** I would insert a spoiler warning here, but you can’t spoil this film. **
The "Plot"Oh where do I begin. An evil corporation has invaded some planet (the unoriginally named “Pandora”) so they can mine something called “unobtainium” -- a word stolen from the infinitely better yet still crappy movie The Core. This unobtainium does something. We don’t know what exactly because James Cameron wasn’t smart enough to come up with anything, but just take it on faith that it’s important.
The main character, Jake Sully (we’ll call him “Lifeless” in honor of the acting non-talent of Sam Worthington), is a former Marine who lost the use of his legs. . . probably from sitting through this film. He takes a job on planet PandaOdor where he will be an avatar operator. What's an avatar you ask? Basically, Ripley from Alien came up with the idea that if you want to exploit a native people, you gotta look like the native people, then you can trick them into trading their land for your beads. So she invented these body-suit things that look like the locals. We aren’t really sure how the suits work or how they’re made because Cameron didn’t care about this aspect of the film. But don’t worry about it, you won’t care either because your mind will be numb by this point in the film. . . ten minutes in.
Lifeless’s job is to operate his avatar in such a way that he endears himself to the locals, a tall blue race called the Na’vi, who look an awful lot like Smurfs who’ve spent time on a Medieval torture rack. After a boring, boring, boring 20 minutes of watching animators try to make Lifeless emote as he runs through the forest of this standard videogame world, Lifeless comes up with a plan. He decides to get himself attacked by wild animals in the hopes that some borderline-retarded princess of the Na’vi happens by and saves him. Of course this works because you can’t swing a dead panda on PandaOdor without hitting a Na’vi princess and because chicks can’t resist a dude who is helpless, rude and stupid.
After a few more minutes of scenery and some pidgin English, these two fall in love and the Smurfs make Lifeless a trusted member of their tribe. Retarded-Princess then mates with Lifeless’s avatar. . . somehow. . . before we are “treated” to another thirty minute scene where Lifeless runs through trees and learns to fly on the backs of creatures on Smurfback Mountain as the other Smurfs learn to accept him and see him as the chosen one.
Suddenly, it’s back to the plot. For reasons Cameron never bothers to explain, the evil US Military decides that since they can now succeed with their plan of gaining the Na’vi’s trust, now would be the perfect time to ditch that plan and instead start killing them for fun. What?! Those aren’t the US military, you say? Well, you could have fooled me. Then the “plot” stops, a fight ensues, a lot of people die, as do many Smurfs, and forty minutes later the evil military loses and Lifeless becomes the leader of the Na’vi. Roll credits.
The CharactersNow that you know the plot, let’s talk about the characters. The characters are awful.
First, you have Lifeless. He’s a pointless character with little to add to the movie despite being the main character. His role is clearly a copy of Kevin Costner’s role from Dances With Wolves, but Worthington comes across more like a mental patient whose thorazine wears off every once in a while. Indeed, he seems incapable of displaying any emotions, despite suffering wild mood swings -- “I hate this place,” “no, I love this place, it’s paradise,” etc. etc. His character also is prone to saying really stupid things, but that’s ok because the other characters aren’t listening. In fact, one of the first things you’ll notice about this film is that none of the characters speak to each other, they deliver speeches to the audience. If it weren’t for the fact they do touch each other once in a while, you’d almost swear they filmed their parts separately and never met. Even simple lines, like "good morning fellow capitalist oppressor," seem to be spoken past the other characters.
The main bad guy is Colonel Cliché, who has a severe disability which prevents him from saying any line you haven’t heard in another film. He loves to kill. Sigourney Weaver plays a woman who occasionally uses scientific terms and then dies. She likes to be rude to people. And there are a whole bunch of other actors too, who presumably do something plot-wise, though it’s not really clear what. Finally, there are the Smurfs, whose main job is to speak like cliché American Indians, while pretending they aren’t American Indians. Not much more to say about them.
The “Writing”The writing is awful. In fact, there wasn’t really a single line in the film that didn’t make me cringe. Every sentence was cliché-ridden and predictable. The word choice was around a fifth grade level. There was nothing subtle in the writing either. If they want you to know a particular character can’t be trusted, they will literally have multiple characters come on screen and say, “You cannot trust Character X.” And the only memorable line in the film was “The End,” words for which I was truly thankful.
The Political CorrectnessNow that we’re done talking about the good parts of the film, let’s talk about the most serious problem with this sucker: this film is pure leftist propaganda. Every single line delivered in this film is crawling with politically correct bullsh~t. Seriously, these people can’t say good morning without making some leftist crack. These characters don’t speak, they make speeches. And here’s what they say: corporations are evil. The military is evil. Scientists who do the bidding of evil corporations or the military are evil. The American Indians are noble creatures who lived in an ideal world where no one died and their gods literally existed and everyone was a vegetarian and loved each other until whitey came along and killed them all and herded them into casinos. Save the environment from capitalist whitey and the military. The war on terror is evil. The American military are terrorists, shock and awe is evil. Shave the whales! Down with whitey!
The anti-white message in this film was particularly obnoxious. All the bad guys were white. In fact, the only minorities on staff (the Indian dude and the Hispanic chick) quickly changed sides and betrayed whitey to aid the Smurfs, as did all the women and the handicapped guy (what, no gays?). Whitey Colonel Cliché even asks Lifeless how it feels to betray his race, which may have meant “human” in this instance, but sure sounded like "white."
But before James Cameron goes patting himself on the back for being a full-blown worshiper of oppression theology, let me point out one irony. Why is it, James, that the only person who can save the backwards Na’vi is the white dude? And why would these peaceful people make him their leader, as they apparently do at the end of the film, when his only qualifications are being a solider and being a white dude? Are you saying that a moronic white dude is the best and brightest on their planet? That seems kind of racist. Seriously James, it’s amazing how easily your screed against white oppression seamlessly morphs into the noble savage fantasy that was so popular among empire builders in the late 1800s. I guess you see yourself as the man who would be king?
The anti-military message was obnoxious as well. All the soldiers are drawn entirely from the paranoid Hollywood clichés of soldiers. They are bloodthirsty and irrational and long for nothing more than subjugating the scientists and businessmen who run the show, just so they can kill the Na’vi because. . . well, just because. Sounds to me like James Cameron must have had a bad experience with a solider at one time. . . in a mensroom.
Unfortunately, these messages permeate everything you see and hear in this crap-fest. Indeed, there wasn't a line of dialog that didn't push these ideas. And that was a big enough turn off to anger me, whenever I awoke from my periodic movie-induced comas.
ConclusionTo sum up this film, all I can really say is that it swings wildly between boring and offensive, with a pretty lame videogame thrown in between. I am glad this turkey will be forgotten in a couple years, but saddened that James Cameron made any money. Maybe he’ll get robbed. . . now that is a happy thought!