I saw the much heralded movie, Avatar, this week. It was everything they said it would be technologically. We saw it in 'real 3D'-no DLP or IMAX enhancements-and it was awesome. I'll go back to experience the environment of the film in one of those theaters just to be on Pandora again. You've got to see it for the CG effects and to experience the environment of the natives where the primary story takes place.
The Avatar Program that inserts humans into the lives of the Na'vi is ingenious and mixes genome science and The Matrix technology of moving between the real world and the program that governs the sleeping. For the soul of a human to permanently dwell in a Na'vi at the sacred center of the planet reminded me of Neo's birth in the Matrix, too...only through nature. (I do dig the way the Na'vi communicated with the animals through the "receptors" in both.)
There is nothing new about the story. It's an industry-military imperialistic invasion of pristine, native land and peoples. Money is the root of the evil, and the military and industrial tactics of slash and burn are implemented after negotiations by the scientists fail. Scientists, Natives, good. Business, Military, bad. The story is Pocahontas in 2154. While the story is predictable, I still got goosebumps when the hero rallied the natives from all ends of the planet to resist the invading mercenaries hired by Big Business.
The film's theology is a rehash of acceptable paganism. The People's deity is an impersonal force that chooses no sides. It is feminine and harbors the memories of all who have ever lived. Nature is divine, and the plants, animals and natives are connected through the force. New Age theology has come of age in our culture. I will confess my love for the outdoors, trail running, and hiking was tagged by the challenges and learning to live in the environment of Pandora. I wanted to go home and put on my five fingers and run on a trail.
Go see the film. Escape for a time. Be fascinated with the animated beauty and wonder of a place far, far away. Marvel at the technological advancements of movie making but, don't look for anything new in its philosophy, story or theology. That's been done before.