Defense Tech in Avatar

AVTR-375

Thought I'd throw this one your way for a gander...

I wrote a review of the new James Cameron blockbuster Avatar for Military.com the other day and was generally impressed with the effects and cinematography, but I bristled at the depiction of the military/contractors in the film and found it hard to cheer for the aliens.

From a defense technology standpoint, there's a lot to chew over here. First, viewers will see a lot of similarity between the weapons and vehicles of Aliens and Avatar. That makes some sense since Aliens takes place in 2179 and Avatar takes place in 2154. There are manbots, huge troop carrying gunships and Osprey-like light helicopters -- and most of the weapons are kinetic rather than energy blasting arms. Seems to me, though, if you are at the point of perfecting interplanetary travel on the kind of scale as Avatar, you'd have a little more advanced weaponry. Looks like Cameron just dusted off the Aliens script and had some of his artists spruce up existing weapons with a more "ergonomic" look (where's the XM-8?)...

It's pretty simple.

Spend a gazillion dollars on computer animators; concoct an entirely new language, throw the whole thing on another planet with ten-foot-tall aliens that ride dragons and plug into their extraterrestrial horses with biological data cables and add some jet-hovering, super-fortress gunships, belt-fed blasters, and latter day V-22s and you've got yourself a pretty good action movie formula, right?

Now make it all 3-D.

That's exactly what writer/director James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic) tried to do with what is reportedly the most expensive film ever produced. His latest movie Avatar -- which opens in U.S. theaters today -- certainly lives up to its billing as a visceral assault on the senses. Think of the most gut-wrenching roller coaster ride of your life -- and stretch it two and a half hours.

Not bad for the $10 admission price. But, as with most big-budget movies coming out of today's Hollywood, all that glitters may not be gold.

While Avatar's visuals and the 3-D effect on the big screen could herald a whole new genre of movie making (Cameron reportedly has plans to remake some of his most famous films in 3-D), it's tough to ignore your sore bum after sitting through 150 minutes of a storyline that could have been scripted by a group of high school drama students.

And to make matters even worse, the script takes an unintended but vicious swipe at the military that will be hard for Military.com readers to stomach.

The story revolves around Jake Sully, a former Marine who's given a second chance at life by transferring his consciousness through scientific wizardry into an alien body known as a Na'vi. You see -- and this is where it gets pretty clichéd -- the Resources Development Corporation has a mining operation on the Na'vi home planet Pandora extracting a mineral called "unobtanium" (try not to laugh) that they can sell for about a million dollars an ounce.

Read the rest of the review HERE.

At the end of the day, I would go ahead and plop down the ten-spot and see the film in a theater. For the simple spectacle of it all, it's well worth the price of a few eye-rolls and yawns at the pitiful storyline.

-- Christian

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