I am not a Sci-Fi girl. At all. My few exceptions to that are that I loved Ender’s Game. But not enough to read the sequels. I love Star Trek, and, of course, Star Wars (but that’s mostly because of Harrison Ford).
So when my man wanted to go see Avatar, I was less than thrilled. But I’m a good wife, and like any good wife, I went with him to see this 3 hour movie. (I should say that had Nine been out, I would have fought hard to see that instead, but husband is a pretty good sport for the most part, so I figure I can sit through Sci-Fi heaven.)
Avatar. I had NO idea what to expect. I hadn’t seen trailers, or read anything online. My only frame of reference was the cartoon Avatar that my kids watch, and that did not appeal to me.
I had no idea, for example, that Sigourney Weaver was in the movie. She’s such a great actress, and plays badass heroine archetypes. That was a perk I hadn’t expected. And the hero Jack Sully, played by Sam Worthington, was appealing, and even more so when he became his Na’vi Avatar.
Even the the animated characters, the indigenous humanoids, were nicely developed overall. Neytiri has a few gut-wrenchingly emotional scenes, no small feat for computer animation. The story itself plays along predictable lines; it’s the special effects that make the movie something special. It’s a spectacular event, and writer/director James Cameron uses every opportunity to make bold statements. He purportedly planned this movie in the mid-90s, but needed to wait for technology to catch up with his vision of what he wanted it to be. He succeeded. Avatar is the top grossing movie of all time (and Cameron is in the top 5 twice–the other movie is, of course, Titanic) and there are rumors of a sequel.
Jake immediately elicits sympathy because he’s a former marine and he’s paraplegic. He’s the quintessential lost soul, searching for how he can ever belong or be whole again. He’s damaged, and the way he’s defined himself no longer fits. He’s in a wheel chair, self-sufficient, but unhappy and wanting nothing more than to have the surgery that can fix his legs.
His brother is dead, and Jake is taking his place on the planet Pandora. Avatars are made especially for the human host, and Jake’s brother, his twin, and he shard the same DNA. Instead of waste the millions (or billions, or whatever it cost) to create his Avatar, Jake is brought in to take his place.
Dr. Grace Augustine is vehemently against Jake going in to make contact with the Na’vi. Jake is not a scientist, is not trained in working with an avatar, and is motivated by his selfish desires, not by a desire to understand the indigenous people of Pandora or to truly help build diplomatic relations with the Na’vi.
Turns out, of course, that Grace and Jake come to a great understanding of each other, and grow to have a mutual respect. That was a nice development and I liked seeing their friendship grow.
I plan to see Avatar again, and take notes on the Hero’s Journey. That is something James Cameron knows how to do with a character. Each character, in fact, is the hero of his (or her) own journey in Avatar, and the steps are quite clear. This makes the movie emotionally satisfying, Sci-Fi or not.
Avatar is a super popular movie. Did you see it? What did you think of Jake as a hero? Was it a satisfying ending for you?