"Avatar" Movie Review
Independent Films, Movie Reviews
“Avatar” is the kind of film that Hollywood does best and writer-director James Cameron is the perfect guy for the job. He called himself the king of the world when accepting the Best Picture Oscar trophy for 1997’s “Titanic” but since that Kate/Leo expedition, Cameron hasn’t made a full-feature film.
The director pretty much submerged himself in underwater projects such as “Aliens of the Deep” and “Ghosts of the Abyss.” With “Avatar,” I’m happy to report that yup, the king is back!
Cameron has a distinct style of building the narrative slowly, introducing the main characters and their motivations, presenting the plot, and then BAM! He uses shock and awe to mesmerize viewers into full submission. This technique was evident in the first two “Terminator” films, “Aliens,” and “Titanic” and now, it’s on full display on “Avatar.”
Set in 2154, Earth is dying so humans explore Pandora, a lush jungle-covered extraterrestrial moon filled with fascinating life forms. More importantly, Pandora is rich in Unobtainium – a mineral that cost about $20 million per pound back on Earth.
Funded by the Resources Development Administration, humans invade Pandora in hopes of mining the moon. The company’s CEO, Carter Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) and his henchman Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) will stop at nothing to fulfill their mission.
But there’s only one problem -- the royal clan indigenous to Pandora known as Na’vi. They’re sentient humanoid race who are more physically capable than humans. Standing approximately 10 feet with tails and sparkling blue skin, the Na’vi are one with their unspoiled world.
Since humans are unable to breathe the air on Pandora, they have created genetically-bred human and Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars. The Avatar Program, headed by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver back with her “Aliens” director), aims to understand the Na’vi and perhaps work a diplomatic solution with them.
The film opens and closes with a shot of an eye. That eye belongs to Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic ex-marine who was paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin was originally chosen to join the Avatar program but since they have the same genome, Jake has unwittingly been recruited. He just can’t resist the prospect of getting to walk again, even as an Avatar.
As Jake integrates himself into the Na’vi clan, he begins to fall in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Soon, Jake is forced to take sides. His decision will change the face of Pandora forever.
“Avatar” is the most beautiful, gorgeous movie I’ve seen this year. The colors pop, and the special effects are not gratuitous. They’re all needed within the narrative. You haven’t heard me say this before, but watch this film in 3-D. This time, the technology is not just a mere gimmick; it’s a necessity, essential to your enjoyment of “Avatar.”
The film is intricately made by Cameron. I forgot I was watching a CGI film. The movie is so vibrant and alive! Like the Avatar characters, the film is a living, breathing, rich experience.
“Avatar” is not without imperfections. Some character motivations are a bit archaic. For example, military and corporations are bad, while tree huggers and scientists are good. But it doesn’t matter because taken as a whole, the plot mechanisms work well!
Acting, yes (!) the acting is good! Remember Gollum from “Lord of the Rings?” Andy Serkis did such a fine job many people were campaigning for Best Supporting Actor Oscar for him. Well, “Avatar” is similar to that. The CGI performance of the actors are outstanding especially Saldana. She will make you forget you’re watching a computer-generated image of her character.
Cameron raises the bar in CGI and 3-D filmmaking. From here on out, every computer-generated film will be compared to “Avatar.” It’s an environmentally-aware film (although it’s not in your face) with a subtle anti-war message. There’s also a heartwarming love story in the middle, and did I tell you “Avatar” has great action sequences as well?
“Avatar” is one of my favorite films of 2009 for it has equal parts heart and soul, brains and brawn, just like any good Cameron film. So welcome back king of the world, please don’t leave us waiting so long next time.
RATING: 4 KISSES
Year of Production: 2009
Country: United States