I saw “Avatar” last night and I got my money’s worth. Maybe not high art, but great entertainment.
Question re the ending. Maybe I’ve forgetting some aspect or maybe it’s a setup for sequel, but after they let the defeated human prisoners return to earth what’s to prevent Earth from coming back in real force, and just carpet bombing the natives with a vengeance?
On a technical note the rotors of that huge gunship with the little nose really didn’t seem big enough to keep it airborne. Did it have lifting jets too?
I believe that Cameron has said that he has other stories in mind for Pandora, so I think sequel set-up is the most likely. Having said that, *not *sending back the human prisoners would have also done nothing to prevent Earth from coming back in force, anyway.
In practical terms, one of the only defenses that the Pandorans have is economics–it may simply not be cost-effective to send a force of any size across inter-stellar distances.
That is, I think, the biggest flaw in the entire movie. The humans have space travel and advanced weapons and Mechwarriors and the ability to do the whole Avatar thing. The aliens have flying dragon-like creatures and bows & arrows.
There is virtually nothing stopping the humans from coming back and quite literally nuking (or whatever the mid-21st century equivalent thereof is) Pandora from orbit and taking all the unobtanium they can get their robots to mine. And if the stuff is worth $20,000,000 a kg (is that a lot of money in 2154? What is unobtanium even used for?) then I’m sure the company involved will have no qualms about doing exactly that.
I just got back from seeing the movie, and I had the same question as the OP. What’s to stop the humans from coming back, and when has a technologically inferior culture ever permanently defeated a superior one? It seems to me that the victory is only temporary, but maybe Cameron has something in mind for the return of the humans.
I like the name “unobtanium,” by the way, it sounds like “unobtainable.” I wonder if that was intentional.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot since I saw the movie last week.
Yes, the humans can come back with more force… eventually. But we know that it’s a six-year trip one-way, even if there’s a ship in orbit ready to go now. Pandora is in the Alpha Centauri system, and even sending radio, they wouldn’t get news to Earth in less than 4.3 years. And then the invasion force would have to be assembled and sent on its way. It would probably be a decade before it arrived.
Meanwhile, the Na’vi and their network consciousness, which incorporates Grace’s knowledge (at least), plus is connected to Sully and other humans, has free run of the human base and all its knowledge… which includes the knowledge of building and maintaining all the war machines.
Absent some kind of remote destruction of the place by relativistic projecties (and if unobtanium is so bloody valuable, the humans won’t want to do that), the Na’vi are quite likely to be able to fight off any expeditionary force from earth.
Although the returning humans could do a Footfall and use directed asteroids from space…
Hmm. I think I may have discovered a sequel.
There’s a lot of back-story info on the Avatar website.
The thing is, if the humans are advanced enough to have Avatars (and they’ve obviously obtained Navi DNA) then they could just engineer some kind of biological weapon (the 22nd Century equivalent of Smallpox, perhaps, but only dangerous to Navi), unleash it on the planet from orbit, and then wait for it to devastate the local population- before appearing either with the cure (in exchange for the mining rights) or with the bulldozers and mining gear.
Similarly, I’m sure they could simply deploy orbital weapons (like the Ion Cannon from the Command & Conquer games) and take out most of the Navi’s villages etc from orbit. They don’t actually need to put anyone on the ground until they’ve decided to extract the minerals, and even that could probably be done with remote-controlled robots.
Maybe they’ll try that the next time… but this time, events just moved too quickly. I get the impression that this is an operation on a budget, and they brought or made the least weaponry and non-mining-related equipment they could. A very good question would be: is there any significant human presence in the Alpha Centauri system outside Pandora? Could they create a colony on another moon, say, and not have to retreat to Earth?
It should probably be pointed out that the mining operation was a private, corporate venture, not any kind of official, governmental or planetary mission or whatever. The rest of Earth isn’t necessarily going to care that some mining company got its ass kicked while trying loot another planet.
Why would the governments of the world, even the United States, undertake such an expensive and deadly mission on behalf of a corporation? People act like $cienoBoy and his trigger-happy minions are part of a government, and they’re not.
“Earth” is made up of billions of people, only a small portion of whom are racist, war-mongering assholes. We’re not likely to devolve wrt political correctness, no matter how much the right-wingers of today would like to see that happen. Not everyone going back will have the point of view of “the natives attacked us, many of our employees got killed, so we have to go back and wipe them out” and will give the point of view of “we fucked with the natives, destroyed their home and sacred lands, killed many of them, and then they fought back” which will alter the discussion.
Hey, how about a sequel where the company is villified back home for their actions on Pandora, and a returning ship goes there with plans to start trade negotiations. I know, the Na’vi don’t want anything we can give them, but as Grace said, diplomacy is easier when there aren’t hired mercenaries with guns lurking about.
There’s no way the sequels are going to show anything except the Navi and the “superior” shamanistic, Planet-Mother based culture soundly defeating the humans and their incredible array of science fiction super-weapons and technology.
Which is sad, because in real life whenever Native forces defeated Europeans, the Europeans came back later with Maxim Guns and Gunboats and it never turned out well for the Natives…
As to “Why bother?”
Apparently it’s implied that the mineral on Pandora is kinda important (or necessary for) space travel. If the planet is in as bad shape as Jake says it is, then I can see it being worth someone’s while to come back and permanently deal with the locals if it means access to spaceship fuel.
I read an article which I can no longer find, in which Cameron said the mining company has a charter from the UN to mine on Pandora. One of the conditions is they cannot commit genocide on the locals. Also, they had to support Sigourney Weaver’s contact programs. Once they realized the Pandorans weren’t interested in dealing with the Avatars, they would have shut down that very expensive program if they were allowed to, and gone to straight military techniques. I’m guessing it’s something like they’ve got to report back on what steps they took to avoid violence before resorting to it - otherwise why bother with the avatars at all?
If the Na’vi are smart, they’ll try to do a Japan: absorb the new knowledge, but on their terms. Even with Japan, though, it took basically two generations from the Meiji Restoration of 1868 to get to the point where they could kick European butt with the Russo-Japanese War of 1905. And that was with importing all sorts of European experts to learn from. Will the Na’vi have time to do some of the same before the next Earth ship arrives?
Was that distinction clearly outlined? I kinda-sorta got the impression that this stuff was super critical to Earth’s energy needs, and that while there was a profit motive Earth was extremely dependent on this stuff being obtained. The military presence seemed very much a military command scenario and not corporate hired guns. Plus if it was purely corporate why even bother with the huge expense of the Avatar operation? I got the sense there was a definite mix of governmental and corporate interests in the group of people on planet.
The Japanese were not primitive tribes living in trees armed with bows and arrows and spears when the Meiji Restoration kicked off. And during the Sengoku Jidai, Japanese tech was pretty much comparable to that available to Europeans. Not really a valid comparison, I’m afraid.
The movie said they’d been trying diplomacy for years (implied to be decades) and had gotten nowhere. I can sort of understand why, when faced with a situation of “We need this stuff for anything to function” and locals who didn’t want to move (although, to be fair to the Navi, I don’t recall ever actually hearing anyone ask them) that they decided to break out the heavy ordnance.
Well, the Japanese experience may be more optimal than the Na’vi… but I’m not sure the Na’vi are all that primitive. When Sully gets merged with the tree and his avatar at the very end, there’s a hint that the process is basically the same via the tree as via the avatar tanks. Also, are they smarter than humans? More mental flexibility?
And I wonder whether “the Na’vi” are the proper entities to consider as making the response? Just how connected is everythig there? Would it be more appropriate to consider Pandora as responding as one entitiy, as a whole?
And if the stuff was so common on Pandora, why didn’t they go and mine a slightly-less-convenient lode that wasn’t under a village? I think they were just paying lip service to diplomacy, and really wanted to go on a wog-shoot.
I haven’t read all the guides about Pandora, but based on the movie the hints you get so far is that Pandora is a world with an electrically connected (ie speed of tree to tree communication etc) neural net style biosphere, and I’m pretty sure the superconducting “unobtanium” in the crust, and at the core is pretty critical to the way that “connected” biosphere operates.
The development of these biological communication tendrils which the Navi have in their ponytails, and which are on selected plants and animals for communication might indicate they are a “designed” species. Whether designed by the Gaea style planetary intelligence or outsiders is not hinted at.
I don’t know where that line of info is going, but I’m betting that if there is sequel where humans return the Navi will turn out to be way, way older than we imagine and the planetary intelligence will reveal itself. There was a similar “looks primitive but super powerful” species in Stargate I can’t recall at this moment.