a spirit-world underlying the physical learning ground in this story turns out to be verified. Oh happy day and choir of angels! After everything humans have done, we have technology that let’s us study anything but Spirit, yet some of us are pretty sure it’s an actual, timeless, state, place or thing. Avatar suggests that because we are connected by Spirit, maybe we should stop hitting the ‘smite’ button on each other over owning stuff, admit that we’re all in this dicey ‘Life Now’ situation together, and be decent to each other. We should learn what can be learned about Spirit and look for ways to bring humanity back into balance with It and the rest of Life on Earth ... and then Do Those Things.

Avatar is a wildly ambitious, completely successful art piece. It’s a heart-filled, jaw droppingly beautiful accomplishment showing the best and the worst that humanity can be. It highlights for children and reminds jaded adults that individual choice plays a big role in what humanity is, and what it will become.

Avatar is arguably one of the best ever movies made..so its a factor that any critic made by any humanbieng symbolyses stupidity and lack of KNOWLEDGE..

This is a really really late comment, but after hearing so many people praise Avatar and reading so many positive blog comments about it, I had to vent, albeit a few months too late.

I hated Avatar a lot.  In fact, the movie was very emotionally upsetting to me, and this was compounded by the general public praise it received.

It was emotionally upsetting because I am anti-war and I support good evironmental stewardship.  However, these themes were lamely presented in the movie and were very cliched.

The main thing that irked me about the movie is the “Avatar” concept.  From my understanding of the movie, the “Avatars” were actually biologically recreated aliens, meaning that they were flesh and bones.  These biological “Avatars” were then controlled buy some kind of technology.  Wouldn’t biological beings have their own thought processes?  Therefore, to be an “Avatar” they would have to be mind controlled, unless they were brain dead.  But they couldn’t have been completely brain dead because their bodies worked (working body means some element of working mind).  Anyway, to cut a long story short, for me, it was bending the laws of biology to an unbelievable extent.  There could have been an interesting element to the movie if a conflict between the inner mind of the “Avatar” and the mind of the external controller was a part of the story and explored.

To me, the concept of an avatar works best in terms of living through an artificial entity, such as that generated by a computer program or one that is mechanical, but not biological, since biology would result in its own intentionality, a stage that computers have not yet reached.

Apart from this, these are the other factors that made me dislike the movie:

The aliens were portrayed like Native Americans, who were then led to victory by an outsider.

The creatures, including the aliens, looked essentially like they had evolved in the same way as earthly creatures.

The conception of technology a hundred years from now was unimaginative.

The story and script were unimaginative, one-dimensional, and derivative.

There was little subtlety and no complexity.

An often seen and predictable final battle scene.

Natural movements were not modelled correctly.

Alien society was presented as idyllic.

Finally, I did not find the special effects, or any of the other visuals particularly spectacular as described by others.

I would say that the best visuals I’ve seen in a movie was a redone Terminator short at Universal Studios a few years ago.

Finally, to quote David Walsh, “When one considers the state of filmmaking, and art in general, one’s first response is, or ought to be, in my view, a profound sense of dissatisfaction. The spectator, or reader, or viewer, currently experiences a troubling lack of depth, texture, and social and psychological complexity…We have to be frank about this: too many mediocre or worse films receive a free pass. American audiences at this point, sadly, ask for and expect far too little.”

AVATAR IS AN AMAZIN MOVIE I LIKE WHEN JAKE PLAY BY(SAM WOTHINGTON) TURNS INTO AN AVATAR IN PANDORA. AVATAR IS AN ESPECTACULAR MOVIE TO WATCH IY MAY BE BORING IN THE BIGINING. IF YOU KEEP WATCHING THE MOVIE IT GETS BETTER YOU SHOULD TOTALLY NEED PATIENT INT HE BIGINING IT GETS CONFUSING IN SOME PARTS BUT THE BATTLE SCENES ARE THE BEST PART. THEY HAVE HUGE ARROWS TO KILL AND I WILL TOTALLY GIVE THIS MOVIE A FIVE STAR. THE LAST PART WAS SAD BUT I LOVED WHAT NEYTIRI DID SHE IS SO COOL. THE JELLY FISHES ARE EVEN COOLER JAKE AND NEYTIRI BECOMES GREAT LOVERS THIS MOVIE CAN BE LIKE G.I JOE BUT THERS NO BLUE PEOPLES THIS MOVIE CAN BE THE BEST 162 MINUTS OF YOUR LIFE YOU SHOULD TOTALLY SPENT YOUR MONEY ON THIS MOVIE

avtar is a good movie i would like to see this movie again

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