Although I’m a technophile, I haven’t seen Avatar. Nor do I intend to. The problem with Avatar is not that its story is a lame and nonsensical retelling of Dances with Wolves in space; we do not go to the movies in order to experience a more logical and realistic world than the one we already inhabit. The problem is that James Cameron appears to have shamelessly lifted a great deal of the story and the stylistic trappings from an obscure British comic named Firekind. If the rumors of Terminator-related payments to Harlan Ellison are true, this would not be the first time either.
Here’s how Henry of the Friday Challenge describes it: “[T]here is serious speculation that Cameron lifted large chunks of the story in Avatar from an eight-issue British comic book series titled Firekind. The comic book series features a lush, wild planet with an atmosphere that is toxic to humans, blue-skinned aliens, flying dragons on which the aliens ride, a planet-wide psychic connection, floating rocks, humans bent on wiping out the natives to get their hands on something available only on this planet and a human who joins the blue-skinned aliens to fight against his own race. The human is even responsible for psychically summoning the planet to help defeat the humans.”
I don’t know what the facts are, but as a writer who is presently under contract to deliver a script for an animated film, I have absolutely zero desire to support what, according to the case for the prosecution, looks very much like an ironic case of James Cameron blatantly stealing both the story and the creative credit from those who rightly deserve the blame for the nonsense. I’m not sure which is ultimately more depressing, the fact that a film costing $300 million couldn’t set aside the price of a novel advance for a decent story or the related fact that a decent story is obviously superfluous to requirements for the filmgoing audiences of today.