Runtime: 162 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.78 : 1
Director: James Cameron
Release Date: 11/10/09
Film star: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang
Awards: Won 3 Oscars, another 25 wins and 56 nominations
I’m going to prerequisite this by saying that I’m a self-proclaimed James Cameron fanatic. I loved all the Terminator movies, True Lies, Titanic, and Aliens so it’s no surprise that I was absolutely ecstatic when I heard about Avatar. I had heard that Avatar combined all the best things about Cameron’s other movies-the romance of Titanic, and the action and fantasy of Alien and the Terminator movies-and incorporated awesome 3D graphics to boot! Sufficed to say, I was excited to see this movie. The movie wasn’t perfect, but when push comes to shove I would definitely recommend it to everyone.
For those of you who haven’t seen Avatar yet, I’ll give you a brief description of the plot. Avatar is the story of paraplegic war veteran, Jake Sully. Jake has recently lost his twin brother, as well as the use of his legs, when he is sent on a secret mission to the planet of Pandora. Pandora is a distant civilization where a colony of creatures known as the Na’vi lives. Pandora is also home to large quantities of Unobtanium, a rare and expensive mineral that can save Earth from an energy crisis. Jake’s mission is to infiltrate the Na’vi civilization, under cover in an “avatar” that makes him look like the Na’vi, and persuade the Na’vi to move to a new location to free up a massive deposit of Unobtanium. However, as Jake spends time getting to know the Na’vi and learn the ways of their culture he begins to see things in a different way.
When it comes to the story, Avatar isn’t the most original movie in the world. It takes elements from Pocahontas and Braveheart as well as a number of other action films and cross-culture romances throughout history. The film is stretched out over three hours and the dialogue is, at times, a bit cliche and cheesy, as it is in many of Cameron’s films. However, despite the lack of originality in the story, I still thought Avatar was amazing simply because of its amazing use of 3D and the advances it shows in movie-going technology.
Not only does Avatar bring photo-real CG to life for the first time in history, but it also takes 3D to a whole new level. As 3D has become more and more common in the film experience over the last couple of years we have seen a wide variety of children’s animated 3D masterpieces. However, Avatar is the first film to really bring a mix of live action and realistic CG elements to life. The 3D in the film isn’t in-your-face. It is subtle and beautiful and really makes you feel like you have entered the magical alien world of Pandora, as you fly through the lush mountains and view the planet all around you.
The landscapes and creatures in the film are masterfully designed. Everything truly is beautiful, from the arresting environments to the creatures, including the Na’vi and other beautiful and frightening beings. What really separates Avatar from many other animated films is that all of the characters, including the CG, blue, catlike Na’vi show real human emotion when they speak and act for a truly realistic and amazing experience.
When it comes to the acting there is some give and take. Sam Worthington shows a lot of heart in his role as Jake, although he has some problems with his accent from time to time, and Sigourney Weaver, who plays Dr. Grace, has a fantastic on-screen dynamic with Worthington. However, I thought that the best performance of the film came from Zoe Saldana, who plays Neytiri, a Na’vi huntress who grows close to Jake.
What the film lacks in originality it makes up for with beauty. I would recommend this film to everyone for the sheer perfection of the landscapes, the inventiveness of graphics and the amazing use of 3D.