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Avatar

James Cameron's epic sci-fi fantasy film released in 2009.

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Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster!

  • Dec 21, 2009
Rating:
+4
       Poster art for "Avatar."

Let’s get one thing out of the way, James Cameron’s “AVATAR” is the most expensive film ever made; with a staggering budget of $ 230 million (there’s a rumor that they ended up spending $ 260 mil), expectations for the film is very high. Cameron had impressed me with “Aliens”, “The Abyss”, Terminator and T2: Judgment Day” but I decided to keep my expectations low. He won an Oscar for “Titanic” that anything less may prove to be a disappointment. Well, Cameron stuck to what he knows best; that is creating a world that has its own laws and ways with the use of jaw-dropping CGI that is executed masterfully. 

       Sam Worthington as Jake Sully in "Avatar in Digital 3D."

                     A scene from "Avatar in Digital 3D."               
 
The planet Pandora is an Earth-like planetoid that is so rich in natural resources that is home to the blue-skinned Na’vi. In this unknown time and future, Earth had sent scientists, engineers and soldiers to make use of Pandora’s natural resources. The Na’vi is a peace-loving race that believes that all life is linked by a common life-force and they refuse to give in to the aliens who are reaping their resources. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation) is a paraplegic who through a stroke of fate had to take his brother’s place in operating an artificial body called the “Avatar” program.

The “Avatar” bodies are designed to mimic the looks and movements of the Na’vi; it is well adapted to the planet’s air and is being used for study of the planet. However, war-mongering Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has other ideas and means to use the technology to infiltrate the Na’vi and gain their trust to better annihilate them. One day, Jake finds himself in the tribe of the Na’vi, and befriends the clan’s warrior princess (Zoe Saldana) who he begins to have feelings for. Jake begins to question the motivations of his superiors as he slowly becomes accustomed to the ways of Na’vi. Now he has to make a choice, and Jake may end up defending this new world against his fellow humans. But can primitive weapons prove a match for more advance guns and artillery?
 
         A scene from "Avatar in Digital 3D."

                     Zoe Saldana as Neytiri and Sam Worthington as Jake Sully in "Avatar in Digital 3D."
 
Cameron successfully crafted a creation that is truly astounding. Much like George Lucas did with “Star Wars” and Gene Rodenberry did with “Star Trek”, Cameron has created a bold imaginative fantastic world that is full of life, beauty and natural laws. The film also manages to make some comments about ecology as to how we humans are slowly destroying our planet by reaping it of its natural resources. This vivid and imaginative world called “Pandora” is a breathing, living character in the film, as the viewer is brought into this new universe that is the creation of writer/director James Cameron. The creature designs, the wildlife and the landscapes are definitely a thing of beauty. The Na’vi themselves carry the traits of a human being, sure they have blue skin, a tail, they are taller and some facial features that are very different; but in many ways, they are more human and noble than our resident homo sapiens.
 
This world has its own set of rules and way of life; everything is linked to one source of life, and once a life is over it is time to give it back to its source. Cameron is also making a commentary on faith and on something unseen, yet it is there to link all living creatures in a planet. Much like Gaea (mother Earth), this source which is called Eywa is the one power that links all life in Pandora together and it also proves to be the deity of the Na’vi. I guess in some ways, Cameron is making a very subtle commentary that science and technology has blinded us that we have forgotten about our “old ways” and most are being done in the name of almighty greed and capitalism. The film speaks out against thoughtless destruction, and the Na’vi is in a position to either embrace or fight against change. The humans come trying to teach them their technology, schools and roads were mentioned as a way to reach out, but eventually they were rejected when the Na’vi chose to protect their planet. The corporations aren’t exactly evil, they tried to reach out but their mistake was forcing something upon the Na’vi that they never asked for. The Na’vi are honorable, peace-loving and have the utmost respect for their Deity; I loved the part that humans are actually the bad guys this time around.

         Stephen Lang as Col. Quaritch in "Avatar in Digital 3D."

                         Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in "Avatar in Digital 3D."

        A scene from the film "Avatar."
 
“Avatar” is a thematic affair and those who are familiar with its themes are brought into common ground when it comes to its plot devices. The plot itself may be a little unoriginal, we have all seen the “outsider” who comes across a different culture and then learns to understand and love it in the end. Such formulas have been used in films such as “Dances With Wolves” and “The Last Samurai” so the film doesn’t offer almost anything new. The film's themes also carry a close similarity to "Final Fantasy: Spirits Within" and Miyazaki's "Princess Mononoke" when it came to the themes of Mother Earth or in this case, Eywa. Jake is the outsider who has grown to love the ways of the Na’vi and has become accepted by them. Of course, the warrior princess Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana) proves to be the catalyst for this change of heart. I guess I would have to give credit to the writing because even though the plot itself is unoriginal, Cameron manages to sidestep the temptation to just wallow in the visual effects and exercises a sense of restraint, he instead gives his film a lot of heart and character. 

          Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in "Avatar."

                            A scene from "Avatar."
 
Now for the creatures of Pandora. I applaud Cameron in the execution of the creatures designs. There’s the Ikran who is the flying Banshee that is fully adapted for flight. The Na’vi bonds with the flying creatures as a rite of passage. The Pa’li is the horse-like creature that gallops on six legs. The Palulukan is the most fearsome of all Pandoran earthbound creatures. I loved the Phoenix-like Toruk that has a lot of myth and reality to it. The Toruk chooses the one Na’vi warrior that can unify the entire race. The Na’vi lives in a gigantic tree called Kelutrel and may carry some references to the Yggrasil tree in Norse myth. There are other creatures called the Angtsik and the Nantang, the creatures in the film are so colorful and provides for near-infinite potential for the film. Cameron reinforces the idea that life in a planet is indeed very much linked by one source and sadly, we humans have forgotten it in many ways because of our reliance to technology and their own vanity. 

         Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri in "Avatar in Digital 3D."

                        Stephen Lang as Col. Quaritch in "Avatar in Digital 3D."
 
The battles in “Avatar” captures the theme of primitive technology of the Na’vi against a powerful juggernaut of technology. History has taught us that advance weapons are all well and good, but the battle is mostly won by the side who has the most to lose. The battles in “Avatar” are incredibly well-shot and kept tight to keep the viewer close to the action. The Na’vi exhibit courage and heart in the battles as they ride their Ikran and the Pa’li in engaging the humans with exo-suits, pulse rifles, and missiles. The war-machines and vehicles used by the humans looked somehow reminiscent to the ones shown in “Aliens” and the “Terminator” franchises but I guess this is just Cameron exerting his signature. The weapons, the vehicles and the strategies follow the same basic principles of modern warfare of this day albeit a lot more advanced just so the audience can easily connect with the scenes. Yes, the movie has enough action to keep the film from wallowing in its thematic premise and those who love loud rehearsed explosions will be right at home.
 
“Avatar” is one Hollywood film that had me very satisfied. It has all the good stuff required to make a great iconic movie; a new world and universe, romance, love and honor, greed and corruption, a theme that we can all relate to executed with a well-developed screenplay. Cameron has created something incredible and while his approach to dialogue still needs some 'beefing up', he obviously has complete mastery over the art of visual designs. It still remains to be seen whether this will be the type of movie that comes only once a generation; “The Lord of the Rings trilogy” and “Star Wars” achieved this in the early 2000’s and the 1970’s respectively and “Avatar” comes very close. The problem is, I wonder how Cameron will be able to top this film…I await his next movie with bated breath.
 
Highest Possible Recommendation! [4 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

This Review is a Lunch.com Exclusive


 
 
4 ½ + Stars: Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster! 4 ½ + Stars: Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster! 4 ½ + Stars: Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster! 4 ½ + Stars: Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster!

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October 17, 2011
Stark contrast to my own review...
 
October 02, 2010
I always love your reviews anyway, but now that I finally got to see this movie tonight, I can really appreciate your thoughts about Cameron making us realize that science and technology is "blinding us" - your insights are always so deep!! I loved the movie and the beauty, nature and special effects were spectacular.
October 03, 2010
your comments are so pleasant to read, my dear. Thank you so much.
 
April 29, 2010
GREAT review man and I could not have said it better, I thought about Pocahontas alot with this one. Oh well great review as always good sir. Also I love the designs of the creatures as well, he did a great job.
April 30, 2010
Thanks, Alex. You are dead on with the Pocahantas bit but I liked the movie anyway.
 
March 09, 2010
Nice movie review! I'm almost done with mine...it's sooo long...I think I went too crazy with my analysis, but, oh well! LOL!
March 09, 2010
I'll be by to check it out tomorrow. A little tired tonight. But I did see it and it is gigantic! That wasn't a simple review...it looked like an excellent essay! (and I thought this was long that I edited it LOL) I already featured it in the community.
March 09, 2010
I'll be by to check it out tomorrow. A little tired tonight. But I did see it and it is gigantic! That wasn't a simple review...it looked like an excellent essay! (and I thought this was long that I edited it LOL) I already featured it in the community.
March 10, 2010
LOL! Yeah, take your time. It was really difficult to write because I wanted to discuss my dissatisfactions a little more fully, but I didn't want to spoil parts of the movie. Oh well. Thanks for featuring it in the community!
 
January 06, 2010
I loved Avatar...but check out this link...it puts things in scary perspective. http://web.me.com/pascalboogaert/Site/foto3.html
January 06, 2010
will do. Read the critical reviews here yet?
January 06, 2010
Holleee. That is pretty thought-provoking. But I still love the movie.
 
December 25, 2009
Excellent...I couldn't have put it better. Outsider story (Dances with wolves was a good analogy) but done to near perfection. Pandora was skillfully created. One question...Did you notice the guy who announces their arrival at Pandora and then is not really seen again...that is the guy from the commercial "i've been everywhere, man..." Was that on purpose as a hidden joke, or just a funny coincidence?
December 25, 2009
can't really say but it may have been a hidden joke. I haven't seen as much about Cameron's interviews about the movie as much as I wanted to; all I know is that he gave instructions to make the princess very "effable" in his exact words. Glad you liked it, Coldsteel!
December 25, 2009
The interesting thing is that, as we were leaving, my wife said "that was like Dances with Wolves meets Star Wars" and gave it 4.5 stars. Eerie. There were a few minor flaws, but my rating will be five stars. The innovation was enough for me to push it over the top.
 
December 22, 2009
Let's see, Cameron makes a film about technological and scientific excess and does it with a $260 million dollar budget. Figures. Maurice Devereaux could have made at least 260 movies with that budget! More actually, since he works in Canada. I'm torn over this one. It DID get 5 stars from YOU, and the big screen is obviously the ONLY place to see a flick that's all glitz and has a sort of trite story, but glitz is rarely what I'm about--unless it's Bollywood because that's not a technological kind of glitz. Roll out the guns and the star fighters and you can loose me pretty quickly. Oh well. When It goes down to $5 in a week or two maybe I'll give it a go--I did get that nice giftcard for the movie theater so it's not like it's really my money.
December 23, 2009
I never thought about the irony in that. Devereaux would have made use of that kinda budget more efficiently. I guess I respected this movie because despite the budget, the enormous temptation of going overboard with the film, Cameron did let his characters and story (however a little unoriginal) take center stage. I saw this in standard form (minus the 3D) just so I can ignore the gimmick of a 3D rendering. I like having the story take point in my enjoyment. I may haowever see it in 3D again once the crowd dies down. Are you going to see Sherlock Holmes with your giftcard?
December 23, 2009
No doubt about that--even if Moriarty has been replaced with someone else. I can't resist Downey I'm afraid.
December 23, 2009
Please review it. I have my reservations about it and I would love to read what you thought of it...
December 23, 2009
I think that WAS my review, but we'll see.
December 24, 2009
please...pretty please...that's all I want for Christmas... ;-P
December 27, 2009
I hate to disappoint, but I have to be so tight with my money...
 
December 22, 2009
I could tell you really enjoyed this one hence the five star rating & the wondrous review. I've been told it's good but this is probably one I'll sit out. I might take a look on DVD or maybe watch it on cable at some point but this one isn't on the top of my must-see list. Great review though.
December 22, 2009
Yeh, bro, I really had fun with this one. Not sure whether it was just refreshing to see something good from H-wood or because the themes of the film are similar to the Asian movies I usually watch. (ancestors, ecology and such) See this with an open mind. Stay tuned, I have a few new reviews coming (soul-shattering twisted themes I hope) but I'm gonna lay low until after Christmas; it is a time for cheer after all. Happy Holidays, bro!!
December 22, 2009
I might very well see it on the big screen but I usually wait for the dollar cinema on most films anyway. It's high time H-wood deviated from their cookie cutter formula to make something that's a bit more refreshing & unique so that definitely stirs my attention. Happy holidays to you as well! I may be off Lunch for awhile but I'll look for you when I return.
 
December 22, 2009
You make me hungry.......... hungry for food ............. food for thoughts!!!
December 22, 2009
ha-hah! it's a pleasure, my friend.
 
December 21, 2009
I'm still on the fence as to whether I want to see this on the big screen or wait for the DVD...
Personally, I'm sick of sci-fi films that have to have these gigantic budgets and special effects coming out the wazoo. I miss films like "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", where you'd just get a bunch of good actors and a talented director and just shoot a film with a strong story. Now, you have to have the IMAX and the 150+ and 200+ budgets and the action figures and so on. Still, I have been hearing a lot of good things about it, so I don't know. Normally I'm not this indecisive, but at this point I have so little money that I have to be choosy about what I see.
December 21, 2009
I totally understand, Sean. I stayed away from any reviews just so I can temper my expectations and this was on my list to see; I get really picky which films I see in the big screen nowadays, popcorn and stuff can get real expensive. The story on this one is pretty simple but I liked the way Cameron managed to bring its characters as the central focus rather than its astounding EFX. I really liked this one and it will be a classsic for sure; whether it will be Lord of the Rings remains to be seen.
December 21, 2009
Well, I certainly don't see it surpassing Cameron's Box Office records on "Titanic" and that film wasn't nearly as great as people said. Do you think this will merit a sequel?
December 21, 2009
I didn't like Titanic at all! I don't care if people say that it is the most bought movie in history, because Twilight is also a phenomenon. Box-office receipts mean shit and doesn't reflect on the movie's quality. A sequel is possible, since there is just so much to be seen of the world Pandora; maybe even a prequel or an animated series. I just hope Cameron moves forward carefully, since this was really good despite some unoriginal devices.
December 21, 2009
I liked "Titanic" enough to give it a 3, but it was so over the top and corny at times. I did like some of the acting (mainly Kate Winslet, Bernard Hill, and Kathy Bates) and the production values were top notch, even if the script sucked.
December 21, 2009
I fell asleep watching the Titanic the first time and I woke up in time to see them hit the iceberg. I do own the dvd, Me and sappy romance don't mix well, but I am with you, I would rate it a 3 because of the way it was made.
December 21, 2009
About "The Lord of the Rings", as far as epics go, you can't do any better... except for maybe the original "Star Wars" films before Lucas and company ruined them.
December 21, 2009
Agreed. Lord of the Rings just had a better thought-out premise to begin with. It'll be such an achievement to blow that one out of the water. What do you think about Del Toro taking over the reins as director in The Hobbit?
December 21, 2009
I have mixed feelings. I'd rather see Jackson do it instead of "Tintin", but if any other director had to make the film I'm glad it's del Toro. I still wonder whether it will work out or not though. Guillermo's sense of humor is pretty dark and he's never made a family film before and "The Hobbit" is essentially a children's book. Plus, I'm pissed off about them turning it into two films and adding stuff from the appendices. But who knows, maybe it will turn out great?!
December 22, 2009
I don't know... I've seen some pretty trippy and transcendent netertainment.
December 22, 2009
I am almost pretty certain that The Hobbit won't be a children-book turned into film. Del Toro will hopefully turn it into some sort of Pan's Labyrinth...
December 22, 2009
That's what worries me. He's going to make it too epic and too dark.
December 22, 2009
I guess it may be alright as long as he doesn't lose its main premise. Sometimes, making credible improvements can be a good thing. ;-)
December 22, 2009
I just hope he doesn't let it get bogged down with all of Tolkien's Middle-earth back story and stuff. The book is a simplistic adventure story and should stay that way.
December 22, 2009
going back to Scottie, Avatar is an excellent film; but for someone who has seen the best and the worst in cinema, it is still to be proven if it is quite experience that most people make it to be. I think the reason why I really liked it is because of the well-developed storyline which is unoriginal yet so enthralling because of the emotion and execution.


Orlok, Del Toro may just pull it off as long as he practices a sense of restraint and doesn't get a little carried away as with Hellboy 2.
January 07, 2010
I'll be seeing "Avatar" tonight. I'll let you know what I thought. By the way, nice job on this. You're getting more hits on this review than most free-music-sharing-websites.
January 07, 2010
the traffic has stopped though, since my review has been 'hidden' from the film's overview. (even if you select most helpful) It's alright, everyone needs to be put in the highlight. Let me know what you think tonight!
 
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Wiki

Avatar is a 2009 American science fiction epic film written and directed by James Cameron and starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez and Stephen Lang. The film is set in the year 2154, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora, a lush moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na'vi—a sentient humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film's title refers to the genetically engineered Na'vi and human hybrid bodies used by several human characters to interact with the natives of Pandora.


Development on Avatar began in 1994, when Cameron wrote an 80-page scriptment for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Cameron's 1997 film Titanic, for a planned release in 1999, but according to Cameron, the necessary technology was not yet available to achieve his vision of the film. Work on the language for the film's extraterrestrial beings began in summer 2005, and Cameron began developing the screenplay and fictional universe in early 2006.

Avatar was officially budgeted at US$237 million. Other estimates put the cost between $280 million and $310 million for production, and at $150 million for promotion. The film was released for traditional two-dimensional projectors, as well as in 3-D, using the RealD 3D, Dolby 3D, XpanD 3D and IMAX 3D formats, and also in ...

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Details

Director: James Cameron
Genre: Action, Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi
Release Date: December 18, 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Screen Writer: James Cameron
Runtime: 162 minutes
Studio: 20th Century Fox
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