Dances with Viperwolves
I took my 13-year-old daughter out yesterday afternoon to see the 3-D version of Avatar, also known as Dances with Viperwolves.
The story is already well known (so no need to summarize it here), and the characters are stereotypes (albeit interesting stereotypes with enough complexity to keep one's attention), so the real attraction is the 3-D visuality of a primeval world filled with wild nature of the sort that Kaczynski would surely love and of a motion-capture technique so highly developed that it has even succeeded in capturing and depicting lifelike eyes.
The visual effects were so good that I could almost ignore the attempts at topicality. Almost. I couldn't quite ignore Colonel Miles Quaritch's remark about using "shock and awe" to cow the native tribes of the planet Pandora into submission so that the 'sky people' (i.e., the earthlings) can obtain the mineral 'unobtainium' (as if that were possible!). I mean, in 2154 AD, some hundred and fifty years after the Iraq War, the US military is still using that failed Rumsfeldian expression? As if the military never learns anything about how to deal with counterinsurgency?
Despite the crudity of the anti-American, even anti-Western stereotypes -- especially of ruthless capitalist corporations and brutal military techniques -- I (and my daughter) enjoyed the film and just couldn't help siding with the Na'vi, the local Pandoran tribe that the main character Jake Sully in his avatar form joins.
But I suppose that I and my daughter (Sa-Rah Ahyoga Hwang) aren't entirely Western.