Avatar ★★★½

I came on today because I have some very important information to share. I finally saw Avatar, and I thought it lived up to the hype (Carl Lorthner).

The best strategy for enjoying this was to view it as a great big fantasy fable in a sci-fi setting. Then the annoyances just melted away. But I began by rapidly cycling between thinking “Cool!” and “That’s so dumb!” For example, early on the Capitalist Uber Villain mansplains the mining to Dr Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) as though she needed to be informed of this basic fact. She’s been on the moon for years as head of the scientific team and it’s SO clearly just for the expositional benefit of the audience i.e., “dumb”. But moments before, we see her emerging scantily clad from a stasis pod, reminiscent of Alien, i.e., “cool”.

Included in my list of annoyances: Cartoonish villains, daft dialogue, colonialist noble savage fetishisation, plot holes. The ‘white saviour’ complaint isn’t on my list. I disagree about that one.

But it’s such a creative film and my happy list is much bigger: The Gaia concept and eco themes, the sheer beauty of the CGI especially the forest, inter-species sex, the look of the Na’vi, techno/bio utopia, romance that isn’t love at first sight, critique of capitalism and militarism and the blatant allegorical elements – this movie wears its heart on its sleeve. The black/white world view and lack of cynicism makes me think that if you took away the crude language this is a great children’s/family movie. And it’s not trying to be cool or edgy which is standing under a waterfall level of refreshing. It seems incredible, yet cheery that this was so massively bankable considering its political themes and animist spirituality.

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