OK, ok. First off, I hope everyone had a good holiday. Second off, while I also hope you guys enjoy this review, I must admit that there’s not much I’m about to say that hasn’t been said a million times already, so I’m just gonna try and keep it brief this time. Regardless, I hope it’s at least somewhat insightful.
Most everyone knows the plot already, so I won’t waste time here. Written and directed by James Cameron, Avatar focuses on the special mission of ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who is sent to the moon of Pandora, a dangerous and exciting planet, by the US and by Colonel Miles Quaitrich (Stephen Lang) to figure out how Earth can obtain a special kind of mineral named “unobtainium” (ugh). In order to do this, he must participate in a project coordinated by scientist Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) that involves making a clone of himself in the form of the species of the native cat-like aliens on this planet, the Na’vi. This way, he can connect with the natives, and figure out how to get the mineral from their planet in a way that makes the people who want it look good. After meeting the native princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) however, things get a little complicated, as Sully starts to struggle with going back home to his old life, or staying as a Na’vi and protecting the natives from the people looking to take advantage of the plentiful planet and its resources.
I know this sounds like just about every other critic, but the visual effects are very much astounding. It seems that Cameron has the whole uncanny valley problem under lock and key, with very few scenes where anything looks awkward or out of place. I was a huge fan of all the bioluminescent fauna, and of course the Na’vi themselves. If this is done right in even more films, the way the CGI is done here will definitely go on to influence how it’s done in the future.
Unfortunately, the movie seems to share the same problems with character development and story that all of Cameron’s other movies have. Yet again, the actors do as well as they can with the roles they are given, no matter how poorly they are written. Worthington and Saldana undoubtedly had the best performances, although Lang and Weaver’s roles were done well enough too, despite their dialogue seeming a bit, for lack of a better word, cartoonish. That seems strong, but really that’s the best word I can come up with to describe they way most of the other characters sound. It’s not even that their performances are done bad, it’s just that most of them are such stereotypes that it kind of drags their performances down. I would have liked to see more of the major players fleshed out, especially Michelle Rodriguez’s character. I was particularly confused about her motivations in all this.
That aside, I feel as if the hype leading up to this movie got a lot of people’s hopes up, myself included, and now most of us were left wanting something bigger. I guess that’s our fault, but still, while Avatar was visually breathtaking and entertaining, it could have been so much better. Nevertheless, it is very much a standard “Hero’s Journey” archetype done really, really well.
Well, that’s all folks! I got a couple of blu-ray reviews coming up sometime in the next month or so, but until then, Happy 2010!
All images taken straight from IGN Movies. You can see more stills by clicking that link there.