Avatar

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Entertainment: +2

Content: -4

Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, and Sigourney Weaver. Written & directed by James Cameron (Titanic).

FILM SYNOPSIS:. Avatar is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms.† As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds. In a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people, he finally leads a revolt of the native populace against his own kind.† More than ten years in the making, Avatar marks Cameron's return to feature directing since helming 1997's Titanic, the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscarsģ including Best Picture. WETA Digital, renowned for its work in The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and King Kong, incorporates new CGI technologies to transform the environments and characters into photorealistic 3D imagery.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Writer/director James Cameron, the self-proclaimed king-of-the-world after his success with Titanic, has bloated his CGI tribute to himself with faintly camouflaged dictums concerning war, the military and our abuse of the environment. While the filmís effects are impressive, the content isnít.

The harsh use of language (11 profane uses of Godís name or Christís and at least 10 obscenities) in an animated comic book seems not just inappropriate, but counterproductive to reaching a family market. And make no mistake, Mr. Cameron needs to reach every market, his film reportedly costing somewhere between $300 and $350 million. Although men under battle pressure are bound to utter words they normally would not, when filmmakers use Godís name followed by a curse and Jesusí name as a mere expletive, it not only reveals a limited artistic ability to express frustration, it also presents the characters as men who do not honor or fear God.

As with Battle For Terra, from earlier this year, the earthlings are the misguided and spiritually oblivious creatures, whereas the blue skinned-dreadlock-wearing Avatar dwellers are perfectly in tuned with nature (they donít just talk to the animals, they converse with their carcasses, thanking them for their prevision). This new planet has a new-age Tree of Souls where the planetís inhabitants come to worship and listen to their ancestors. Mankind is the spiritless aggressor that must be squelched. And as with Dances With Wolves, the lead forsakes his own to become one with this more noble peace-loving tribe.

I donít think Iíve ever seen an anti-war movie that wasnít filled to capacity with battle sequences; usually the more strident the message, the more alluring the screen carnage. Avatar sticks to that assessment, its makers going a step further. Like Battle For Terra, the earthlings in Avatar are the bad guys. Here, some are simply misguided, but the military in general is portrayed as bloodthirsty and uncaring space invaders.

The military is mocked, its leaders portrayed as bloodthirsty animals; the soldiers, with few exceptions, come across as brutes without mercy. A mercenary businessman wants the minerals on this new planet, so without much ado, a giant space-aged tractor, courtesy of the military, comes barreling through the woods. And the battle is on. The planetís natives have bows and arrows, the humans steer Star Wars-like space ships that gas, shoot and blow up the Soul-Tree huggers. This anti-military stance seems in bad taste when our nationís warriors are presently in a battle against terrorists bent on destroying Western civilization.

Though the studio needs everyone to come see Avatar at least twice in order to get the $350 million-plus investment returned, the production seems geared more to a teen and preteen audience, a younger crowd generally more impressed with explosions and flying Jurassic creatures than three-dimensional characterizations.

The film is anti-war, anti-military and anti-human. Thatís too anti for me.

DVD Alternatives: The Iron Giant. This animated kids adventure concerns an imaginative little boy who befriends a giant robot who doesn't seem to know how he came to be (something we never learn, although it appears in the beginning that he came from space). Highly entertaining, with humor aimed both at kids and adults. Set in the '50s, it's a little hard on the military and government secret agencies, but it also deals with spiritual issues, stating, "Souls don't die, they go on forever." Suggesting both filmmatic and thematic ideas from The Day The Earth Stood Still and King Kong, The Iron Giant is smart, funny, and exciting. However, parents should view with little ones, both to reassure and to explain certain messages.

War of the Worlds. Nothing man can do seems to stop a Martian invasion. Ah, but God in His infinite wisdomÖBased on a story by H. G. Wells, this superior sci-fi actioneer is eerie and frightening, but it also contains a positive message. Donít miss the ending narration by Sir Cedric Hardwicke. Not to be mistaken with the newer one with Tom Cruise as an anti-hero with a dysfunctional family, the 1953 version with Gene Barry is mesmerizing.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor:
20th Century Fox

Summary
The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: One crude sexual comment.

Obscene Language: Ten obscenities before I stopped counting.

Profanity: Seven profane uses of Godís name and four of Christís.

Violence: The violence, while mostly cartoonish, is excessive and disturbing as we see American military at war with peace-loving creatures and several members of the military team betraying not just the war-loving commander, but killing soldiers who would have been their comrades-in-arms. People and beings are knifed, shot, beaten and blown up Ė and thereís a whole lot of injustice, with we earthlings the guilty party. Blood: Some blood.

Sex: One sexual situation between the male lead and the blue-skinned alien (at this point, heís also got blue skin).

Nudity: The beings from another world wear brief clothing, but this is all computer generated.

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: A brief sexual discussion.

Drugs: None

Other: The people of Avatar worship at the Tree of Souls, where they can hear their ancestors.

Running Time: 150 minutes
Intended Audience: Teens and Above


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