What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know this highly anticipated James Cameron sci-fi epic may be too intense (and long, at 161 minutes) for some tweens. There are several effects-heavy battle and hunting sequences that include missile-launching military aircraft, nerotoxin-laced arrows, scary Pandora-dwelling fauna and flora, and lots of explosions -- all of which has more impact when the movie is seen in 3-D. Salty wartime language includes many uses of "s--t" and comparable words. As in his previous epics, Cameron infuses the action-driven story with strong female characters and a morality tale centered in a romantic relationship -- though the human-Na'vi relationship in question gets a bit complicated, because the human is actually in his avatar. The romantic leads' chemistry is made more sensual by the barely dressed bodies of the Na'vi. (Note: Fans of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender should know that this movie is in no way connected to that show or the movie based on it.)
Families can talk about the movie's revolutionary special effects. Do they overwhelm or support the movie's story? How does the portrayal of the Na'vi affect the movie's emotional impact?
What themes does Cameron consistently work into his films? Compare the strong female characters in Avatar, Terminator, and Titanic. Any similarities?
What political messages is Cameron exploring in the movie? How are its themes relevant to what's going on in today's world? Do you think these messages will stand the test of time?