Thursday, March 1, 2012

Avatar - Movie Review

Easily the most hyped movie of any 2009 release partly due to the fact that this film and world was created by Mr. “King of the World” himself, James Cameron. He seems to carry a lot of baggage and expectation to everything he does although after making the highest grossing movie of all time in Titanic, you can’t really blame people for the reaction.

Aside from all of that, Cameron continues to put his heart and soul in to every film that he releases dating back to such great films as The Abyss, Aliens, Terminator 2, and even the Dark Angel TV series which starred a young and still unknown Jessica Alba.

Avatar is an achievement on many levels. Visually, there are moments in this movie that rival such iconic moments in movie history like the opening scene of Star Wars where we see a Star Destroyer for the very first time, or the siege of Minas Tirith in The Return of the King.

You really have to see this film on as big of a screen as possible to appreciate the level of detail and artistry put in to every scene. No detail was overlooked in creating the creatures, environments, and technology that we see throughout the movie. Not only did Cameron and crew look to create a fantastic world to place the story in, they based everything in a scientific reality never seen before in sci-fi or fantasy.

Every creature and plant could viably exist in this world and every bit of machinery was designed literally down to the nuts and bolts. Granted some of the technology used in the story is not yet a reality, but that is where it is a fictional story set in a future that could happen.

The story follows a paraplegic marine named Jake Sully who is on his way to a distant moon called Pandora where he will become part of a unique mission that had been originally intended for his twin brother who was killed in battle.The mission is for Jake to integrate with an Avatar originally designed to match with the DNA of his brother and created in the likeness of the native species of Pandora called the Na’vi.

He will then try to integrate himself in to their culture and try to get them to move from their native home which contains a rich supply of a valuable material called unobtanium. At first, Jake is bent on successfully completing his mission but matters are complicated when he begins to become part of the Na’vi culture and begins to understand the harmony they have obtained with the planet itself.

This deviation from his military unit’s mission begins an alternate plan set forth by Colonel Quaritch to forcefully remove the Na’vi from their home to complete the mission. Jake is forced to make a decision on whether he is to remain true to his human ancestry and help complete the mission or to move forward with his newly adopted culture and fight for what they represent.

Sam Worthington does a good job of playing the jaded soldier role in Jake Sully who eventually finds a greater purpose and allows him self to be opened up mentally and spiritually. Zoe Saldana does a great job in playing the role of Neytiri, Jake’s newfound love interest and one of the leaders of the Na’vi tribe. Other standouts are Michelle Rodriguez as a sympathetic military pilot and Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch.

This is the first of what will be at least a trilogy of films set in the Pandora universe and it is certain to go down as one of the great achievements in cinematic history. James Cameron, as he so often does, has shown us things we didn’t think were possible both in special effects and in the newly emerging 3D technology.

The richness and depth of the visual experience can be almost overwhelming at times, but in a way that leaves you on the edge of your seat. The story is a big, sweeping tale that delivers on many levels and leaves you wanting to know more about this amazing world. In my opinion, Avatar represents what going to the movies is all about.

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