Theatrical Review: AVATAR
Writer: James Cameron
Director: James Cameron
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Joel Moore, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi
Studio: Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation
After many years of hearing about the project, a supposed budget of $500 million (including marketing) and the use of cutting edge tools and techniques, we now have one 162 minute 3D film as a result in AVATAR.
After all this, it almost seems that unless James Cameron's AVATAR is anything less than the greatest thing a person has ever seen (including the birth of one's child and the episode of "Family Matters" where Urkel creates Stefan), the film would be disappointing. Judging by these standards, AVATAR would be a little disappointing, but judging on a more realistic scale, AVATAR is a technically stunning, exciting movie event that gives you many reasons to keep paying attention through its lengthy run time.
With AVATAR, we're in the future, and paraplegic ex-marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has been offered the opportunity to use an Avatar (a lab-created body that can be controlled mentally by a person plugged in to it) created to look like the indigenous people of Pandora, the Na'vi (probably not a coincidence that Na'vi sounds like the word native, cute Cameron). Pandora is very rich in an expensive and valuable resource and the company trying to obtain the resource wants to move the Na'vi, as their home sits on a huge supply of the material. That is where the Avatars come in, those in the Na'vi-like bodies can hopefully convince the Na'vi to move.
The company needs Jake because of the DNA connection to his brother, something needed to operate his brother's Avatar (each one is designed using the DNA of a particular person). Jake accepts the opportunity, the idea of being able to control a body with leg function again no doubt sounds good to him. So, Jake goes to the dangerous planet of Pandora where at first it seems that everything's function is to kill outsiders, a sentiment conveyed by the man in charge of the company's artillery division, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang).
Soon, Jake is contacted by Quaritch to be his man on the inside, even though Jake is there for Dr. Grace Augustine's team, the science people that want a peaceful solution. Jake corroborates because Quaritch plays to his military loyalties and most importantly, promises to get him the surgery that will allow him to walk again. Eventually Jake becomes accepted by the Na'vi, who think they must teach him their ways, with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) as his teacher.
AVATAR is an epic film that has many similarities to other epics; an outsider falls in love with a new world (literally) and leads them against the true intruders. However, the world Cameron creates in Pandora is so fascinating and impressive (I could use those words 100 times, easily, in this review) that the familiarity of the story doesn't matter, we are there for Pandora and that is where Cameron continually wows us.
Pandora is full of many spectacular digitally created species and settings. When Jake first explores Pandora with Dr. Augustine, we see two new creatures quickly, and also get an elaborate chase sequence between Jake and one of the animals through parts of the beautiful planet. It's a great way to let you know what you should expect from the rest of your time with Jake on Pandora - stimulating sequence set against wonderful digital images.
There are many treats for the audience in AVATAR, and the technology used (and in some cases, created) by Cameron was worth the price and effort. The movie is gorgeous with great special effects. It is almost too much to take in while you watch the film since there is so much to be wowed by. There is a lot to like here, but the most awesome sequence has to be the climax where the Na'vi, Jake, and few other humans battle against Quaritch and his men for Pandora. It's a thrilling testament to the great showman that Cameron is.
You have done great things again, James Cameron, and come admirably close to living up to the film's massive hype. Well done.