I tend to be the type of person who, when the hype of a new film gets too big, just loses all interest. This obviously occurred with Avatar when the fifth person asking if I’d seen it yet in 3D (before telling me how many times they had seen it in both 2D AND 3D). Eventually the whole world seemed to turn blue and I just lost it.
Now that everyone I know seems to have at least enough avatar DVD’s to use as coasters at their dinner parties and (endlessly) relentless with insisting that I see it (I’m sure to like it being an environment-type and all), I’ve finally got around to watching it on my own TV. I have to say that it didn’t fail to disappoint me, however it wasn’t all bad.
I doubt I’m the only one to find the dialogue uninteresting and cliché. Then there was some of the biological references and then there was the use of unobtainium… I know I over think it and in short, it was just supposed to be just entertainment.
Some bad points
However, what really bugged me about it more than all of these facts was that the movie was so aesthetically pleasing. I know it sounds silly, but I couldn’t help but watch this wonderful world unfold before me and suddenly realize that what was happening was like the first time my son’s mother gave him chocolate and he no longer liked the subtle taste of a banana. With very little effort I did a search of avatar news reports and found that the movie has left fans depressed “at the prospect of never being able to visit the mystical planet depicted in the movie“.
It’s disheartening that familiarity is quite clearly the disease of our planet. Bio-luminescence may not be so prevalent on the surface of our humble little planet, but only a fool could ignore the dance of fireflies on dusk, the crackling alien world of Great Barrier Reef, the wonderful movement of carnivorous plants (eg. Drosera rotundifolia for instance), any number of wonderful waterfalls (ie. Angel Falls, Venezulela, Iguaçu Falls, Argentina,Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe etc etc etc), the chromatophore conversations between two cuttlefish… I could go on and on. The point is; if you want to visit a world even more beautiful than that depicted in that blasted movie, get up off your rear, take a train or get in your car and get the hell out of your place of residence and find a nice hiking trail. Save up for a flight to some quieter place and spend a week or more swimming over exotic reefs, exploring foreign forests, sinking into different cultures, trying different foods; basically absorbing another, less familiar, corner of this planet. You could also take some time out to do a biological course (anything from join a hobby group to a full academic course) and learn from others just how amazing life is around you!
We get ourselves in these little boxes of concrete and we believe that this is the real world – the only world. We venture back to more natural places, have to dig a hole instead of our typical comforts and sometimes get rained out; it becomes the quaint primitive other place. Yet this Avatar world is somehow a utopia – as though the problems we’ve found in ventures into our nature woul be magically rectified, and all the comforts of our modern societies would become unnecessary. It’s just wonderful here. I don’t want to harp on about the aesthetics of this movie, but the typical response of this movie just brings home to me just how little my appreciation of our world is shared; something that irritates me when hiking and mates laugh me off when I stop after finding a banjo frog or some unusual spider. Ours is an amazing world if you take the time to notice it.
On the plus side
There were two things I must grudgingly accept as good points to this movie. The first was that it was one of the few sci-fi’s that shows us in the correct light; the highly selfish and greedy invading force. A few others that I know of, show humanity going out to fight alien species and yet still the virtuous heroes; Starship Troopers was painful and pointless to say the least and Anvil of Stars saw and eye for an eye mentality and although I was told that it was a celebrated work of sci-fi, I just couldn’t finish it. (Sorry for mainly wikipedia links in this piece – I feel lazy and unenthusiastic thinking about Avatar). For once, what we’ve demonstrated on countless occasions in our history – that we are thoughtless when there is something someone else has that we want – was demonstrated in all its ugliness in a sci-fi film. We weren’t the heroes (although in a ridiculously confusing way we were, as well as doing a great job of trashing the place with big explosions at the same time ?!?!?!?!?!?).
The second good point that I found in this film was the sense of connection to the land. You don’t have to be a “tree hugger” to know that a sense of connection to ones particular landscape is essential to demonstrate genuine concern. Farmers are often the first to say that they’re not greenies, but are also the first to work with environmental scientists to better manage their lands (most recently tending to increase the biodiversity and health on their lands). It’s all about connection.
As I said above – if you want to see an amazing world, it’s disappearing outside your door. If more people actively took the effort to turn off their media technology, smell moist undergrowth, listen to the rustle of wind through the leaves and clear their heads by a big body of water, maybe they can get a sense of what an amazing world we have. Then and only then do I believe that we can make meaningful steps towards better management of our planet instead of mindless idolization of of glowing forests and twelve foot blue folk.