Saturday, January 16, 2010

Avatar Absurdity

Avatar is a beautiful movie that has many flaws and a storyline ripped out of a Disney movie. There are absurd moments, motivations, and assumptions in this movie that beg discussion. There has also been criticism of the movie that I think is a bit of a stretch. There a major flaws and part of this comes down to choice of story: add humans to an alien environment.

Laughable Aliens
The aliens are visually stunning and good CGI. They also are the lamest amalgam of romantic stereotypes of American Indians/Hippies/sub-Saharan East African tribes set in a rainforest. They even got "that Indian" who has been the bad guy American Indiana in every Indian movie since 1980 to be in this as the chief. They are tugging on every sympathetic fiber we've got. This movie would be effective propaganda for saving the rainforest if anyone cared anymore about the rainforest (I do).

Laughable Moments
1. If Avatar use is new even for humans, how do the Na'vi know how to transfer spirits between the human body and the Avatar? No sense.
2. The RDA security forces destroy home tree and the Na'vi tribe through multi-stage attacks leaving them exposed to any native attack. Just bomb the heck out of the tree.
3. There are 20K Na'vi warriors. This is a small population on Pandora. The company knows they are all in one spot, so they fly lumbering ships into the area to drop massive explosives looped together? They couldnt fly one plane and laser sight a MOAB into the tree of souls? This is 150 years into the future, and they can't even use a 1990s Tomahawk missle technology?
4. Anytime the Colonel held his breath and then pulled off tons of athletic moves w/o breathing. 40 secs exposed and you lose consciousness. I had to stifle laughter as he jumped around, shot automatic weapons and didnt breath. No.
5. Sigourney weaver's avatar having a Stanford tank top fitting her 12 foot avatar body.
6. Every alien having a firm, supple butt. No way. This is not victoria's secretus sapiens.
7. Floating mountains with never ending water flow off of them. Where's the spring that generates the water flow? Wouldn't the water run out eventually? Does water somehow shoot up off the ground to refill the aquifer in the floating mountain?
8. The wildlife attacking the security forces. Disney called and they want their cheesey ideas back.
9. RDA sends every security force to fight and leaves none ot defend the base. What???? They get perp walked off the planet, like they are not coming back. Even if they got overrun, they'd radio to Earth about it, and rocket up to the planet orbital unit. They just walk off sadly.
10. The Na'vi keep a few good humans. OK, so what will they do when the oxygen units they have stored run out? Are they all going to get downloaded and uploaded into dead Na'vi? Makes no sense since no one else has an Avatar except for Sam Worthington.

I could go on, but these stuck out.

Strange Assumptions
1. That no world government or other agency would have observers present.
2. Humans have first contact and a 'rights' group doesn't automatically happen? I'd be for following the old Star Trek motto of the prime directive. Do not mess with them. Get the unobtanium w/o disturbing them.
3. Horizontal drilling. No need for a movie if they use HD. Using horizontal drilling would have allowed RDA to get to the 'unobtanium' under home tree without disturbing the tree. Somehow mining techniques have regressed to only using open pit mining.
4. RDA wouldn't just grab floating mountains for their unobtanium first instead of disturbing native, intelligent species. Pick the closest and easiest fruit first.
5. Couldn't they knock the Na'vi out with sleeping gas?
6. Humans develop interstellar travel, but no other advancements. The humans have no advanced missile/bomb tech to bomb them from space and then swoop in as aid workers afterwards, hiding their ulterior motive for unobtanium.
7. Scientists would write books about the Na'vi but not know the red dragon rider legend.
8. That RDA would not have another exec, company lawyer or company auditor breathing down the executive's neck with his every move, plotting a way to protect the company or takeover his job.
9. RDA wouldn't look for unobtanium away from a tribe. They automatically go towards borderlands and then the home tree of one tribe.
10. After Sam Worthington betrays the Na'vi, he rides a red dragon and gets every single tribe to rally around him. They disregard his betrayal. They don't think this is another trick. They don't say "he'll lead us to a trap". Yeah, that makes sense.

1. Why would the world need unobtanium? We're never told. We just know it's $20 mil a kilo. What is $20 mil worth in 150 years?
2. We're not told if this is the first contact with any alien species at all. Why is no one more awestruck and curious? even securty team members act like it is nothing to be on an alien world. The chopper ride to the floating mountains at least had a wide eyed crew looking at the mountains. THANK YOU!
3.Why isn't any government involved or sending observers? If everyone dreamed of Pandora as Worthington narrates, would not people be dying to go there?
4. With Worthington going rogue, why would RDA automatically go right at the tree of souls? They have the richest unobtanium deposits under control by taking home tree. Why further antagonize the Na'vi by destroying their sacred spot? This is just what Worthington would tell the Na'vi about, so why not lay low and show him to be a liar?
5. Why not let the Na'vi attack your forces instead of going to the most dangerous spot on the planet for your equipment?
6. Why is RDA not using robots for security since the humans can't breathe the air?
7. Why did RDA not know the red dragon rider legend? Even better, why when they found out about it did they not grow their own red dragon and have an Avatar ride it to tell the Na'vi to cooperate and leave home tree? This would be much cheaper and safer than wholesale relocation & massacre.
8. RDA knows Sam and Sigourney Weaver are wavering in support, why would they let them out of sight? Why would they imprison them and leave 1 guard? Why would they not imprison Michelle Rodriguez the moment she landed after leaving the home tree massacre.
9. RDA has no driving desire to know what is going on constantly on Pandora? Really?
10. RDA would not screen exhaustively for the Pandora crews? They'd invest in interstellar travel, Avatars, transporting tons between planets, and not spend money on mental and emotional screens that 20th century NASA and submarine staffing use.

I could go on with motivations as well, as this movie is full of WTF character decisions.

Unfair Criticisms
1. Anti-human, anti-corporate, anti-progress arguments are well founded, but the anti-military angle is wrong. It is made pretty clear in the beginning that the security forces are mercenary security guys for the RDA company. Yes, they are shown as trigger happy, but this isn't all that excessive of a portrayal. Local cops in my small hick hometown were power happy with teens and drunks (not with the 4 drug dealers in town). When watching it, I found these security forces much more humane & justified to act than the security guys in "District 9".
2. It's a children's story. This is dead on. This is the kind of adventure, going native story that kids would read about in grade school. Big broad strokes here. Read the adventure stories of the west, Africa, Mars, etc. stories and there is always the blending of the outsider into the native culture that ends up in becoming a warrior leader and getting the princess. This is enjoyable at a child's level, but nothing of substance. No one should eb calling this a great, epic and rich story. This is not "Ben Hur". This is classic hero story arc in a fish out of water tale set in a fantasy land.

1 comment:

Brian Barker said...

I like neither na'vi nor klingon as the future global language. Especially when you have to dress up for it :D

We also need a future international language. One which is easy to learn, as well !

And that's not English! Esperanto? Certainly:)

At least Bill Shatner speaks Esperanto. Please confirm at