Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Ticket Stubs: Avatar

I have come to the point where I am craving for originality. It seems that every movie in theatres derives from a book, TV show, another movie, video game, or lately a theme park ride. All I want is something new. James Cameron heard my cry and made Avatar. It took him 17 years to perfect the technology in order to create his vision and I can only hope it doesn’t take that long to revisit this world.

His world is Pandora. It is an incredibly planet filled with luscious and colorful wildlife and unique natives. The natives include the Na’vi who are ten feet tall blue people with a few cat like features including (of course) tails. It takes several years to travel there, which I assume means you have to plan very well when requesting supplies. Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) travels there after his twin brother has died. The brother was a scientist who was working heavily on designing avatars. Instead of trying to sit down and talk to the natives, humans have created their own Na’vi bodies. With the avatar technology, humans can transfer their mind into their designated Na’vi body. Now they can infiltrate their society and learn from them. Since Jake has enough similar genetic material as his brother, he can use his brother’s avatar.

Jake was a marine who has lost his legs in combat. The government promises to pay for his spinal treatment if he convinces one of the Na’vi tribes to move locations so they can acquire all of the Unobtainum (This is a real scientific term, I promise) that lies there. Now this is where the movie wowed me. Pandora is an incredible place. Jake walks around the planet in awe of everything he sees and every gasp is justified. Every single plant and creature is a work of beauty. Everything is vibrant and fresh that I wished to pause the movie to get a further look at all of the nuances of each monstrous creature.

Many people have compared Avatar to the original Star Wars with all of its unique creations. The movie I kept thinking about was the original King Kong. I adore that movie, but this is more of what it wished to accomplish. Skull Island in Kong was just a typical island with the occasional oddity, including dinosaurs. With Pandora everything flows together in a perfect symbiotic fashion. The Na’vi can flow effortlessly through the trees and the floating mountains. Oh there’s floating mountains. And they’re awesome.

As I mentioned Cameron spent over a decade working on the technology and I’m so grateful he didn’t compromise. Everything looks real. I don’t know too much about computers so I’m willing to believe that CGI is just a bluff. It’s easier for me to fathom the idea that Cameron personally genetically created all of these wonders. How he got them in glorious 3D is a whole ‘nother question. By the way this film must be seen in 3D or you are missing too much. Preferably IMAX 3D because REAL-3D dilutes too many colors.

The story has been under criticism for being too simple or familiar. It is reminiscent of Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas at times, but that is not the point. Cameron created more stakes with this environment than those other two films combined. Oddly enough this isn’t the movie with the talking trees. It is Cameron’s powerful visuals and style that makes this a movie’s movie. It would be a good story. It would be a fine book. Instead it is a brilliant movie.



  1. Nicely done. This makes me even more excited to see "Avatar." I wouldn't have guessed that you would like it this much.

  2. I found your film-snob videos and loved them.. Shocked to see you fell for this crap fest Avatar...

    I thought I had someone I could count on :( I need an ebert replacement... WHY WASNT IT YOUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUU. :( :( :( :(

  3. Ha. I'm so sorry, Outerspaceface. Time has gone past and I'm a bit more critical on the story, but I'll still defend the fun I had with the spectacle. If my snobbery card needs updated, I can easily say I'm looking forward to the next Woody Allen film over the next Avatar movie.

  4. I can forgive you this time... i will imagine you wrote this review while still wearing 3D glasses and seated in the theatre next to giant man-babies weeping tears for the tree..

    For the record I HIGHLY RECOMMENDED this movie to everyone to see once, in the theatre, in the IMAX 3D! It is no doubt a game changer and worth the ticket just for the cool neon plants and the only well done 3D Ive seen.. Every recommendation came with a warning that its a insulting, terrible "movie" and that if anyone liked it, our friendship was in jeopardy. I hated the movie, thought it was 2 hours too long. Just like the eye-candy.

    If anyone enjoys the themes and retarded heavy handed "story" in Avatar. I would suggest running out and grabbing Princess Mononoke! Its a film that does everything Avatar wishes to do, but better..