Our son was here over the holidays and he and his fiancee went to see Avatar, the new 3D Sf flick that is all the rage these days. Already it’s grossed over a billion dollars worldwide and is expected to exceed the amount its director made with Titannic, which is so far the highest grossing film ever.

I read a few initial reviews, saw the trailer and decided I probably wouldn’t see it because I didn’t expect to like it. As I emailed to a friend, “Since the story’s supposed to be like Disney’s Pochahontas and I didn’t like what I read of their rendition — evil white European Christian males attempt to invade, despoil and exploit the good, pure, nice native cultures but the lovely female native saves the day — I don’t expect to like (Avatar).” Not only that but it really looked like it was very anti-military, anti-business, pro-environmentalist and typical Hollywood.

My son and I discussed it before he saw the film and afterward he said my assessment was correct in that those elements were definitely part of the story. He enjoyed it, primarily because of the world, which was apparently very well done, not only in the quality of the technology but in the wondrous way it was presented. It was just fun to be in, he said. Because it was so different from anything we have here — which has long been a staple of science fiction and fantasy, ie., the attempt to create worlds of wonder that will fascinate and live on in reader’s minds. Lord of the Rings was exactly that.  I guess Avatar’s Pandora is too…

In fact, so compelling is it that, according to an article on Drudge thousands of fans are depressed and suffering from withdrawal from Pandora after seeing it.  Some of them talk of suicide. The real earth is just so dull and dreary. We have destroyed it! Ruined it! They are banding together on forums to console each other and try to find their way back to purpose in life.  (And the  accompanying picture of all those blue-tinted, glasses-wearing, enrapt audience members is really kinda creepy)

Another article reports on the opinions of a Chicago alderman who is also a war veteran. He charges the movie with making “marines look like lunatics,”  and is not pleased.

My favorite, though, was the review from The Weekly Standard’s movie critic John Podhoretz, who said the film was “blitheringly stupid” and “among the dumbest movies” he’d ever seen.

Avatar is an undigested mass of clichés nearly three hours in length taken directly from the revisionist westerns of the 1960s-the ones in which the Indians became the good guys and the Americans the bad guys. Only here the West is a planet called Pandora, the time is the 22nd century rather than the 19th, and the Indians have blue skin and tails, and are 10 feet tall.

…the natives are wonderful in every possible way. They are so green it’s too bad their skin has to be blue. They’re hunters and they kill animals, but after they do so, they cry and say it’s sad. Which only demonstrates their superiority..”

It’s a very funny review,  one that pretty much confirms everything I’d concluded about  the movie. In fact, I was struck by Podhoretz’s reference above to the revisionist westerns because I’d already thought that it seemed kind of like a sci fi version of Dances With Wolves

According to him Avatar unquestionably promotes a green/environ-theistic religion  while eventually asking its audience to root for the destruction of American soldiers at the hands of a native insurgency… even so, he doesn’t think it’s a big political statement, just the result of such values being so entrenched in Hollywood that writers think nothing of putting them forward in their quest to please as many people as they can. The question Podhoretz raises is, would the movie be anywhere near as interesting without the snazzy special effects? My question as well.

0 thoughts on “Avatar

  1. Loren Warnemuende

    Thanks for writing about this Karen. Good timing! I was just wondering the other day what your opinion would be (not that I wait breathlessly for your opinions, but I tend to agree with them, so it’s confirmation 🙂 ).

    Last week Kraig’s (my husband’s)brother was raving about “Avatar” and how, if there was any way we could get a babysitter, we HAD to go see it. The affects were “amazing,” etc. Kraig and I chatted about it later and couldn’t help but wonder similar things you mentioned, such as, “Is the story that good or is it just the affects?” It reminded me of Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” and the “feelies” (complete sensory movies). We’re getting closer and closer to those.

    I’ve been surprised by the overwhelming awe of even believers with the movie; when I first heard the name of it (and haven’t been able to look into much more of what it’s about), I thought, “Avatar? Isn’t that something to do with a higher spiritual being who’s supposed to help guide one?” Doesn’t it come out of Eastern religions? I haven’t had a chance to review that….

    Anyway, so thanks for putting in your two cents 🙂 . Can’t get a babysitter for three hours right now anyway with a nursing infant, so I don’t have to argue too much why I’m not running to the theater!

    1. karenhancock

      Glad you enjoyed the post, Loren. And yes, you’re right about “avatar” being a higher spiritual being come down to guide as well as it’s being from Eastern religions. Free Dictionary online defines it thus:

      1. The incarnation of a Hindu deity, especially Vishnu, in human or animal form. 2. An embodiment, as of a quality or concept; an archetype: the very avatar of cunning. 3. A temporary manifestation or aspect of a continuing entity: occultism in its present avatar.

      It derives from the Sanskrit avatra, descent (of a deity from heaven), avatar : ava, down + tarati, he crosses; see ter-2 in Indo-European roots.

  2. mylittlebub

    Thanks Karen,

    Having seen the movie, I can confirm your review. It really sends a message that our military is evil and ignorant, that you must worship nature to find freedom and fulfillment. A beautifully imagined planet with amazing special affects and a sweet love story is a sad cover for a lie that says finding your ultimate purpose can be found in the creation instead of the creator.


  3. Katherine

    Here’s a another blogger’s brief review which pretty much sums it up: http://mommylife.net/archives/2010/01/avatar_-_brief.html

    As for my personal experience, I saw it in 2D with three generations – my mother, her husband, my mother-in-law and her fiancé, and my husband and our two children. Interestingly enough, it was my mother-in-law and her fiancé who were the instigators in getting us all to go! Though of course our kids were eager to take them up on the idea because of all they were hearing from friends.

    I enjoyed it and found it interesting, and had no trouble with the length; however, red alerts kept popping up for me, in regards to the very harsh light cast over the military, the mother earth worship, and also the dangerous pull towards abandoning real life and hiding in an imagined world (except in the movie it was a “real” place with “real” people, which is, I suppose, how some people feel about their video games – RED ALERT! Danger! Get out of there and get in touch with REALITY). I wouldn’t want to watch it twice.

    1. karenhancock

      Thanks for sharing your experience, Katherine and for the blog link. I particularly agree with Barbara’s statement that the silly religious rituals reminded me of the irony of “sophisticated” thinkers who scoff at Christian religious practices yet take this stuff so seriously.

      That’s one reason I enjoyed Podhoretz’s mockery of them living and worshiping in the “Keebler Elf Giant tree”…

  4. Gayle

    I knew I would not want to go see this movie. One, from the reviews that I had seen I was and am convinced that it is not the action movie of my dreams. What drivel that the cosmic system uses to feed the masses? And yet there is a feeding frenzy for most things that are vomited out of Hollywood. I love movies, but I am not wasting my time. “Red River”, “Hondo”, “The Last of the Mohicans” [the Michael Mann version], “The Quiet Man”, and “The Man from Snowy River” are several of my top picks. Reckon I am showing my age?

    1. karenhancock

      Oooh. I love The Man from Snowy River! But those others I’ll have to put on my list. My all time favorite, beats all the rest to pieces, movie? Gladiator (Russell Crowe) That one was life changing for me… I saw it seven times in the theater.

      Others: Star Wars (A New Hope — the very first one, which was the seed that led to Legends of the Guardian King; the others went downhill from there), The Count of Monte Cristo, The Passion of the Christ… hmmm. I think this could be a blog post on its own so I better save the rest…

      Great to hear from you Gayle. I’m very disappointed we’ll not be seeing you at the conference this weekend!

  5. Judy

    Hi Karen! I LOVE LOVE your post!!

    I am 18 and a freshman in college…I was in private school my whole life and once i entered college, my eyes opened to how liberal our world is…the whole “Go green!” movement…and how the director was able to accomplish making “Avatar”, which gives him a boost of confidence to keep going with this anti-american, ant-marines, anti-everything campaign. Especially christianity. At first, when i heard of Avatar, i didn’t think much of it…and i was looking forward to the effects! And the effects are awesome…but then…the message behind the movie kept bugging me…the part when the main character says “look at our world, there is no green, we killed our mother” It basically SCREAMS and shoves it down your throat…”environmentalism!!” Distgusting…i regret supporting that man…my brother told me, “If i watch that movie, I am not paying to watch it…I am not supporting that man and his views.” and he further concluded to the fact that James Cameron is the one who said that he found Jesus’ daughter or somewhere along those lines…sigh…our world is so corrupt…the enemy is doing a great job working in disguise. Just like socialism and communism is coming back…they are in our offices and government…*shudder* Scary stuff. What was once good is now bad…and what was bad is now good. Sad…


    PS: Please check out my brother’s website! It’s his blog…

  6. Rebecca LuElla Miller

    Hi, Karen,

    Well, I saw the movie and now I can’t seem to stop writing about it on my blog!

    For a chuckle, check out this spoof of the plot line—especially since you saw Pocahontas.

    FYI, if I remember correctly the military guys were soldiers of fortune, though the general (or whatever rank he was)and the protag came from the US military.

    The amazing thing to me (as I rant about on my site – 🙂 ) is that Christians are missing the serious religious implications of the movie. Avatar might be light weight when it come to plot and character development, but it is heavy—and I thought, heavy-handed—on theme.

    Today I quoted what writer/director James Cameron said about the movie, because he zeroed right in on the religious message.


  7. Tobias

    I am sorry but I have to disagree with you on this because people take to many things out of context like for example the soldiers where mercenaries no longer serving in the marines they where payed to go and take over a world that never belonged to them in the first place.Look at it this way take a trip back through history when nations took over other nations and made them slaves or just killed them off.I do understand that it is fantasy and people shouldn’t be depressed after seeing it actully it should open there eyes as for people saying things like white devils and things like that keep it to themselfs we have enough hate in the world as it is.Don’t get me wrong Mrs hancock I read alot of your books and really enjoy them alot and its your right not to see the movie that is what makes us differant:)I seen the movie and experanced alot of spritual feelings per say I think alot of people will see alot od differant things and have differant feelings in the movie.I loved it and I’ll leave it at that:)


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