Plug-In: 17 Movies like Avatar about Fighting the System

Do you know of any movies like Avatar?

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movies like avatar

About Avatar

Avatar is a film where humans are mining an ore called obtanium on a moon called Pandora. However, when a high concentration of unobtanium is under the home of the native species called the Na’Vi, the human scientists begin to negotiate while using human/Na-Vi hybrid “suits” or Avatars so that they can walk and talk as the Na’Vi. This, however, gets complicated when the humans in charge put extra pressure on the scientists to get results faster – leading to an all out war – which is reminiscent of early colonial soldiers taking over indigenous populations with the use of superior technology.

During a recent rewatch I started to think of all the other films like Avatar who some of you may want to tick off your bucket list. Below are my picks. How many have you seen? Let me know on social media.

An iconic scene from Avatar (2009)

1. The Matrix (1999)

17 Movies like Avatar: The Matrix (1999)

Written and directed by The Wachowskis, The Matrix stars Keanu Reeves, Laurence Fishburne, Carrie-Anne Moss, Hugo Weaving, and Joe Pantoliano. It was released in the year 1999.

The Matrix is the first movie in The Matrix franchise and focuses on Thomas Anderson, a hacker with the screen name Neo, who discovers that all is not as it seems. The world isn’t real. Instead, it is a virtual reality construct and the real world is a post-apocalyptic wasteland where humans are used as batteries to power a race of robots.

2. Ready Player One (2018)

17 Movies like Avatar: Ready Player One (2018)

Directed by Steven Spielberg, Ready Player One stars stars Tye Sheridan, Olivia Cooke, Ben Mendelsohn, Lena Waithe, T.J. Miller, Simon Pegg, and Mark Rylance. It was released in the year 2018.

Ready Player One focuses on a futuristic world where most of humanity uses a virtual reality simulation called The Oasis. However, it is run by an evil corporation who wants to profiteer from the players. The plot focuses on a teen orphan (played by Tye Sheridan) who discovers clues to a contest which promises the winner total control and ownership of The Oasis.

RELATED: 25 Movies like Ready Player One

3. Dark City (1998)

17 Movies like Avatar: Dark City (1998)

Directed by Alex Proyas, Dark City stars Rufus Sewell, William Hurt, Kiefer Sutherland, Jennifer Connelly, Richard O’Brien, and Ian Richardson. It was released in the year 1998.

Dark City is a neo noir science fiction film which starts with a murder by a man with amnesia which quickly descends in an existential dilemma infused epic sci-fi ballad of The Matrix-like proportions. While Dark City was no mainstream success, it certainly deserves its cult-like status and is a worthy addition to this list.

4. Pacific Rim (2013)

17 Movies like Avatar: Pacific Rim (2013)

Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Pacific Rim stars Charlie Hunnam, Idris Elba, Rinko Kikuchi, Charlie Day, Robert Kazinsky, Max Martini, and Ron Perlman. It was released in the year 2013.

Pacific Rim is essentially a sci-fi kaiju tale, yet the basis for the universe is an invading force of large interdimensional beasts. This kind of invasion is exactly what H.P. Lovecraft would’ve envisioned. He probably just didn’t imagine fighting them with giant robots.

5. Vanilla Sky (2001)

17 Movies like Avatar: Vanilla Sky (2001)

Directed by Cameron Crowe, Vanilla Sky stars Tom Cruise, Penélope Cruz, Kurt Russell, Jason Lee, Noah Taylor, and Cameron Diaz. It was released in the year 2001.

Vanilla Sky is a science fiction thriller about publishing magnate David Aames who suffers horrible scars to his face after a drunken car crash. From there he begins to question his own existence, the meaning of life and so has his body cryogenically frozen so he begin to live his perfect life again in the form of a virtual reality lucid dream. However, the process has removed his memory of the car crash and so he begins to question everything around him before he starts to remember what really happened to him.

6. Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

17 Movies like Avatar: Alita: Battle Angel (2019)

Directed by Robert Rodriguez, Alita: Battle Angel stars Rosa Salazar, Christoph Waltz, Jennifer Connelly, Mahershala Ali, Ed Skrein, Jackie Earle Haley and Keean Johnson. It was released in the year 2019.

Alita is a battle cyborg who is revived by Ido, a doctor, who realises that she actually has the soul of a teenager. Alita then sets out to learn about her past and find her true identity. Meanwhile, just like all good dystopian hellscapes, there’s the constant looming threat of augmented human-cyborgs and evil corporation to keep Alita busy. As far as CGI goes, this is probably the best movie of its kind.

7. Ghost in the Shell (1995)

17 Movies like Avatar: Ghost in the Shell (1995)

Directed by Mamoru Oshii, Ghost in the Shell stars voice actors Atsuko Tanaka, Akio Ōtsuka, and Iemasa Kayumi. It was released in the year 1995.

Ghost in the Shell is about a cyborg public-security agent, who hunts a mysterious hacker known as the Puppet Master. The story is set against a backdrop of a cyberpunk Japan where the lines between sentient and non-sentient technology is blurred. It’s no surprise that this is one of many anime’s that inspired elements of The Matrix.

8. Inception (2010)

17 Movies like Avatar: Inception (2010)

Directed by Christopher Nolan, Inception stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Ken Watanabe, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Marion Cotillard, Elliot Page, Tom Hardy, Dileep Rao, Cillian Murphy, Tom Berenger, and Michael Caine. It was released in the year 2010.

Inception is a science fiction action film written and directed by Christopher Nolan in which Cobb and Arthur perform a form of corporate espionage by infiltrating the dreams of their subjects and placing ideas in their subconscious. The dream-like state is achieved by Nolan and his team through a series of impressive camera and CGI techniques which create a mind-altering state.

9. Tenet (2020)

17 Movies like Avatar: Tenet (2020)

Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Tenet stars John David Washington, Robert Pattinson, Elizabeth Debicki, Dimple Kapadia, Michael Caine, and Kenneth Branagh. It was released in the year 2020.

Tenet is a science fiction film which challenges the normal flow of the space time continuum. In Tenet, the viewer is drawn into the world of a former CIA agent who learns how to weaponise time itself and prevent attacks from the future. And in true Christopher Nolan form, there’s plenty of clever camera tricks that will make you feel like you’re the one travelling through time and on mind altering substances. This film is peak Nolan creativity.

10. The Cell (2000)

17 Movies like Avatar: The Cell (2000)

Directed by Tarsem Singh, The Cell stars Jennifer Lopez, Vince Vaughn, and Vincent D’Onofrio. This film was release in the year 2000.

The Cell is about a group of scientists who use experimental technology to enter the mind of a serial killer who’s in a coma – with the aim to try and locate his latest kidnapped victim. While the story isn’t as strong as it could be, The Cell is a film whose style is so strong that you’ll forget Jennifer Lopez’s lacklustre acting attempts. Thankfully, method actor Vincent D’Onofrio’s acting ability more than makes up for any short fall.

11. Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

17 Movies like Avatar: Edge of Tomorrow (2014)

Directed by Doug Liman, Edge of Tomorrow stars Tom Cruise, Emily Blunt, Bill Paxton and Brendan Gleeson. It was released in the year 2014.

Edge of Tomorrow is about Major William Cage and his skirmish against a group of aliens that the human race is at war with. During this skirmish he’s exposed to some alien tech which causes him to relive every aspect of this war in some bizarre sci-fi version of this Groundhog Day story.

12. Interstellar (2014)

17 Movies like Avatar: Interstellar (2014)

Co-written and directed by Christopher Nolan, Interstellar stars Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, Jessica Chastain, Bill Irwin, Ellen Burstyn, Matt Damon, and Michael Caine. It was released in the year 2014.

Interstellar is set in a dystopian future where the human race is dying out. Promoting a group of astronauts to travel through a wormhole in hopes they’ll find an Earth-like planet. Interstellar is probably the closest to a real world Star Trek adventure based on our current level of science and exploration. It’s a wondrous spectacle.

13. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

17 Movies like Avatar: Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004)

Directed by Michel Gondry and written by Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind stars Jim Carrey, Kate Winslet, Kirsten Dunst, Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Tom Wilkinson. It was released in the year 2004.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is romantic science fiction drama where Joel’s girlfriend, Clementine, has all memories of him erased from her memory by the company called “Lacuna.” Distraught, Joel does the same thing. Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind heads on a sinister route when one of Lacuna’s employees uses Joel’s memories of Clementine to try and seduce her. Ever wondered what romantic infused Total Recall would be like? No, neither have I but this movie is it.

14. Pans Labyrinth (2006)

17 Movies like Avatar: Pans Labyrinth (2006)

Directed and written by Guillermo del Toro, Pans Labyrinth stars Sergi López, Maribel Verdú, Ivana Baquero, Doug Jones, Ariadna Gil, and Álex Angulo. It was released in the year 2006.

Pans Labyrinth is set against the aftermath of the Spanish civil war and features a mythical world centred on an abandoned labyrinth, a curious faun creature and the main character, a girl named Ofelia. Throughout the film the story interweaves with the real world and so has a quality to it which feels like a dark version of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe.

15. FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

17 Movies like Avatar: FernGully: The Last Rainforest (1992)

Directed by Bill Kroyer, FernGully: The Last Rainforest stars Samantha Mathis, Tim Curry, Christian Slater, Jonathan Ward, Robin Williams, and Grace Zabriskie. It was released in the year 1992.

FernGully is an animated movie which is about a logger who works in an Australian Forrest that is accidentally miniaturised by a fairie named Christa. Together, the two of them try to stop the loggers and an evil pollution entity called the Hexxus. This cartoon movie is unapologetically pro-environment and a fun watch for the whole family.

16. Cloud Atlas (2012)

17 Movies like Avatar: Cloud Atlas (2012)

Directed by The Wachowskis and Tom Tykwer, Cloud Atlas stars Tom Hanks? Halle Berry, Jim Broadbent, Hugo Weaving, Jim Sturgess, Doona Bae, Ben Whishaw, James D’Arcy, Zhou Xun, Keith David, Andrew Havill, David Gyasi, Susan Sarandon, and Hugh Grant. It was released in the year 2012.

Cloud Atlas is a science fiction action film which tackles issues of slavery, abuse and revolutions. The story itself takes place over generations and so could easily be seen as an anthology which toys with the idea of reincarnation as some of the characters are depicted as living several hundred years apart. The cinematography is beautiful in this film and the acting is superb by all involved. It’s such a pity that many critics don’t agree.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

17 Movies like Avatar: Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)

Directed by Luc Besson, Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets stars Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen, Rihanna, Ethan Hawke, Herbie Hancock, Kris Wu and Rutger Hauer. It was released in the year 2017.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is about a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. When this metropolis comes under threat by a dark force, Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace which may threaten the entire universe.

What did you think of this list of ‘Movies like Avatar’?

What did you think of Avatar? Have you seen any of these films before?
Let us know what you think on social media.

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