As basically a last celebration of the holiday vacation, my husband and I had the pleasure to go see avatar tonight. I was absolutely awestruck. It was breathtaking. I feel that most people's complaints about the movie has to do with the fact that it's a pretty typical story. Yes and no. First of all, genocide and bigotry are always relevant and will continue to be as long as we continue as a species to practice it. So, as far as becoming bored with the tale as some critics have claimed to, I say it's nice to see this old story being told in a very new way. One of the great things about science fiction is that it allows you to examine familiar actions in unfamiliar contexts, which gives the opportunity for objectivity. In this case, the new and interesting twist on the white man goes native tale, is that he has a real vested interest in his new life and actually has things in the native context that are an impossibility in "real life". (The main character enters the film as someone with nothing to loose, and enjoys being given an opportunity to walk again, through his avatar.)
But the really great thing about this film is that the special effects actually enhance the story not the movie. He uses the special effects to draw you in to the world of the indigenous people, and instead of just feeling a fondness for their simple life or their community, you are actually jealous of their link with their crazy world and envious of their power. The effects also serve to make the humans seem small, insignificant and really boring. I think that the fact that the human characters were not that interesting was a good move on the director's part. There was no need to feel sympathy for any of them. In all movies such as this, it's humans exploiting other humans, no matter how foreign the culture is. In this case, in order to really get you rooting for the natives, you have to distance yourself from the human characters. You have to really fall in love with the native people, and their planet - not just feel sympathy for them as we destroy everything. I felt real hate for the destroyers. I can honestly say that never in a movie have I found myself rooting for a really nasty end to a character, I'm not that kind of person - generally I know that I'm supposed to want the bad guy to loose, but I'm never cheering for it. When the main marine asshole gets in avatar I felt really happy, extremely happy. That's what I feel like this movie accomplished and all the special effects were really for, it was to make you care more about the victims then your own people. I think it succeeded brilliantly.
I also had the opportunity to sit next to what looked like a thirteen year old, which I've heard is cameron's target audience. During the movie, my mind would wander to what this teenager was getting out of it. I think that had I seen this movie when I was young, it would have blown me away. And if that's who the movie is geared towards (although, personally I think a little to violent for kids) then good. Hopefully the messages of tolerance and environmentalism will resonate with them, and they'll appreciate that no good can come of killing the planet. That or they'll just think that earth is doomed and we should just go find some other super cool planet to inhabit. Either way, hopefully it will inspire them, because it's going to be up to them to fix this mess.