Avatar movie review: add an anti-Vietnam war attack and political correctness to environmentalist platitudes
The fantasy quotient of "Avatar" takes its first major hit when the Na'vi take their first hit from the American military. Mr. Cameron has devoted a significant chunk of his movie to a dark, didactic and altogether horrific evocation of Vietnam, complete with napalm, Agent Orange and helicopter gunships (one of which is named Valkyrie in a tip of the helmet to "Apocalypse Now.") Whatever one may think of the politics of this antiwar section, two things can be said with certainty: it provokes an adrenalin rush (what that says of our species is another matter), and it feels a lot better when it's over.
Other narrative problems intrude. For all its political correctness about the goodness of the Na'vis, "Avatar" lapses into lurid savage rituals, complete with jungle drums, that would not have seemed out of place in the first "King Kong." While Ms. Weaver's performance is a strong one, it isn't clear what her character is doing as an avatar, or how the Na'vi perceive her. . . .
UPDATE: Another review claims that the movie is inherently racist.
By far the most contemptible theme in Avatar involves the hero, a young disabled American called Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington. Before the humans declare war on the Na’vi, Sully is sent to them (in the form of a blue-skinned avatar) in a last ditch attempt to find a diplomatic solution. But, lo and behold, he becomes one of them – sympathising so much with their plight that he decides to lead them into battle against the humans.
As Left-wing conceits go, this one surely tops all the others: the ethnic Na’vi, the film suggests, need the white man to save them because, as a less developed race, they lack the intelligence and fortitude to overcome their adversaries by themselves. The poor helpless natives, in other words, must rely on the principled white man to lead them out of danger. . . . .