Avatar seems to juxtapose the best and worst of human endeavours. This beautifully crafted film weaves imagination and visual dexterity with cutting-edge technology. And the human locked into the mercenary machine, waving its metallic arms, offers a heart-breaking and all too familiar image of American imperialism doing what it knows best. Scorched Earth. Slash and Burn. Shock and Awe.
More than once I was moved to tears by the narrative. Because the luminous fairytale with its light trickery is itself an avatar, a shadowing of our own world. It mirrors the slaughter of so many indigenous and colonised peoples over centuries, including this one. The rapacious, deadly looting of resources - grey rock, black oil, whatever you've got. And how the outnumbered, doomed people are always characterised as the 'savages'. As they gain ground in the inevitable guerilla war, I almost shook my head at the too-easy come-back. But then again, I remembered the Vietcong and others who have humiliated the military machine, if not in 160 minutes.
A review in Empire - well worth a look - said: 'Avatar is a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful and exciting in the way that only comes from seeing a master artist at work.' I had a little shock when I saw the name James Cameron in the end titles. Perhaps I shouldn't be too surprised that the director of Titanic and Aliens should have produced a box-office record-breaker that's also an intelligent and visceral film experience.
Anyway - if avatars are your thing - take a look at the series Caprica on Sky 1, the closest thing I've seen to TV poetry since its parent-series Battlestar Galactica. For years, Battlestar was the best kept secret on television and an outstanding example of what the genre can deliver. ('Better than The Wire' suggests the Guardian review: 'What really sets the show apart from the original, though, are its politics.' ) Dip your toe into Caprica and maybe you'll want the whole story. And for confirmed BG fans, the Cylon child does not disappoint.