January 8, 2010
For months, James Cameron's latest film has been hyped beyond belief. The hype has a good reason to exist, though, as James Cameron (director of The Terminator, Titanic, Aliens, etc.) hasn't made a "real" film in over 10 years. He's, instead, focused on documentaries focusing on the depths and organisms of the the world's oceans. Moving on, though, the film also came into the public eye due to the visuals, which are about 60% pure CGI and 40% photo-realistic CGI. To put it simply, there's absolutely no live-action in the film, yet it certainly looks like it does.

The film follows Jake Sully, a disabled Marine from Earth who becomes a part of the Avatar program. To put in some background, the year is 2154 and things aren't looking well for Earth. Our natural resources are nearly, if not completely, diminished and it's said that seeing a tree is even a rare sight. Therefore, mankind has expanded out into space, looking for more valuable resources to fuel ourselves with. The planet mankind has found is Pandora, an environmentally-rich planet filled with a very rich mineral. However, the humans can't simply go and plunder as the natives - the Na'vi - are angered at mankind's presence on their planet. The Avatar program is a means to try and negotiate with the people, by transmitting human minds into human/Na'vi genetic hybrids.

In terms of plot and character, the film is pretty predictable as it follows the usual formula for environmental/race films ala Dances With Wolves, The Last Samurai, Ferngully, Pocahontas, etc. The dialogue can also get pretty cheesy as well, with the worst offender being the Colonel. If you ever wanted to see a perfect summary of the adrenaline-rimmed, balls-to-the-wall, "macho" military man, then you'll get it with this guy. At one point, he literally goes outside on Pandora - which has very low oxygen by the way - yet still manages to still out there completely healthy while, later on, another character can't even go for longer than ten seconds. Continuity error or is testosterone a suitable replacement for breathing?

Joking aside, the visuals do indeed look fantastic. The people, the landscape, the machines, no detail has been left untouched by the animators of the film. It was, however, really hard to get used to these visuals as first. It might have been due to the fact that they tried so hard to look realistic that it almost became hard to connect with the film.

The characters are, sadly, fall pretty flat and fall to your standard character-types. Not to say that the acting was bad, or that it wasn't performed well, it just felt typical. That, and the film seemed so very black-and-white as well. This isn't necessarily bad, as Star Wars is pretty B&W yet it's still a sci-fi classic. It's just that's everything's so spelled out, with no room for change save for the pilot played by Michelle Rodriguez. not to mention that, unlike Star Wars, this film doesn't really have any memorable characters.

Though it's visually-striking, I couldn't help but feel this film was lacking in its narrative. It was performed fairly, that's granted, and it did leave an impact, but I don't think this film will be that remembered 10 - 20 years from now. If it is, it'll only be for the visuals.

6/10 - Fair

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AnneOnnimous said...
Jan. 20, 2010 at 7:50 pm
i disagree with all the bad things you said.
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