Review: Avatar (2009)

Written and directed by James Cameron, ‘Avatar’ was always going to be a movie of epic proportions. Filmed for 3D movie audiences, the world of Pandora is lush and beautiful and, transferred to the small screen, there is an inevitable loss of grandeur but it still retains the impressive look and feel of Pandora. Many people have likened it to Fern Gully or Pocahontas due to the similarities between the Na’vi and Native Americans as well as an indifferent protagonist being convinced to support the ways of the indigenous people instead of destroying them.

Despite being 10 feet tall and blue, the Na’vi seem to be a cross between Native Americans and Africans – two races who have suffered oppression at the hands of ”the white man”. The fact that the Na’vi are suffering the same oppression so far into the future is a clear message from Cameron that perhaps the human race is unlikely to change much through time.

The character of Jake (played by Sam Worthington) is a little bland but, with all the excitement happening around him, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The supporting cast all play their roles well with fully fleshed out and relatable characters; this provides a solid foundation to the story, allowing the sci-fi plot to be properly realised without limiting its appeal. The colour palette is rich and varied which, although most likely designed because of the 3D spectacle involved, still makes ‘Avatar‘ a lush viewing experience, even if the plot is essentially a Hollywood standard.

‘Avatar‘ is an excellent movie which is full of action, humour and thought-provoking moral messages, asking the question of who the real savages are.

 

MY VERDICT:

Having such a well renowned director so heavily invested enabled ‘Avatar’ to be everything it was intended to be: a brilliantly envisioned movie which is both entertaining and thought-provoking.

We feel that some of the more profound messages that the main story revolves around may be a bit difficult for many young children to understand and they could find it a little boring because of this. However, these messages of morality and ethics could open up good discussions with older children about what they feel is right and wrong about what the humans do on Pandora. Certainly the ‘gung-ho’ nature of some of the soldiers make for some clearly defined character roles that can be discussed.

Due to the constant strong language and some moderate violence during the action scenes, we would not recommend this movie for younger children, instead suggesting that an age range of kids aged 10 and over is more appropriate.

  • Violence:  4/5 (most of the action is relatively child friendly, however there are a few stronger moments including one character being shot in the chest with two large arrows, a soldier being trampled by a large beast and another being crushed between to heavy racks of explosives)
  • Emotional Distress: 2/5 (several major characters are killed; these deaths are generally not too emotionally charged but they are characters that the audience care about)
  • Fear Factor: 1/5 (there are a few moments where it is unclear whether the intense situations could result in a characters’ death however these should not be too frightening for children and these moments do not last very long)
  • Sexual Content: 1/5       
  • Bad Language: 4/5 (a lot of moderate cursing and mild blasphemy, one strong word is used)
  • Dialogue: 2/5  (the dialogue of some of the humans shows a complete lack of empathy with the Na’vi including disinterest when some of the Na’vi are killed)
  • Other notes: Deals with themes of oppression, naturalism, colonialism, the politics of power, learning to see things from the other side, militarism, and respect for culture

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