|Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
|| Year: 2009
|| Country: USA, UK
||Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Joel Moore
|| Director: James Cameron
My Review: The second time I saw this amazing movie. This time I went with Kim. She enjoyed it, but doesn't rate it as highly as I did. I think she's been poisoned by some co-workers. Here's a shocker - There's a group of 'Avatar Bashers' out there. They think themselves high minded movie snobs, decrying the movie for little more than it's popularity. I've heard their arguments, but I can't imagine why they don't admit the truth. This movie is outstanding entertainment. It's not a 'Fellini' flick, or deep thoughtful treatise on the state of current political affairs - or is it? With more layers than Saturn's rings, this movie actually offers all the deep stuff, then coats it in a sparkling blue candy wrapper. This movie isn't breaking records because it sucks, it's breaking records because its a visual feast with some substance. You may be offended by its success, but don't deny its appeal or brilliance simply because you can't abide a winner.
This movie was filmed in 'RealD-3D', a technology which uses circularly polarized light to produce stereoscopic images. This technology allows viewers to tilt their head and look about the theater naturally with no loss of 3D perception. Amazing! As the movie got going, I found myself looking all over the place, exploring the limits of the screen, the environment of the movie. This visual exploration produced some feelings of disorientation, and I eventually decided to stop 'rubber-necking' and focus on the movie. Viewing the offered point of focus completely eliminated any disorientation. The 3D effects were truly spectacular, and they definitely added to the movies overall impact. Another technology featured in this movie was an advanced motion-capture technique. This technology transformed the cgi characters into highly realistic replicas of the real-life actors. I found the cgi to be flawless, so life-like that I completely bought it. Seriously. I've never seen animation that looked this life-like. I've actually seen some live-action movies that were more wooden and less life-like.
The movie is a visually stunning smorgasbord. It sucked me in entirely, and the previously mentioned technologies were two of the reasons why I loved this movie. The story is an environmental, anti-imperialist, cultural-preservation treatise. Humans in the far future, have conquered space travel in order to seek out extra-terrestrial resources. The arrogance of might-makes-right is mixed with scientific curiosity and lip service to diplomacy. The Humans have 'invaded' the eden-like planet of Pandora in order to mine a precious resource - Something called 'Unobtanium'. The Humans are mining this mineral without regard to the native intelligent species of Pandora. The "Na'vi" are a tribal people with very strong ties to their environment. Their highly complex and evolved culture rebels at the presence of these invaders, but their 'technology' is primitive and ineffective in comparison to that wielded by the Humans. The Humans liaise with the natives by way of 'Avatars'. Bio-engineered blanks which perfectly mimic the "Na'vi" in physical appearance. These Avatars are mindless biological puppets, which Human 'drivers' control using a mind-melding, remote-control technology. Initially, the Humans use their Avatars to study the "Na'vi" and educate each other, but that changes when the military and company men decide to use these Avatars as instruments of diplomacy, espionage and deception. While the intentions of these 'corporate' minded Humans is rather clear, they didn't quite count on the drivers developing actual relationships with these primitives. When the Humans decide to disregard the natives in their quest for more Unobtanium, a clash of cultures and outright aggression threatens the "Na'vi" with genocide.
The struggle is epic, glorious and I couldn't pry my eyes away from the screen. At nearly three hours long, the dark theater and 3D took their toll. I wish they had offered an intermission, as my eyes were badly abused by the time the curtain fell. At times the plot felt a bit over the top, a bit contrived, a bit preachy (the source of offense to those who bash the movie?). Despite this fact, the characters were believable, the environment completely engrossing, the effects sublime, and the setting amazing. The acting and direction were outstanding, and I found myself applauding (along with many other patrons) as the movie came to an end. Already set to overtake Titanic as the highest earning movie of all time (Worldwide earnings of $1.64b as of 18 Jan 10. Five weeks as number one at the box office), I will definitely buy a blu-ray copy, and this movie made me want more 3D. I rate this movie 5 out of 5. Two more 'Avatar' movies are likely, given the success of this initial effort.
Summary: In the future, Jake, a paraplegic war veteran, is brought to another planet, Pandora, which is inhabited by the Na'vi, a humanoid race with their own language and culture. Those from Earth find themselves at odds with each other and the local culture.