Movie Review: Avatar

Posted in Film & TV by jukeboxparables on December 30, 2009

What. I’m reviewing Movies now? No, not really but Avatar is worthy of an attempt. More of a rant probably.

So people have been raving about James Cameron’s Avatar, especially the 3D screenings. So what It’s like? I’ll start by saying; I now know how cinema goers must have felt watching Star Wars for the first time in 1977. It is honestly that BIG of a leap from everything that’s been released recently. It makes George Lucas’ last effort (Revenge of The Sith) almost laughable in its effects and most certainly in it’s scope.

This was my first experience with this ‘new’ 3D business as opposed to the shoddy blue/red cardboard glasses of the 90’s. The latest technology (My screening was in an Event Vmax 3D cinema) retains colour and is completely engaging rather than the distraction of old.

Anyway onto the movie; I saw the teaser trailer of Avatar on it’s release and immediately sent the link to a few friends. I wanted to go along with the story, but there was something off about the trailer. I made the call then; It was either going to be the best or worst movie of the year. So I thought I’d shake off the hype and wait a bit after it’s release before watching.

Browsing over some reviews from various critics and endless forums. The world has become a league of critics hasn’t it. This movie is like that movie, it’s stolen plot pointers from movie X, Y, Z.

“Ferngully” and “Dances with wolves” has been sited again and again.

Which one of those movies was set on another planet? Which one had mech-warriors and mercenaries hired by a dying planet (Earth) to mine minerals and then turn it into an all-out war between planets/races? And most importantly which one of those introduced the MAIN plot trigger of this movie. The idea of Avatars? Amazing new Science that lets humans remotely drive bodies of half-breed Na’vi (the native race on Pandora) that are 10ft tall?

I must have missed that bit in “Dances with wolves” where Kevin Costner goes to sleep in a Teepee and remotely controls a 10ft Wolf in his sleep which he then uses to battle his own race?

My point here is; James Cameron makes us feel and believe wheel-chair bound Jake Sully when he sheds his chair, climbs into the Avatar control pod and then awakes in a foreign alien body. He awakes disoriented, humans desperately trying to control him. But it’s too good to be true, not only is he a 10ft tall blue super strength alien, but he can walk. He can run!

Somehow we’re engaged in this? A triumph for the director and the writing.

“Oh but cmon it’s; Protagonist turns to Natives, learns their ways… joins them and has inner conflict” It’s Last Samurai, Ferngully, Pocahontas, Lawrence of Arabia, Dances with wolves, Point Break and say The Fast & The Furious.

I hope I just highlighted my disdain for base-plot comparisons. If you reduce yourself to that level, as many people do how could you possibly enjoy cinema ever again? Every episode of Star Trek across all series and movies is then basically the same. Every Prison movie, every war movie, every love story. Why watch both the Shawshank Redemption and The Great Escape? same movie. Why watch Saving Private Ryan and Apocalypse Now? same movie. Why watch anything with Meg Ryan?

My long-winded point. It’s ALL in the details and Avatar is a movie of fine combed detail, the scope of the world James Cameron has created. Pandora and it’s culture, it’s biology, it’s people. It’s totally compelling. Anthropologists would be proud.

I found myself not wanting it to end.

Every time Jake Sully awoke from his avatar pod. Leaving the world of the Na’vi behind; a world of running amazing speeds, jumping from tree to tree in amazing bio-luminesence forests, flying on winged dinosaur-esque creatures whilst dodging waterfalls only to find himself almost hung-over and back in a wheel chair, back in dreary corporate military reality. Completely tied down as a slave to modernity. It all somehow felt familiar.

Perhaps Cameron was aiming for something deeper? Is the link Sully shares with his Avatar our link with our dreams? Or perhaps it’s a metaphor for our day to day lives with respect to our distant human history. Once upon a time we freely roamed the plains and the forests of Africa, in fear of lions, in the hunt for buffalo, in awe of the night sky and the magic of the jungle. Running as fast as our feet would take us.

That was so long ago that it doesn’t seem real. As I’m stuck here in this chair, at this laptop bound. Back to reality.

Bravo James Cameron.


2 Responses

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  1. gullybogan said, on December 30, 2009 at 11:45 am

    I cited both FernGully and Dances with Wolves!


    The thing is, Avatar is only allegorically set on another world. If the viewer is sitting there thinking, “Well, i don’t care what happens to some imaginary blue monkeys in outer space”, then they should really have been over in Copenhagen, sharing their literal-minded ignorance with all the other sad folk bereft of enough imagination to achieve empathy.

    Pandora, in mythology, was all about not just the release of all the miseries that plague mankind, but also about Hope. If there is a mis-step in this movie, it’s the depiction that the planet’s life-force (Eywa, i.e. Gaia) will come to the rescue. Gaia will, eventually, rescue this planet, but when she’s finished, it may not be a place fit for humans.

    And that will be a pity, because i’m fond of humans.

  2. shortbuswonderkid said, on May 7, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Wow. I don’t say that very much, because I don’t feel it very much. Sadly, when I first heard the word ‘Unobtainium’ I automatically began to slice the movie into tiny ribbons. I shredded them so small, that I couldn’t make any distinction between his movie and the possibllity of a deeper meaningful message. Just for fun, I had sited 13 movies that I compared to being taken to make Avatar. Don’t come to my site, I’d be embarrassed.

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