Main cast: Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Stephen Lang (Colonel Miles Quaritch), Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon), Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge), Joel David Moore (Norm Spellman), CCH Pounder (Moat), Wes Studi (Eytukan), Laz Alonso (Tsu’tey), Dileep Rao (Dr Max Patel), and Sigourney Weaver (Dr Grace Augustine)
Director: James Cameron
Avatar is a very expensive movie to make, and it shows. The visual effects are fantastic, breathtaking even at many moments in this movie. If you have the extra dollars, watch this movie is 3D. The result is pure visual magic on the senses. Unfortunately, James Cameron decided to write the script for this movie and the movie is shot down the drain as a result.
Be warned, folks, this movie boasts one of the most hatefully stupid lead characters I have come across in a long, long time. At least Bella Swan is generally harmless despite being too annoying for words. Jake Sully single-handedly causes the deaths of thousands of thousands of people and he gets rewarded for it in a movie that doesn’t even bother to complete his redemption arc.
Jake Sully, our mouth-breathing idiot, is sent as a substitute for his more intelligent but now dead twin brother Tom to a research outpost in the planet Pandora. In Pandora, we have these humanoids called the Na’vis. The Na’vis are your stereotypical one-with-nature peace-loving people who just want to be left in peace. Naturally, the more military humans led by corporate crony Parker Selfridge (Selfish, get it?) and military megalomaniac Colonel Miles Quatrich just want the tree-hugging Na’vis out of the way so that they can start digging up the Unobtanium ores that they can then sell in order to recoup the money James Cameron had spent making this movie.
Meanwhile, the scientist types, led by Dr Grace Augustine, have developed a novel way to interact with the Na’vis. They clone Na’vi shells, called avatars, naturally, that these scientists can then control. Basically, this is a high-tech way of donning Na’vi costumes, if you can call it that, so that these folks can interact better with the Na’vi folks. The scientists all want to learn more about the way things work on Pandora.
Jake, an ex-Marine, finds his allegiance torn between these two factions. He’s supposed to be working as an “avatar guide”, controlling a Na’vi avatar, but Miles wants him to infiltrate the Na’vi folks and learn of their ways so that the stereotypically nasty humans can smash them to pieces and exploit the natural riches of the land. And Jake, because he is a complete idiot, is like, “Uh… okay, I’ll betray the Na’vi folks even after I have made the Omaticaya tribe trust me and I’ve fallen for their princess because I’m so stupid that way, LOLOLOLOLOL.”
Seriously, in this movie, Jake cannot do anything right. He cannot obey orders, he plunges his team into danger in his first field trip because he’s too stupid not to mess with strange wildlife in the jungle, and it goes downhill all the way from there. Even when he needs to rally the Omaticaya Na’vi folks to escape the oncoming Evil Humans, he does this by revealing to them that he’s a traitor all along. Yes, that is a great way to get them to listen to him. You can imagine what happens next. So, basically, Jake is a one-man harbinger of genocide, and he happens to be this way because he’s too obnoxiously stupid for words. When the movie pans over the scenes of Evil Humans destroying and killing and making such blatant and insincere statements about the evils of corporate scums and what not, all I can think of is that Jake should have just killed himself out of shame.
The final hour or so of the movie descends into pure stupidity as the movie ends up for some reason reaffirming the very principles it tries to criticize up to that point. Jake, an Evil White Man, suddenly expects the natives to drop everything and save one of his own, because the possible death of a white person takes priority over the deaths of thousands of natives as well as the loss of their home and the very foundation of their religious belief. Who cares about those savage half-naked creatures? I’m not even going to start on how Jake manages to get himself back into the Omaticayas’ good graces. Apparently the best way to show off your honor is by using your phallic-like braid to mind-rape a dragon and subsequently show off your mind-rape prowess. Oh, and it is Neytiri, the princess, who actually saves the day and Jake in the end, so basically, Jake is completely useless in the entire movie, having caused the deaths of thousands of thousands of people who believed in him notwithstanding. Meanwhile, more entertaining and smarter characters all die, taking the bullet while cleaning up the mess Jake has caused. Bravo, Jake! Naturally, he is rewarded for his one-man ethnic cleansing act with the woman as well as an adoring tribe.
Oh, and yes, Sam Worthington’s character spends nearly the entire movie in a loincloth. Unfortunately, the character in question is a blue and totally not sexy humanoid – unless, like Jake, you have a thing for blue Gumby aliens, that is. If you do, I won’t judge you. Then again, even if it’s actually Sam Worthington running around in this movie in a loincloth, I doubt can overlook his character’s utter and complete stupidity and the devastating tragedy his stupidity brings about to enjoy the sight. This movie would have been so much better if the main character had been the kickass mercenary Trudy Chacon instead of Jake the Calamitously Stupid Moron.
Oh, and how on earth could two anatomically incorrect alien action figures “mate for life”? I guess they must have used their phallic braid thing… which makes these aliens using the same thing to mind-rape dragons and talk to trees even more bizarre, for the want of a better word.
To sum things up, Avatar is a very visually attractive movie, but I also learn at the end of the day that my personal definition of “hero” is drastically different from James Cameron’s. He thinks that being more gung-ho than a jock in a beer commercial is enough to qualify one as a hero. I prefer the hero in question to be able to think. And this is where the movie fails where I am concerned – the hero is brainless, the movie turns into a puerile marathon of relentless stupidity in its final hour, and the blatant “save the trees, be one with nature, Corporate White Men and Military Men all suck!” message is as insincere as you can expect such a message to be when it’s written by an overpaid Corporate White Man in a CFC-producing air-conditioned environment. In fact, I can only wonder how much waste and ozone-depleting gases were generated during the filming of this movie.
Call me when James Cameron has exorcised his corporate white male guilt long enough to make a decent movie, and by “decent”, I mean one where he is forbidden to touch the script with his ten-inch ego.