Your Avatar Primer: 10 Things You Need to Know For Opening Day

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Okay, here’s the deal. You’re thinking about seeing Avatar tonight, yes, or this weekend?  You know it features blue people. And that it’s set on a different planet. But you’re still a little confused – and not entirely sure if your girlfriend is going to dig it. (Check out our spoiler-free morning-after Avatar review)

Trust us, we understand. We get paid to follow these things, we even talked it out with James Cameron in our interview yesterday, and it still took us a while to wrap our brains around this thing.

First point: Your girlfriend/wife/date will love this thing. I think it’s more a movie for women than for men, more about exploring, adventure and falling in love than about detonations. (Check out Techland’s 10 best sci-fi films of the decade)

Second point: Short and sweet, here are the 10 things you should know about Avatar going in, to avoid all possible confusion:

1. The planet we’re operating on is called Pandora. In one online feature, Sigourney Weaver takes you through Pandora, Planet Earth-style.

2. The reason humans are amassing on Pandora is that Earth is running low on energy sources, and Pandora is rich in unobtanium – the best superconductor in the universe.

3. The humanoid species on Pandora are known as the Na’vi, and one of the largest tribes of the Na’vi lives right on top of the largest deposit of unobtanium. (this makes more sense using Avatar’s interactive online trailer)

4. The ecosystem of Pandora is linked together in extraordinary fashion – the animals, plants and Na’vi are always in synch with one another through something like an organic internet running through the soil.

5. The Na’vi are 9 to 10 feet tall, they possess a tail, and they hunt by riding banshees, huge winged creatures that physically “link” to their masters.

6. The “Avatars” are genetically grown Na’vi bodies, which can then be controlled by humans who match the DNA.

7. The main human character of Avatar is Jake Sully, the twin brother of a marine who was going to pilot one of these Avatars before he died. Thanks to being twins, Jake’s DNA matches that of the Avatar and he can take his brother’s place.

8. The humans can psychically connect with their avatars by laying down in a circular device that helps convert – well, actually, I still have no idea how this works. If you figure it out, let me know.

9. Once inside their Avatar, humans can only exit by falling asleep.

10. Pandora is filled with plants and animals that have bioluminescent qualities, meaning that the planet pretty much glows in the dark.

So there you go. Now you’re ready. Tell us what you think of the film! I’ll be back Monday with a piece about what it was like to see the movie in regular 3-D versus digitally projected IMAX 3-D. I’m seeing the whole thing again tonight on 34th St.

More on Time.com:

Avatar Arrives! Can James Cameron Be King Again?

Corliss Appraises Avatar : A World of Wonder

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