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Transneptune

beyond the Kuiper Belt, over the sea

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December 22nd, 2009 by Kit

I suppose I must comment on it.  I went, I saw, I enjoyed.  But I don’t think I enjoyed it for the reasons one “should” enjoy a movie.

Avatar has been dominating the airwaves and the conversations around me a lot.  It’s certainly good in many respects, and the amount of conversational fodder it has provided is one of those.  But the problems almost balance the good aspects.  It has a schizoid attitude towards and portrayal of the indigenous people, well-addressed in this review.  There are so many problems with it requiring a white, male, American soldier to make the indigenous people win that I don’t know where to start, but the short version is that all those things would be OK if they mattered to his ground-breaking plan.  But actually?  His plan was a non-plan.  I’ll avoid saying more for spoilers-sake, in case you care.

So why was it good?  I enjoyed watching it for much the same reasons I would enjoy looking at a painting.  It was, quite simply, visually stunning.  The story was thin, archetypal, problematic in terms of race-attitudes, but man was it pretty to look at.  But it was also good in terms of inspiration for secondary-creation: the conlang for the Na’vi was fabulous, and well-acted, and the world had many compelling features, inspiring me to some fun co-exobiology thoughts.  And the movie’s ecological message is not subtle, either, which I think is fabulous—no need to tread softly around such a message, just put it out there.

So, ultimately, the movie is good not for much in itself, besides the pretty, but it’s quite good for the topics it gets you thinking about and talking about, most clearly race/privilege, and the environment.  I’d recommend it.

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  • Sean

    Re: the race issues, it sounded a lot like the Last of the Mohicans thing – more specifically the Last of the Mohicans movie thing, where not only does he have to be *half* Indian to be heroic, he also has to be played by a white actor. : P

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