The story for Avatar was serviceable, but predictable. James Cameron is not a terribly talented writer and not a subtle one at all. What follows in this post are the elements that bothered me in the film and the vast majority of them bothered me during my viewing of the movie.
It’s behind a cut so if it does becomes spoilerific you have no one to blame but yourself.
Rifles – I have no trouble with gunpowder rifles being used in 2153. Without a massive breakthrough in power storing technologies it is quite feasible that gunpowder will still be the projectile weapons we use. However I do know that in 2153 if we are using projectile weapons we will be using much better sighting systems than iron sights. It didn’t see that any of the mercenary troops had anything but iron sights for their weapons. A stupid nerfing of the tech so that the natives would stand a chance.
Flying VFR in zero visibility – VFR stands for Visual Flight Rules, meaning that you can’t use your instruments for whatever reason and you must fly by your eyeballs. The characters are forced to move their research base to the floating mountains of Pandora. They enter an area called the vortez where all their instruments fail to function. (Pure Flipping Magic to again nerf the tech for the big fight.) In addition the area is shrouded in thick mist and fig reducing visibility to meters. This is NOT something you fly through without instruments. Of course the heros fly through it without any problems and later scores of crafts fly through it in tight formation without any problems..
Shuttle as bomber – To destroy the high holy sight of the natives and nexus of the planetary mind the bad bad corporation rigs their space shuttle as a bomber. They then proceed to fly it low and slow through the atmosphere like some massive WWII bomber. Dudes, these guys fly there from another star systems, crossing light-years of space. They have access to and control of orbital space. All they have to do is drop rocks from orbit and they’ll do much better than kilograms of high explosives. Safe too doesn’t risk your shuttle. However for the plot to work the bad guys must be stupid, so low and slow it was.
Floating Mountains — Pure Magic. Totally silly in an SF enviroment.
Four Limbed Natives — The Na’Vi have four limbs just like every land animal on Earth. The rest of the Pandoran ecosystem seems to have evolved from a source that had six limbs. The reason every land animal on earth has four limbs is that we all descended from a common ancestor that colonized the land. (Sorry, creationists, get used to it.) On Pandora it would seem a common ancestor has six limbs. That’s fine and dandy — I like the alieness of it all. However, our lovable Thundercats/Smurf amalgam have four limbs just like humans. Of course this is so that they are more identifiable for the audience. Cameron doesn’t trust us to like the people unless they really are basically us.
Alien Sex — Lucky for Jake Scully our hot blue alien girl has sex exactly the same way as a human. Not only do the aliens have four limbs, but apparently that have the same primary and secondary sexual characteristics. Including using sex as a recreational and pleasurable activity. There are other species on Earth than human that have recreational sex, but most of the animal world sex occurs in season and no other time. Again what Cameron is doing here is not trusting the audience. Jake can’t possibly have strong feeling/love for his hot Thundercat/Smurf babe unless he sticks his thing inside her. This is a repeat mistake for Cameron. I think Jack and Rose’s love story in Titanic would have been much stronger and more poignant has there been no sex.
Belly buttons — Not only do our lovable aliens have four limbs and make whoopie like humans they also have belly buttons like us. Apparently they are placental mammals. They aren’t alien, except to their own world of Pandora.
Not enough children — When we see the whole tribe together, there aren’t enough children visible. Rather the thundercats/smurfs seem to have about 2.1 kiddies for union. (Oh and apparently they are monogamous like humans as well. Like I said they are alien ONLY to Pandora.) In a tribal, low-tech environment you would see lots and lots of kiddies. The reason you should on Pandora is three fold. 1) no birth-control and recreational sex. 2) With advanced medical tech lots of kiddies die very young so you needs lots of maintain or grow your population. 3) Pandora is a voracious place where everything is trying to eat you. That would really put pressure on your infant and child mortality, leading to more kiddies.
No Natives like high tech — in human history when high tech culture meet low tech ones there are always low-tech members who like and want the better life via high tech. Apparently with the thundercats/smurfs not a single one. Of course you could hand wave this away by saying they aren’t human, so human historical examples do not apply. Yeah, pull the other one. After all the examples above of why they are just tall blue humans I’m not going to accept suddenly that they aren’t humans for the sake of this flaw.
The film avatar looked great and represents a tremendous leap in visual technology, the story — not so much. I hope one day someone will take this tech and make a movie I really love with it. Say something along the lines of a Man/Kzin war movie.