I bought a ticket and sat down with a bucket of popcorn and a large Coke to watch James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ tonight. Three quarters of the way through the movie I walked out in order to avoid ruining the experience for the rest of the moviegoers.
The 3D film is as visually stunning as it has been described; I’ve never been so close-up to Sigourney Weaver (and I never want to be again). In the midst of a scene where ash is drifting on an air current I found myself reaching out to touch it, to my wife’s amusement.
It became apparent early in the movie where allegiance lay with Weaver’s character’s disdainful treatment of a combat paralyzed U.S. Marine whom she is forced to accept as a team member. Cameron then wastes no time establishing cartoon-ish villains in Stephen Lang as a Marine Colonel and Giovanni Ribisi as the mid-level stooge of a soulless mining corporation.
As the conflict over the fate of the indigenous people who populate this world develops between the peaceful scientists and the military/industrial complex, Sam Worthington’s paralyzed Marine must choose sides. He is offered medical care to restore the use of his legs (indicating that this was an option… had the military cared to do so). In exchange, he must convince the indigenous inhabitants to abandon their ancestral home or provide intelligence as to how they can be wiped out. But, in the course of doing his job, Worthington’s character learns to appreciate the natives and begins a cliche’ love affair with the chief’s daughter.
Once the battle lines are drawn, Avatar pits women, hippies, minorities and the disabled as the forces of good against the white male representatives of capitalism and military power. It’s not that this depiction of American military or corporate power is a new Hollywood formula, it’s just that I haven’t been preached to with such a lack of subtlety since ‘Fern Gully’.
I walked out of this movie when the characters were on the cusp of the final battle. I had suffered through being beat around the ears with the anti-capitalist eco-sermon for nearly two hours. I finally had enough when the Marine Colonel referred to the indigenous inhabitants as “terrorists” and vowed to unleash “shock and awe”. By this time, fed up with the propaganda, I had already uttered an audible “what?” I had to make my way to the door before the indignant diatribe bubbled all the way to the surface and I became disruptive.