Avatar

Avid Appreciation for Avatar


Humans arrive to mine on the distant, dangerous world of Pandora. Everything is proportionally much larger, and even with the sophisticated human weapons, very perilous. As a group of native humanoids called Navi interferes, the humans create “avatars,” clones of the aliens that can be controlled by the humans, to make peace with the indigenous people. Or war.

Avatar is generating a loud buzz all over the world. But its intriguing story line is not the main reason for its popularity. Much of the movie’s appeal also comes from the fact that James Cameron had to invent the technology to make it happen. This film revolutionized 3-D movie making, and it created a cinematic experience unlike anything we’ve seen.

In general, the only complaint about Avatar was the story. Some critics say that it has been “done before.” An example people refer to is Fern Gully. They are perfectly warranted in this. There are numerous, undeniable similarities between the two. Even so, I can’t remember Fern Gully being set in a vicious world where humans live vicariously through genetically engineered alien bodies, speaking to the aliens in a complete, invented language. These days, you can look at any movie and find aspects that have been “done before.” With all the movies, books, etc. that have been created over the years, it is inevitable that certain ideas will be repeated. Avatar was sufficiently unique. If it had made an effort to change the similar aspects, such as the natives’ connection with the trees, it would have weakened the similar moral message of deforestation, which is ever important. At least it was still fresh and not a remake of another book or movie, which seems to be the latest trend.

Regardless, the beauty of Avatar was not the plot. It was the visual experience. James Cameron is renowned for his ability to push technology to its limits. Cameron had been thinking about Avatar since he made Titanic. The problem was that he had to invent the technology necessary to make this movie how he envisioned it. Even after starting, it was a four-year process. Ten million dollars was put into a 30-second test to see if he could get the Navi right and get the approval. The result was an unprecedented realness of a nonexistent race. The entire budget was around 300-million dollars, topped only by Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End. However, Cameron put this money to good use once again. He created a seamless CGI world complete with a CGI race that was (except for the knowledge that it was indeed made up) nearly impossible to differentiate from the live actors. To make the Navi so lifelike, he found a way to visually enhance real actors. Beyond that, it is basically a mystery how he was able to create visual effects of such a high caliber. On top of this, he mastered the use of 3-D, taking it to a crispness that has been previously unattainable.

Not seeing this movie in 3-D is like going to Olive Garden and only eating breadsticks. Avatar took 3-D movies to a whole new level. One technique used in addition to the overall flawlessness of the 3-D was that they didn’t use the classic 3-D gimmicks of poking objects out at the audience to remind them that it’s in “3-D.” Instead, they used the sophisticated 3-D to add depth to the movie. Instead of pushing the audience away, this sucked the audience in. It was like nothing I’ve ever experienced. It was like you were there. I found myself realizing that if this movie did not have a happy ending, I just might die. I was connected to this world just as the main character was connected to his avatar. It was almost too real. It was a little confusing when the credits started rolling and I had to find my way back home from Pandora.

Even though Avatar had an extreme budget, James Cameron reaped the rewards for his hard work. On the opening weekend, Avatar grossed over $77 million domestically. Then on the second weekend, when movies usually suffer a drastic drop in revenue, it pulled off a stunning $75 million. The third weekend wasn’t far off: $68.3 million. In only 47 days, Avatar grossed over $601 million just in America. It passed $2 billion worldwide. James Cameron thus broke his own record for the most successful movie in history.

If Avatar must be compared to Fern Gully, it should be understood that Avatar was at least Fern Gully with some serious twists. Its visual effects were out of this world, and it has experienced incredible success in this world. I feel no need to understate this movie. Avatar really delivered, and if you haven’t seen it, you should. After all, everybody’s doing it. And that’s almost not an exaggeration.





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Nuclearnerd said...
Apr. 20, 2010 at 3:32 pm
From everything I know, Avatar isn't even accurate. Scientific research shows that there are no gas giants in the Alpha Centauri system where the movie is based. Also there is already an existing moon in our solar system called Pandora. So obviously, James Cameron didn't do his research. What a waste of money for something that isn't even accurate. Oh yes. The humanoid natives are very far fetched. What are the odds of other humanoid life in the Universe a... (more »)
 
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