The Top 10 Nagging Avatar Questions of the Decade
Before we lock ourselves into a coffin-like pod and emerge, moments later, in the 10-foot-tall body of a blue-skinned contrarian ready to swat away a swarm of bioluminescent helicopter bugs because their incessant roto-fluttering is just too damn magical, let's get this out of the way: We enjoyed Avatar. Greatly. It restored the childlike wonder of the moviegoing experience, we smelled colors and tasted music for hours afterward, etc yada. But this is not to say that upon emerging from our three-hour, $17 ride in our AvaTours host-body we were left two-hundred percent satisfied with everything we'd just experienced. We had questions. Questions that nagged at us a little, even as we spent the rest of that dizzying afternoon trying to plug the business end of our new genitalbraid into an outstretched branch on the Grove Christmas tree, yearning for soul-melding union with whispering, holiday-season moviegoers from eons past. After the jump, we explore some of the issues that will gnaw at our brains until our next viewing of The Titanic Game-Changer That Changed The Game Forever. [WARNING: SPOILERS ABOUND.]
1. Why hasn't future wheelchair technology advanced at all from our present-day wheelchair capabilities?
Our hero, paraplegic Marine Jake Sully, spends all his non-Na'vi-romping time rolling around in a wheelchair no more sophisticated than one you could pick up at your local Sav-On pharmacy today. No heavy-duty tank treads, mag-lev hovering, not even a simple electric motor. Is Sully just too macho to avail himself of a less self-powered conveyance? Is the future military too cheap (see below) to provide him with something motorized? The most advanced thing about Sully's chair is its fashion-forward yellow paint job.
Similarly unadvanced aspects of the Avatar future: Persistence of meathead tribal tattoos, cliched Wizard of Oz references, clunky wheels used to scroll hologram maps that otherwise seem to be manipulated through in-the-air gestures.
2. Future military benefits are so bad that a soldier paralyzed in the line of duty can't afford an operation that could potentially put him back on the battlefield?
We're reminded of that perfect line from Thank You For Smoking, where Rob Lowe's superagent character explains how the power of exposition can effortlessly erase any plausibility problem: "It's an easy fix. One line of dialogue. 'Thank God we invented the... you know, whatever device.'" In Avatar, the Whatever Device is the military's baffling unwillingness to pay for spinal restoration surgery, which conveniently allows Quaritch to hold hostage the possibility of walking again (with his human legs) unless Jake plays ball in the Na'vi's potential destruction. In the future, your co-payment is genocide.