Missing Logic: Avatar

Avatar is showing this weekend on British TV, which reminds me of some pretty obvious problems.

THE FILM

It’s Pocahontas as played out by Smurfs, remember? Gorgeous Sam Worthington escapes his wheelchair in a virtual body (or “avatar”) on a pretty rainforest planet. He falls in love with the girl-Smurf (Zoe Saldana) and organises a rebellion against the evil US army. 

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THE FLAW

After the natives fight back, the humans give up and leave. Because that ever happens. In history, whenever a technologically superior invading force is repelled by the indigenous inhabitants, they just say, “Oh well, then” and pack their bags.

That’s not to say it’s never happened – we can all think of examples of countries that have been unsuccessfully invaded – but those unconquerable places find themselves perpetually at war because invading forces tend not to give up so easily.

Example: the Romans’ ill treatment of Iceni royalty led to Queen Boudica’s revolt against the occupying forces. The rebels burnt Londinium (London) to the ground, tens of thousands died, and Nero considered withdrawing all Roman forces from Britain.

But he didn’t. Suetonius defeated the Iceni tribe, Boudica died and the Romans occupied Britain for 400 more years.

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HOW IT WOULD HAVE ENDED

Jake transfers permanently into his avatar … and then becomes the Na’vi’s military ruler to defend the planet against the next attack.

After 30 years of vicious warfare, the human colonies are so well established that a fairly complex trade network has grown between the two groups. Bit by bit, the Na’vi trade away their resources and slacken on the combat until a truce is reached.

A few decades later, Pandora’s mineral supply is seriously depleted, but the Na’vi have some swank jumpsuits and a Starbucks on every corner.

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THE VERDICT

It’s a good film, but only as fine as Dances With Wolves or any of the other eco-thrillers it ripped off. That said, it stands alone as the most beautiful film I’ve ever seen, and I’m not just talking about Sam Worthington here. (Even if he does shag the horse-thing.)

Apparently two sequels are in the works, so my shopping-mall ending isn’t out of the question. Do you think they’ll have a cookie stand?

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One comment on “Missing Logic: Avatar

  1. [Via Facebook]
    Steve M said: Couple things. First, it was a commercial operation, not a colony. All of the military were hired mercenaries, and they lost most of their aircraft (including one of the two space worthy shuttles they had available to them), not to mention a lot of personnel. A not insignificant number of humans sided with the N’avi and were allowed to stay as the others left.

    So the humans who opposed the N’avi were unable to fight back.

    In addition, Pandora is 4 ish light years from earth, and the trip takes about 6 years. Assuming they only have the one starship going back & forth, an occupying force wouldn’t be able to arrive back for at least 12 years. Even if the estranged humans radioed back to Earth right away, the signal would take 4+ years to reach Earth, then add another 6 for a second starship to get to Pandora.

    If there just happened to be a massive invading force en route anyway, the counterattack could come faster, but that’d be a little too convenient.

    So I think it’s not that they didn’t fight back, it’s that it is going to be at least a decade before they can.

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