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The Green Life: Movie Review Friday: Avatar

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January 22, 2010

Movie Review Friday: Avatar

Escape to the movies with one of our Movie Review Friday selections. Each week we review a film with an environmental theme that's currently in theaters or available on DVD. Seen a good eco-flick lately? Send us a short review and look for it in the next Movie Review Friday.

Avatar (2009)

In theaters now

One of the highest grossing movies of all time, Avatar has wowed moviegoers with its phenomenal 3D and computer special effects. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic veteran, is sent to the planet Pandora (home to the Na’Vi--lithe, blue, cat-like aliens), where he has signed on to inhabit a second body engineered with a mix of human and Na’Vi genes. He is charged with winning the Na’Vi’s trust in order to provide military intelligence for a mega-corporation intent on its destructive mining of  a mineral called unobtainium. 

In his Na’Vi body, Jake discovers a spectacularly lush world (we hear about a planet earth devoid of green). Stranded in the forest for the night, he encounters Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a young, winsome Na’Vi female. She brings him back to her tribe and is appointed to teach him their ways. As Jack gradually masters Na’Vi customs and survival skills, his loyalty shifts and he tunes in to the natural world around him. Eventually he leads the Na’Vi in their fight against the forces that threaten their existence. 

Director James Cameron has created a visually stunning spectacle that is a delight to see. The corporate home base, where the colossal scale of machinery dwarves human beings as if to emphasize their insignificance, contrasts sharply with the enormous plants and trees that provide a home for the Na’Vi.  
The plot is predictable and simplistic. Pandora is a jungle-topia, the Na’Vi the alien version of the noble savage. But the story’s simplicity renders the message no less important. The final battle scene reminds us that if we don’t respect the power of nature, it retaliates with destructive force. Hopefully, movie-goers worldwide will find inspiration in seeing the instinct to nurture and protect nature win out over the forces of greed and exploitation.

--Wendy Becktold

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