I had thought, since you can draw pretty much anything given enough CGI these days, that special effects wouldn’t impress me anymore. After spending two hours and forty minutes with my jaw hanging open, I stand corrected. Amazing aerial battles, emotionally convincing mocap, and 3D that works. And the plot is fairly decent for an action/adventure movie. It’s got slightly more to it than Indiana Jones, more on a par with The Matrix.
Some other notes:
- Surprisingly fair portrayal of the scientist characters. Nobody broke out into maniacal laughter once.
- Dr. Grace (the Sigourney Weaver lady) mentions that she would like to take some samples when she visits the Tree of Souls. I would like to say that that’s a stereotype. But if I were in her place, I would have been thinking it pretty hard.
- The pipettes in the labs are exact replicas of pipettes found in early twenty-first century biology labs. Who’d have thought it? Eppendorf must have reached design perfection around 2009 and never changed their products since.
- Plausible space travel. The P.A. system informs Jake Sully that he’s been in hibernation for five years. Factor in the fact that that’s five years from the ship’s point of view, not Earth’s, and you don’t even need to invoke FTL to get to some of the nearby stars.
- Humanlike aliens: not so plausible. But they had a good artistic reason to do it – the audience is human, and we need to be able to empathize with them. I left with the impression that the Na’vi were an ethnicity, not a species.
- Jake falls in love with the chieftain’s daughter. Didn’t see that one coming.
- Colonel Miles Quaritch says something to the extent that “Our only chance at security is a pre-emptive strike. We must fight terror with terror.” And the disclaimer says that “All connections to real persons or events is purely coincidental.” Really, now?
- Alien invasion movies reflect the zeitgeist of the times. Perhaps we’re feeling a bit guilty about environmental destruction?
- The Avatar system brings up some very interesting questions about the nature of the human soul. The scriptwriters chose not to go there, but they so could have.