Okay, so I called this a review, but it’s really more a venting of frustrations with this poorly constructed film.
Yes, there will be spoilers.
No, you shouldn’t care, because once you read this there is no way you will waste $10 on this terrible creation.
First of all the movie was essentially conceived as the love child of a PETA ad and Al Gore’s wet dream about mankind destroying Earth. I knew that going in as that specifically how the trailers marketed the stupid thing.
I would like to be able to analyze the spectacular plot holes separate from the deplorable science used in the film, but the two are so inextricably linked that I have to just jump in and deal with them as one.
The beginning of the movie starts out with an explanation that humanity had to leave Earth 1,000 years before and move to a new colony. The opening monologue is accompanied by scenes of oil rigs and smoke billowing out of factories. Right then and there I knew I couldn’t take the movie seriously.
So 10 centuries before, the human race moved to a colony on another planet, led by “rangers” which are, based on the description, basically Space Marines.
So they get to this new planet and apparently the current alien inhabitants aren’t too pleased and, because the movie has to have a really bad-ass monster for Jaden Smith’s dumb-ass character to overcome, the aliens start dropping really big blind alien creatures(Ursa), who track humans based the smell of pheromones cased by fear, into the the colonies.
Here’s the first commonsense issue.
Why didn’t they move again? They had ships and clearly the original inhabitants of the planet didn’t feel like sharing, so why did they stay and face mass genocide for nearly 1,000 years?
And they did face it for nearly a thousand years, because no one was really able to figure out how to defend themselves until Will Smith’s bad-ass ranger self shows up on the scene and figures out how to “ghost”, which apparently means not feeling fear at all.
Which I suppose is how they justify his completely wooden acting for the entirety of the film.
Which brings up another issue. In one thousand years, with alien creatures attacking them, not only did they not take off and find a new place to live, they also didn’t find a way to mask their pheromones so that the “Ursa” couldn’t track them?
So much for science.
Also, they are constantly being attacked by Ursa, which have very large teeth, larger claws, and pincers that apparently shoot out of them, but it looks like they built their city out of a combination of lacy, gently wafting curtains, plastic wrap, and canvas walls.
This could potentially be justified if the Ursa had all been killed or if the city was in some sort of protected area, but it clearly
isn’t since one of the major plot points is that the older sister of the family (an apparently completely useless ranger) was killed by an Ursa right in the family living room.
If this is humanity’s future, I actually hope they all die.
Then of course there is all this crap about how “Everything on this planet has evolved to kill humans” which seemed to be a line that was included in every single trailer for the movie.
Evolution does not work that way.
I get it PETA, humans suck and the animals want revenge. Except that’s not how this works. The animals on Earth would not even remember what humans were after a thousand years and why in the world would they have evolved to specifically kill a species that was no longer on the planet?
Plus the entire idea is invalidated by the fact that a really large hawk ends up saving the main character’s life and dying to do so. (Not to mention that the bird shows a greater range of emotion on screen than either of the Smiths). Yeah, sounds like that bird specifically evolved to kill humans.
The last significant scientific problem in this movie (by no means have I exhausted them all, but that would take a much longer article) is the tagline: “Danger is real, Fear is a choice”.
Fear is not a choice. It is an unconscious reaction to perceived danger.
Fear is a chain reaction in the brain that starts with a stressful stimulus and ends with the release of chemicals that cause a racing heart, fast breathing and energized muscles, among other things, also known as the fight-or-flight response.
The process of creating fear takes place in the brain and is entirely unconscious. There are two paths involved in the fear response: The low road is quick and messy, while the high road takes more time and delivers a more precise interpretation of events. Both processes are happening simultaneously.
The sensory data regarding the stimulus is following both paths at the same time. But the high road takes longer than the low road. That’s why you have a moment or two of terror before you calm down.
– How Stuff Works
While it is possible that a human could be born with the ability to consciously control the chemicals that cause the feeling of fear, it’s not really all that probable that people could be trained, as the rangers are, to control themselves so that not even the slightest chemical reaction occurred to create pheromones.
So, no. Fear is not a choice.
How you react to fear is a choice of course, but the actual production of chemicals and creation of pheromones is not a “choice” for the person. Everyone feels fear, from an infant to a battle hardened Marine. The only difference is that when a child feels fear they don’t react rationally, but when a Marine experiences fear they use that rush of chemicals they can analyze the situation because they have been trained to know how to react to danger and they can use their fight-or-flight response in their favor.
But all of that would be a moot point in this movie, because how you react isn’t going to help that much when a giant alien slug is chewing your face off. Which sort of makes the whole premise idiotic and calls M. Night Shyamalan’s ability to direct a decent movie in to question.
Oh, who are we kidding? We knew he took a nose dive when the Airbender movie came out.