Everybody agrees that the 3-D special effects of Avatar are ground breaking. Avatar is ground breaking in another way as well. It has defined a new genre: green action movies. I’ve seen my share of environmental films and even though I get thoroughly wrapped up in them, action is not usually part of the equation. As much as I liked Wall-E, Food Inc., and A Chemical Reaction, for example, they weren’t exactly nail-biters.
When I first heard about Avatar and its sensational 3-D effects, I made a mental note to avoid it – what is an “avatar” anyway? It sounded worse than watching someone play a nightmarish video game. I quickly changed my mind when I read that the explorers were in search of a precious element called “unobtainium”. Being an economic geologist, this was way too hokey to pass up. It reminded me of the names we made up when faced with mineral or rock specimens we couldn’t identify in Mineralogy or Petrology labs in college: notaclueite.
In spite of it’s caricature treatment of just about everyone – mining industry, military, indigenous people, scientists, and the great white savior, I loved the film. The visuals were amazing and the message was green: we are all connected to nature in ways beyond our comprehension so we ought to respect and care for our environment. Too bad we can’t connect with nature like the Na’vi people, who were magically able to “plug in” to plants and animals. If we could, we’d probably stand a much better chance of figuring out how to live sustainably on planet earth.
If you haven’t seen it, disregard what you may have read about its subversive political messages and immerse yourself in the shear glory of its green-ness (or should I say blue-ness?).