It is a shame dramatic conflicts must be the culmination of modern films. Movies spend 2/3 building worlds and showing characters all just so that audiences can watch it get blown up in the final 1/3 with a Braveheart like battle cry. I half expected My Heart Will Go On to segue into the end of Avatar. I loved Avatar. I sat spell bound for 2/3 of that movie set in a fantastical world more real than the worlds half the trailers before Avatar are set in (New York, London, Tokyo.) The living word of Pandora and it’s numerous flying, creeping, sliding, slithering, pounding, flapping creatures and swaying, flayed, luminescent, translucent plants. The purple stick-bug that unfolds like a gyrocopter and pirouettes up into the air in a blaze of red and orange, too amazing. The frayed fibre optic tendrils the Navi extend to merge minds with creatures and plants alike. Plants giant and small that snap shut then unfurl. Gravitating rocks floating in the sky, bridges bound by roots and tendrils. The arching petrified rock of the soul tree ampitheatre, surely the last site of a home tree? And jellyfish out of water, pulsing into the air and alighting on those strong of heart. All in the network of Pandora, a living web on a planetary scale with the sole purpose of balancing life. And I want to know more about our dying Earth and the discovery of Pandora. The first encounters with the Navi and subtle signs of Pandora pushing back on the first colonists mining deep into her soil. The paraplegic marine was one of the few unconceited plot devices of the movie, there to help us moviegoers with our avatar-creating 3D glasses learn about Pandora. For the first time 3D felt a necessary part of the story, not a route to bigger explosions.
But mostly I want to go back to Pandora and forget the marines and their guns or the toppled home tree and the impending second-coming of humans. I want to be Sigourney Weaver sucked into Eywa, into the Pandora network to see every nook and cranny of that world and what imagination can create.
When Jake Sully first steps out of the helicopter onto Pandora with the scientists they crouch down and marvel at the synaptic like responses of the living plants around them. Jake is bored though, he wants to run off and find something to fight or tear down or a tale to chase. He wants physical challenge, restored as he is with Navi legs. Sadly at that juncture James Cameron takes the blockbuster route and follows Jake, leaving behind the science. I want to stay behind crouched at the foot of a tree plugged into a planetary web circling a gas giant with many moons. Would moviegoers pay for that? I like to think so.