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.
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?
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.
“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.
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.
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]
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
"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. … more
*** 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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
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 … more
It's been years since James Cameron released a film. The last movie we got from James Cameron was the mega-huge blockbuster Titanic way back in 1997. When you make the biggest grossing film ever, you normally have to follow that up with something big. For James Cameron it's Avatar. An idea he's been tinkering with for over a decade (since before he even released Titanic, in fact). This is the time when Cameron's film could finally be done. When he first got the … more
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 ...