The family finally got its act together & went to see Avatar. In 3D :-) (Actually our act was arranged by friends, who also organised us into an al fresco meal of fish’n'chips beforehand.) I carefully didn’t read anything much about the movie before I went, so I’m aware that what I’ve got to say has probably been said before - but here goes, anyway.
Visually that has to be the most stunning thing I have ever seen in a movie theatre, by a country mile. OK, the story-line was pretty basic & the ending was signalled well beforehand… And the 3D glasses left a dent in my nose… But the way in which the world of Pandora & its ecosystems was rendered was wonderfully and beautifully done. (My friends & I agreed that parts of it were reminiscent of the record cover art of Roger Dean.) And I can see why ecologists like my colleague Bruce Clarkson are so taken with it, & its overtones of the Gaia hypothesis. And as a zoologist-by-training I was enthralled by the Pandoran animals.
But. (There’s always a ‘but’, isn’t there?) That same training also left me with a few questions at the end. And they had to do with the place of the Na’vi in their world. What I mean is, in evolutionary terms, they don’t belong. If they had evolved on Pandora, then it would have been from one of the other animal life-forms. All of which seemed to have 6 legs (2 pairs of forelimbs), 2 pairs of eyes, and nostrils pretty much in their armpits. Which is all great & made them convincingly alien. So – whence the Na’vi, with their very humanoid appearance & the ‘right’ number of eyes & nostrils? In other words, while the Pandoran environment looks great, the evolutionary back-story was a leetle shaky :-)
Didn’t stop me really enjoying the experience, though! (And yes, I am a pedantic science geek!)
& now I see that, in the way of the world, I’m by no means the first to see the apparent derivation from Dean’s work. Or think about the zoology (Tetrapod Zoology has a lovely take on this) Or quibble about the evolutionary ‘science’. But we all enjoyed the film :-)