the pitches

Title: Avatar
Directed by: Ang Lee
Starring: Daniel Kaluuya (Sully), Daniel Radcliffe (Wilson), Kiefer Sutherland (General Quaritch), Jessica Chastain (Dr. Augustine), Taraji P. Henson (Neytiri), Morris Chestnut (Chief Gor’el)

*** Note: Navi don’t know avatars are human, and Sully’s backstory is different. He can walk. ***

Corporal Wilson of the British army is among several fellow soldiers in an airplane on their way to a new assignment. Wilson is all grins as his last two missions were successful, the latest only taking 6 months to achieve a land deal. The British soldiers chuckle how the Americans are so far behind in the drilling game and how the whole planet will be under the Queen’s rule soon enough. They celebrate that this latest tribal zone is the richest ore deposit they’ve ever detected. There are 3 tribes they’d need to negotiate with, but there’s plenty of time to grab it all. It will be 10 years before the Americans can mine out their small plot, much less try for more. The men laugh again as they land on the alien planet and we pull back to see how wondrous the flora and fauna is and how the British fort has ravaged and ruined the landscape. This is our planet, says Wilson.

10 Years Later

Wilson comes out of his Avatar pod, complaining how he can’t get the last chief to see reason. I’ve been a trusted member of their tribe for 5 years. 5 YEARS, screams Wilson, and the chief still won’t speak with him about land rights. I even convinced a rival chief to visit and explain the benefits we’ve given his people and he still doesn’t care.

Well, says another soldier. Then you’ll hate this news. Sully just locked down another.

Dammit, yells Wilson, his gray starting to dominate the sides of his scalp, that bastard American has single-handedly signed the tribes on half this bloody planet!

Cut to the American fort. Someone is shouting, Sully! We see Sully, a 20-something tough guy, handsome and cocky, playing cards with a small group. Someone calls him out for cheating and Sully says he doesn’t cheat. When the next guy says it’s hard to trust a Na’vi, Sully says he’s not Na’vi. Well you spend more time with them than you do your own people, says one soldier. Probably got a wife and kids out there we don’t know about too. They all laugh, and it’s then that Sully punches the man in the face.

When attacked by the remainder of the card group, Sully fends off the assault of the others. The shouting soldier from off camera is still yelling Sully over and over as they burst into the barracks to see Sully standing over several unconscious soldiers. The shouting soldier changes his tone. He says Sully again (as in ‘Sully, you loveable scamp’). Sully says he doesn’t cheat, but when you’ve been playing cards with the same deck for seven years, you get to know the wear and tear of the more important cards. The soldier replies, You’re late for your next assignment.

Sully, escorted by the soldier, walks into the highly-scientific control room of the Avatar pods. We see the process of transitioning as Sully gets locked in and opens his new eyes as a native to the planet. His skin is blue and he has a tail, but he moves with ease in his foreign body. He checks in over comms with the Americans and given coordinates for his next tribe. Sully steps out of a modest house in the forest and hops on a beast of burden, riding to his next destination.

We cut back to the Americans where General Quaritch is in a council room with the scientific head of the Avatar program and the various heads of the many mining and ore extraction mining operations. One of them says the local tribe is beginning to complain about the work their doing, that she and her crew are polluting the waters. The General asks if the natives are hostile and the woman says no. Head scientist Dr. Augustine says some of her people can help find a means of filtering the water, supplying them stockpiles of fresh water in the meantime. The group agrees, then the General says he’s going to send scouts to feel out the attitude of the other tribes, even those allied with the British.

Sully arrives at the new tribe where everyone recognizes him as a foreigner. Most of the tribe is cautious but not aggressive. Sully demonstrates that he speaks the language by asking around for the chief. He is struck by the defiant look given to him by a local Navi woman who asks who he is and why he’s here. He dismisses her questions and is greeted by the chief instead, a massive Navi who has another foot over Sully and a hundred extra pounds of muscle. We cut back to the American scientists and soldiers who are taking bets on how quickly Sully will become the new chief. Even the men Sully recently pummeled at the card game are putting down money though not everything thinks he’ll win.

Sully confirms that this Navi, Gor’el, is the chief, then says he intends to take over the tribe, challenging him in what appears to be a formal and understood means. The tribal leader agrees and they go to an open area where the tribe gathers around. The fight starts with Sully throwing the first punch. He seems to have the upper hand when the chief quickly puts Sully on his back, then waits for Sully to stand. Good, says Sully, but fighting fair never got anyone what they really wanted. Sully tosses dirt in the chief’s face and kicks him in the groin. The chief falls and Sully beats him over and over, but the chief regains control and takes Sully down again. He continues to hit him this time until Sully is losing consciousness. The Americans aren’t cheering him on anymore; they’re concerned. Then Dr. Augustine says to give him the boost and one of the scientists injects something into Sully’s human body. It wakes him and his Avatar with an extreme strength and clarity. Sully shoves off the chief and hurts him until Go’rel is stumbling, no longer defending himself. Sully is angry and he pulls a knife from his belt to kill Go’rel but the defiant Navi woman from before grabs his hand and tells him no. He has won. He is their new leader. The former chief should live. Sully connects with her in some way and relents. He stands to announce he, Sully, now leads the tribe, then he walks back to his beast to leave.

The Americans congratulate each other on another victory, describing the next steps of mining. Dr. Augustine says to prepare to pull Sully out when he gets home. The scientist says it looks like that may be delayed. Cutting back to Sully, Neytiri, the woman Navi from before is telling Sully he can’t go. They need to prepare him for the celebration, that it is better for their people to get to know him. He declines and she says SHE wants to get to know him. Sully decides to stay.

Sully and Neytiri, as well as the rest of the tribe, appear to be getting on well. We’re shown, despite Sully saying he is the leader of several tribes on the planet, that he knows more OF their customs without actually having done many of them. He tries food he’s never had, some good, some bad, gets drunk on Navi wine, and dances like the rest of the tribe before being taken by Neytiri to her home. When he passes out in her bed, she sneaks away to speak with the old chief. They discuss knowledge of Sully, revealing they knew he was coming. The other one, Wilson, was right.

The story develops with Sully being drawn into the Navi life, giving excuses to the Americans as why he needs to stay longer, resisting taking on another tribal assignment, yet still he explains to them that he intends to bring others in to work their land for them. It won’t interfere with their lives and will ultimately be better for everyone.

Wilson, meanwhile, visits the other tribes where Sully had become the chief and brought in miners. The people are bitter and confused as Sully rarely even returns, and Wilson tells them all similar stories of how evil Sully is and he represents a mining tribe that is ruining the planet. Wilson’s people, he explains, share their wealth with the tribes who sit on valuable land, slowly convincing them to negotiate land deals and relinquish Sully’s leadership.

While with Sully and Neytiri we learn more about just how massive the planet is and that tribes are so physically separated with abundant resources there has never been a need for conflict among them. Neytiri expresses her fears about these tribes who have become so interested in pulling certain rocks from the ground, that there are rumors it is bad for them, and Sully explains the ores have value to others, delicately explaining that there are other species on other worlds who will compensate them, which is good.

She says she didn’t know what to think of him before but she thinks he is good. She hopes that he won’t guide them into anything that could be bad for her people or planet. Sully is torn about revealing to her that he is human, but when she kisses him, he falls for her. The Americans, meanwhile, are trying to reach Sully over his comms and he silences them. Neytiri and Sully have a Disneyesque pleasant romp across the landscape, but when they return to the tribal village, Wilson is there with some Navi bodyguards.

He confronts Sully about being bad for the tribe, that his mining is harmful with no benefit to anyone but himself, and the tribe should no longer listen. Sully says if Wilson wants to challenge his leadership then he has to do it in the traditional means. Wilson accepts and is defeated, but tells Sully it doesn’t matter. When he’s finished, Wilson will have an army and Sully will have nothing.

Sully returns to his Navi house to get pulled back into his human body. There he is told that Wilson has converted tribes and they’re losing land rights. The general says one of his scouts was captured, thinking it was Sully, the evil tribal conqueror Wilson had warned them about. The British are turning the planet against Sully and by proxy, the Americans. Someone says they can just pull the scout from his Avatar, but the General says no. The Avatars are modified, not real Navi bodies. If they discover the ruse, they put everything at risk. They’ll never gain their trust again.

They need Sully to rescue the captured scout, but even if he does so peacefully, they fear a war is imminent. Sully says they can’t let it come to that. The Navi are good people and we can’t bring warfare to their planet, he says. Maybe we have enough ore. We can end our mining operations and let the British deal with the Navi their way, not interfering with tribal leadership or creating conflict. It’s clear to everyone that Sully has begun to sympathize more with the Navi than the humans, namely the Americans.

The general says they’ll pull the scout out without Sully, but Sully insists he can do it without violence. They put him back in, but his negotiations do not go well. The Navi tribe captures him as well and Sully doesn’t resist.

Wilson back at British HQ, hears that the Americans are sending an army of Avatars into British territory and they prepare their own troops. We see that part of the use of the extracted ore is in military shielding. They’ve created impenetrable body suits and armored vehicles.

Sully is still in a cage with the scout when Navi come rushing into the village to say heavily-dressed and well-armed tribes are coming! The locals discuss options and decide they must defend their land or be killed. Sully tries to talk them out of it, saying they don’t know warfare. They’ll be slaughtered.

The American avatars move in to extract Sully and the scout but are surprised by the British, Navi avatars on both sides in protective suits and hardened spears. The Americans say they only want to rescue their men, the British say they’re trespassing. The actual local Navi join them on what now looks like a battlefield. They say they no longer want any mining tribes on their land and tell them all to leave. A battle ensues with all sides suffering casualties, but only the local Navi truly die. The Americans and British are simply disconnected from their avatars.

Neytiri meanwhile rescues Sully and the scout, taking him back to her village. Neytiri tells her people what she saw and that everyone agrees that the tribes are going to war. They must ready for the same. Then Sully explains the truth, that the mining Navi are simply wearing disguises. They are the foreign species from other worlds that he told Neytiri about before. They are the true enemy and must be expelled from the planet. Just then, the Americans are yelling into Sully’s comms again, whether he’s at his house or not. He looks to Neytiri, not ready for her to discover who he truly is yet, and tells everyone to pull the mining soldiers from the field. They can see the truth for themselves. He kisses Neytiri goodbye, says he’ll be back, and leaves the village.

He wakes in the American HQ. The Americans have declared war on the British and any Navi that resist. The peaceful approach is over. The Americans are going to stake a planet-wide claim, all previous agreements be damned. They know now the Navi tribes will never be united and can’t assemble a proper army to resist them and if they capture all the British ores now, they won’t be able to construct an equal force to resist them. Sully knows this is bad, and he needs to worn Neytiri  and the others, but he can’t just jump into his avatar. He’ll have to go back as a human.

Sully leaves HQ and steals an armored car to return to his village. He explains who he is, that he too was lying to them, but he wants to help make things right. When the group rumbles in protest he yells that he is still their chief. They need to follow him or challenge him. Gor’el, now 6 feet taller than Sully and hundreds of pounds heavier, steps forward. Sully doesn’t back away, and Gor’el says they’ll all follow. Neytiri stands with him, and everyone falls in line.

We get a montage of Sully and the others pulling suited and armed avatars from the earlier field of battle, showing them how to melt ore down to forge into similar weapons and shielding. He then makes the rounds to other tribes, convincing them to unite against the American and British invaders.

When we cut back to American HQ, alarms are blaring. The British have formed an assault team and took the offensive before the Americans could attack them. They are bombarding the fortified headquarters, a back and forth of advances and rebuffs. It seems to be a draw when Navi emerge from the forest with handmade shields and spears, primitively crafted helmets and gear, but still from the same impenetrable ore mined from their planet. They begin an attack on the British forces and the American HQ.

The Navi, inexperienced in combat, are killed in droves, but their numbers continue to grow as more and more emerge from the trees. At some point Sully and Gor’el are fighting alongside one another. Neytiri gets in trouble and is attacked. Sully injects himself with the same booster from before and climbs up Neytiri’s avatar attacker, stabbing him all the way until finally reaching his skull. He drops like a giant and Sully and Neytiri get back into the fight. The Navi kill most of the humans, others escaping in ships off planet. Others surrender. Victory goes to the Navi. Only Sully and a few other humans are left behind. They agree to stop mining and live in peace with the Navi, but Sully warns they have to assume more will return.

10 years later

American ships descend on the Navi planet and troops exit, armed to the teeth and driving tanks. They move into the forest only to encounter a giant dome constructed entirely from the impenetrable ore. They blast at it to no effect and the camera moves in past the wall to see dozens of tribes living peacefully, Neytiri and Sully (in his avatar) content and carefree, his human body lying in its pod alongside several others.

Chris Sully

Chris Sully

Title: Avatar 2: the return
Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington (Sully), Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Augustine), Giovanni Ribisi (Selfridge), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri)

Five years after the events of the first Avatar film. 


A camera glides along the ocean surface and then adjusts its focus to a futuristic helicopter moving at a blistering pace just above the water. A familiar voice comes over the coms of the passengers on board. “Stop – we’re here! – deploy!”


Ten people in full scuba gear and masks jump from the sides of the helicopter and into the water below, then immediately propel themselves downward using jetpack-like underwater devices. We see more choppers slowing down and people dropping into the water, and more and more and more – 100s of people falling into the water.


A few seconds later, we see a structure spanning thousands of feet along the ocean floor and the crew coming up into the docking area of the massive facility. The first members to arrive, emerge with their weapons out, scouting the area for safety. “All clear”


Another group rises up out of the water. The camera zooms in on Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), as he takes off his mask and begins to bark orders at the others over coms. “Let’s get moving people – I’m sure we didn’t arrive unnoticed and we don’t have long to get this place up and running! I’ve put years into this operation and don’t plan on missing out on our payday a second time.”


We cut to a Na’vi settlement and see some more familiar faces, Jake Sully, Neytir and a small child, just a few years old, are among hundreds of Na’vi high up in the tree tops, putting the finishing touches on another large structure, clearly new since we last saw them in the first Avatar movie. It’s obvious that this settlement is built alongside the old Hometree location – ground damage and pieces of the Hometree from the first film still scatter the land.


We get a few minutes with our old friends to see that they seem at peace with the state of life and have clearly adapted to the changes that ravaged their community years before.


A scout runs into the camp and alerts Neytir that people were spotted by one of their boats just an hour before. The entire community rushes to action and Na’vi speed off in multiple directions, clearly preparing themselves for some sort of potential attack.


Back at the RDA underwater headquarters, we see Selfridge and his crew preparing their facility. A group scientists enter a darkened section of the structure as the lights click on, revealing dozens of chambers designed for linking with Avatars. 


Selfridge follows the scientists into the lab and lays out the plans for the RDA return. It turns out that the RDA had constructed this second site to go after another massive deposit of Unobtanium, found underwater. The structure they stood in had all of the bells and whistles of the first facility AND they had brought tons of equipment to update it to better “deal” with any issues they might run into with the Na’vi. They even designed some biological upgrades to make avatars that were bigger, stronger and faster than the Na’vi, but Selfridge hoped that wouldn’t be necessary, since the Na’vi seemed to stay on land and in the air. They had never been spotted doing anything in the oceans.


As he finishes revealing his plan, we see several underwater drilling rigs start to plunge into the ocean floor, breaking off huge chunks of rock and kicking up debris, making the water cloudy and visibility is cut to zero. Selfridge heads back to the bridge to command the operation from his captain’s chair and we cut to several days later.


Sully and Neytir meet with some of their top warriors to check for any updates regarding the mysterious men noticed several days prior. There have been no signs of activity near their homes or elsewhere on the island. The only thing out of the ordinary has been increased seismic activity and their scouts have been unable to determine if this was a natural issue or a man made one. Just as they begin to discuss the possibility that the whole thing was the imagination of a single scout, one of the elders appears with news that the Tree of Life looks suspect. The light that emanates from the tree has dimmed and the limbs have begun to wither. Several Na’vi had connected with the tree and determined that something was wrong with its water source.


Some Na’vi scouts take to the skies in their Ikran while others go out further in the oceans on boat, until they finally find a disturbance in the water that leads them to discover the underwater RDA operation. They are quickly spotted and the RDA military pilot their avatars to the surface to take on the scouts. This is the first time we (the audience) and the Na’vi see the giant “upgraded” avatars. A small skirmish breaks out and the Na’vi scouts are instantly destroyed in what can only be described as a brutally lopsided fight.


The Na’vi that could escape return to camp to share the tale of their battle and the RDA avatars return to their base, thinking that they won’t be seeing more of the Na’vi. This is the beginning of a battle that spans days, with the Na’vi losing every time to the upgraded avatars. And during this time the Tree of Life slowly but surely continues to dim and waste away.


The Na’vi congregate at the Tree of Life to pray over the ground and plan a mission to stop the RDA. Every plan that they come up with just seems to end in the death of more of their people and it seems hope might be lost. It’s about that time that the Tree of Life lights begin to pulse and the Na’vi body left for Grace Augustine at the base of the tree begins to move. It had been left there in honor of her and the Tree of Life had preserved it over the last few years. It was considered a miracle by the Na’vi people.


More and more movement came from the body, until a huge surge of light came from the blue skin and a first, real breath was taken. Then Grace Augustine sat up and looked over the people. It took her a couple of minutes to fully come to, but then she uttered her first words – “I know what we have to do.”


Grace explained that she hadn’t died during the transfer, but been absorbed into the Tree of LIfe and, in turn, absorbed the knowledge of thousands of years of Na’vi culture. She had learned things that had long-since been forgotten and was aware of what was going on during her five year absence.


Grace finally came to her feet and led the Na’vi down to the coast. There, she summoned a great underwater creature known as the Ze-tal. The massive animals, a cross between a shark and a Stegosaurus, were as big as an elephant & fierce looking, but docile when they surfaced. Grace mounted one and connected with it, then descended into the water, where she showed how she could control the animal, like they did with the Ikran.  She returned to the beach, followed by dozens more Ze-tal. These creatures were just what the Na’vi needed to overcome the RDA.


After taking some time to master their bond with the Ze-tal, the Na’vi returned to the site of the underwater base and overpowered the RDA, destroying their avatars, but allowing the members of the RDA to return to their choppers before destroying the underwater facility. 


Grace Augustine leads a group to repair the damage caused to the underwater conduits that provide water to the Tree of Life. 


The Tree begins to recover and flourish again, returning the life of the Na’vi to the balance it had been trying to achieve for the five years.

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