Review of Avatar on DVD

If you know me at all, I get a bit bristly at some of the Earth Day hype that tends to get popular this time of year. It's not that I'm not all for taking care of the environment -- I believe in good stewardship. What I don't like is all the "Greenwashing" that occurs as a method for companies to sell products that have little to no real positive effect on the world.

The reason I'm leading with this little disclaimer is because I recently had the chance to watch Avatar on DVD with my family. It brought up a lot of questions in my mind as to how the Earth is being respected (or disrespected) and how I can bring up my children to have a love for all of God's creatures and their homes. The movie itself was breathtaking! We didn't watch the 3D version (which is good, because in my 3rd trimester of pregnancy, 3D makes me ill), but we did enjoy almost 3 full hours of amazing sequences and a suspenseful story line.

Before I get to my full review, I did want to point out how impressed I've been with the charity aspect of this film. Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment has teamed up with the Earth Day Network to plant 1,000,000 tress worldwide in celebration of the release of the film (which took place on Earth Day.) By purchasing the film, you'll get a unique access code that you can to online with and adopt one of the trees! You'll then be able to chart its location and progress. (As someone who just watched the grove of trees by my childhood home destroyed last week, I can't tell you know personal this initiative is!)

Here's a photo of Actress CCH Pounder, director James Cameron, and wife Suzy Amis planting the first tree in North America symbolizing the one million tree initiative.

Now on to our review:

What did we love? Almost everything! The themes in this movie were very much focused on nature, maintaining balance and respecting all of the natural creatures in the world. While some could say that the imaginary aspects of the movie were a bit heavy on these themes, I would argue that it helped to develop the story line so that the final scenes hit that much harder. Ultimately, you end up rooting for the Na'vi and and understanding that no commercial resource is worth risking our natural ones. This gave me several ways to discuss good stewardship with my kids, and gave a lovely introduction into some of the things we are doing around our farm to prepare for spring and summer! (We just had baby bunnies, baby goats, and are looking forward to baby chickens. We will be covering how it is our responsibility to make sure that we don't interfere with the natural activities of the animals as they care for their young, but at the same time assist them by giving them fresh food, water, and shelter. The movie talks a lot about connecting with animals -- my kids are excited!)

What did we not love? Well.. it was a little long. While I personally can't sit for more than 1.5 hours without getting sore, I understand that it needed to be this long to tell the tale. However, we did end up watching the film in two separate installments. We paused it right as the main character entered a new "rite of passage" and so it was a natural place to stop the movie without upsetting my kids.

Note: This movie is PG-13. Some people may not find that it's at all suitable for children as young as my kids. There was some language, but unless you had the subtitles on, it was hard to catch. They were more mesmerized by the animation, music, and strength of the characters than distracted by the thematic elements. Over all, it had more redeeming qualities that I could talk about with my kids than negative aspects that could detract. This, of course, is a decision that should be made on a case by case basis. (Some of the violence at the end wasn't gory -- but very intense. It got emotional, even for me, which is what made it such an epic movie.)

Our final verdict of Avatar is that it is probably worth all the hype it has received. I was a bit skeptical, as I rarely enjoy blockbusters. This is not your typical blockbuster, however.... no matter what side of the fence you stand on with regards to issues like climate change and offshore drilling, you can't argue with the main theme of this movie. Its touching use of so many lessons is not overpowering, but certainly at times, overwhelming.

If you want to be overwhelmed in a good way, check out this movie, available from Twentieth Century Fox Entertainment on Blu-Ray and DVD. (It's available from Amazon for under $20 for the DVD/Blu-ray set!)

* A copy of the DVD was received for review.