Simply put James Cameron's "Avatar" is terrible. The story is one cliche after another, with plot elements that all worked better in previous movies. Basically this film is "Dances With Wolves" with substantially better graphics but with a story that is a mere shadow of Kevin Costner's touching and powerful Academy Award winning film. Everything is telegraphed well in advance, from the total lack of subtelty in the foreshadowing of the Toruk to the bad video game feel of the hand to hand combat between Stephen Lang's Col. Quaritch and Sam Worthington's Jake (which, by the way, I liked a lot more when it was final scene of "Aliens"). Beyond Jake, who as the protagonist is required to have his character evolve, the only person who shows even the slightest character development is Giovanni Ribisi's Parker Selfridge, and I credit the actor and not the script for that (his name is "Selfridge," get it, "selfish," huh, huh, get it?). Cameron, as a director, is good, but unlike his previous action films, ie "Aliens," "Terminator 2," and "the Abyss," in which a story that could collapse under its own weight is helped out by a fantastic ensemble cast, here we are given Sam Worthington who does not seem capable of the same feat of acting strength performed by someone as charismatic as Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton, Ed Harris, or Arnold Schwarzenneger. The same can be said of the supporting cast who, outside of Weaver and Ribisi, seem largely incapable of being anything beyond snide (Michelle Rodriguez), dopey (Joel David Moore), or bitter/angry (Stephen Lang).
That said, the film does have certain remarkable qualities. As previously mentioned, Cameron is a very talented director and has an eye for action. When he stops the characters from talking and lets the story be shown instead of told the film gains a certain grace, a sense of momentum. The non-hand to hand fighting is well choreographed and avoids the obviousness the rest of the film falls victim too. Then there's Zoe Saldana, a breath of fresh air in this otherwise stale afair. She is capable of showing a wide range of emotions and sentiments, even beneath a computer generated frame, and is an actor who, if her character were switched with the static and predictable Jake, might have carried this film to greatness as Weaver and Linda Hamilton did in previous Cameron vehicles. Which brings me to the trademark of all Cameron films: cutting edge technology. "Wow" is the only thing I can say about the graphics; as with all of his previous films Cameron hits a homerun in the visual department. The film looks real, it looks like it was filmed on Pandora, not in front of a green screen. In the end, though, Saldana, Weaver, Ribisi and all the computer graphics in the world don't make up for a story that has been told a thousand times, and told better most of those times.
And one final comment. Cameron hired USC professors to invent a real language for the Na'vi and to train Weaver how a botanists work is done to make the film as realistic as possible, and yet he throws the basic elements of physics out the window. I have no problem suspending my disbelief at a movie, I believe the avatar technology is possible, I believe faster than or near light speed travel is possible, and I absolutely believe in the existence of sentient lifeforms on alien worlds, but that does not mean I will simply forget 6th grade physics. Gravity is a law, not a suggestion. I would even be fine if Cameron put in a throw away line like "the unusual biodiversity of Pandora allows for certain laws of physics to be bent or broken," but we are given nothing, just floating mountains, mocking the intelligence of everyone in the theater who has gone beyond elementary school.
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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 ...