Avatar

PLOT:

In 2154 AD, humans are engaged in the colonization of Pandora, the lush moon of Polyphemus, one of three gas giants that orbit Alpha Centauri A, 4.3 light years from Earth. Pandora is filled with incredible life forms, and is home to the Na’vi, an indigenous sentient humanoid race who are considered primitive by human standards, yet are more physically capable than them. The Na’vi are tailed, slender creatures with sparkling blue skin, standing three meters tall. They live in harmony with their unspoiled world, which the humans have found to be rich with unobtainium,a valuable mineral that is essential to remedying an economic and energy crisis that is gripping Earth.

Humans are unable to breathe the Pandoran atmosphere; in order to interact with the Na’vi, human scientists have created genetically engineered human-Na’vi hybrid bodies called Avatars, and use them to interact with the natives and gain their trust for a relocating operation. A human who shares genetic material with the avatar can be mentally linked to it, allowing them to control its functions and experience what it experiences, while their own body sleeps. The story’s protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former U.S. Marine who was wounded and paralyzed from the waist down in combat on Earth. His twin brother Tony was a scientist working on the Avatar program; when he is killed, Jake is extended the opportunity to take his brother’s place, as he shares Tony’s genetic material and is therefore compatible with his avatar.

Jake travels to Pandora, and assumes control of his avatar body, delighted at being able to walk and run once again as a whole being. Sent deep into Pandora’s jungles as a scout for the soldiers that will follow, Jake encounters many of Pandora’s beauties and dangers. There he meets a young Na’vi female, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who teaches him the ways of her people: the Omaticaya clan of the Na’vi. Despite having originally been sent to gain the trust of natives, and convince them to abandon their Hometree, which sits above a large deposit of unobtanium, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and his love for his adopted home and people. He is forced to choose sides as the humans grow increasingly violent in their mining activities, and the oppressed Na’vi rise up to protect their home, resulting in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire race.

REVIEW:

Avatar is, above all, something different to come out in theaters. What’s different about it? Well, it’s not based on a comic book, novel, foreign film, musical, and most importantly…IT IS NOT A REMAKE!!!!  I guess you could say the most refreshing thing about it is that it is…now brace yourself for this…*GASP* an original idea!

James Cameron apparently has had this story in his head since he was a young boy. The fantastical world of the Na’vi that he has created rival that of Oz, Wonderland, and other wonderous worlds we’ve seen on film.

Let’s get the bad parts out of the way first…At 3 hrs long, this film is a bit lengthy. Sometimes 3 hrs can work for a film, and other times it works against it. Avatar suffers from the latter. Although the special effects are nothing short of spectacular, and the scenery is breathtaking, the film itself drags on and has the lull in the middle that I can’t stand. It even gets a bit preachy during this period, which makes it worse.

It seems apparent that Netyri knows that Jake is not a Na’vi, but it is never fully reveled to the audience until the plot thickens after the film’s apex. I would have liked for the filmmakers to have either made it clear that she does or doesn’t know. That goes for the entire tribe…with the exception of Mo’at, she should know based on her role in the tribe being similar to that of a medicine woman.

Speaking of tribes…I was under the impression that there was only one giant tribe on planet Pandora, but at the end of the film, all of a sudden there are tribes popping up all over the place. Now, I’m not saying they should have been made known at film’s beginning or anything like that, but rather, they could/should have been mentioned during Jake’s learning period. I don’t know, maybe I’m the only one that thinks that, though.

Finally, when it is revealed Jake is a traitor, they leave him to die, but do everything they can for Grace, even after they had just had her hanging for crimes against the tribe. This is very minor, but it just seemed a bit weird that not five minutes before she was a criminal and then she is forgiven.

Also regarding Sigourney Weaver’s avatar…she looks like Sigourney Weaver in blue makeup. For some reason, her face wasn’t altered. I’m not sure why this was, but my belief is that she was an early model avatar, before they perfected the process.

On the positive side, the special effects are gorgeous. The luminating forest took my breath away. You could even go so far as to say the scenery is another star of this film.

If I was an actor in Hollywood, I’d be a little worried. It seems to be that the trend is to motion capture, or whatever the word is, your movements, rather than actually cast you. Take for instance Zoe Saldana. She plays Netyri, but unless you pay close attention, you would never know. Sure she’s has her recognizable movements, but you just know that had this been done with her in makeup, she’d be more recognizable. That being said, they did a smashing job making her look like herself, only as a Na’vi.

Sci-fi films of late have been known for making stars. If this picture ends up being as big as they think it’ll be, then Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington will be on their way to bigger and better things.

Someone brought this up in their review of this film last night, and I would like to touch in it briefly….Michelle Rodriguez is actually playing a character with a heart. Shocked? I know I was. Usually, she plays these hard characters with a hidden agenda. On top of that, she seemed a bit cuter, and dare I say it…HOT! Amazing what a change in attitude can do for someone, right?

Stephen Lang is downright scary as the colonel in charge of everything. On top of that, this old man is built, which made him more intimidating. I was almost expecting him to rip his skin off and reveal that he’s some sort of renegade Na’vi hellbent on destroying his own kind.

Music usually sets the tone for any film, no matter the genre, and James Horner’s dramatic, moving score doesn’t fail to deliver here. Then again, when has he ever failed to create a moving score?

One  of the most talked about films not to come out during the summer, Avatar has all the makings of a summer blockbuster, but with the added factor of making the audience actually think. James Cameron talked excessively about how this picture was going to revolutionize and change the way movies are made. I just didn’t see it. As a matter of fact, I’m a little upset that I paid the extra $1.50 for the 3D glasses. There were plenty of places 3D could have been used to its maximum potential, but just wasn’t. Heck, the previews took more advantage of it than the actual film. Having said that, though, it is worth the time and money to go see this in the theaters. I may have been a little disappointed with the 3D, but I belive that was more due to the hype. This is not a “game changing” film that way Cameron wanted it to be, but it is a very well made picture and something he and all that were part of it, should be proud to have been associated with. There is already talk of a sequel. As long as it doesn’t fall of from the quality of this one, or take away from the story, then I’m not complaining.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

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9 Responses to “Avatar”

  1. Overall I did like Avatar a lot more than I have liked any other recent films. There was one more odd bit of business with Sigourney Weaver’s character-in the beginning, she hates Jake-doesn’t want him around-thinks he a presence of evil in her lab. But the second he slips into his Avatar, she’s all smiles and seems to love him like a long lost son.

    Also, wasn’t Avatar just another Old White Guy Guilt Trip?

  2. […] for instance,   the winter’s big hit, Avatar. Sure, it is visually striking, but I really didn’t get my extra $1.50 worth. When I go see […]

  3. Personally I loved the movie. I saw this review before I saw the movie, and I didn’t notice any of the things you said. Also it was refreshing to see something that wasn’t Disney for a change.

  4. […] seems to play the same character. I mean, he played Perseus the same way he played Jake Sulley in Avatar. The only difference is that he was speaking with his natural Australian accent. I didn’t […]

  5. […] don’t look like they really take advantage of the technology, with the exceptions of Beowulf, Avatar, A Christmas Carol, but not many […]

  6. […] thing and blew audiences away. In turn, it made James Cameron look like a genius, much the same way Avatar did last […]

  7. […] was no reason this film shouldn’t have taken the title, and its rightful name, away from Avatar. After all, it is actually called Avatar: The Last […]

  8. […] you know who he is, just not his name. I think his biggest role is as the power mad general in Avatar that leads the attack on the Navii. Believe it or not, this role, as evil as he is, can be […]

  9. […] away with the sheer beauty of the scenery. It reminds me alot of the first time we see Pandora in Avatar. I have to believe that those few moments with this gorgeous bit of nature were meant to be longer, […]

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