James Cameron :: USA :: 2009 :: 2h41
On the faraway planet Pandora, a human mining company wants to move an indigenous population to be able to extract valuable minerals from under their village. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is sent in to attempt diplomacy before they resort to military force. The villagers get the point, listen to a few inspiring speeches and decide to fight back.
As you will have guessed from the summary, Avatar is not about the story. This is old-school blockbuster cinema: the story is just simple and customary, so that you not only do not have to think but there is nothing to worry about either. The movie is about showing-off special effects, which, as usual, can already be seen in the preview on their website. To fully understand this blockbuster strategy, let us search further for a moment: the site is integrated with YouTube, Flickr, Twitter and Facebook. And then there is the merchandising, even before the movie starts you will already have seen the spin-offs with Coca-Cola and games on your Playstation, PSP, Xbox or even your iPhone. All this made me check with McDonalds and you can rest assured: they are also ready to cash in. I am sure Fox has taken care of the production of puppets, mugs and T-shirts for the holiday season too. This is all so tacky for a children’s movie, but does it still matter? Well, in a sense: yes it does.
The bad guy in Avatar is the mining cooperation (which incidentally shifts the blame of its immoral behaviour onto their shareholders). It is in their name that the planet Pandora is being destroyed and the villagers killed (or displaced). The xenophobic and ecological disaster which is the cooperation in the film, is reflected by the real life version (a conglomerate of US companies huddled around a copyrighted image cutting out others with an ephemeral, disposable product). The movie criticises what it represents itself – the use of capitalistic power to the detriment of others. The movie just pushes capitalistic behaviour further than its own production house does (with criminal consequences). But are we supposed to take a blockbuster movie seriously? But then if we discard the story and are prepared to ignore the moral message, then why should we bother going in?
There is actually an answer here: the dream world which is on the planet Pandora. It is absolutely magical! A civilisation which is as a mix of Amazonian Indian and African cultures with a holistic Gaia-type world view. They live in the trees in a Jurassic-ish rainforest world with wavy ocean-like properties. It is all credible enough and beautifully worked out (irrespective if you watch the 3D version or just the big screen). In a word, it is spectacular! The memory of the trip through their world makes me want to return. I think they might have a solution for that. On the playstation. Or on the iPhone…