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What follows is a minimally edited cut-and-paste of an e-mail exchange between the Techland staffers the morning after we saw Avatar.
Lev Grossman: Here’s my master theory about Avatar. Which I said last night. This is Cameron remaking Aliens from the aliens’ point of view. He even has a big boss battle against the bad guy in powered armor, like Ripley at the end of Aliens, except backwards. Maybe for Alien 5 he’ll merge the franchises. Sully can sync w/ the Alien queen and they’ll take down Weyland-Yutani together.
Peter Ha: Honestly, I didn’t think the story was all that great. It was basically Dances With Wolves. The Sky People come in with guns blazing to take whatever it is that they want and the natives fight back. But the visuals were so mind blowingly awesome. Everything about Pandora looked so frakkin real. Oh, and there were tons of blue side boob.
LG: Seriously. I kept expecting Zoe Saldana to look at me out of the screen and say hello? My eyes are up here?
PH: I totally thought she was naked in that one scene with the tree.
Steve Snyder: She could seriously be nominated for an Oscar here you guys realize – wouldn’t that be the very first Oscar-nominated, entirely-CG performance? Just like we were all complaining about, in terms of Gollum a couple years back? (Read Techland’s Avatar Review)
What blew me away about this whole thing is that it took us two solid hours to get to any explosions, and I actually preferred the first two hours to the rest. You know what I mean? The focus here, unlike most sci-fi movies nowadays, wasn’t on blowing up stuff real good, but on creating a world we could get lost in. I think that’s sort of profound, actually – that Cameron was more interested in creating an immersive experience. The battles were even sort of restrained….
LG: I think we can look forward to some really detailed freeze-frame analysis on the Web. But I guess it’s a tribute to the success of the FX that the blue boobs were hot. The uncanny valley is over. Those blue dudes looked real. I see them.
Allie Townsend (the intern, and lone female in the conversation): “I see you.”
PH: Hahahahhahaha. Amazing.
AT: It’s always all about the boobs. Sigh.
I liked the plot, overall. I loved the whimsical Na’vi history and connection to nature. I think the way they explained Pandora as running as a complex network of energy was fascinating. What I thought was weak was the reason humans had invaded in the first place. There was zero explanation of Unobtainium. What was so great about it?
PH: Good point, Allie. They definitely skimmed over a few things. But you all see my point about this being a Native American thing, right? They’re all about the land and their connection to it.
LG: I’d be connected to the land too if the whole world was some kind of botanical Internet. That I could plug my hair into.
I think the Earth has run out of oil, and it’s some kind of super-coal? Or something? Yeah, blink and you missed that part.
More on Time.com: Q&A With James Cameron