Monday, December 28, 2009

"Avatar" — movie review

Movie: Avatar
Length: 162 min
Rated: PG-13
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi
Director: James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron and six others (as history will likely remember the list)

Once again my dear wife Valerie and I viewed this together. In IMAX. In 3-D.

But first, a little....

Phillips Family Film-going History
When our now-grown kids were tiny tots, we devised a way of discussing movies we saw. We had to. How, as Christian parents, do you talk about a movie like "The Little Mermaid," for instance, without sounding like either (A) non-Christian parents, or (B) complete pickles?

Our solution: we discussed movies on two levels — as a movie/cartoon, and as a "sermon." That is, was it fun and well-done? Did it have a generally good message, or a generally bad message?

Let's stay with "The Little Mermaid." Classic good movie, bad sermon. Fun to watch, fun art, fun songs; terrible message. A paint-shallow, willful, foolish girl falls in love at first glance, endangers everyone, just about gets her father killed out of her selfishness — and ends up getting her way, with no consequences visited on her and no lesson learned. (Contrast "Beauty and the Beast": good movie, good sermon.)

Bringing us to Avatar.


Spoiler-free review
The art and the acting. Technologically and artistically, Avatar is simply a wonder. The same processes that put Gollum right in the scene with flesh-and-blood actors now create a world and a race of beings, display it in 3D, and make it all seem very real. The music enhances the action without distracting, and the actors range from just-adequate-for-the-task (Sam Worthington as Jake Sully) to excellent (Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, completely in motion-capture CGI).

It's a beautiful world, with jungl... er, rain forests, waterfalls, mountains, lush vegetation, seas, deserts, and all sorts of alien bugs and beasties. The native humanoids are alien, yet humanlike, and quite beautiful in their way. It's all literally luminous.

The story. Avatar's plot is involving enough, but neither particularly complex, layered nor surprising. Unfortunately, there probably is a lunatic-leftist sermon lurking a molecule or two under the surface, but I mostly found myself able to sneer it off and enjoy the movie. Mostly.

What is the sermon? Hear Roger Ebert burble like a giddy child: "It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult." Yeah, well... whatever. As I'll explain below, I think Ebert's exaggerating, though he's probably right about Cameron's lunatic intent. An evil corporation partnering with with ex-military militia sets out to exploit a pristine planet, more than happy to kill a few thousand innocent, technology-free natives if need be. Whether you see America in any way analogized is (I think) viewer's choice, but it probably was in Cameron's mind.



The PG13 is deserved. There's some bad language and some violence, though it isn't lingering. My vision isn't the crispest, but my dear wife assures me that there are some fleeting glimpses of blue female nipples in CGI. The natives are very tall, very thin (no Na'vi exhibits so much as an ounce of spare body fat), and very sparsely-clothed. There is a scene where two characters embrace, removing no clothes, and one announces that they are now "mated for life." I think if you're an adult, you think "Oh... they just had sex, right then and there? Eeh." And if you're a kid, you think, "Oh, so now they're married."

Spoilery review
The movie. Jake Sully has lost the use of his legs in military service, and this militia gig offers him the opportunity to get his legs back: first virtually, then literally. There seems to be a passing slash at inadequate (American) health care in the future — evidently The One had not totally revolutionized everything into Utopian wonderfulness — but Sully (A) will get to walk in the person of his native avatar, and then (B) is promised his actual legs back if he completes his mission satisfactorily.

What is Sully's mission?

His assignment is to infiltrate the giant, blue-skinned, uncooperative natives, the Na'vi, whose village resides on a massive deposit of the insanely-precious metal Unobtainium (I love that name). The corporation has tried education and trinkets, and has failed to move them. Now their technology has combined human and alien DNA to grow actual alien bodies, which are linked up with human minds. Jake's identical-twin brother was to be one of them, but the brother died, so Jake is taking his place.

The avatars are amazing feats of cinemagic, technologically brought to real life. They also resemble their human counterparts; Sigourney Weaver's avatar is very clearly hers, down to Weaver's elfin little mouth. Through a thrilling sequence, Jake's avatar makes contact with the natives, and is brought into their tribe.

What follows is fairly predictable, not entirely convincing, and somewhat disturbing. At first, Sully's all gung-ho to exploit the natives' confidence, discover their secrets and sell them out. Then suddenly, with no signs of transition, at the end of the three-month process, he shows up all conflicted, in love with his trainer (Neytiri, voiced and realized by Zoe Saldana), and ready to sell out his people.

But first, suddenly Sully proposes to cartoonish villain Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) that he is about to have an opportunity suddenly to begin trying to persuade the Na'vi to move. He is given an inadequately brief opportunity. Oopsie. Really should have thought of that earlier. Rats.

Of course Sully fails, of course the military moves in too fast, of course his friends feel betrayed (because — surprise! they were!), and of course there's a slaughter. So of course he feels awful (or so we guess; Worthington is a handsome fellow but not a great actor, or he's not given much to work with here — though that seldom stops truly great actors), and... boom! We see him killing humans! And leading the Na'vi to kill lots more! And a few humans join him, to kill other humans too! Yay, mostly-happy ending... from that perspective.


Do you think some sympathetic characters die? Of course. How about the villain? You betcha. And our hero, does he get to become Na'vi forever and stay with his bride. Sure! Is there a neat little deus ex arboris at a critical moment? Yeppers. And are the evil businessmen and militia sent packing? Oh yeah.

Which is why my dear wife brands the plot not too deep, and quite predictable.

The "sermon." I had read that Avatar was about pantheism, Gaia-worship, and evil America. I disagree... sort of.

This is science fiction, not a parable. Or so I take it. In science fiction, you get to create new and different worlds, which (to me) is the fun of it. Here the planet Pandora hosts a massively-interconnected organism. The tree-roots literally link up with each other, and the native species also can literally and physically (i.e. not spiritually) connect with each other. So it isn't Gaia-worship, because we're dealing neither with Γαῖα nor Γῆ (i.e. Earth). It is a different planet.

Also, the connection is physical, and involves only Pandora. So we are not dealing with pantheism, which is the false notion that material reality is not real, but is instead God in self-manifestation. The Na'vi name the collective consciousness of the trees Eywa, and Eywa has a will and consciousness — which, again, is different from the god of pantheism. Similarly, though the term "avatar" comes from Hinduism, here the avatar is a physical projection of one mind. When that mind is withdrawn, the avatar collapses.


Is the film anti-military? Well, the soldiers there are ex-military; they are hirelings to the evil corporation. They are not the American Army, nor Navy, nor Air Force, nor Marines. So on the face of it, no.

However, Cameron does throw in some expressions like "shock and awe" and "bringing terror to terrorists" that make one suspect that this was the intent of his febrile imagination. Being a Hollywood hypocrite, he may well still cuddle the fever-swamp myth that Bush liberated Iraq to get their oil (— which, if so, how's that working out?), and he may mean this to be perceived as a morality-play on that fiction.

If that's Cameron's intent, I think the most appropriately insulting response would be simply to cock an eyebrow, shrug, and say "I don't see the connection." Because I don't, unless it is made in the soft padded cells and what passes for thought among the "truther" Left.

Therefore, I don't receive Avatar as a sermon about pantheism, Gaia-worship, Hinduism, America, the war on terror, nor eco-fascism.

Now, I think that may be in the authorial intent. But if so, it failed to reach the screen. It's like J. K. Rowling suddenly announcing that Dumbledore was a homosexual. Hunh, funny — the Dumbledore in the books wasn't.

So if Cameron wants to go around his cocktail parties, high-fiving hypocritical nutcases who live high on technology and free-market capitalism, babbling pantheistic and Gaian nonsense, enjoying freedoms bought and guarded with soldiers' blood, while maligning the very goose that lay all those eggs — well, whatever. If Cameron wants to feign horror at imaginary characters redefining imaginary Na'vi to make them okay-to-kill, while proudly supporting the real killing of real human babies through similar redefinition... well, all of that makes him and them jerks and fools, but it doesn't do much to the movie. Enjoy the myth while you can if that's your thing, James. Eternity is going to be a long, long time; and as matters stand, you won't be "king of the world," nor of anything else.

Briefly, then: Cameron may well have intended a heavy-handed parable preaching the joys of pantheistic Gaia-worship, and the evils of America, George Bush, the war on terror, the military, and capitalism.

If so, Cameron failed miserably, pathetically, and laughably, because there is no actual connection. The Na'vi are not like Muslim extremists nor their enablers; Pandora is not like Earth; and these mercenaries are not like our troops.

But if you take the film as a cool sci-fi action story, then it's quite a wonder, and mostly a fun ride.

Within the context of the movie, then, three elements did not work for me:

  1. Sully's abrupt, un-nuanced, transition-less transformation. Without even a hey! presto! Sully morphs from HWAM (hireling-with-a-mission), perfectly happy to deceive and sell out these blue-skinned aliens, to a Na'vi freedom-fighter. In one scene, Sully is spilling Na'vi secrets; virtually in the next, he's bound up heart and soul with the Na'vi cause, and now perfectly willing and happy to kill dozens or hundreds of human beings who (A) were being exactly what he had been just three months prior, but (B) had not been afforded his insights into Na'vi culture or cause. Sully, shallow and selfish from start to finish, never once tried to enlighten either race as to the other. Similarly...
  2. Sully himself. I don't know to what degree it's a talentless actor or thoughtless writing, but he's a shallow character, and I found myself unable to sympathize with him. Sully uses the corporation, then he uses the Na'vi, then he uses the planet. Not much emotion plays across that face or body-language, and not much of substance passes those lips. A Sean Connery, a Tom Cruise, a Kevin Bacon, a Jimmy Stewart (to cast a broad net) — any of them could have shown a conflicted person in spite of shallow writing and direction. Worthington didn't. Zoe Saldana brought all the depth, and Worthington wasn't up to her performance in any way. Pity. So both #1 and #2 issue in the fact that....
  3. It's disturbing to see Worthington's Sully suddenly and unhesitatingly killing humans. When the villainous Colonel asks something like "How does it feel to be a traitor to your own species?", the viewer is forced to grant that he actually has a point. Sully had made a last-nanosecond, lame attempt to persuade the Na'vi to move — but he made no attempt to persuade his fellow-humans not to kill all these beings nor raze their homes. If he'd had his legs and had not been given the avatar (thanks to the corporation whose employees he's now killing), Sully would have been right next to the mercinaries, shooting and bombing and killing.
Should you see it? Up to you, but now you know what you're getting into.

Final thoughts. It is sad to think that many film-goers will gaily make the leap and unreflectingly "buy into" a sermon on pantheism, eco-worship and America-hatred.

But here in the real world, the universe is not God. It is created by God. There is a vast and unbridgeable chasm between Creator and creation, with the latter dependent on the former, and the former infinitely transcending the latter.

In the real world, God is an infinite person, with character and a will. His will has been expressed permanently, fully, sufficiently, and in words. He has visited His planet — not in a tree, but in a person, in the person of His Son.

In the real world, salvation has been accomplished. But it was not accomplished by a selfish fool hypocritically killing his own people. It was accomplished by God the Son allowing Himself to be killed by His own creatures, that on their behalf He might accomplish and achieve salvation, and then call them to enjoy that salvation through His saving message.

Now, there is a story worth telling and re-telling.

48 comments:

beachbirdie said...

Enjoyed your review very much. Well done. You captured the highs and lows. My family just went to see Avatar last night in 3D, but sadly no IMAX anywhere near us (sigh).

We thoroughly enjoyed the ride! It is rare for me to sit through a movie this long without any sense of boredom, without thinking "when is this going to end?". I honestly did not notice the time passing I was so absorbed.

Our funny takeaway for the evening: as we were leaving the theater our future son-in-law overheard a woman express great puzzlement about the film, saying "I don't get it...so they didn't get the precious metals? What happened? I just don't get it."

On a side note, I have to tell you that my oldest daughter remembers seeing The Little Mermaid exactly as you discussed. She, as a child picked up on the "spoiled girl who breaks the rules, hurts people, and doesn't pay consequences yet gets everything she wants in the end." We didn't have to say a word! She won't watch it to this day, she is now 27.

Happy New Year to you and your family!

NoLongerBlind said...

Very well-written and thought-out review - as usual! - Dan.

This is the first time that I've seen the movie ahead of your review....

I agree with your overall take on the film; for me, it was a very enjoyable experience, and, I'm hoping to see it again! (I too lament the fact that the nearest IMAX theater is over an hour away!)

One question for you: Do you know if Sam Worthington is really a paraplegic?

Jay said...

Good points about science fiction. Also I'm glad that you pointed out how the god (or goddess) of Pandora isn't a spiritual, but a physical being. The movie quite clearly explains that all the trees and animals of Pandora have the ability to physically connect to one another, making the entire planet one giant living, conscious organism. In other words, Eywa is a deity only in that s/he is the most powerful being on Pandora, but s/he is still limited. When Pandora eventually dies, as all planets do, so will Eywa, which means that s/he is not a deity at all, but a creature like the rest of us. That's what I took away from the movie, and I thought it was fascinating, but not pantheism as many Christians are claiming.

Roy and Becky said...

My husband and I saw the movie and thought it was beautiful. We thought of the Native American culture and saw great similarities there. We live near a reservation, and there were lots of tribal members in attendance. The special effects were amazing. We saw it as a futuristic cowboy vs indian movie.

NoLongerBlind said...

uuhhhh, scratch that previous question, please!

(slinks away in embarrassment.....)

JackW said...

I'm the kind of guy that would just as soon wait for the DVD to come out. Would you say that I'm missing too much by doing that in this case?

greglong said...

Overall I enjoyed and agreed with your review.

However, I disagree that the film was not "about pantheism, Gaia worship, and evil America." The plot and visuals in the story clearly were intended to represent certain beliefs and concepts. Just because they were worshiping Eywa on Pandora and not Earth doesn't mean it wasn't supposed to represent Gaia-worship and pantheism. And yes, OK, it was a mercenary army...but isn't it funny how they all looked like Americans and used recent phrases clearly associated with American military might? As I wrote on facebook after seeing the movie, I don't like watching a movie where I'm supposed to root against what clearly represents the American military (see "Avatar: Rambo in Reverse" by Russell Moore).

Ultimately, as you pointed out, it certainly was "about" those things in the mind of the director, as his statements have made abundantly clear.

I appreciated Russ Douthat's perspective "Heaven and Nature".

But the visuals were sweet.

Sir Aaron said...

McDonalds is handing out avatar toys as part of their happy meals. Then I saw a preview of the movie and now your review, and I'm wondering..."why are they handing out toys to kids for a movie that is PG-13?"

I love the little Mermaid. It has some of my all-time favorite Disney music in it. It is based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Anderson, I believe. They changed the ending because the acutal ending to the Little Mermaid is not happy. In the actual written version, the Little Mermaid is turned into the foam of the sea. But my daughter's favorite movie is now Cars and The Incredibles.

DJP said...

Yeah, Greg, I doubt we'll have a very violent disagreement. But it's like this: no matter how hard you mean something, if you don't put it in your product, does the product mean it?

To stay with the ucky-but-simple analogy, take the three-named-guy's point about Dumbledore. Rowling says Dumbledore's homosexual. Okay, so I guess in her mind he was.

But show me that repulsive little irrelevancy in the books. He wasn't married. So? Lots of "straights" aren't married. He was close with this wizard-guy. So? Lots of "straights" have close friends of the same sex.

Maybe Ron was a bed-wetter. So? Maybe Hermione was a racist. So? Maybe McGonagall cheated at bridge. So? Not in the books, not in the books, and not in the books.

So, Cameron's a lunatic lefty. So? Lots of artists are lunatic lefties, and put it right in their movies. Where is it here, in this movie?

Pandora is a physical network of roots that communicate data to each other. Is Earth? No.

And is that pantheism? As I pointed out in detail, no, it really isn't. As a former pantheist (or, at least, panentheist), I speak with some authority on the subject. If that was in Cameron's head, he didn't successfully get it into the movie.

A corporation hired ex-military guys to plunder a planet peopled with peaceful natives who never harmed them. Is that like Iraq? In no way. Iran? No. Afghanistan? No.

American Indians? There it gets a lot more complicated, and I think we're straying a bit afield.

Fred Butler said...

Let me see if I have this straight:
We have the technology to transverse great distances in space and survive the travel. Mine another world and bring it back to earth. Genetically engineer human and Navi DNA. But we can't fix a spinal cord injured man's legs? Does the insurance company consider such technology "experimental?"

It reminds me of Spider man 2 when at the beginning, Dr. Octavius, who has been longing to invent something revolutionary for humanity, brings a bunch of reporters into his lab and declares "I have harnessed the power of the sun! I am now a successful scientist! ...

"But I had to invent these robotic arms that moves with a person's mind first so I can capture the sun's power."

What?

DJP said...

Jack, simplest way to put one of my major criteria is, "Will it lose much by going to the smaller screen?"

In this case, I'd say yes. Some of the action is very big, and funner with a big screen and big sound.

Paula said...

DJP said, A corporation hired ex-military guys to plunder a planet peopled with peaceful natives who never harmed them. Is that like Iraq? In no way. Iran? No. Afghanistan? No.

But does it resemble Homeland Security Czarette Napolitono's characterization of ex-soldiers as 'rightwing extremists' and violent psychos bent on destruction?

greglong said...

Dan, I see your point. I just thought the intended message came through much more clearly than you seem to. I thought it was about as subtle as a forearm shiver.

Thanks again for the review.

CR said...

DJP: So we are not dealing with pantheism, which is the false notion that material reality is not real, but is instead God in self-manifestation.

Interesting but unexpected review. Pantheism, as I understand it, is not a monolithic position - you have several types and not all of these positions say that the material reality is not real.

I thought the movie reeked of pantheism in this way: (1) the Pandora god was identical with the creation, (2)No personal character of the Pandaro god (again, because of identifying the pandaro god with pandaro world).

Can someone still enjoy the movie - well, of course. Just like I enjoyed Star Wars because it's science fiction.

DJP said...

Except that Eywa has a "will," and they talk to it. In Religious Science, we did not talk to "God," because that would have implied separation. And "God" didn't have a will per se; it could be worked to our own purposes, our own will. Thus the suicidal pantheistic dilemma of an impersonal being ("God") producing personal beings (us).

If it's pantheism, it's dirt-ignorant pantheism — which, I'll grant, is entirely possible.

Sir Aaron said...

Sometimes an author/director intends to send a message through certain imagery, etc. and sometimes certain imagery is merely a byproduct of the director's worldview.

I don't see every movie as some sort of conspiratorial propaganda. I do think that every piece of art reflects, to some extent, the artist's worldview.

The Squirrel said...

To take Fred's point into a slightly different direction: It takes 6 years to get to Pandora (12 years round trip), so how is mining this Unobtainium economically viable at all? Even at the high, but forgotten-by-me, price-per-kilo quoted in the movie?

Yeah, yeah, I know... It's a movie.

Also, the evils of capitalism are a long-running theme with Cameron. If you recall, "The Company" was the bad guy, in the person of Paul Reiser's "Carter Burke."

I do think that Sully's conversion from spy to traitor was more believeable then Skywalker's conversion from Jedi to Sith in Episode III...

~Squirrel

DJP said...

That's a pretty low wall to leap, Squirrel.

(c;

Al said...

Great review Dan...

I saw this with my Father-in-law, Brother-in-law and teenaged son... We all liked it for its visual aesthetic. Just spectacular.

The acting was stilted and predictable but I hated the ending most of all.

You already had us there for 3+ hours, give us a moral foundation for the wicked earthlings giving up their rape of the planet.

If I was fighting for earth the title of the sequel would be: Avatar II: High Orbital Bombardment.

al sends

(by the way my word verification: fanteni)

DJP said...

Al, you give white devils a bad name.

Sir Aaron said...

Al, that's too funny.

DJP said...

More seriously, Al: you think Zoe Saldana's acting was "stilted," as Neytiri?

DJP said...

NLB, I think you're probably asking because his bare legs looked so emaciated and un-muscled in that one shot, right? That had to be more CGI-magic.

BTW and very tangentially: seeing Sigourney Weaver CGIed so convincingly into a younger, alien version of herself felt like a peek into the future return of John Wayne, Ingrid Bergman, Cary Grant and other greats to movies.

Anyone think the same?

Sir Aaron said...

Good grief, I hope not.

Rachael Starke said...

This was a great review Dan. Thanks for being so balanced and thoughtful about the difference between what Cameron's intent might have been, vs. what actually came out in the movie. If Cameron's intent was preachy pantheism, the fact that he failed so badly is significant, and further evidence that he's most likely a legend only in his own mind. :)

And am I the only one who did a double-take and snicker at your dear wife's noting the blue-colored, erm, parts, that earned the PG-13 rating? My first thought was that a glimpse of any part of that color on a human should prompt concern, panic and a quick call to 911, rather than thoughts of a more sinful nature. Then again, I'm not a guy. :)

Thanks again. I'm back to being up in the air about whether to brave the unwashed, coughing hordes to see it in a theater.

Al said...

Dan, no actually she was the best of the bunch. I wonder how much of her facial expression belonged to her?

Weaver became more human when she donned the Avatar. That may have been intentional, but her Doctor Persona was not believable to me. The Colonel, a mash-up of George C. Scott's Patton and Duvall from Apocalypse Now, not stilted either, but man did he chew some scenery.

al sends

beachbirdie said...

Considering he wants to go on "Dancing With the Stars" and the fact that he seems to be an active surfer, I think it is safe to assume Sam Worthington is not paraplegic. Movie magic did a good job creating the look of Jake's atrophied legs!

Al said...

Don't have to post it here, but I thought you might "like" this...


http://politiken.dk/newsinenglish/article868683.ece

DJP said...

Al, you can find video both of Saldana in and out of CGI-up (as opposed to "makeup"), and you can find a little feature on Weaver discussing her character in and out of its avatar. The expression comes from Saldana, and your perception is correct: Weaver deliberately gave two different portrayals of Dr. Augustine.

SandMan said...

Thanks for the review. I really had no desire to see it before, and now that i know basically what happens I still don't. No offense... guess I am not a die hard sci-fi guy. Plus, the wife and I have a rule against skin in movies... even if it is blue.

The question about the "paraplegic" actor did make me laugh a bit. Only because I nearly choked on milk duds the first time I saw Gary Sinise with legs after seeing Forest Gump. It never occurred to me in 1995 that the actor might actually have legs.

NoLongerBlind said...

After I posted my question, I decided to google Sam Worthington - what I should have done first! - and learned that, among other things, he was one of several actors considered for replacing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond in the 2006 version of Casino Royale.

Obviously, a paraplegic, he isn't!

BTW, yes, Dan, that was the aspect that prompted the question - there were several shots of his apparently atrophied legs.....

CR said...

Rachael: Then again, I'm not a guy. :)

Exactly. It was noticeable.

burningbear said...

How many babies would Jesus bomb? There's nothing holy about "going in there" and attacking a helpless primitive population which never hurt YOU. All earthly empires come to an end. Jesus doesn't wrap the flag around Himself. He taught love, even for enemies. How loving is it to strafe somebody else's environment with napalm or poison gas? There is NO SUCH THING as a Christian military. That's a contradiction to the Spirit of Christ.

DJP said...

Which Jesus are we talking about? The Jesus of the Bible ordered the extermination of whole peoples in Canaan (to reach into the past), and will come again to wreak both temporal and eternal destruction on all unbelievers (to look to the future; 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10; Revelation 20-21).

Beware worshiping the false idol named "Jesus" created by the world. He can't save. He doesn't exist.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

Kind of off topic, but I disagree with your statement that Beauty and the Beast had a good sermon. A smart, pretty young girl gets involved with a gruff, abusive beast. But when she learns to love him, he turns into a prince.

You probably didn't spend your high school years listening to friends say, "If you could learn to see him the way *I* see him, you'd understand. He's not really a bad guy, he's just misunderstood." That kind of thinking runs rampant among young girls.

And to show my hyposcrisy, I should admit that I own both Beauty and the Beast and Little Mermaid.

DJP said...

Perfectly fair point, Staci, and worth making. Thanks.

The "good sermon" we got was:

1. Non-airhead loves to read
2. Heroine loves her father, to the point of sacrificial love
3. Heroine sees past the surface of the Beast, which is unlovable

All three points in total contrast to The Little Mermaid which, I think, was our major previous film-to-discuss.

Staci at Writing and Living said...

Oh, I agree. The message in Little Mermaid is worse.

As the parent of an eleven-year-old daughter, I would like for Disney to come out with a movie where the smart, sweet heroine marries a nice man from church that her parents pick out for her, but I'm not holding my breath. :)

DJP said...

Yeah, Staci, the Disney people just emailed me. They asked me to tell you they're going to get right on that.

(c;

Sir Aaron said...

burning bear: How many babies were killed during the plagues on Egypt?

Staci: Sleeping beauty actually married the man her parents picked out for her....albeit, not quite by design...

The Squirrel said...

I (briefly) spoke to a woman who was getting out of a car with a "Who would Jesus bomb?" bumpersticker.

I asked, "Have you read the Bible? Who would Jesus bomb? Pretty much everybody who doesn't repent and trust in Him for salvation!"

She didn't want to dialogue...

~Squirrel

Sir Aaron said...

LOL Squirrel. Love it.

kbuspoppa said...

I would agree with your view of sci-fi license in creating a world, a planet, a people. I was a little surprised to see you come down so hard on poor Sam. I would liken his conversion to the story of Ruth. She too took on a different way of thinking from what she was brought up with. I'm not trying to say this to create controversy. I use this as something we're both familiar with to explain the characters conversion to a different way of thinking. It was inadequately depicted in the film because of time restraints. But, for the character, three months of living as a Na'vi obviously gave him a different point of view. The storyline reminded me very much of Indian lore. In that, I think it would be wise for parents to discuss this film with their children after they see it to make sure there is a distiction between what is obviously sci-fi and what can be construed as a "religion". The connotations of good versus evil. What corporate greed is. The difference between government sponsered military and mercenaries. In your words, I would call this a fun movie with a bad sermon.

JTW said...

I finally went to see Avatar. I hoped to miss the crowds, but they are still coming, theater was packed.

A few observations:
1. I thought pantheism and Gaia worship came through loud and clear. Was it a perfect analogy, no. But as they say, analogies and allegories all break down at some point. I didn't hear anyone in the theater discussing the finer points of Gaia worship or pantheism vs. panentheism - nor do I expect that most people will.

2. The film was anti-American and anti-capitalist complete with a cartoon caricature of an American military commander.

3. I'll take Cameron at his word as far as his intent. After all, this is a man who tried to convince the world that Christ has not risen. I think that it is reasonable to conclude that Avatar (and other films like it) romanticizes pagan philosophies making them more appealing to the culture. All of that considered, I think Roger Ebert's giddy response to the film was entirely appropriate and accurate.

Was the film visually impressive, yes. But bad sermon and plenty of silly plot-holes and contrivances.

Rob Bailey said...

Rhesa and I had a great time watching this film. We enjoyed the production value and the opportunity for discussion that is created by the content. Why do people get so offended when the world makes a worldly movie? What did you expect? Also, why do people get so offended when someone points out the fact that we (Americans) destroyed a culture, and have continued to seek our own desires at the expense of others? We do it on a personal level and an historical/national level.

Sir Aaron said...

Which culture would that be? Native Americans were "cultures" if you want to describe them accurately. And I have no problem saying that Americans destroyed their culture. They were pagans, most of which were anything but "in tune" with nature. Many of the Indian tribes practiced all kinds of heinous torturous acts, murder, and "environmental crimes."

Rob Bailey said...

We did it. They did it. They did it in Noah's time. They did it in the time of the time of the Judges. Tower of Babel? American revolution? To excuse your own sin because "everybody does it" is why my kids get into trouble, daily.

Sir Aaron said...

We did what? Certainly, there were some Americans who acted inappropriately at times. Can't excuse that.

But you wont find me shedding a tear for the loss of native American culture.

Stan McCullars said...

Rob,
You asked why do people get so offended when someone points out the fact that we (Americans) destroyed a culture, and have continued to seek our own desires at the expense of others?

I'm with you there!

I've never been a fan of Manifest Destiny or The Indian Removal Act. Some of my ancestors (Cherokee) lost loved ones as a result of such godless policies.