Monday, October 14, 2013

Review of 'AVATAR' Movie: A Christian Perspective

The late 2009 big buzz in movies is a scifi action film called AVATAR.  The plot is the classic big guy against the little guy, underdog theme.  It is reminiscent of how Native Americans are portrayed as being victims of European expansionism.  An "avatar" is a character controlled by another person, much like any video game you might play -- the character you control is an avatar.  It follows your commands, but when you stop telling it what to do, it does nothing.  In the movie, scientists are controlling hybrid human-alien avatars in an attempt to gain the trust of the indigenous population of a planet called Pandora (alluding to Greek mythology of Pandora, the first woman, and the tale of a box that once opened let's out events that cannot be contained).  But there is also a military and corporate element that is attempting to mine resources from the planet, ironically from the main home site of the indigenous population.
Once you get past the not so nuanced play against the capitalistic mindset, the movie is really a remarkable feat. You have seen movies where the computer generated characters are a bit wobbly and fake looking, but this movie almost has it down to a believable point.  As a matter of fact, since the alien race is supposed to be much like the Native Americans, expect to see some implied nudity.
Now, I know there has been and will be some controversy over the apparent promotion of paganism, as the alien race is very religious or "spiritual" in an evironmentalist way -- but again, if we were recounting the history and culture of the Native Americans, to leave out this aspect would not be framing the entire story.  However, I have noticed something interesting in space-based scifi flicks and tv shows -- humanity seems to never really believe anything.  Are humans to be thought of as having no faith?  I mean, society has been for centuries trying to downplay if not altogether expunge religion and especially Christianity from the human record.  Yet, we see movies and tv shows that fault humanity for being disconnected from "spirituality".  The true history of humanity, especially Europeans is that of a people so connected to a spiritual sense, that it permeated everything.  But for centuries, the elites in societies have shunned that spiritual sense and promoted instead a cold, calculated "scientific" approach.  I just find it a bit ironic if not hypocritical that those same elites are now faulting humanity for not being a spiritual race.
Past all of that, the movie in my opinion ranks as one of the best scifi action movies.  And I suspect AVATAR is really the first of a new kind of film where computer generated characters and scenes will dominate.  I even suspect in the near future, live actors will give way to computer generated actors.  Let's see the paparazzi chase that.


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