While “Avatar” is an amazing technical achievement, the plot was basically “Dances with Wolves” in space. The film had great special effects, along with 3-D. (As a side bar, I don’t know if anyone else had this experience, but the 3-D glasses did not work well for me until I turned them over and wore them upside down; someone had probably reversed the lenses.)

The basic plot of the movie is that in the year 2154, the RDA Corporation, with the assistance of former Marines-turned-mercenaries, are trying to exploit Pandora, a moon that contains a material that can be used as an energy source. The problem is that Pandora is populated by the Na’vi, humanoid creatures who don’t want to leave their homes. Jake Sully (played by “Terminator Salvation” Australian-born actor Sam Worthington), a crippled U.S. Marine, is sent to infiltrate the Na’vi and learn their ways so that the Marines and their corporate employers can remove them from their homes and exploit the resource. He is sent as an Avatar – a remotely-controlled, genetically-engineered body that is employed on Pandora because humans cannot breathe there. Like Kevin Costner’s character John Dunbar in “Dances with Wolves,” he is seduced by the loving and innocent ways of the Na’vi, turning against his employers and going native in the process. In the final battle scene, Sully leads the Na’vi to victory against the evil American invaders (who use terms like “shock and awe” to describe their war-making capabilities).
At first glance “Avatar” might be viewed as a not-so-subtle left wing criticism of American values and foreign policy. Those who think so are mistaken, and here‘s why. Director James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Aliens”) has actually made a movie that, if anything, has ideas that are decidedly anti-left (it’s entirely possible this is below his awareness level).
The hero of the movie, the paraplegic marine Sully, is a wounded war veteran who in the 22nd Century is stuck in – of all things – a wheelchair, a decidely 19th Century invention. He is in the wheelchair because he is the victim of a callous government-run health care system that’s administered by none other than the Veterans Administration. Cameron is clearly sounding a warning against government-run health care.
Implied in the film is that Al Gore and his friends were ultimately successful in spreading their global warming hysteria, withb the result being that all fossil fuels have been banned on Earth. Cap-and-trade legislation has worked and there is a pressing need for a new energy source, which is why the human invaders are in desperate need of ‘unobtainium,’ the mineral they hope to exploit.
Another hidden right-wing message is that the marines are simply enforcing the old left-wing tradition of redistribution of wealth. In this case the wealth of the Na’vi is the energy source. In a way, the RDA Corporation is simply engaging in agrarian reform, as seen in the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba.
The RDA Corporation attempts to control a certain area that the Na’vi hold sacred due to their fundamentalist religious beliefs. This can be viewed as basically just an eminent domain dispute that has turned violent, all because the Na’vi won’t go along with the right to redistribute and control wealth. The film makes it clear that there are not a lot of Na’vi, and they selfishly refuse to share the wealth that they have not earned, but sit on due to an accident of birth. Isn’t this kind of like a trust fund heir who doesn’t want to pay a just and fair inheritance tax? The mercenaries can be seen as left-wing militant reformers – perhaps a Pandoran branch of ACORN.
The Na’vi are a primitive society that have one feature that Cameron must know most liberals can’t stand: the Na’vi are all well-armed. There is no bow and arrow control on Pandora. There is another feature of their society that shows the Na’vi tend to lean to the right: church and state are not separated. The rulers of the Na’vi are religious figures who believe in a goddess named Eywa. The head of the tribe is also the chief religious figure. Cameron clearly paints a sympathetic portrait of a people who have violated the separation of church and state. No doubt that the American Civil Liberties Union needs to open a branch office on Pandora. And finally, there is no amnesty for illegal aliens on Pandora.  At the end of the movie nearly all of them are expelled. You can that this film is actually critical of the left and supportive of many conservative positions. If only most critics, as well as Cameron, saw it that way.
– Nat Trayger
Avatar: written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang.