Decent Films Mail > Mailbag #17

Re: Avatar (2009)

I haven’t seen Avatar, I don’t like all the silly new age/eco stuff Hollywooders like to pass on as morality either; but I was reading your review and you mentioned that they were searching for a substance called “unobtainium”. I’m wondering if James Cameron stole this from the movie The Core. In the core the scientist who develops their ship to travel to the earth’s core develops a special subtance that gets stronger and powerful with heat. I think it is also Unobtainium. I think if this is true perhaps they should be called out on this.

I haven’t seen The Core, but online plot synopses confirms that a substance called “unobtainium” figures in the plot. The Core did not introduce the word, though. “Unobtainium” is a tongue-in-cheek term for a theoretical substance posited to have highly useful properties but difficult or impossible to come by. According to Wikipedia, the term has been used since at least the 1950s. Wikipedia also lists the more or less synonymous terms “wishalloy” and “handwavium.” In film discussions you may hear the term “McGuffinite.”

No wrist slap for Cameron and company, therefore.

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