In the Picture
Forget the terrible script, predictable plot and flimsy character development – the visuals are so utterly spectacular, the colours so brilliant, the aliens, creatures and plant life so original and intricate, it just doesn’t matter. And the depth and subtlety of emotion in the CGI characters is like nothing I’ve seen before, allowing you to empathise with them and be drawn in by their plight.
Australian Sam Worthington (who I normally think is about as interesting as a lump of wood) gives a solid performance as Jake Sully, an ex-marine sent to the alien moon Pandora where the military are mining for a precious resource called ‘unobtainium’ that’s going to make a lot of greedy suits a whole lot of money. Only problem is, one tribe of the indigenous peoples, the Na’vi, live right bang on the biggest deposit and aren’t keen on their pristine wilderness being destroyed to create a dirty great mine.
The moon’s atmosphere is poisonous to humans so, in an effort to negotiate with the Na’vi, a team of scientists develop avatars using a mixture of human and Na’vi DNA which are controlled by humans in the military compound. When Sam Worthington’s avatar gets attacked on an expedition in the forest he is saved by a female Na’vi warrior named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and, as he learns more of her world and her people, he is torn between his job and his heart.
The early scenes in this film were, for me, the highlight – exploring the magical, luminous forest of Pandora is one of the most impressive and glorious cinematic experiences I’ve ever witnessed.
It teeters from the sublime to the ridiculous as the good versus evil battle begins in the second half, but by then I was so invested in the planet, the forest and its people, I was happy just to enjoy the ride.
This film isn’t deep or thought-provoking, but it left me in awe of James Cameron’s imagination and vision, and the beauty of this film stayed with me long after I’d taken off the 3D glasses, even if the story did not. It also left me with a distinct feeling that I don’t particularly like being part of the human race, and I’d much rather be a tree-hugging blue alien.
At its heart Avatar has a beautiful sentiment about the value of our natural environment and many people I’ve spoken to say it’s very ‘left’. But why is the idea of understanding the natural world’s connectedness, and therefore nurturing and respecting the environment that sustains us and is indeed part of us, seen to be ‘left’? Surely that is just obviously right.