Director James Cameron spent the last 15 years thinking of a film that, as he put it, would help him step up from “king of the world,” a distinction he more than earned with the blockbuster “Titanic,” to “king of the universe.” Clearly, coming from any other filmmaker now working in Hollywood, such a statement would be seen as presumptuous at best – yet “Avatar” is such a superbly crafted, and visually rendering and seamless experience that Cameron is not only excused for his daring aspiration, he also gets to see it come true.
“Avatar” starts right here on Earth. It is the year 2154 and, not surprisingly, humanity has all but run out of resources. The situation is so dire that man is even willing to travel six light years away to a planet called Pandora to find resources that would allow him to survive. Here, in this magical-like world populated by the Na’vi, a people of 10-feet-tall peaceful humanoids with translucent blue skin and huge yellow cat eyes who live in perfect communion with nature, man has discovered Unobtanium, a rock that holds the secret to his survival on Earth. The problem is, the Na’vis are not willing to move for man to get it because they can’t exist outside this communion.
As in any other typical man vs. indigene / nature film, humans deploy force to conquer Pandora. Man-operated robots and powerful flying machines, equipped with even more powerful weapons, are simply waiting for a sign to tear the planet to pieces to get to the largest Unobtanium deposit on Pandora. However, diplomacy is first given a shot, thanks to a special program spearheaded by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) that has created Avatars, creatures made from human and Na’vi DNA, which allows humans to mentally control beings like these slender and gorgeous giants. The purpose is, of course, to try and establish some sort of interspecies communication in a bid to convince the Na’vis to relocate.
Sam Worthington, a relatively new face on the scene (but whom fans also know from this summer’s “Terminator: Salvation”) is a gung-ho Marine who, because of his twin’s death, gets to be a part of the science program and, this way, inhabit a very expensive, custom-made Avatar. Because, the viewer learns, man can’t breathe the toxic air on Pandora and this is the only way he can roam free on it and, at the same time, find all about the Na’vis, including their weakness. The opportunity is a once-in-a-lifetime shot for Jake Sully because he is a paraplegic and, should he only keep up pretenses of diplomacy and report instead with strategic inside details to the ruthless Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), he will get the money he needs to have surgery that would restore movement to his legs.
From here on, the story goes in a rather predictable manner: Sully meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the daughter of a Na’vi tribe leader. She teaches him the ways of this beautiful people for whom nature means not only a source of shelter and food but life itself, from how to ride six-legged horse-like creatures and terrifying and beautifully colored dragons, to how to get in touch with the very spirit of Pandora, Eywa. She is also the one that teaches him how to love: not just her, but the very essence of things that surround them, while also showing him that Col. Quaritch’s words that “if there is a hell, you might want to go there for a little R&R after Pandora” were a blatant lie for sheer ignorance. Again predictably, diplomacy fails and Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi), the head of the human operation on the planet, greenlights the armed attack on the Na’vis.
Prior to the release, Cameron said that he employed about 2,000 artists in the creation of Pandora and the creatures that inhabit it. He also promised that “Avatar” would take 3D CGI to a whole new level, bringing it right here in the realm of reality. He lied about neither. Never before has there been a movie to render with such painstaking fidelity how life flows through creatures concocted by what can only be deemed the mind of a genius. The Na’vis don’t simply exist on screen as CGI creatures: they breathe, and one can see the veins through which their blood runs and how they pulsate, and the muscles move under their skin as they engage in impossible physical activities. Their eyes glow with life, as also does everything else on this planet – which makes man’s destructive behavior even more painful to watch.
To achieve this breathtaking effect, Cameron had to wait many years until someone else or himself (it turned out to be the latter) created the technology necessary to capture this kind of motion. It’s generically called “motion capture” and it has been used before, most notably in the creation of Gollum in “Lord of the Rings.” Cameron took that and pushed it forward with the development of what he calls “performance capture” technology and which literally makes the computer-made images seem as real as the actors who appear alongside them. Because of this and because the director-writer had so many years at his disposal to think of every detail that appears in the film (nothing is random), “Avatar” is an experience like no other, virtually standing for the rebirth of image, especially in 3D, which is how this movie should be seen.
“Avatar” runs 162 minutes (but could have easily gone up to 180 minutes and no one would have minded, some critics say), and is rated PG-13 for scenes of violence and offensive language. It opened in France and Egypt on December 16, in most territories worldwide on December 18, and will conclude its run in Italy, on January 15.
With “Avatar,” James Cameron has managed to set the bar incredibly high for the entire industry and the fact that it took him over a decade to do it matters very little. The movie stands for a new form of moviemaking, which comes to breathe life into an industry that has gone bland in recent years, save with some few exceptions. Beautifully rendered to the most painstaking detail, “Avatar” is CGI not at its best, but on a level never before done and, most importantly, experienced. No review can do it justice: “Avatar” is best felt in 3D.
All this praise is not to say that “Avatar” doesn’t have its flaws, because claiming that would mean James Cameron attained perfection. Yet, it’s these flaws, including the sometimes flat dialogue and the rather predictable story, that make of this film such a wonderful, unforgettable experience.
“Avatar” not only lives up to the hype that preceded it, it even goes beyond that. James Cameron successfully creates a world that can’t but make the viewer feel awe, admiration and pain, in this specific order throughout the movie. A film that not even once makes use of CGI just because it can, but that employs it with the justification of sending a powerful anti-war and pro-environment message, “Avatar” is a must-see for all types of moviegoers, even if the phrase that would best describe it is “a geek fantasy come true.”
This movie was so boring its almost unreal. I can definitely appreciate the graphics of this movie and all that, I am not saying that it wasnt impressive. But the rest of the story was just ridiculous. The plot was soooo slow it was painful, the plot was so damn slow that by the end I didn't even care what happened or who won, as long as it could end, just for the love of god end. Not to mention at one point near the end of the movie the storyline turned into an anti pollution, global warming is real shame on you type movie. This is like a longer, more unneccessary complicated fern gully.
And also, I agree that the main general guy was kind of a jerk, and I felt incredibly uncomfortable during the 9/11 esque shooting down of the "tree". Like honestly it felt like it was a recreation of the towers collapsing, and I am pretty damn sure it was, and that was incredibly uncomfortable for me. And then that guy betrayed his entire human race, like I said, that general was kind of a dick, but Jake Skully, the main character dude, essentially killed hundreds of americans because he fell in love with some 10 foot tall blue chick. Yawn. As I left the movie theatre the only thing that I could say was "well that was gay"