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Avatar

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

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Breathing New Life into Occupied Territory

  • Dec 20, 2009
  • by
Rating:
+4
If you've seen Dances with Wolves, The Last Samurai, Glory, 10,000 BC or any movie where an indigenous population is roused to rebellion with the help of a sympathetic white defector who might also represent the enemy then you haven't seen Avatar. I say "haven't" because where James Cameron's imagination soars is that he's taken this highly treaded theme and turned it into a work of science-fiction. If it's been done before in this genre, I haven't seen it.

I don't want to get ahead of myself though. To be sure, Hollywood is not capable of making a film about the history of The West's imperial relationship with The Rest without casting one of our own as the center of attention. Avatar is no exception. The historical and political undercurrents of this lush-work are difficult to miss. The design and dress of the Navi evokes the Maasai of Kenya while their customs are strongly reminiscent of the American Indians – or, at least, everything I've been told about American Indians. If you scan Western history books for our imperial antics with West Africa and the America's then you have an idea of where Cameron nobly draws his inspiration. He also draws inspiration from those movies where a good-looking enemy defector discovers the unsung virtues of the aboriginal "savages" who are to be conquered. This, of course, leads to a dramatic change of heart in our protagonist. In the case of Avatar, our turncoat is a disabled jarhead. This alone might be the first uniquely imaginative step made my Cameron: He downgrades what we'd expect from the typical hero for such a story. His second brilliant step is that he's upgraded the visual elements: Avatar is nothing short of stunning to look at.

Most importantly, it can be easily argued that Avatar breathes new life into this old formula. Imperialism is not a thing of the past and we still need good story tellers to keep alive our empathy and convictions about the morality of displacing an entire population for profiteering. I can't say that I was as moved by Avatar as everyone else I've encountered, but I can say that I enjoyed it enough to take my place among all the buzz about this movie. I'd recommend this to just about anyone with three hours to spare.

P.S. Shameless fun fact. Wes Studi plays the voice of the Navi chief. I met Studi roughly ten years ago when doing odd jobs for a film he directed. I made my acting debut in the movie, appearing on the screen for all of a half-second :0
Breathing New Life into Occupied Territory

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March 08, 2010
Great points! I agree that imperialism is not a thing of the past. Glad to see someone else highlighting this point.
 
January 27, 2010
I agree with your review. I'll admit that my hopes for this film weren't terribly high going in, mostly because of the familiar premise and the fact that people whose tastes in film were different than mine enjoyed it. I was pleasantly surprised. I think the real genius here is the fact that James Cameron was able to make audiences despise the humans in this film, and root for the non-human side.
January 28, 2010
I just read that there is an Na'vi dictionary floating around somewhere in cyberspace on an Avatar fansite. Krieke! James Cameron has created another cult-mythos to go alongside Star Trek and Star Wars.
January 28, 2010
Wow. I wouldn't be surprised if some of the fanatics became fluent in the language. One day, it may be worth a lot of money though. You never know.
 
December 22, 2009
A movie is either to be enjoyed or be moved. I haven't seen it but one thing about reading reviews is that it up one's expectation and to some degree, that's not so good as far as I'm concerned. On another note, I'm sure you'd be a star one fine day, and that's for more than 1/2 a sec! :D Merry Christmas to you, Jordan!
December 22, 2009
Andy Warhol said that we each get 15minutes of fame. So far I've only used a half second of mine! LOL. You enjoy your Christmas too! I'm sure you will.
 
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More Avatar (2009 film) reviews
review by . March 09, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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   I was waiting to write this review for a while because I had only seen it in 3D. I was utterly amazed because it was the first 3D movie I had ever seen. I wanted to go straight home and write a review giving it a +5 rating. Upon talking with others who had seen the movie and reading various criticisms and analyzes of the film, I began to doubt my initial reaction. Was I letting the CGI effects and the 3D elements hype the movie to a level it didn't deserve? So, I was determined …
review by . February 23, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
James Cameron, it seems to me, creates wonderful dishware in which to place the most nourishing and satisfying of those things we humans crave. All those J. Cameron-imprinted tureens and goblets took rare imagination and meticulous craftsmanship to make. Just one piece can cost a Wall Street banker's annual bonus. They boggle. But look inside that tureen and there ain't no vichyssoise. Take Avatar.       This is one of the most beautiful movies you'll ever hope …
review by . January 30, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Fly me to the moon
              It’s when Adventure meets Art,  you’ve got the human spirit all throughout this film. The good, the bad.   Learning is a way of life. Innocence is inherent. Trust in the invisible and the unknown. The spirit within each living thing. Every day is an adventure. Entertainment at its summit!   A Dreamland. A Wonderful World. A Stunning Visual. An Incredible Imagination. A World beyond words …
review by . March 01, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Great Ride & Groundbreaking Movie!
Well, here goes nothing.  I've not really done movie reviews before, and honestly am intimidated to a degree by the major film buffs who are incredibly adept at breaking down plots, themes, and drawing parallels to other films.  This is simply my totally novice, average schmo-ette attempt to share my thoughts ... so please be kind : )      My main take-aways: This will be the Star Wars for my young daughter's generation. I wanted to BECOME one of …
review by . April 19, 2011
   "Frank, when's this gonna stop?"   "You should already know that."      And I smelt, as it were, the stench of CGI: One of the four beasts saying: "Best ever." And I saw. And behold, a blue alien.      There's a 3-D gimmick goin' 'round takin' names. An' he decides who to free and who to blame. Everybody won't be treated all the same. There'll be a golden ladder reaching down. …
review by . November 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
*** out of ****   James Cameron knows how to build hype. He also knows how to spend money very well. “Avatar” is the result of how Cameron spends his time and money, being a technical masterpiece but none the less a terribly familiar trip. Sure, it’s very engaging. Sure, it looks pretty. But when watching it, I noticed that everything Cameron shows or does is something that has been done before. Some of his choices often result in “Avatar” being very predictable …
review by . February 21, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Thats Right I Didn't like this movie
Avatar is your basic outsider/broken dude finds himself in a place he dosent belong/fit in. And after being there a while he finds himself and he's a new man. Avatar felt like a play it safe movie to me. It was predictable and we've literally seen movies like this a thousand times. The 3-D in my opinion didnt really add anything to the film. So after all that why am I giving this movie a 3 and a half? Because Avatar is one of the most awe-inspiring movies Ive seen in a long time. I loved …
review by . December 29, 2009
Avatar: relegates Lord of the Rings to 'old hat'
 I bow to our friend, who prefaced his astonished and profound appreciation of the Avatar movie with "It drives me nuts.." (that they have to include the dominator thing.....) "But...."      The conversation that ensued resulted in all 8 of us (4 couples) going to IMax for the experience (that one couple's second viewing). We came out of there with 'sea legs' and we're still re-orienting.      It's significant in my little Universe …
review by . December 21, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
4 ½ + Stars: Absorbing Fantasy Adventure and Thought-Povoking Themes Make This a Blockbuster!
             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 …
review by . December 18, 2009
The Greatest Science Fiction Epic of All Time!
James Cameron has outdone himself!  He may have actually outdone the whole entire film industry.  Never in my life have I seen a film so brilliant and beautiful that it made me rethink the whole way in which I look at film.  Avatar is what movies are all about; transporting you into the film and making you feel as if you're really there.  Mr. Cameron has accomplished that with they way in which he has revolutionized the 3D genre of filmmaking.  Avatar isn't just another …
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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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