Tonight my wife and daughter were out of town and I found myself in traffic on a DC-area freeway.  Rather than seethe in traffic hell, I pulled off the freeway and went to a theater to see James Cameron’s new movie Avatar.  This is a film that has conservative-leaning people in a tizzy these days, as they try to reconcile the left-leaning messages of the movie with the indescribable awesomeness of its viewing experience.  What follows are my five reasons why conservatives and others should put aside ideology for a few hours and head to a really good theater (this is critical) to see Avatar:

1.  No matter what your level of education or your understanding of technology, this movie will make you feel like Unfrozen Cave Man Lawyer. The visual experience of Avatar is so awe-inspiring that Pat Robertson would probably attribute the film’s spectacular effects to witchcraft.  And in all honestly, I cannot refute that explanation with any level of confidence.  After Jurassic Park was made, we were given insights into the process of creating those dinosaurs, from the wire-frame model, to placing skin on the model, to programming movements and letting the animation render- it was amazing, but you could wrap your mind around how they did it.  With Avatar, the scale of what they achieved makes me think that witchcraft or sorcery would be as good an explanation as any.

2.  James Cameron made a tired plot compelling. My generation got its first exposure to the Soulless Capitalism vs. the Soulful Common People plot in the 1980s, with Goonies.  Since then, it has shown up in new movies several times a year in one flavor or another, and it currently forms the plot of about half of all animated movies.  This is the second most tired plot out there, just behind girl-falls-for-improbable-suitor-in-spite-of-unexpected-obstacles and just in front of plots involving sensitive reformed vampires.  Cameron’s Avatar plot is an amalgamation of Dances With Wolves, Star Wars, The Matrix, and Pocahontas; and if that were all I knew of the film, I might not want to see it, despite the fact that DWW and The Matrix are in my personal all-time top five favorites.  The setting and character development in Avatar were interesting enough to outweigh the fact that I could match up so many of Avatar’s characters and plot points with counterparts in Dances With Wolves.

3.  You don’t need to be offended by the secular environmentalist religion of the movie. We have very solid doctrinal reasons for believing that people of faith are oppressed by forces that are financed with the treasures of the natural world, and this is the basic premise of the film.  If you are offended by the portrayal of non-Judeo-Christian religious systems in film, or by depictions of human actions in the future far beyond when you think the Second Coming will happen, then perhaps I cannot help you.
In fairness, though, some of the criticisms of the film’s ideological bent are very valid.  The leader of the evil capitalist mercenaries was used to exemplify the evil of Bush’s preemptive warfare, and it was a groan-out-loud stupid element of the movie.  It’s the big qualifier in my enjoyment of an otherwise fantastic film.  Even if you are bothered by that, however, you will be able to look at this film in complete astonishment and feel a sense of patriotic pride as America is the only place films like this can be made.

4.  Your purchase of an Avatar ticket will help to unseat Cameron’s last — and worst — movie, Titanic, as the highest grossing movie of all time.  I had high hopes that The Dark Knight would undo this decade-long travesty, but Titanic remains the record holder to date.  Avatar recently passed the billion-dollar mark, so I’m hoping we can sustain this momentum.  Titanic is the second-worst epic film ever made, just behind Pearl Harbor, and it had no business being valued as much as it was at the box office.

5.  The previews in some places are showing the trailer for the remake of Clash of the Titans.  Liam Neeson as Zeus?  I think it’s going to work.  The new Alice in Wonderland also looks visually amazing; this is the first time in a long time that movie previews have left me feeling optimistic for the state of American film.