Everything you heard about Avatar is true. It is a fantastic journey to a realm of unforgettable images. This is not a movie to watch on a small screen. Get your but off the couch, and see this movie as it was meant to be seen, on the biggest screen you can find.
Jake Sully is a paraplegic marine who is offered the chance to get new legs if he will take over for his brother on a project on a distant planet, Pandorum. The planet has a valuable mineral that evil corporate white American men are, of course, willing to kill for. Ribisi, in the Paul Reiser role from Aliens, says, "This is why we're here, because this little gray rock sells for twenty million a kilo."
Sully is put in a machine where he can control a manufactured alien body, an Avatar. When the body sleeps, he comes out of the machine leaving the body lifeless. Before you can say Pocahontas, Sully, through his Avatar, has fallen in love with a local alien girl. She spends plenty of time teaching him to love and understand nature. Think Vanessa Williams singing "Colors of the Wind".
The movie is nearly three hours long but the visuals keep you far away from boredom. The action comes often as well. The last half hour is all breathless action. The best scene being when the aliens attack the ships on flying lizards. They are surrounded by floating rocks, covered in foliage. Your eyes get a workout.
As an action packed, special effects driven experience, Avatar not only succeeds, but exceeds your expectations. For all of it's smoke and mirrors though, it left me cold. The climactic battle is between the Aliens and some former American soldiers, now hired by a huge corporation. I never felt any desire for the Aliens to kill the soldiers. They were just hired guns. They are not actually evil. Other than a tinge of jealousy, the aliens are shown to have absolutely no character flaws. Cameron created an obnoxious Colonel to act as a bad guy, but he is so one dimensional that I never cared what happened to him.
The end is like Crazy Horse at Little Big Horn. Sure, the natives get a victory, but we just know those greedy white devils will be back with more guns and troops. This leaves open a sequel, but at nearly three hours this movie should have wrapped everything up tight.
Avatar is an event film that is well worth the price of admission. You will not be bored! However, when this kind of animation is common place, Avatar will be remembered only for breaking the ground. The plot is straight allegory to the American Indian experience. It does not require any emotional commitment from the audience, and as such, is not the film it could have been.
I could not agree more Eric. This is one movie that you MUST see on the big screen and you must see in Digital 3-D. It is the most spectacular eye-candy ever put on a big screen. Watching it I couldn't help but think that this is the future of film making and that I have no doubt soon all movies will look this way.
The plot, as you say Eric, is strictly by the numbers and fairly unimportant compared to the visuals. I've read some articles where writers are comparing this movie to Iraq and oil, but the story has much more in common with the story of the American Indians. It very much has a been there, done that kind of feel to it (the Giovanni Ribisi character is very reminiscent of Paul Resier's character in Cameron directed Aliens, and this movie could be set in that same universe). And the love story provoked no reaction in me at all.
Not only is the plot fairly obvious, but it telegraphs exactly what's going to happen long before it happens. Gee, somebody once united all the clans by riding one of those giant reptile birds? I wonder if someone will do that again? You say that human consciousness can pass from a human to an Avatar permanently? Surely that can't come back into it!
Likewise the dialogue is pretty poor as well. The Colonel speaks in nothing but cliches, as do most of the rest of the characters. But really, that's okay because it's not the words you'll be remembering anyway.
I've never been a big fan of 3-D movies. Mostly the effect seemed like a gimmicky idea, but apparently it had just never been done properly before now, because here it's no mere gimmick. It helps to immerse you almost completely into the physical world created by Cameron and his team. And it's not just in the big CGI scenes either, but quite often in the smaller scenes; when Sully is first woken from cryogenic sleep, as an example, and the beds stretch out into the distance. During a scene with fire, the cinders and ash seem to float down from the ceiling of the theater. And when Sully spends his first night in the jungle you will swear those bugs are flying all around you. Clearly this isn't your father's 3-D.
It's not perfect, but this is spectacle on a grand scale and it shouldn't be missed
I initially had no desire to see this movie. I couldn’t imagine it living up to the hype. As it turns out my brothers got it exactly right. It’s visually stunning and innovative but with an unoriginal and frankly lackluster script. The dialogue and characters are nearly all clichés and apart from the imaginative eye-candy there are no surprises.
Scott I only hope you are wrong about all movies being in 3D someday. Yes it works here but I don’t think all movies would benefit from it. But then my favorite movies were all made before 1960 so I plead guilty to being old-fashioned and out of date. I actually miss black & white cinematography.
Sam Worthington is good as Jake Sully. He has a natural style that works well here. Sigourney Weaver does a variation of Ripley from the Alien movies. She is older but just as intensely driven. Was it just me or did her personality change when she was in her avatar? She got much more soft spoken and polite.
Scott to go a bit further with your statement about things being telegraphed how about the fact that all the wild creatures Sully encounters during his first experience in the avatar all show back up for the climactic battle. And for such a wild place there didn’t seem to be that many different species of animals.
Bottom line: Avatar is an amazing visual experience. It washes over you like a rainbow on steroids. But, there is no way, in my humble opinion, it deserves to be the highest grossing movie of all time nor should it win the Best Picture Oscar.
Photos © Copyright Miramax Films (2009)