So, 3 years late - I finally watched Avatar...

…at home with my wife, who normally hates Sci Fi but - very surprisingly - enjoyed the spectacle of it all. As did I, I must say. Just wish I’d bothered to go to see it at the cinema in glorious 3D at the time, as I’m sure it would have been quite extraordinary. But still plenty fun enough on our TV.

Firstly though, it was basically a western, with the exact same storyline as Dances with Wolves or similar ilk, or the Last Samurai. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but it was kind of strange seeing such a familiar pattern of events play out in such a different, exotic landscape.

But what I wanted to ask was this – what, exactly, were the ‘sky people’ doing on Pandora? There was some chat that they (we) had destroyed our own planet, no green areas left, and this led to my assumption that we were there to colonise the planet and make it our new home etc… But it was also just a huge mining corporation basically scavenging the planet for expensive materials. If the latter was the case, why would a huge mining expedition to collect the rare mineral (unobtainium- heh) to sell back home be of any consequence? Would there even be markets back home to sell the ore in if the planet was truly dying and had been rendered uninhabitable? Or does the ore somehow help replenish our planet and grow new things, hence it’s intrinsic value? If it was mentioned, I missed it.

Anyhow, was there any reasoning or rationale to this, or was it just a plot device to drive the story? (was I meant to just be distracted by the big blue guys and their pretty planet…? :slight_smile: )


The unobtanium is only available on Pandora, and it is used in technological applications to defy gravity. Deposits of the mineral are why lumps of mountains float and why trees can grow to incredible heights not possible under normal gravity.

I agree that it is a rehash of Dances with Wolves or Pocohantas. The point of the movie is the spectacle of the thing.

The anti-gravity mineral makes no scientific sense. So it isn’t really sci-fi, it is fantasy.

Has that always been a pre-requisite for sci-fi? I’m pretty sure most of what’s considered “sci-fi” for films, such as Star Wars, wouldn’t count then, 2001: A Spacy Odyssey excluded naturally :wink:

In my family, we routinely refer to the movie as Dances with Smurfs.

I think we got it from my brother-in-law, but don’t know if he made it up or not.

I believe it’s importance lay in being a natural superconductor. There were electronic applications as well as “defying gravity”.

Star Wars is most definitely fantasy by my definition.

Star Trek is science fiction.

Science fiction explores the impact of scientific changes on human beings. That’s my short form criteria.

I don’t think that we were meant to assume that Earth had become inhospitable. Much of the environment had been destroyed, but there were still huge numbers of humans living in cities surrounded by polluted wastelands. Those cities needed superconductors for fusion power plants and maglev trains, so there was a huge market for Unobtanium. And Unobtanium for some magical never-explained reason cannot be made artificially, but can only be found on Pandora under areas that are important to the blue cat people, so you have your forced excuse plot.

South Park