Directed and written by: James Cameron
Released: December 2009
Cast: Sam Worthington – Jake Sully, Zoe Saldana – Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver – Dr. Grace Augustine, Stephen Lang – Colonel Miles Quaritch
Admittedly with most new films, and especially ones I feel are being over sold and hyped up too much, I tend to steer clear of and take the attitude, “I’m sure I’ll watch it eventually”. My love of movies and the cinema certainly hasn’t changed over the years but my attitude to how a movie is marketed has. Oddly I tend to go and see and enjoy films the less I have heard about them. I really think a person can make a decision based on one or two reviews and maybe a trailer. It’s about as much as I need to decide whether I want to see the film or not.
On to the film, and you can tell I enjoyed it because I’m actually inspired to write a review! Admittedly I held off for as long as possible and I’ve only just seen it, I couldn’t avoid the reviews, the trailers, the adverts, the blogs and the tweets. It even inspired me (in a way) to write my blog on Danny Elfman and mention James Horner and James Cameron. Of course I tried to keep my expectations low (I find I also enjoy much more if I do this) even though most reviews gave it 4 stars in 2D and 5 stars in 3D (Empire). I thought I might as well go for this ‘5 star’ experience and I’m very sorry to say… it was worth it *insert cynical critic won over by Avatar joke here*
The film follows the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a paraplegic marine who decides to take the place of his recently deceased brother in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. Jake learns of the growing conflict between the humans and the native humanoid race called the Na’vi. The humans are there to study the Na’vi, led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) but also to mine a precious mineral, headed up by evil ‘company’ types and led by Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi). In the mix of corporate greed and scientific study is gun-ho marine Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) who believes a peaceful solution is impossible and force is the only way to take what they want, Quaritch only has one goal in mind and intends to force the Na’vi from their home, which just happens to be sitting on the largest deposit of the precious mineral the company is after.
Jake, working for the scientists, and indirectly for the Colonel, begins attempting to infiltrate the Na’vi people with the use of an “avatar” identity. The Avatar is a body of a Na’vi controlled by a human mind. Whilst the human body is safely sealed in a laboratory the Avatar body under control from the human is free join the others and open diplomatic relations. Jake is new to the Avatar program and the film follows his integration into Na’vi society, learning their ways and becoming more and more deeply involved in the tribe and the Na’vi culture. It’s not until part way into the film, when military action against the Na’vi is increased, do we know exactly where Jake’s loyalties lie.
The 162 minutes flew by (James Cameron doesn’t seem to make short movies). Jake’s journey is emotional and fascinating and the film has just the right mix of action and love story, jumping from scenes with the Na’vi tribe and scenes back at the base or laboratory were we begin to see Jake’s disconnection from his real human life and his obsessive behaviour with his avatar persona. The story builds on these elements of disconnection, loyalty and betrayal between characters, as well as an epic final battle between the Na’vi and the humans.
Some of the creatures are animated beautifully and stunningly realistic in places, well, as real as a dragon or alien humanoid can get. The action is second to none and with James Horner’s “Aliens esque” score in the background you know it’s going to be a good fight. It was great to see Sigourney Weaver back in the sci-fi genre and I thought she was well supported from the rest of the cast. Jake is a great lead character and the way he becomes part of the tribe is funny and believable, if a little clichéd in places. There is good chemistry between the character Neytiri, (voiced by Zoe Saldana), and the character Jake which forms the love story part of the film.
The storyline and dialogue are simple to the core but it doesn’t have to be complicated or Shakespeare to be a good watch. These two factors become background to a film that sells itself on its visual prowess, a rare case where a film can boast a sufficient story and script, great characters (although some are pushed to the side a little nearer the end) and still be highly watchable even with an overload of CGI. Hope Lucas is taking notes. I left the cinema feeling satisfied (*innuendo to easy*) and would certainly watch it again, in 2D perhaps, although I get the feeling it’s not going to be nearly as impressive at home. Visually the most stunning film I have seen in 3D. It makes full use of the technology and doesn’t disappoint. Seeing it in 3D on the big screen for me is the only way to go.
Avatar Website and Trailer here!
Avatar Poster from Hollywood Movie Costumes and Props go here!