Let’s start with a quick synopsis of the movie’s plot, just in case you haven’t seen it yet, or you’ve already watched it but are a drooler who couldn’t be asked to figure out the plot:
America (ok, so maybe ‘Earth’ but of course everyone in the movie seems to be from America) in the future has depleted Earth of most things green, and probably most things oil, steel, oxygen, who knows what. Americans are good at consuming, so this isn’t too far-fetched that we’d consume everything Mother Earth has to provide, and then go ruining some other planet that we could rape for supplies.
America finds a planet called Pandora that is many light years away (we never know exactly how many other than those on the ship were in suspended hibernation for nearly six Earth years). It seems to be a moon of Jupiter, but not the Jupiter within our home solar system (though it has a ‘great red spot’ or such suspiciously like our own Jupiter). Pandora is a lush, verdant, very green forest world full of indigenous life forms, including at least one sentient species that is humanoid. It also harbors a very valuable mineral called ‘unobtanium’ which is the first real problem with the movie.
Rant break: Dear James Cameron,
What. The. Fuck? Unobtainium? SERIOUSLY? Is it a play on words because it is buried under the Navi (the indigenous humanoid creatures whom we will get to in a moment) home base (a giant tree)? I could have come up with an equally ridiculous name. I would have called it ‘bullshitium’ or ‘poweronium’ or ‘supermineralium’. The first time I heard about this movie back in 2009 and the substance called ‘unobtanium’ I knew right then and there that this movie was going to be a huge waste of time, a ridiculous pile of shit that wasn’t worth watching. /end rant
So…we have a lush world with a powerful substance that Earthlings will do just about anything to obtain (pun intended?) but cannot obtain easily (assuming we don’t just nuke the area that has it and then mine it in lead-shielded robots…but that would have made a 3 hour travesty of a movie into a 9 minute short film). If any of you with a smidge of intelligence correlate this to oil in the Middle East, bonus points for you I suppose.
One of the first memorable, if cliche lines in the movie is something along the lines of ‘humans back on Earth don’t like to hear we are slaughtering natives to rape their resources, but shareholders of giant corporations like even less the fact that profit statements might not show the company raking in huge profits’. Sound familiar? Check.
Earthlings have set up a base on this hostile but beautiful planet to do just that though, rape the environment because profits are more important than anything else in the galaxy. Surrounding this base on all sides is a hostile environment, where pretty much everything wants to kill and eat humans. Oh, and the air of Pandora is toxic to human respiratory systems, but seemingly not to their exposed skin, metals, etc. Ok, so that isn’t so far-fetched I guess, so maybe half a bonus point to the movie?
Now, the concept is actually a pretty good sci-fi setup. The Navi are much larger than humans. They look different (blue skin, cat faces with wide eyes, three-fingers + a thumb like cartoon characters) than humans but are very much what we humans would consider…humanoid:
Ok, so they are giant blue kitty cats, the native top-of-the-food-chain sentient beings on Pandora. For some reason that isn’t explained very thoroughly, though you sort of get a hint of it, humans have decided to create their own Navi in a clone vat, and then have humans ‘control’ them via a neural link interface. Top notch concept honestly, this is one of the rare positives of the movie. However, this soon breaks down because let’s face it, a movie this cliche with more plot holes than a screen door is just begging for sci-fi nerds (like me!) to rake it over the coals. But again, interesting concept for sci-fi….but not one that hasn’t been done before (Google it if you don’t believe me).