FREMONT, California, U.S.A. – Instant blockbuster status, burgeoning sales, and widespread praise – James Cameron’s new film, Avatar, was making so much news that I didn’t know if I should trust it.
After watching the movie, I knew the buzz was well deserved. The film combines extraordinary graphics, take-home messages, a gripping plot, and just the right amount of action.
Set in 2154, the story involves a U.S. Armed Forces mission to the remote planet Pandora, which is home to a rare mineral Earth needs. To get it, the Armed Forces displace a tribe of peaceful and nature-loving Pandoran natives, the Na’vi.
The Na’vi are blue-skinned, golden-eyed, and around 12 feet tall. To infiltrate their ranks, the humans use avatars, expensive Na’vi look-alikes that are mentally connected to humans who remain aboard ships.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), the film’s paraplegic protagonist, takes the place of his dead twin brother, for whom an avatar was made. During Sully’s first venture into Pandora’s forest, wild animals attack him. A brave Pandoran native named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) saves his life.
At first, Sully remains a good soldier, but after learning the Na’vi way of life, he finds himself on the path to become an official part of the Na’vi society.
The Na’vi survive by living in harmony with nature and Pandora’s creatures. Taming the dragon-like creatures they ride, the Na’vi display skill and dexterity. The enormous tree known as Eywa is both the Na’vi god and the film’s remarkable homage to nature’s miracles. The humans suspect Eywa acts through a signal-transduction network. To the Na’vi, it is the ultimate representation of ancestral nature and goodness.
Reveling in Pandora’s wonders, Sully is transformed. In the final battle between the Na’vi and the humans, he joins the natives.
The war causes suffering and destruction of life and nature that wrench and humiliate both sides. We understand what Cameron means for us to see: that we should respect our planet, and that war is rarely the solution to our problems.
In a 163-minute masterpiece, Cameron opens audiences’ eyes to the terror and reality of our world. Avatar is a good movie, not only because it contains romance, action, and morals, but because it empowers the audience. Setting the story in the future gives us hope: We feel that there is time to remedy our world’s problems before it is too late.
As a teenager in a world that needs a lot of work, I left the theater ready to watch the movie again. Zipping through three hours in a spectacular montage of entertainment and motivation, this movie packs a multi-whammy. And it comes in 3-D. Honestly, what’s not to love?
Pooja Shah is a Junior Reporter in California for Youth Journalism International.