30 Dec 2009

Avatar - my opinion...

...for what that's worth...

When was the last time you went to the pictures and the whole theatre clapped when the final credits started to roll? Never? It happened to us at the end of the amazing new James Cameron film, Avatar in 3D last night. I guess that gives you an idea of the audience's reaction to this extraordinary film. It was my opinion too. This is truly the most spectacularly crafted film I have ever seen, and my beloved and I both enjoyed it very much indeed.

It seems that in Christian circles there are those that disagree.

We googled the Christian reviews of the film on our return home last night to find this:

Christian reviews slam AVATAR - why?

If you check out the article and follow the links you'll get a good idea what gets the Christian reviewers up in arms. I am now going to go out on a limb though and give you my review. So here is is - a review of James Cameron's new blockbuster, Avatar, by an unapologetically Christian, Fundamentalist, Calvinist, Reformed Presbyterian, Bible-believing, Evangelical Australian Mum:

First, the plot. Set in the year 2154, the story involves a mission by U. S. Armed Forces to a new world, Pandora, in search of a mineral called Unobtainium. The military are required to attack and conquer the local indigenous people, the peaceloving Na'vi, a blue-skinned, golden-eyed race of slender giants, perhaps 12 feet tall. Since humans are unable to breathe in Pandora's atmosphere, Earth's scientists have grown Na'vi lookalikes which are mind-controlled by humans who remain wired up in a trance-like state on the ship - reminiscent of the Matrix. The lookalikes are called avatars.

Our hero is an ex-marine named Jake Sully, who is a paraplegic. In his avatar body he can walk again, and Jake is encouraged to report to the aggressive Colonel Miles Quaritch by a promise of financing for the very expensive operation which will restore movement to his legs. In theory there is little risk because if his avatar in killed, his human body will remain untouched on the ship.

Jake is taken in by the Na'vi, who want to understand more about the warriors of the 'sky people' as the aliens from Earth are known. The beautiful Neyteri, daughter of the tribe's leader is to be his guide.

The Na'vi live in harmony with nature, and by respecting the creatures that share their forest home. They believe that there is a deep spiritual connection among all creatures, and the earth goddess they call Eywa.

The problems arise when Jakes falls in love with Neyteri and must fight the aggressive humans who want the Unobtanium no matter what the cost to the Na'vi...

So first, the bad bits. The film is rated M. It is not a movie for young kids. The Na'vi wear scanty pieces of clothing that leave little to the imagination. There is no actual nudity however. There is a lot of profane language, and many obscenities, lots of bloody violence and ugly alien creatures. There is a non-explicit sex scene. There is an over-riding tree-hugger theme. It is Green and anti-war. There is the pantheistic earth goddess Eywa. Some of the film's dialogue is weak and shallow, and the storyline is predicable.

All this is true. This is what the Christian reviewers are up in arms about. I'm not. I agree that this is a film for adults, but for grown-ups it is wonderful. It is a work of science fiction - more than that, it is science fantasy. It is an implausible world. There is no Eywa. There is no chance that people will want to convert to Eywa worship. She is a work of fiction too. The film does not challenge any existing theology any more than Narnia does with its parallel worlds and fantastic creatures. Avatar redefines the standards of visual art with cinematic superlatives. What it does not do is challenge core Christian beliefs. Hey, remember, Pandora exists solely in James Cameron's imagination! As a Christian should I feel threatened by somebody's imagination? Because I don't. Avatar is purely entertainment. There is no ulterior intention to promulgate a new belief structure. It is not there to start a cult movement of tree-huggers. It is not designed to threaten Chritian values. Is our faith so fragile that a mere fantasy story can shake it? I don't think so. But you know, the reason you need to see Avatar is not for the story anyhow.

You need to see Avatar for the special effects.

I can't do them justice. The film took 10 years to make and cost $250 million. It shows. The 3D is perfect. Pandora is simply stunningly beautiful. Those floating islands; the drifting jellyfish creatures, the luminous Soul Tree...just incredible.

Do you remember how you felt when you first saw Star Wars in 1977 and you knew that movies were never going to be the same again? Avatar does the same in 2009. This is simply a sensational film.

So there it is. Avatar just has to be seen to be believed. Do go.


  1. I have been wanting to see this movie. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  2. lol The things I have defended on these grounds! Sounds like something we might see. It is so nice having bigger girls I can go see this stuff with. Must ask Ditz what she thinks. She keeps up with all this stuff & makes sure I see the not to be missed things. ☺

  3. Thanks Jeanne! I was undecided about whether to go see it or not but it sounds like a great date night with my own beloved.

    Oh, I think it so grand that I am commenting on the 30th after the first 2 on the 31st. Don't you love the internet??

  4. It sounds great. I had heard lots of people saying they loved it but knew nothing about what the movie was actually about. Sounds rather similar to real life when Australia was colonised, 'there's people there, tough luck we want the place anyway'.

    Shame I don't see myself being able to get to the movies anytime soon, unless I can con my mother into some night time babysitting cause little miss Bethy is in the heart of separation anxiety phase right now and would scream the whole time if I left her and she knew I was gone :-(

  5. my 16 and 18 year old sons both saw it and gave similar review to you Jeanne.

  6. Thanks for taking me a bit out of my bubble. Hadn't even heard of the movie. James Cameron films usually do need to be seen on the big screen though.

    Economically speaking, time is the utility here which I usually use to gauge my comings and goings. When we were 'home' the couples would go to a movie together every Christmas Eve while my mom watched all the grandchildren. Miss that.

    Lots of thoughts but I so hate when my comments turn into a post.

  7. Hey Jeanne,
    Great thoughts! Being a Sci-Fi chick I couldn't wait to go and see Avatar so we went to the drive-in awhile ago. I was really looking forward to it.

    It just didn't deliver, IMO. Maybe I'm getting old, I don't know but it just didn't cut it for me.

    Sure the graphics were amazing but I want more story, more plot, more character development than graphics. (As in the blogging world, Content is King! lol) I just don't get amazing graphics- I prefer the real thing. God's creation (nature) is mind blowing and yet we still need to dress it up with even more colour in these movies. I don't get it. Visually it was a little overwhelming for me...but that's probably just me. I found going to the big flash museum in Canberra gave me sensory overload lol.

    I thought the plot was totally predictable, so was the character development. In fact, I thought it was Pocahontas meets John Smith redone! Although I did giggle at some of the political comments like, "We will fight terror with terror."

    Give me a good old drama anyway- one with twists and turns, real scenery and real flash & blood. I can't believe what I'm saying...am I sounding *that* old? LOL

    Thanks for your thoughts though, I enjoyed reading them.

  8. Totally agree with you about the shallow storyline, but absolutely loved the visual graphics.

    I enjoyed reading your opinion, Susan.

    Happy New Year!

  9. I will see it, for the special effects if for nothing else. I am hoping the story will grab me too. I surely do love to be transported, and it sounds like the wings might just be big enough!

    (Jeanne, the PO has been shut the three times i tried. You'd think I would guess when it involves public holidays, but no. Parcel is a little squished but will now be posted Monday. - I read the sign on the door!)

  10. hey there! I refuse to read your review because I can't stand to know what movies are about before I watch them... someday because you liked it (and that is enough for me) I will watch it and form my own opinion. I have no idea when that would be though. If we watched it in Trujillo, it would be in Spanish and though I'd understand it, I can't stand the voices they use in translating usually, so I'll probably wait til I can see it in English...
    anyway, I'm waiting for the youtube to load. Hey, while I'm waiting, I should invite you to my NEW blog... started just 2 days ago! Here's the address:

    come and visit!

    I hope you had a wonderful holidays and that this new year will be full of blessing!

    Much love,

  11. Jeanne, no comments about the film - haven't seen it and not likely to - but had to comment on your line about Narnia not challenging any Christian doctrine, at least not in a big way. IMO Narnia does do this in many instances. LOL, I'm very politically incorrect when it comes to Narnia! Sshh.. Sorry luv :)

  12. Jeanne! (Hug) I am so glad to see you. I got back home yesterday, and went online, clicked on your blog, and saw nothing but the sidebars. I was so bummed. Today, however, I can see this post, but nothing before it (the three before it do show in my google reader, but not here). I'm not sure what the problem is, but I am glad that I can comment to tell you that I missed you.

    I told my dear hubby that we needed to see this film, but he balked saying that he is too old to sit through such a long movie! Maybe I'll twist his arm - tomorrow is my birthday, after all!


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