20th Century Fox
Plot Summary: A paraplegic marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home
Reason for the Rating: Intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a marine sent to the planet Pandora to help take over and recover “unobtainium,” a newfound element that sells for big bucks back on earth. His brother, a scientist, was to have an “avatar” in resemblance to one of the local Navi people, and be linked to it through modern technology and control it. This was to gain samples of the outside world and interact with the local tribes. Unfortunately, his brother was killed on the journey to Pandora. Thus, because of their similar DNA, Jake is the only one who can take his spot.
Soon enough, Jake accidentally stumbles into the hands of a local named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). She saves his life and then takes him (his avatar) to her village which is located in a giant tree. Jake slowly gains acceptance and starts to learn the culture and customs. Back in the base, he gives details of this experience to Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who is the leader of the attack.
As a few months go by, Jake begins to feel more at home and accepted in his avatar. He starts to struggle with whether he is doing the right thing by giving away information to Quaritch. Eventually, the attack is made on the home tree of the Navi. Jake and a couple other scientists protest this, but none listen to them. They then take their base of operations far out into Pandora. Jake, now accepted as one of the Navi, begins gathering the people to him to fight against the attacking humans. This war will be the deciding factor in whether the Navi are defeated and driven out to possible extinction, or whether they are able to send the humans back to Earth.
Avatar is easily one of the visually incredible movies in recent memory. The effects are amazing and the Navi and the whole of Pandora seems extremely realistic. Also the whole world of Pandora and its creatures are stunning. The creation of many new species and the way they interact with each other is a very impressive part of the movie.
Sadly, the visuals are about the only things that kept my attention during this film. The story was lacking in many ways. The acting of the story was fine, but the plot was derivative and sometimes preachy. It was also not very inventive, using stereotyped characters (particularly among the villains), and predictable. I kept waiting for exciting plot surprises to match the visual depth and realism...but they just didn't come. And, for all it's wonder, Avatar is just too long. At the 2-hour point, I was ready for the film to be done, but there was almost another hour left to sit through. In the end, I was disappointed by Avatar...but it could still be a good one for parents and teens to watch together and discuss afterward.
If you’re looking for superb visuals, or just want to keep up with pop culture and teen interests, then this is a DVD you'll want to see (but be prepared to spend about 3 hours in front of your TV set!). If you're someone who prefers a superb plot, you'll probably want to let this one pass by.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• What do you think it would be like to go and live with a whole new kind of people on a whole new planet? Describe it.
• Jake has a hard choice to make between choosing his own kind and the Navi. Do you think he made the right choice? Why?
• What would have made this story better for you? How would you have told it differently?
Note: All movie-related graphics in this column are standard publicity/promotional shots and are owned by their respective movie studios.