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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Petrick Sees Avatar

This is Steven Petrick Posting.

Well, I have seen "Avatar". While I can understand the hype about the advances in computer driven animation it represented, the storyline was, to me, very poor. In short, it was what was expected. There were no surprises. Right down to the mystical ability of the natives to permanently transfer the hero's essence into the clone body, with no explanation of just why the Natives have this ability. (How often have they been transferring the life essence of one person to another?)

There is also a problem with the oddness of evolution on the planet. Most creatures appeared to have more than two eyes, and be hexapods (that is they had six limbs), while the Navi were bilaterally symetrical and had only two eyes. Something hinky about the evolution on this planet, or the Navi themselves were an invasive species planted from somewhere else.

It is sadly not clear why "unobtainium" is so valuable. We only know that it is being mined, that its value is worth moving all the resources being used to Pandora (Including all those gunships) and itself being moved all the way back to Earth.

For want of a better term, unobtainium is apparently just a stand-in for Gold in the new world. After all, no real attempt was made to make us think the Navi were anything other than Native Americans.

I do have to credit the film for allowing the advanced technology culture to triumph over the merely native forces. They "won" the battle with the Navi, even if ultimately they "lost" the battle with the planet. No history major or student of things military would have accepted the Navi Cavalry Charge over running the line of Infantry with automatic weapons supported by gunships. And it did not. The repulse was all that could have been and should have been (at least to anyone with a military background) expected. In a real world sense, without the intervention of the planet, one would have expected to see the Navi attempting to adapt, but the technological mismatch represented was far greater than what occurred when Europeans came to the Americas (and was equally unfair, but history is what history is, it was equally unfair when the Mongols smashed the Poles, Rumanians, Hungarians, Russians, Persians, and Chinese).

The Navi, of course, had the advantage of being immune to the benefits of civilization. After all, their apparent bond with Mother Pandora kept them from being cold or hot, made sure food was always plentiful and did not need to be preserved and automatically (apparently) healed them without risk of infections. The typical longing of a technocrat like Cameron for an Eden that has never existed on this planet. Life before technology has always been hard work and hard scrabble, not the idealized dream producers like Cameron like to imagine.

I have seen Cameron's Film once, I will not see it again. The animation was a true tour de force, the writing and story stank.