Where do you begin when you try to comprehend what you just witnessed with James Cameron’s Avatar? This ultimate epic film has gotten audiences riled up with and breaking box office records. Avatar definitely pushed the boundaries of filmmaking to new heights, but still had its flaws. Whether you saw it in IMAX 3D, 3D or 2D, you saw a monumental film that changed the game for cinema.
Avatar was definitely not relying on acting or a compelling story to hold its own in theaters. This film was given wings, delivering us a brilliant showcase of visual effects and amazing animation. The story itself could probably not have drawn out as many people as it did without the aid of said effects, but the story is not that horrible. It’s your basic hero’s path that is seen through and through in most action/adventure movies (Star Wars, Dances With Wolves, The Matrix). Avatar is about a paraplegic marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who is brought to the majestic planet of Pandora. Jake travels to Pandora after the untimely death of his twin brother where he would be taking his place in a special project. Jake Sully is struggling to find himself in life after his accident and still seeks adventure.
With the help of a team of scientists, Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and Norm Spellman (Joel Moore), Jake Sully takes his brother’s place into his avatar to help with missions in the jungle with Dr Augustine and Spellman. An avatar is a fully functional organic body intermixed with the DNA of the host that works as a surrogate more or less in the form of the indigenous tribe that inhabits the planet known as the Na’vi. The avatar works by putting the user into a enclosed chamber that links the mind of the user into the consciousness of the avatar body.
There is always a scheme involved when military figures are involved. The main antagonist, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), is working with corporate figurehead, Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), to try and drive the Na’vi off their native land and mine the precious mineral called unobtanium. Sully is offered the chance to regain the use of his legs if he cooperates with Colonel Quaritch and Selfridge in gaining comprehensive knowledge of the Na’vi land and try to get them to relocate.
Throughout the wonders of the planet, Pandora, Jake gets separated from the group and finds himself in a heap of trouble. Jake fortunately is helped by a native, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who takes him to her village where he is not greeted whole heartedly by some of the others. Sully is taken in by the tribe and Neytiri is asked to teach him their ways so he can understand and connect deeper with the Na’vi people. Throughout his adventure of learning, Jake becomes engulfed within the culture with a sense of respect and eventually befriends the tribe. The secret agenda of the Colonel’s still looms in the back of his mind as he struggles to cope with his and sense of duty to his company.
Jake has a serious weight on his shoulders as he fights to survive in both the human and Na’vi world. With time not on his side, he must choose which side he is fighting for. An true hero’s battle of fate welcomes you into the world of Pandora on a thrill ride of adventure, love, and consequences.
Stated before, this is a some what familiar tale told through different eyes and a whole other world. James Cameron brings you through so much during this film that it does have a decent “wow” factor that can honestly be applauded for his efforts; you can’t deny him that. Regardless of the story, this film has it all and anything that you could ask for in a big blockbuster. With a budget of well over $300 million, this film had to deliver otherwise it would have been the largest flop in cinema history. But fear not, this film does deliver, hot and ready.
The acting could be a little better. The way it was shot was a little different yes, with the intensive motion capturing and Cameron’s own developed Fusion Camera System, but that can’t be to blame for the films sub-par acting. It wasn’t horrible, but there just seemed to be some sort of lack luster feeling involved with the characters emotions. This could be due to the one dimensional character profiles gave the actors less to work with. Most of the characters in Avatar were pretty much bland and didn’t have any depth to them. You had the typical hero vs. villain where you knew who was what and it seemed as though that was enough and any kind of background or a deeper feel toward the characters was unnecessary. The only reason why you felt that the Na’vi had a real role in the film was that they were getting their home crushed right before their eyes. Jake Sully was the standard protagonist, going with the adventure with a learning experience and trying to truly understand who he is. Neytiri was just this Na’vi who was the mentor who was just there, she helped Jake along the way, but was basically a mediator. You could really care less about the characters throughout the film because they were just so ordinary and had low importance to the film. If as much time was taken on story and character development as the visual effects was, then you would have had an incredible movie.
Visually, this movie was spectacular. If you had a chance to check this film out at the IMAX 3D than you probably had your mouth open the entire time. The IMAX is the only way you should see this film and if you hadn’t then shame on you. What James Cameron has done to the world of science fiction films cannot be said any other way than that he has raised the bar higher than you could possibly imagine. Every aspect of bringing this world of Pandora to life was carefully calculated and thought out by James Cameron and this has been a work in progress since the early 90s. I did feel like at times the animation was a little cartoony with the faces, but generally the animation was top notch. If you thought that 3D would a gimmick to get people to the theaters after My Bloody Valentine 3D, than Avatar was only a taste and has paved the way for all filmmakers to explore the world of 3D filmmaking.
This film was so much more than just the 3D aspect though. The 3D is different from the classic 3D movie with things flying at you. The 3D aspect almost gave an interesting perspective feel to it as if it was not just a flat screen you were watching it on. The world of Pandora was vibrant and colorful, which helped tremendously with the 3D. Everything was moving, breathing, and no little detail of bringing this planet to life was left out. The creatures, the flora and fauna was just incredibly stunning. This is your kids Star Wars. Not only did Cameron visually create a whole world, he created a new language for the Na’vi. Simply put, the world that is, Pandora, was a filmmaker’s masterpiece.
By and by, this film gets through to audiences as a great action adventure. Aside from the typical hero’s story, this film doesn’t disappoint. This film is a hybrid of Dances with Wolves meets Ferngully meets Pocahontus meets The Matrix. This film doesn’t drop the beat as it keeps moving along and when you think it is at a low point, BAM, it brings you back into it. It is one thrill ride after another that takes you to a whole new world. While there was only some minor character stimulation, there is never a dull moment on Pandora. You will feel left satisfied with a little taste left in your mouth, but if you can get past the hype, Avatar is not everything it could have been cracked up to be with its cookie cutter style story telling. James Cameron’s Avatar is definitely a must see and will be cemented in the history books for its monumental visual effects and creative genius, but I wouldn’t put it much more past that.