Saturday, January 23, 2010

Three snouts up for Avatar on Imax

(:)(:)(:) for Avatar on Imax. My expectations for this movie were mixed. On the one hand, I heard a review on public radio that said something like "this isn't a good movie, but it's enough like a good movie that you might think it is" and that gave me the sense that the hype was over-rated. On the other hand, I had heard from several people I trust that this was an amazing spiritual story, about the connections between all of us, so I got my hopes up for that.

On balance I was disappointed by the film, but for an entirely different reason than I expected. There was a lot to love about this picture. For example, everyone is right that the world they've created on Pandora is amazing and special and seeing it on Imax is frequently breath-taking. And what's not to like about the story of a native people living in sacred community with each other and all the creatures and living things in a spectacular rain forest in which it never seems to rain? And a disabled guy getting a second chance at life living inside a new alien native body? c'mon! Moreover, when the destruction of the environment is the crisis, and the bad guys are the army, you can pretty much have me for lunch.

So why, then, was I disappointed? I was disappointed because with a gorgeous environment and a creative premise, the film-makers missed the boat on the resolution. And they missed it in an over-the-top bad Hollywood, multi-million dollar when is this going to freakin' end way.

How could a peace-loving, environmentally harmonious people's salvation from destruction lie in investing a white marine masquerading as one of them with the power to amass an army of bows and arrows, flying creatures and wild dogs and pseudo-rhinos? Meeting with war with war is old news. Meeting massive war machines with primitive native equipment is ridiculous (not withstanding the fact that it's fun to watch the animals rise up against flying tanks).

If we're all one, then how can there be an enemy? If we're all one, then why isn't some way found to "see" the central casting stock redneck Marine colonel as "their brother" instead of tossing a grenade in his face? If we're all one, why can't there be a new solution, a new ending, a new way to stop destruction?

The filmmakers should read the ending of the The 5th Sacred Thing by Starhawk, a book with a similar premise resolved by a radically new, 22nd century solution. It's time to take it to the next level.

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