I don’t want to write down any spoilers for Avatar, but I left wishing that James Cameron had spoken to Hayao Miyazaki about creating conflict without making someone an out-and-out bad guy. I thought of Princess Mononoke, with a theme similar to Avatar‘s, and wanted antagonists like San and Princess Eboshi: people who valued different (but positive) things and came to battle over them. I was taken out of the narrative by the clumsy motivations as much as I was in Spielberg’s A.I. when Monica abandons David in the woods. Who would actually do that?
And I’m curious about animal evolution on Pandora – how did the Na’vi get to be the only large creatures with only 4 limbs?
But I suspect I will see the movie in a theatre again, and several times on DVD.
A little later: Cameron could also have spoken to Guillermo Del Toro of Hellboy fame. In Hellboy II: The Golden Army, Prince Nuada, the antagonist, has a very good motivation for being unhappy with humanity: from his point of view we have reneged on our agreement to stick to the cities and have been encroaching on the forests for too long. You can easily sympathize with his anger, even if you aren’t in favor of humanity being destroyed. I don’t know if the story is part of Hellboy’s comics canon or not – if so, the credit for the greater subtlety would go to Mike Mignola.
I must like movies with Forest Spirits.