The critics have spoken, and most agree: The special effects used to create Avatar’s Pandora will drop jaws, break ground, change games, and soil pants. But the wildlife on James Cameron’s CGI-ed fantasy planet is as dangerous as it is multidimensionally pretty, and though it’s a nice place to visit for two hours and 41 minutes, we’d rather take our chances here on earth, even if it winds up monkey-ravaged, garbage-covered, or lava-scorched. Herewith Vulture’s list of the ten life-supporting movie planets we’d rather not live on.
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Dying from thirst, the people of Anthea send David Bowie to New Mexico with the simple task of building an enormous spaceship in which to return with a lifetime supply of potable water. But shortly after his arrival he develops addictions to humanoid sex, booze, and TV, losing all interest in his mission. Can you blame him, though? Look at this dump.
On the run from Emperor Palpatine, Yoda fled to this foul-smelling swamp planet, assuming that its natural crappiness would keep the Empire away (it worked). Years later, Luke Skywalker left Dagobah before his Jedi training was complete, ostensibly to save Han and Leia, but probably really because of all the mosquitoes.
Waterless and undeveloped, this desert planet offers all the comforts of the Sahara with the additional appeal of huge, unkillable, earthquake-causing sandworms. If you understood anything about David Lynch’s bafflingly convoluted Dune, chances are it was that Arrakis totally sucks.
Even if you can live with the interminable darkness and face-hugging parasitoids constantly trying to implant the embryos of acid-bleeding aliens in your chest, LV-426’s laughable bar scene seems like it could get pretty old after a while.
This Vulture editor grew up in Rochester, New York, so it’s certainly not like we haven’t climbed inside a tauntaun carcass to avoid freezing to death before. But Hoth’s icy surface is made even more unlivable by its people-eating Wampa population and frequent, noisy battles between Rebel Snowspeeders and Empire AT-ATs. As a famous Jedi once observed, “A settler would have to be crazy to stake his claims on Hoth.”
Like planet Spengo, Earth has had its fair share of blundering leaders who wasted resources in pursuit of nonfunctional death rays. Most of them were funnier than Jon Lovitz, though.
Not only did Starship Troopers allegedly break the record for the most bullets used during the making of a movie, but Neil Patrick Harris’s character also had telepathy. Even so, the film’s humans were no real match for Klendathu’s oversize, man-eating Bugs, who decapitate half a million soldiers. No one has ever seen either of Troopers’ two sequels, but we assume the planet hasn’t gotten much better.
If the oppressive heat and near-perpetual daylight from its three suns weren’t bad enough, every 22 years Hades is made dark for months by a total solar eclipse, during which bat-like alien monsters leave their caves and attack anyone on the surface. And not even Vin Diesel can kill all of them.
Bad weather and unfriendly aliens are annoying, yes. But we’d happily take either over Solaris’s primary drawback: its ability to read people’s minds and bring their most painful memories to life. In Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1972 classic, astronauts orbiting the planet encounter lifelike simulacra of their dead wives and (for reasons not fully explained) unruly dwarfs.
Sure, its floating mountains and magic plants might look nice in Imax, but we still wouldn’t try flipping any real estate on Pandora, which is basically Iraq with dinosaurs. When not being driven from their land by Earthlings bent on strip-mining their natural resources, the planet’s Na’vi population lives under threat of thanators and viperwolfs, prehistoric-looking monsters whose ferocity is matched only by the stupidity of their names.