Yeah, Avatar Still Rules

You don’t often watch an almost three hour long movie on a whim, but I’ve wanted to rewatch this one for literally years. I saw it multiple times when it was in theaters, and haven’t seen it since. I actually owned it on DVD for an embarrassingly long time without ever getting around to actually watching it. Every time I watch Jenny Nicholson’s excellent video about Disney World’s Pandora: The World of Avatar I think to myself, “You know, I should really get around to rewatching that at some point” and I just so happened to be showing the video to Vanessa today and–fully expecting the answer to be no–asked her afterwards if she wanted to watch Avatar and she was actually game!

My opinion of this movie for years has been “I remember loving this in theaters but I kind of don’t trust that based on what I remember about it,” so it was a pretty huge relief that I actually did still kinda love this upon rewatching it! I mean, you get to see a bratty sub catboy get constantly bullied and called an idiot/baby by two strong women until he stops being such a big dumb baby and helps smack around a bunch of imperialists in one of the biggest and most cathartic action scenes ever. What’s not to like???

In fact, I would go so far as to say that Avatar is one (1) change away from being a five star movie. But unfortunately that needed change is a pretty huge one. Jake Sully should not be the Big Damn Hero of this movie.

I actually do not hate the idea of him being an audience surrogate character and ending up joining the Na’vi? But he should have done so in a subordinate role. I love the Na’vi culture, and him joining them makes perfect sense if they’ll have him. But once he did so he really should’ve continued being Just A Guy, and sure the Na’vi should’ve leveraged his knowledge of the imperialists’ tactics and he should’ve fought bravely side by side with them, but he shouldn’t have basically singlehandedly united all the tribes and inspired them and led them and all that. It was just way, way too white saviory.

But, like! This movie still rules, you guys!! And it’s just so damn cathartic seeing the Na’vi kick some colonizers’ asses!! And no it’s not subtle at all, you literally get a cliche corporate boss guy practicing golf putts and a grizzled bloodthirsty “oorah” marine, but who gives a fuck?? Sometimes subtlety is overrated, and as far as visual shorthand for imperialism goes, this was nearly pitch perfect.

Just ditch the white savior complex, and we’re golden! So close.



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