Movie Review: Avatar


Avatar. Photo: Fox

In Avatar, the Na’vi people on moon Pandora spread a message about peace and environmental awareness. Photo: 20th Century Fox

If you haven’t seen Avatar yet, you may be thinking it’s another dumb, big-action movie with no real storyline, like G.I. Joe or Transformers 2.  Well, director James Cameron definitely gives big explosions and people attacking each other with guns and bombs, but he also manages to slip in a worthwhile anti-war, anti-conquest message.

Avatar is about a wheelchair-bound man named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who is sent to an inhabited moon, known as Pandora. Sully tries to convince the species who live there, the Na’vi people, to leave. The company that sent him wants to get their hands on a valuable mineral that is found in Pandora.

Humans, including Sully, are able to visit the Na’vi world by controlling avatars—Na’vi-human clone bodies. At first we are led to believe the Na’vi are a violent people. Military troops are sent in to fight the vicious, hard-to-kill natives. But when Jake Sully falls in love with the Na’vi princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in a Romeo and Juliet sort of way, we see the Na’vi through his eyes, as a peaceful, environment-loving, caring community.

The movie is slow in parts, and there’s a spiritual element that feels heavy. But it’s this spiritual message — that the Na’vi are all connected in life and death to a greater spirit — that also allows us to accept the animated beings as a kinder, more promising species than us humans.

(Due to an editorial error, IndyKids incorrectly called Pandora a planet in an earlier online version of this review. As Alex Poquette noted in his original review, Pandora is a moon, not a planet.)

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