Monday, January 11, 2010

Avatar - Movie Review


Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Wes Studi and CCH Pounder.
Directed by James Cameron.

Visually it's the most impressive thing to hit the big screen yet. In 3D, Cameron fills every inch of the screen and creates more than a few moments of vertigo from the heights and depths of everything. Story-wise, yes, it's Dances with Wolves in space, but Cameron's demonstrated some global shrewdness by sticking to such a plot.

It's now 150-ish years in the future. Earth is running low on resources, and a military-corporate-science team has travelled through space to the gorgeous planet of Pandora, which has the very valuable resource called unobtainium (I'm not making that name up, but I don't have a problem with it either considering the current elemental table has names like californium.) The trouble is, there's an intelligent, indigenous population called the Na'vi that lives above the largest deposits of unobtainum, and they don't want to move.

Giovanni Ribisi is the Head Corporate Suit, a shallow guy who keeps calling the Na'vi "savages." Stephen Lang is the Head Military Guy, a soldier who can't wait to break out the big guns and slaughter some bow-and-arrow-wielding blue people. Sigourney Weaver is the Head Scientist, the voice of reason, the third estate who ranks below Heads 1 & 2.

Sam Worthington is Jake Sully, a Marine who benefits from being the twin brother of a Ph.D-scientist in the Avatar program. Since his Avatar has already been grown, they don't want to waste the $100 billion it took to grow the blue thing (I don't remember if the monetary number is ever tossed out), so Jake gets to join some scientists on Pandora. He gains the trust of the Na'vi, reports defense weaknesses to Head Military Guy, but the longer he mingles, the more his sympathies switch to Head Scientist. What will Jake do?

Giant hint: the bad guys are the corporation and the military.

But to the good stuff. Seriously, I don't care what the story is, I will see anything James Cameron does. Not hard since he makes a movie once every 12 years these days. (Who does he think he is? Terrence Malick?) There are a few times the Na'vi movement had a jerkiness to it, but for the most part, I never really noticed what was CGI and what was real, and the marriage between the two was as flawless as I could hope. I loved swooping and swimming through this world. I loved climbing the trees and scaling the cliff-walls and flying the ships and just being in the movie. 3-D as it was meant to be.

Film is primarily a visual medium, and visually speaking, James Cameron's made the most important movie of the year.

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