Saturday, December 19, 2009
To state it bluntly, this movie was awesome as a whole. James Cameron did a great job with all the “mechanics” of any quality movie. The acting was good, the script was good, the graphics were stupendous, and the flow was great. So much so that during the movie I forgot I was watching a movie and to me that’s a mark of a great movie. The story sucked me in and kept me in its grasp the whole length of the movie, which is almost 3 hours. The casting was well done and I felt like all the actors really did a good job. I didn’t feel like I was left hanging in any particular scene because the acting was subpar. When it came to the graphics, this movie was top dog and one you should definitely see in 3D (I didn’t, but I will). I’d say the graphics were better than most of the big movies I’ve seen recently, including 2012. However, not better than Star Trek, but just as good. In fact, a good comparison of this movie to another would be to compare it to Star Trek in quality. All round good.
Now on to what this movie really is about and what its message (intentionally or unintentionally) is communicating to the audience. When it comes to message, this movie compares really well to Dances with Wolves. In this case however, mankind as a whole is the bad guy. Having destroyed nature and anything “green” on Earth, man is like a virus consuming resources wherever they can be found. So, mankind as a whole is shown in a negative light from the beginning. Man’s existence as portrayed in this movie appears to be gritty and dark. Lots of metal everywhere and everything is just kind of dark, not shiny and clean. Earth is never shown, so this may be just the human presence at Pandora that appears this way, but I don’t think it is.
Pandora is a planet that is packed full of incredible life forms of all types imaginable. Many leave you seriously impressed and dazzled. The natives of Pandora, the Na’vi, are huge blue hominids that live in a primitive society. In fact, you could say that the Na’vi people are a liberal interpretation of what the Native Americans were like in the Americas during the 1500s through the 1800s. The natives are portrayed as “one with nature,” peaceful and good. This is reinforced by the awesome visuals that accompany the scenes with the natives showing lots of life, lots of light, and lots of beauty. A real Garden of Eden paradise, which of course Man is coming to consume, pollute, and destroy.
Basically, no diplomatic solution is reached to move the Na’vi settlement which is on top of a huge priceless mineral deposit. The corporation running the mining operation is shown as ruthless and callous in its pursuit of profit, leaving behind morals, ethics, and even common sense at times. This is part of the message in this movie, that corporations are inherently evil and that profit drives everything. Technology is also shown as dark, metallic, unnatural, and mostly geared toward war. The military uses this technology to support the corporation’s mining operations. Of course, the military is also portrayed as full of “jarheads” that really only want war and thus are evil. In fact, in the movie the military states that they need to fight terror with terror and use “shock and awe” to force the natives to cooperate. This is obviously a knock at the Bush policies. So yes, this movie does have a political agenda or message. On top of that, the scientists are shown as the only reasonable people in what seems all of humanity. Glorifying scientists, the thus science, is fine but science is hardly the answer to everything. I can't help but draw parallels between glorifying science and how that's tied to the global warming debate in our current affairs.
The bottom-line is this movie was very well done and very fun. I laughed, I cried, I really felt compassion for the Na’vi. However, the underlying messages that the movie was sending I have to take issue with because people love to take shots at corporations, the military, and industry. And really and truly you can’t paint these pieces of modern society with such a broad generalization. I believe that the current system in the United States of capitalism is good. That businesses are made up of people just like you and me and are therefore not inherently evil, because I believe that man is inherently more good than evil. If indeed one of the messages of this movie is that massive regulation is needed otherwise corporations will destroy our Earth, ravishing it for all resources to make profits, then this is obviously wrong from my point of view. Checks and balances are always necessary, but not massive regulation.
So from the many messages this movie is promoting, whether it’s that the Americas were ravaged by the Old World several centuries ago, a longing for simpler existence that is “one with nature,” or that the military and corporations are evil, this movie is definitely political. The Bush references were what sealed the deal for me. But you should see this movie, definitely, and see it in 3D.