Last week in our Science Fiction class, we had to watch Avatar and District 9. I always compare these two movies because they a) came out around the same time and b) deal with human-alien interactions. I love District 9; I am less impressed by Avatar.
To me, District 9 is a fascinating and somewhat realistic exploration of what would happen if aliens indeed crash landed on Earth. Society’s compulsive need to stratify everyone into classes is a problem that not only happened during Apartheid, but still persists today. I think the xenophobia, racism, and oppression explored in the film is a fascinating spin on the “alien invasion;” in District 9, humans are the tyrants.
On the other hand, Avatar is a live-action Fern Gully. The plot is thin, the dialogue contrived, and the acting uneven. Yet, more than anything else, the film is incredibly hypocritical. Director James Cameron has stated multiple times that the film is about the abuse of nature and environmentalism. However, Avatar’s production greatly taxed the environment, particularly in its use of electricity. Cameron’s hypocrisy completely undermines any value Avatar would have otherwise.