On Saturday night I went and saw Avatar, and I am glad I did.
Even though the movie is basically “The Last Samurai” and "Donnie Brasco" on another planet, there is enough visual spectacularism that I got a thrill watching it.
Also, and more importantly, the execution of the idea (a man who has lost something finds himself in the camp of the enemy, where he is adopted by the tribe and finds what he has lost, then rebels against his former masters) was very compelling. It worked best for me in the sequences where the hero, Jake, was learning how to use his alien avatar body to run through the trees, ride giant birds, and then became part of the tribe. The physicality of his actions was exciting, seductive, and made me want to do them myself; and as he earned the acceptance of the tribe, I really believed, and sympathized with, his desire to belong.
The climactic battle scene was a bit gratuitous, but the peril felt real, and the payoff was highly acceptable.
I had heard that there are people who have been having suicidal bouts of depression after seeing this movie. That made me think that there would be a really depressing payoff at the end, but no. The balance of life and death, good vs. evil, and overall justice is resolved in a perfectly satisfactory manner. Apparently some people just find the real world suicidally depressing compared to watching the movie.
The effect this movie had on me was that it inspired me to compete in a grappling tournament the next day. The physicality of wrestling and grappling is the closest I have ever come to the physicality of the alien tribe in the movie, and Jake’s growth and acceptance by the tribe mirrors my current journey through the world of submission grappling. So I had an outlet through which I could exercise my longing to be a part of the world of the movie, and I am a happier man because of it.
Read my writeup on the tournament at My other blog.