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"Avatar" (3D Imax presentation)-(Wayne)
Reviewer:
Wayne Klein
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Genre:
Sci-Fi
Release Date:
12/17/09
Cast & Director :

Written & Directed by James Cameron Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Moore, Michelle Rodriguez, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder

Review:

James Cameron may not be king of our world but he certainly is of the CGI world he creates for "Avatar". After a long layover making documentaries, Cameron returns to making blockbuster event movies. Rivette may be right--Cameron MAY want to be the De Mille of his era or he just might want to tell entertaining stories while moving film technology forward either way "Avatar" remains quite an achievement flaws and all. ***

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington who is one of the best things about the movie) agrees to take the place of his deceased twin brother to an expeditition on a distant planet Pandora. The planet offers one of the rarest and most valuable elements around unfortunately the natives the 11 foot tall blue skinned Na'vi live on the largest deposit ever discovered. Sully will inhabit an alien/human hybrid and try and negoiate with them to see if they will relocate so humanity can mine this precious element. Sully a paraplegic fits in pefectly with the team who has to interact with the tribe at least on paper; the fact that he's a former soldier at first alienates Dr. Grace Austine (Weaver) but he quickly integrates himself into the crew. When he's separated from his team, he finds himself pulled into the Na'vi's lives by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) the daughter of the leaders of the Na'vi tribe (Wes Studi and CCH Pounder). Sully finds himself torn between two worlds--the Na'vi and the military movement of humanity led by Col. Quardich (Stephen Lang) and Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi). ***

With "Avatar" Cameron seeks to redefine the science fiction epic (which is essentially the western epic set in outer space) by tackling the "noble savage" vs. "greedy white man" themes that defined most westerns and became the central theme of "Dances with Wolves". I suppose you could subtitle this "Dances with Monsters". While "Avatar" is far from original in its themes, Cameron makes up for that lack of originality with a visually stunning lush CGI alien landscape with a bizarre and fascinating mix of creatures. ***

The performances are uniformly strong with Sam Worthington continuing to prove that he has star power and raw sex appeal as an actor. One of the strengths of the film is the casting and the actors are all well cast bringing their personnas to their roles helping to deepen the characters. ***

The main flaws with the film are two-fold; the film runs twenty minutes too long and the dialogue although servicable needed to be more than that which would have allowed us a better understanding of the conflict between the characters. The Na'vi culture tends to borrow extensively from the belief systems seen in many human tribal cultures. Again, whatever the film lacks in the cultural inventiveness of the Na'vi culture and the storyline/themes here, he more than makes up for with stimulating action sequences and a perfectly realized alien world in the area of the visuals. ---

Image & Sound:

I'd stronlgy recommend seeing the film in an IMAX 3D theater--Cameron's visual compositions are brilliantly designed for 3D. His improved 3D technology makes the film positively pop and the time spent on improving the CGI capture technology to eliminate "Valley Drift" (i.e., a lack of emotion or "deadness" behind the eyes and in expression) was well worth it; "Avatar" features the most lifelike facial expressions I've seen in a film. ***

The audio although not as groundbreaking is equally stunning.

Final Words:

"Avatar" isn't a flawless film and Cameron's writing relies too often on cliches but the rich, alien landscape, epic vision, battle sequences at the conclusion makes up for many of these short comings. The film is 20 minutes too long with a story that could have done just as much with brevity as the extended sequences with the Na'vi. Cameron continues to demonstrate the technical vision that has made his films groundbreaking and often breathtaking however as a writer he's hit a wall and should work with outside collaborators on future projects.

 

 
 
 
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