By Alison Campbell 29/01/2010

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.  


Just, wow!!!

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 :-)

0 Responses to “avatar”

  • Yes, The Na’vi seemed a little conveniently humanesque, but you’re always going to get that from Hollywood – the more the audience needs to sympathize with an alien race, the more human they look. They could have found ways of explaining it, but instead just relied on the miracle clause.

  • Your pedantism is mild compared to my reaction after coming out of the film.
    Loved the cinematography, how could you not, but yep the whole unrealism of the Na’vi bugged me. For some reason the kissing scene really got under my skin. Not even all human cultures kiss (IIRC) but aliens do?

    Ideally I’d like to see an Avatar prequel explaining all the Mcguffins of the film, I suspect that wouldn’t be of particularly wide appeal though.

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