Sunday, January 10, 2010

Why, Jim, why?

My husband and I have just come back from seeing Avatar, the new James Cameron cleaning-up-at-the-box-office spectacle. There's good reason why this movie may break the financial record set by Cameron's previous epic, Titanic: the special effects are beyond incredible and the story is timely in more ways than one. For the most part, Stan and I liked it a lot. However, there was one sequence that, at least to me, made no sense whatsoever.

(Spoiler alert: stop now if you're still planning to see the movie)

The sequence involves Sam Worthington's Avatar character choosing which giant winged dragon-like creature will be his mount when he performs aerial hunts with the rest of the Navi tribe. His Navi companion and mentor, played by Zoe Saldana, explains that the choice must be mutual; in other words, the creature he chooses must choose him, too. How, asks Worthington's character, will I know if a creature has chosen me? "He will try to kill you," responds Saldana's character.

Huh? Even a female praying mantis gets it on with her chosen male before she kills him. What possible sense would it make to kill one's chosen companion before one gets to enjoy that companionship? In fact, why kill at all? Killing is incompatible with friendship, if you know what I mean. Trying to off someone isn't exactly a bond builder.

But wait, it gets worse. To tame the creature, not to mention keep from getting killed, Worthington's character must wrestle the creature to the ground in a decidedly violent fashion. The whole sequence reminded me of the bad old days in which alpha rolls were the order of the day with all dog trainers, and horses were broken rather than gentled to force their subservience to human riders. How on earth do such practices build bonds with other creatures, and what possible place do they have in a movie that purports to be all about being one with nature?

C'mon, Jim. You could have done better.


Veronica Sanchez said...

Wow Susan, I had not thought of that and you are right. That scene was odd and out of place and even out of character for the general theme of living with nature kindly. May be they needed/wanted another fight scene? I did really like the movie regardless - visually it was just so unique.

Susan said...

I thought the same as you did, Veronica: that Cameron simply wanted another fight scene. But that was the wrong place for it, IMO, and for me at least it was a flaw in an otherwise incredible film.