Review: Avatar

Avatar | James Cameron, 2009

After making history with Titanic, James Cameron took a break from narrative features and focused on making underwater documentaries. When he announced that he was ready to come back and introduced his project, it immediately became one of my most anticipated films. Even though I had no idea what it would be about, I trusted him. I mean, how can you not trust the guy who made Aliens, The Terminator, T2, and Titanic? A lot of hype, a Comic Con presentation, an Avatar Day, and countless Dances with Wolves, Delgo, and Ferngully compariessons it finally came out, and it did not disappoint what so ever.

Avatar is the story of Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) a crippled marine who is given the chance to complete a task that his twin brother was not able to complete. This task is to go to a planet called Pandora where there is a species called the Na’vi who are preventing an big company from getting what they want. Jake is given the task of getting an Avatar body (a body that is made up of human and Na’vi DNA that is used to be able to walk on Pandora) and getting to know the Na’vi in order to gain their trust and get them to do what the humans want. However, as he leans their ways from Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a Na’vi, he understands why they are protecting their land and will fight with them to stop the humans.

If the plot sounds familiar is because it has already been toold many times in various forms. However, the greatness of the movie comes from the way it is told. Cameron spent years coming up with the technology that allowed him to make CG creations seem photorealistic, and along with the people at WETA Digital who have now been able to get rid of the “uncanny valley” that seems to plague every motion-capture creation, he has once again pushed the envelope of visual effects. Not only was he able to create photorealistic characters, he also made realistic environments and realistic looking creatures unlike we’ve ever seen before. Cameron’s work as a director is among the best of the year. He has made a truly truly a visual masterpiece. However, none of this would have been possible without the human element.

Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Michelle Rodriguez do great jobs in their roles, the formers three doing wonders with very little. Saldana gives one of the best female performances of the year, while Worthington is good enough for the role, although he slips into his Australian accent every once in a while. The rest of the cast including Giovanni Ribisi and CCH Pounder are good too, but they are not given much to do, and that is the biggest problem with the film.

The script is the film’s biggest problem. Although I can forgive the recycled plot, I can’t go on without mentioning the lack of character development. Aside from the two leads, every other character is just a stereotype or isn’t developed enough. Yet the actors do all they can and make this movie even more memorable.

One last note on the 3-D aspect: It is cool in the beginning and in certain scenes, but it becomes unnoticeable. I’m not saying you should just watch it in 2D, but don’t expect anything to jump out of the screen.

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