Review: Avatar

Awesome in the literal sense.  Full of awe.  An interesting way of using the latest in CGI to show the beauty of nature, this movie truly brought me to a fully realized world and made me care about characters that weren’t actually there in a place that didn’t actually exist.

Labeled “the most expensive movie ever made” and it will “change the way you see movies,” James Cameron seems to enjoy these titles because, you know what, he always hits it out of the park (ok, maybe not Piranha 2).  This is the first movie I’ve seen in a while that I would call an “experience.”  To keep going with the quotations, I’ve heard it called, “Dances with Aliens” and that’s not wrong.  It’s actually a good thing.

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THE SETUP:
The planet of Pandora has something humans want called unobtainium (oil/land/gold) unfortunately there’s these pesky indigenous people (First Nations/Inuit) getting in the way of the riches,  so time to be diplomatic…or blow them up. Jack Scully (Sam Worthington) is a marine that’s been asked to fill in as an avatar for his twin brother who’s been killed.  Avatar = alien/human DNA hybrid the humans use to integrate into the Pandorian tribe.  From there we follow Jack as he gets to know the natives and gets a better understanding of this new world.  I’ll just say Jack gets a new appreciation for a hot alien (Zoe Saldana) and her people and this doesn’t go well with the humans back at base.

THE THOUGHTS:
You are doing yourself a disservice if you don’t see this in 3D.  I’ve seen other 3D movies (i.e. Up) and it was cool but it didn’t blow me away.  NOW I get it.  Wow.  James Cameron does an amazing job of creating this beautiful environment that is only improved by actually feeling like you’re there.  Whether under the Spirit Trees, flying through the floating mountains or running along branches, you are there.  I actually almost swatted in front of me because I thought there was a bug.  Nope, that was the movie.

Acting in a movie like this generally doesn’t matter…or that you’d notice but the work of Worthington and Saldana is worth a mention .  No small task when 80% of the movie is CGI (including the actors) and not only did the actors have to act completely on blue screen, they also were completely digitized.  So I have to give credit to not only the actors for giving us characters we really care about but Cameron and his technical team for capturing every little nuance and twitch that made the characters so real.  You feel for these big, blue, nine foot tribal aliens and their fight to keep their home.  Truthfully, beyond the two main leads though, everyone else is pretty one dimensional.   But that’s all they need to be for 2.5 hours.  Sigourney Weaver (concerned scientist), Giovanni Ribisi (evil corporate guy), and Stephen Lang (even more evil military guy).

The themes are pretty standard for a new age western.  I’m not giving anything away by saying this is about the environment vs. corporate greed.  That may not be everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a genre like any other (don’t tell me romantic comedies aren’t written in crayon) and it’s amazing it takes $250 million to turn the mirror back on ourselves.  The greatest science fiction stories are always about showing us our own “real world” issues shown in a fantastic situation.   The Twilight Zone was a master of this.  The original Star Trek was great at this.  Avatar is a worthy addition.

AVATAR Rating:
 4 stars – tell everyone you know. If there was ever a movie to see in the theatre, this is it.  I’m sure IMAX is pretty damn good but make sure it’s at least 3D.  It’s worth the extra dollars.  James Cameron has done it again and taken us on a ride that I really didn’t want to get off of.  Action.  Romance.  Breathtaking.  Exciting.  Stop reading and go!

Coming Attractions:
Iron Man 2 (release date: May 7, 2009) – Tough week to pick just one kickass trailer this week.  With Clash of the Titans and Alice in Wonderland both out with teasers, you can imagine how stoked I am about Iron Man when it trumps those two.  Wait a sec, IT’S FREAKING IRON MAN!  Scarlett Johannssen in leather.  Don Cheadle as War Machine.  I’m a geek.  ‘Nuf said.

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Randomly Recommended
With a James Cameron movie, it would have been too easy to pick one of his…but really, haven’t you seen Titanic and Terminator already? So I went with a few of the actors that are well known, but not necessarily from the movies I’m recommending.

Galaxy Quest (1999) – I’m as shocked as you that I’m recommending a Tim Allen movie.  But if you grew up with any love for the original Star Trek, have a bit of a sci-fi geek in you or just like a fun comedy, it’s worth checking out.  A lot of faces you’ll recognize in this including Alan Rickman, Sam Rockwell and Justin Long.  Don’t skip it just because of Tim.  Even though I would have too.

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Boiler Room (2000) – Wait a sec, it has Vin Diesel and Ben Affleck in this and it ISN’T an action flick?  Nope.  Seedy investment brokers try to crawl their way to success.  Ben is barely in this but he has a Alec Baldwin/Glengarry Glen Ross moment and as usual, Giovanni Ribisi is great.  This got a little bit of notice when it came out but not a lot of people I’ve asked have seen it.  Why not?

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Comments

  1. Finally saw avatar this weekend. I have never seen a 3D movie and I’m glad I waited. Completely unreal. Yes this just changed movies and it is a welcome change after years of people talking about the decline of movie-making. It was so cool.

    Weaver seemed out of place at times and her acting was off, but I wonder if that was due to a director who was more interested in the scenery than the acting (don’t know if that’s true but it’s a thought.) Ribisi was so awesome, wished he had more screen time. Worthington is maybe my new fav after he made T4 watchable.

    I still think Gollum was better. And my only issue major issue is the humans who gave up: wouldn’t they just bomb the place, use smart bombs or something, or re-group and come back with more men? I’m a little ashamed we gave up so easily.

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