I just got back from seeing Avatar and thought it was great. I was worried it would have been overhyped by this point so I would have been let down but it really was awesome. It’s not often I like formulaic movies but the formulaic nature actually made the movie more enjoyable. You could just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride.
A couple thoughts on the themes of the movie:
1. White people suck. Certainly true if you look at world history, but just because white people suck doesn’t mean other people can’t suck too. If one accepts that all societies are driven by the desire to continually improve their lot in life then one must accept that the only reason white people suck more than others is because they developed tools that allowed them to improve their life faster than others, ultimately at the expense of those who hadn’t figured things out as quickly. These leads me to point number two.
2. Blue guys may also suck! My question would be what’s going to happen to Pandora after the White guys leave? It seems to me that now that one tribe has access to more advanced weaponry they will start using it, and since they are a warrior race it’s only logical to assume that they will go to war with the other tribes (especially since their home was destroyed and they now need to find a new place to live), meaning they may become their planet’s version of sucky white guys.
3. Unobtanium. I’d like to think the reason they gave the mineral such a stupid name is because it’s supposed to represent the never-ending search for happiness through the accumulation of material wealth, something which Buddhism teaches is ultimately, you guessed it, unobtainable. (see Wall-E Samsara post for more on this topic)
4. Worship of nature. Personally, I find pretty much any organized religion to be a load of crap and little more than a way for people to pursue a political agenda by placing it within an artificially divine framework. I don’t need an illogical explanation to explain to me the wonders of the natural world – I think the natural world speaks for itself. By placing a veil of artificiality over the real you cheapen the beauty of nature by ascribing its creation to the hands of some imaginary being. If you accept that nature develops without any sort of divine guidance and simply evolves as it sees fit you actually enhance the overall sense of majesty that can be found in the natural world. What’s more beautiful – a painting of a sunset or an actual sunset? The beauty of nature is empirical and ultimately represents exactly what religious philosophers tried so desperately to prove about the divine nature of god throughout the centuries. Aristotle’s unmoving mover was in front of him the whole time, he was just too busy trying to validate the existence of God to notice that God doesn’t exist except in the majesty of the natural world. Everything else is artificial.
All in all, I loved the movie. I would just caution those people who get overly depressed at the idea that we as a race suck and remind them that there is no reason to believe that the tribes of Pandora aren’t equally warlike towards one another and that eventually one of them wouldn’t have developed gunpowder. As for the people who got depressed at the thought that such natural beauty doesn’t really exist, I’ve got good news: It does. You just have to get off your couch and go out and find it. It’s not hard. In fact, there are a whole bunch of really great National Parks out there – you can even buy a yearly pass. Just don’t try and ‘bond’ with nature like they do in the movie – you’ll probably get a stern look from a park ranger.