CB'S POV: "I See You..." ("Avatar")

Long story short, Avatar lives up to the hype. This is the new high mark for CGI. That’s how it looks, but what about the story?The most complex storyline in any of Cameron’s movies was in True Lies, which was part spy story, part domestic drama. In all the other movies we were just waiting for SOMETHING BIG to happen: Sarah to kill the Terminator, Ripley to fight the alien, the boat to sink in Titanic. Here we are just waiting for the BIG SHOWDOWN between the Na’vi and the Earthers.The Earthers are on the planet-moon Pandora to obtain unobtanium (hey, that’s what the named it), an energy source an energy-depleted Earth needs. A nameless Corporation is trying to get a group of Na’vi (the indigenous population) to “relocate” so they can mine the ore; if they decline, the corporation employs a large force of mercenaries, ex-soldiers who are veterans of battlefields in oil-rich countries just itching for a fight. Into this comes Jake, a guy who wasn’t supposed to be there, a wounded former Marine who wants nothing more than to get his old life back. Jake is to interface with an “avatar,” a hybrid body grown from human and Na’vi DNA. The avatars represent the “diplomatic” solution to the problem, one that no one in the corporation’s hierarchy seems to favor: get to know the indigenous people and “negotiate” their relocation. You pretty much know how everything is going to turn out but it’s fun watching it anyway. But this is where the complications set in.

The humans are, with few exceptions, so evil they’d be twirling moustaches if they had them. The Na’vi are so good they have no rough edges. Is this more patronizing by the majority society, infantilizing a “lesser” one or a condemnation of the former for what they have lost in their pursuit of a “better life” through technology? Is Jake the Na’vi’s Lawrence of Arabia or is this another case of people who can’t save themselves until a white guy shows them how? And what does it say, in “wartime,” when the highly technologically-advanced people who start the war to control someone else’s natural resources are defeated by the insurgency? (Like you didn’t know that’s how this was all gonna turn out?)Avatar is not a message movie like District 9 (or even Wall-E). But it is Grade A eye candy and this is the season to forget the calories go for the comfort food.

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