It’s hard to imagine that James Cameron’s massively successful Avatar is twelve years old at this point, but time seems to fly in the 21st century in a way that it never did before. Cameron has his sights set on a string of Avatar sequels beginning with the next installment in December of 2022, which means audiences will finally be able to return to the planet of Pandora.
For a Covid-weary populace and a Hollywood movie business now facing total collapse, this would be a welcome respite, and a beginning of happy days all over again. That’s reason enough to feel optimistic about the Avatar franchise. However, Cameron’s original record-breaking film certainly has a lot of plot holes that deserve to be scrutinized.
10 No Oxygen
As opposed to the worst planets in sci-fi pop culture that nobody would want to visit, the planet Pandora is a virtual paradise with sprawling, massive forests as far as the eye can see. How ironic then, that there’s an overload of carbon dioxide in the air that makes it unbreathable for humans. This is a plot hole difficult to cover up, at least from the perspective of our own planet – because how do the forests grow?
Cameron should have jettisoned the carbon dioxide explanation and stuck with the fact that Pandora is comprised of high amounts of hydrogen sulfide, which would be enough to kill humans all by itself. It would be one less thing to try and explain later down the road.
9 The Avatar Process
Humans link to their avatars using Link Units, a special type of bed that forges a psionic link across great distances. However, it’s never fully explained how this process works, other than to suggest that each avatar has receiver nodes grown into their brains from “birth.”
This suggests a type of Wi-Fi connection (7G, perhaps?) that can cast the connection across many kilometers. The range of the connection seems awfully short, and there’s no mention of what happens during a signal interruption, though it’s assumed the avatar simply loses consciousness as normal. The entire premise makes little sense.
There are two problems with the concept of the material known as Unobtanium in Avatar. The first is the name, which has been used as an in-joke within the scientific community to describe any material needed for a specific purpose which was practically impossible to find. Why the name was not changed to a proper scientific title when it was discovered on Pandora isn’t known.
The second problem is the material itself, which flies in the face of the laws of physics due to its matrix. It’s all a bit technical, but the structure of Unobtanium goes against everything we know about superconducting minerals.
7 The Na’vi Accept Humans
This one makes no sense, no matter how many ways one tries to slice it. The Na’vi are a warrior tribe with deep spiritual connections to the planet Pandora. That makes their ambivalence towards humans all the more puzzling. Yes, they aren’t fond that humans are tearing up the planet with deforestation and mining operations, but they seem to make exceptions.
Those particular exceptions being humans that grow Na’vi clones which can be remotely controlled to allow for infiltration into their society. This would be interpreted by any culture as a literal trojan horse scenario, and an insult, to boot.
6 No Tracking Mechanisms
The first half of the film establishes that the scientists in charge of the Avatar program haven’t really thought a lot of things through. This is evident when Jake Sully loses contact with the rest of his team and ends up being led back to the Na’vi village by Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana in one of her best roles.
With such advanced technology at their disposal, including the means to remote control a living organism, would it not be prudent to install a tracking device of some sort underneath their skin in case the avatar was… misplaced?
5 Trudy’s Paint Job
Michelle Rodriguez, best known for starring in the frightening popcorn horror franchise Resident Evil, played Trudy in Avatar – a character who takes a heroic turn for the better. After watching how the military treat the Na’vi for so long, Trudy decides to call it quits and abandons her unit, rather than take part in a mass slaughter. It’s an excellent turn of events for the character that instantly makes her one of the most likable in the story.
That’s all fine, but it’s not made clear when or where she was able to paint her attack chopper in Na’vi colors, not to mention herself. Theoretically, the paint job would help Na’vi identify her as a friend, but it’s more a question of timing as opposed to anything else.
4 The Mech Knife
One of the coolest scenes of the entire film is undoubtedly the fight between Neytiri and Quaritch. After all, audiences love watching a guy in a giant combat robot do battle with an alien canine being ridden by an exotic alien. There’s a lot of action in the scene, even before Jake joins in on the fun.
However, that large combat knife simply makes no sense. Quaritch draws it from a holster and wields it as a human would, when any mech designer worth his or her salt would have included bladed weaponry of some sort in the machine’s forearms. It’s just one more object that can get lost in a fight
3 Sully Tames A Great Leonopteryx
It’s one thing to go all out in an effort to redeem oneself after falling to a low point, but it’s quite another to suggest that sheer force of will can overcome anything. Sully somehow manages to tame a Great Leonopteryx, perhaps the most fearsome and frightening apex predator on Pandora, and certainly up there with the most deadly sci-fi movie monsters in the universe.
This makes little sense given Sully’s relative inexperience compared to the Na’vi, who have been hunting and gathering for decades. The sheer sight of a Leonopteryx was enough to send Na’vi running for the hills, which makes it highly improbable that Sully would manage to tame one. Of course, then there’d be no triumphant third act.
2 Grace’s Death
This particular scene makes no sense not because of a technicality, but the sheer buildup of events. After Grace is fatally wounded, Sully makes a plea for her consciousness to be permanently bonded to her avatar in order to save her life. It’s a long and drawn-out scene with an extreme amount of detail regarding the ritual.
It’s also a colossal letdown. Grace dies anyway, and the scene serves no real purpose except to set up a convenient thread whereby Jake can abandon his human body and prepare for more Avatar sequels. That being said, it does present the opportunity for iconic actress Sigourney Weaver to make a new appearance in the upcoming Avatar 2.
1 Military Heavy-Handedness
It’s established early on that the reason for the Avatar Project was to satisfy the United Nations and the public regarding mistreatment and exploitation of the Na’vi by human forces. Yet, the military is allowed to steamroll over the Na’vi without so much as an apology, which seems entirely suspect.
Word of this would surely have made its way back to Earth and triggered massive protests and scrutiny, yet the military forces under the command of Quaritch go full speed ahead to get what they want, regardless of the political ramifications. Just who was in charge on Pandora, anyway?