People Tell Me I Look Like Han Solo.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
  Celebrate Earth Day with Green Movies

The Earth Day DVD/Blu-ray release of James Cameron’s sci-fi epic was no accident (it is a Thursday, after all; usually DVDs are released on Tuesdays), as Avatar lays on the environmental themes pretty thick. And that’s
not really a knock; Cameron makes movies for the broadest possible audience – and clearly he’s really good at it – and as much as some adults found the “be good to the planet” themes a tad heavy-handed, the second time I went to see it months after its release, the theater was at least half-filled with children. Just the sort who wouldn’t grasp more subtle environmental themes, but who probably took Cameron’s green message to heart.

As much as I didn’t think it was one of the best films of 2009, I did quite enjoy Avatar, and I found its environmental theme worked quite well within the context of the story. And really, subtlety has never been Cameron’s thing (of all the words I’d use to describe classics like Aliens and Terminator 2, “subtle” would not be among them).

The only problem with the Earth Day Avatar release is that there’s nothing on the disc. Cameron is planning to re-release Avatar in cinemas in August with an additional six minutes or so of footage, so a more proper DVD/Blu-ray release (with extras like commentary and making-of documentaries) isn’t expected until the fall. That’s the version of Avatar I’m excited to own, one that lets me watch picture-in-picture footage of Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana in motion-capture suits alongside the finished film. But until then, there are worse ways to mark Earth Day than with great bit of sci-fi/action spectacle.

Away We Go

A bit of an odd choice, as the movie itself has no environmental themes (though the main characters, expecting couple Burt and Verona, definitely seem like the types of people who are concerned about their carbon footprint), but rather it’s the production itself that was environmentally-conscious. There’s a short featurette on the Away We Go DVD that explains how the filmmakers tried to make the production as carbon-neutral as possible, and details the lengths they went to in order to achieve that goal. It’s a noble endeavor, and made me realize just how much waste is created by a typical movie production. It also helps that Away We Go, which I picked as one of the best films of 2009, is a wonderfully warm and sweet movie that anyone with a heart will enjoy. (Check out my initial review here.)

The Lord of the Rings

The environ
mental allegories in J.R.R. Tolkien’s fantasy epic are quite well-known at this point – the villains, primarily Saruman and his orcs, represent the industrial revolution, while the hobbits and the Shire signify a more traditional agrarian lifestyle that Tolkien saw fading in his lifetime – and Peter Jackson’s film version of the classic trilogy makes good use of those themes without losing focus on the main story. Also, these are phenomenally well-made films that just got re-issued on Blu-ray (check out my review of the new set here), so this it’s as good a reason as any to revisit Middle Earth and hearken back to a simpler time (which never really existed; I guess this is what being a Republican is like?) when men were men, hobbits were hobbits, and if you destroyed half of a forest, the other half would come looking for you and totally ***** up your ****.

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