Cowboys vs. Indians in Space

By Ed Koch
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I did not like this film at all, notwithstanding Manohla Dargis's glorious review in The New York Times.  She wrote:  

"With 'Avatar' James Cameron has turned one man's dream of the movies into a trippy joy ride about the end of life - our moviegoing life included - as we know it.  Several decades in the dreaming and more than four years in the actual making, the movie is a song to the natural world that was largely produced with software, an Emersonian exploration of the invisible world of the spirit filled with Cameronian rock'em, sock'em pulpy action.  Created to conquer hearts, minds, history books and box-office records, the movie - one of the most expensive in history, the jungle drums thump - is glorious and goofy and blissfully deranged.

In my opinion, Avatar has been hyped beyond the point of forgiveness.  

The "sky people," who are Earth whites escaping from a destroyed earth perhaps due to climate change, land on the far-away moon of Pandora to dig for the mineral, unobtainium.  To do so, they have to demolish huge trees similar to Sequoias which unlike Sequoias have an extraordinary ability through their roots to contact one another.  Most important, the trees are sacred to the indigenous people known as the Na'vi.  The Na'vi appear to be human but are constructed differently in face and color (blue) and have lion-like tails.

The movie quickly turns into a Cowboy vs. Indian type of picture.  In the year 2154, when this encounter takes place, the whites have huge war machines with which to attack the Na'vi.  The Na'vi are assisted in their battle by dinosaur-like creatures some of which fly and are used as airplanes on which they ride.  The Na'vi, of course, are wonderful people while the whites, I mean the fly people, are vicious.

While the movie is intended for every age group, I believe the pitch is to adults, and the intent is to create a sense of guilt.  We see a replay of Custer's Last Stand with the Indians who won that battle now joined in history by the Na'vi who win this one.

Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully who controls his Avatar, a Na'vi.  Zoe Saldana portrays Neytiri, daughter of the tribe's chief.  Sigourney Weaver plays Grace, one of the few good white people.  Then there is the evil Col. Miles Quaritch, (Stephen Lang) who wants to kill the Na'vi.  The Avatar for Sam Worthington becomes Neytiri's lover.  

When Jake inhabits his human body he is crippled and unable to walk.  As a Na'vi, he flies through the air on the back of what appeared to be a pterodactyl or flying reptile.     

The film is the brainchild of James Cameron who also wrote and directed Titanic.  I would have preferred if he had given us Titanic II

Avatar is defined in the dictionary as an "incarnation or embodiment, as of a quality or concept, and an incarnation of especially a Hindu deity in human form."  Go figure that out.  I can't.

The movie is presented in 3-D.  Believe me, the 3-D glasses did not add much to the film.

Photo courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2009/12/cowboys-vs-indians-in-space/32429/