James Cameron’s last film set sail in 1997 and it was an unparalleled success in the box office. 12 years and $300-500 million dollars later, Cameron is back in an attempt to be ‘king of the world’. The absence of Cameron has been felt in Hollyworld and has left room for the Michael Bays to stake their claim in a new era of filmmaking. Well it may have taken a while for Avatar to come to fruition, but it was unequivocally worth the wait.
The story is a familiar one about greedy earthlings that need a precious element found abundantly on a planet called Pandora. The problem is that the tree hugging natives, called the Na’vi, stand in the way. The science branch has developed anl avatar technology that allows a marine named Jake (Sam Worthington) to inhabit a test tube Na’vi in hopes of negotiating a peaceful solution to their dilemna. As expected that doesn’t work and the military decides to do its thing and Jake must decide which world he will side with.
At this point, we can’t go any further without commenting on the visuals of this film. The graphics are almost another character in the movie with a life of it’s own. Today, special effects are so overused in most films that it’s less ‘special’ and more just effects. Cameron has created a whole new experience and has pushed the bar higher than anyone has ever gone before. The imagery is visceral, complex, and vibrant. The art direction was brilliantly conceived and this has to rank as one of the most beautiful films I have ever seen. Visual, Avatar gets an A++.
I am usually pretty apprehensive about 3-D films. It’s usually not necessary and the gags get old after while. However, I can now see why Cameron pushed for this new technology for this film. It’s an immersive force and immediately makes you a believer. The 3-D is less in your face and more about creating depth of field. There is finally a real sense of dimension to the 3-D experience. There were several scenes were I felt I was right in the same room with the actors! Bravo Jimmy.
Unfortunately, there is a weak part in the Avatar machine and it’s a pretty big one. The script is terribly unoriginal. It’s a futuristic Dances with Wolves set on another planet. Everyone plays their parts from the military fanatic, greedy scientist, brave leader, native princess, and noble chief. Its done fine but the all too familiar story has a strange juxtaposition against the immensely original backdrop of Avatar. James, you should have spent less time in front of Photoshop and more time with pen/paper in hand. Shame on you.
Still, despite the screenplay short comings, I had an incredibly wonderful time during the meaty 2 1/2 hours. It moves well, has spectacular action, and is an inspirational escape from reality. I don’t think it matches up to the titanic pieces like Aliens and the Terminator but it can stand solidly on it’s own right. Avatar is an amalgamation of Cameron’s past works. If you are a fan, you will see familiar elements from past his favorites represented in Avatar. Overall, I would highly recommend this film. Welcome back James, you have been missed and we are all looking forward to you setting new standards in filmmaking in the future.
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