Avatar: Still a Groundbreaker in CGI, but Not in Story

It’s time for Earth Day, so I thought it would be appropriate to talk about Avatar. Well, Avatar doesn’t take place on Earth, but it still has an environmental message so technically it counts, right?

Anyways, everyone practically knows about Avatar, it’s essentially Pocahontas with tall, blue cat aliens. The film takes place far into the future where Earth is running out of resources, and humanity travels to a distant moon called Pandora to colonize it. The colonization threatens a tribe called the Na’vi (the tall blue cat aliens) and some people, including Jack Sully (Sam Worthington) want to form a diplomacy with the tribe before conflict ensues.

I watched Avatar when it came out back in 2009, and I thought it was amazing. The special effects were phenomenal, and as a fan of science fiction, I was floored by the world of Pandora.

Just look how beautiful this is

However, later I realized that I was so blinded by the spectacle of it all that I didn’t realize how bland the story was.

The story is, like I said, essentially Pocahontas as well as Dances With Wolves, Ferngully, Princess Mononoke, and other films in which it’s nature versus humanity. It’s a story we’ve seen countless times, which is strange because, with such stunning visuals that have never been done before, you’d think they’d try to create a story just as appealing.

I suppose you could argue that the story wasn’t what Director James Cameron was aiming for, it was the visuals. The spectacle of it all was the point, and it certainly shows. From the beautiful, lush world of Pandora, to the designs of the Na’vi, it’s groundbreaking. Though, some of the creatures do look rather rubbery at times, but it’s still impressive.

I watched Avatar again recently, and my thoughts of it didn’t change much. The story is still bland, the dialogue’s cliche, the characters are pretty…meh, especially the main bad guy. Stephan Lang plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, and you can’t get any more one-dimensional than this guy. No disrespect to the actor, he played the jerk fine, the character is just your typical “let’s destroy and kill everything cause I’m bad and have no depth to my character whatsoever” kind of guy. On the other hand, I did like Zoe Saldana as Neytiri; she kicks major butt and has some good chemistry with Jack.

So, I watched the film on Disney+, but Disney seemingly cut the part where Neytiri and Jack are hooking up. It’s not even a real sex scene, they just have their hair intertwined because a Na’vi getting their hair tangled with another showing that they’re bonded. But oh no, we can’t show hair bonding; we can show violence, however.

There’s a lot of violence in Avatar; people get stabbed, mauled, blown up, etc. it can get gruesome but it’s okay because the kids will be fine as long as the small scene where two people are merely touching hair is cut out. I guess you can say that it’s a…haircut.

Yeah, that was bad.

Anyway, getting back to the characters. Avatar offers quite a diverse cast. We have Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Laz Alonso, and others. It’s a large cast, and a good portion are POC. While the dialogue isn’t the best, and can even get to borderline cringe, the actors work fine with what they got.

Overall, Avatar still holds up in terms of effects, but the story, however, could’ve been better. I love the world-building of Pandora though, you can tell that a lot of time and effort was put in to bring everything to life. That’s why it’s a bit disappointing to see such a bland story within this amazing world. Perhaps if the sequel to Avatar ever comes around, we’ll get a story that’s more fleshed out.

Originally published by Lauren Massuda on April 22, 2020






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *