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.