Posted by: Tim Lincoln | December 19, 2009

Avatar

My brother treated me to the movie Avatar for my birthday. I will admit that I had not payed too much attention to the hype about the movie, so I wasn’t entirely too sure what to expect when it started. Suffice to say, I was not disappointed.

The basic story line is an old one: humans visit new world/continent/place, humans discover valuable ore/product/medicine, humans try to talk the natives/savages/indigenous people to provide it willingly, humans decide they can just take it when the natives/savages/indigenous people refuse, a small group of humans help the natives/savages/indigenous people fight back and kick the humans’ collective asses with vastly inferior weapons.

Avatar does bring some brand new ideas to the table, though. The biggest being the “avatars” that a small group of human scientists use to interact with the natives. These avatars are a hybrid blending of DNA from a native and a human, and while they look exactly like the natives on the planet, the avatar is actually controlled by the human who provided the DNA to create it through a piece of equipment that creates a mental link between the human and the avatar. The avatar has no consciousness of its own, and without the mental link between it and the human controlling it, it simply collapses like a puppet who’s strings have been cut.

Another interesting feature of the story, while not entirely unique, is the inclusion of a planet-wide “intelligence.” The natives are able to interact with some of the local flora and fauna on a “plug-and-play” level (you’ll understand that when you see the movie) that is rather interesting, and there is a “deity” worshiped by the natives that holds all of the memories of the preceding generations.

Even though the story is somewhat predictable, it flows well and there are enough twists and surprises to keep it worthwhile.

I saved the best part for last. If you come for the story, you have to stay for the visuals. From the equipment and weapons used by the humans, to the flora and fauna of the planet, to the simply breathtaking scenery dotted throughout the movie, I found very little to complain about in the visual effects department. With very few exceptions, all of the visuals were extremely well done.

My only real complaint, if you want to call it that, is that the natives were portrayed a little too human-like. Yes, it was quite obvious that they had originated on another planet, but their society and mentality could have come straight out of some of the early civilizations of Earth. Granted, Earth does not necessarily have a monopoly on societal structures, and if there really are other intelligent life-forms out there there is no reason why they couldn’t develop their own versions of, say Capitalism or Socialism, but you just expect something different from a race of people from another planet.

I would definitely recommend the movie. There are a few swear words, but overall the dialogue is fairly clean. Still, there are some sequences with violence, and though they are not graphic, it may not be suitable for younger audiences. I think the PG-13 rating is well deserved on this one.

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