Around me, many folks are gung-ho to see Avatar, James Cameron’s newest film. They say it will be nothing short of a Cinematic Revelation. Some are adamant that this will be The-biggest-movie-of-the-Summah (for those who remember Arnold Schwarzenegger’s boast of his 1993 flop, The Last Action Hero). Although I find the term revelation a tad much, you can be sure that as far as quality goes, M. Cameron will deliver. Innovative (3-D) visual effects. Lush, vibrant colours. Loud, ostentatious sound. Computer-controlled camera shots so impossible they can’t be re-created in the real world, as there’s a thing called Gravity to contend with. Sensory Candy so sweet, teeth will rot on the spot.
The only thing that worries me is the story. We’ve seen this dozens of times before, in different mediums. Its roots are found all over Human History. A few names; Exploitation colonialism, Indigenous displacement, Conquest imperialism. It’s the deliberate attempt by an exterior entity to harness and exploit a natural resource that A:) does not belong to them. B:) has an immense material/ energetic wealth. The invaders are usually brutal, uncaring, ignorant buffoons. They will rape, murder and plunder everything around them and leave everything a smoldering mess. Mankind (as a whole) is a poster child of this. We have destroyed countless civilizations and killed our own kin, in the Name of God, Profit and Power.
My take on the story is derived solely on what I’ve seen in the trailers and related websites. I’m adding the rest from memory, books, film, television and comic books. I’ll be making some W.A.Gs – Wild-Assed-Guesses, but I think I’m spot on. Obviously, it’s a possible Open-Mouth-Insert-Foot moment but what the hell, I’m taking a stab at it.
A young, injured and disillusioned Marine is re-enlisted for a “special, covert project” with the promise of full body rehabilitation if successful (Hook). The project involves the infiltration of an indigenous tribe, on a distant world, by means of a genetically modified organism – an Avatar – that will be used to communicate Humankind’s intentions (Line). The soldiers are so tasked to secure a rare, powerful mineral, obviously found only on an inhabited, vibrant world, where the locals are ONE with Nature (Sinker).
The Mission Commander is an (insane?) un-apologetic bootneck, who waxes nostalgic about the “good ‘ol days” when the military used to kill people who said ‘No’. He has become xenophobic towards the Natives, after [W.A.G – losing his platoon, while on patrol] suffering an injury at the hands of the planet’s inhabitants. He is bent on the success of His mission at any and all cost. He forms a fatherly rapport with our young soldier and tell him how much his contribution is important for Humankind, what he can expect in return and how much trust and pride he’s put in him. The scientists performing the experiment are unwilling participants, bitching and moaning that their research was hijacked. Instead of curing the sick/diseased/injured they are doing the Overlords bidding. All the participants in this fine mess are pressured and manipulated by a cowardly corporate-type retard answering only to the (un-disclosed) Company Shareholders.
After a space flight (FTL or Stasis sleep) and the arrival to the New World (including several glorious aerial shots of the planet’s beauty), the soldier will them be told the Truth. [WAG: The soldiers have been here before ] They were supposed to mine a precious ore (a mineral found only in one area, which happens to be underneath the Sacred Land of the Natives) vital for Earth’s survival, by force if necessary. Instead the poisonous atmosphere and the Natives kicked their asses back home. Humiliated and desperate, the Company came up with a plan. Because the Native are pretty much Perfect, the military must use cunning, ruse and disguise, find a weakness and conquer them. They have a vast technological arsenal at their disposal so, instead of finding an alternate mineral, they go for the bio-engineering angle. Using combined Human/Native DNA, they will grow an Avatar, a mindless, hybrid creature that our young soldier will ‘inhabit’. The scientist will transpose his mind into it and he will be sent out to scout ahead, spy on/infiltrate the Natives and report back a weakness so they can mount an all out, armed attack – with bigger guns this time.
Our hero will eventually discover his Purpose, through the experiences of his Avatar, the beauty of the Land, the Plight of the Natives and the Righteousness of their way of Life and fight to preserve it. He will fall in love with the Village Princess, whose father is the Mightiest Warrior of them all…so says Capt. Obvious. [W.A.G He can only exist in his Avatar for a short while] He will long more and more to become one of them but will be rejected for being different. He will head back to base, report to his superior and an assault will be launched. He will also be reminded who he is; a Human not a filthy savage. At some point. he will be told there was no way to reverse his injuries, that it was all smoke and mirrors. Filled with anger and ashamed of his actions against the Natives, he will try to escape the base. He will be helped off by the few ‘friends’ he made there, (usually, the fringe characters or conscientious objectors) who will pay with their lives. As an Avatar, he will make his way to the Village ahead of the lumbering Army and warn His people. They will see him as a traitor but after a raising speech, the full might of the Warriors will be shown.
An Epic battle will be upon us and baby, it will be awesome. Hundreds, on both sides, will be killed. The Commander will be dispatched by our Hero after a lengthy battle, after each one, in turn, have their say. [W.A.G – The female ‘lead’ will kill the villain, just as he is poised to strike, either as a show of love towards our Hero or to avenge her father’s death] – [W.A.G – The Warrior King, if not already dead, will be found dying and will bless his daughter’s union with the Hero before croaking] Somewhere in the commotion, his real body will be destroyed but his consciousness will remain in the Avatar and the self-fulfilling prophecy will come to pass; he will be made whole again. The ending will be one of two things.
1:) The complete annihilation of the military base/mining infrastructures and the return home of all Humans with the promise never to return so-we-can-live-in-peace-forever ending
2:) A possible alliance between the ‘Good Humans’ and the Natives.
There we have it. Also keep an eye out for all those ‘hidden’ political, social and environmental messages. Allegorical references can be inferred but my guess is that the movie was made to show-off the Oomph factor…not the symbolism.
I sincerely hope that this is for naught and that I will have to eat crow. With so many *possible* clichés and a film idea so weak, it seems that everything will be f/x fueled…not character driven and certainly not held up by a compelling story. Ok, so maybe I’m reading too much into it, but so what, it’s my 50$. I know it’s only a movie but fer cryin’ out loud…I want originality and meaning…not sloppy seconds.
So, yeah, we’ll see.