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Movie Review: ‘Avatar’ 3D
Henchman21   |  @   |  

avatar posterAvatar
Directed by James Cameron
Staring Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana
Studio: 20th Century Fox
Release date: December 18, 2009

James Cameron’s Avatar has been in development for more years than some of its viewers have been alive. This has been a passion project for Cameron, and much like Peter Jackson’s King Kong, it’s nice to see him finally complete the film, if only so he can move on to other projects I’d like to see (cough, Battle Angel, cough). Now that it’s out, is the movie worth the wait and the hype we’ve gone through before its release?

Paralyzed ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) finds himself in a unique situation when he is given the chance to take over for his recently deceased twin brother and take part in the Avatar program. The goal of the Avatar program is to explore the planet of Pandora and increase diplomatic relations with the indigenous population of the planet, a group of people called the Na’vi. The Avatar program allows humans to walk around in genetically engineered Na’vi bodies, which they then use to explore the planet and interact with the locals. The Na’vi are tall humanoids with blue skin and mostly cat-like features that are very reminiscent of Native Americans in their culture. They are very in tune with the land, and as with the Native Americans, their village is sitting on top of a large amount of valuable metal that a large corporation wants to get their hands on. Jake is able to take his brother’s place on the team because they are genetically duplicate, so he is shipped off to Pandora, even though he’s not a scientist. The company wants to put his military training to use by having him get intel on the Na’vi village so they can invade and remove them. Of course, Jake is able to gain a place in the tribe, where he comes to identify with them and eventually seeks to protect them.

Since The Abyss, Cameron has been able to raise the bar on computer-generated visuals with every successive movie, and he really tops himself with Avatar. Basically every shot has some form of CG work going on in it, and it’s all blended together perfectly. Even though most of the location shots are all CG, you always feel like this could be a real place. Special attention was paid to the plant and animal life on the planet, and the environment of Pandora is as much of a character in the film as any of the actors.

The real magic of the film comes from the enhanced motion capture work used to turn the human actors into their Na’vi counterparts. Since so much of the film is spent among the Na’vi, it was very important that they look like real people, and the CG work goes a long way towards making the whole film believable. You can always see the subtle emotions on people’s faces and you soon forget that the characters don’t really exist outside of a computer. There are no real twists in the story, and the film rests entirely on the audience identifying with the characters, so if they had failed to make these aliens look believable the whole thing would have fallen apart. Fortunately, that is not a problem, and I never for once was taken out of the film because I was thinking more about how the effects looked, I was only interested in what happened to the characters next.

Is the story amazing? No. Every story element is predictable and can be seen coming ten minutes before it arrives on screen. It’s basically a Frankenstein’s monster of a plot, stealing parts of Dune, Dances with Wolves, and Princess Mononoke. However, Titanic didn’t have an original plot either (I mean, who didn’t see that iceberg coming) and it’s the most successful movie ever, and as with that movie, Avatar is all about the ride. Cameron is a smart enough director to know when he needs to focus on the characters and when he needs to put in a kick ass action sequence, and there are plenty of those in this film. The aerial sequences are amazing and the last half hour of the movie has a very enjoyable battle sequence, and if it was for those few scenes alone, I’d recommend seeing this, but there are plenty of other moments that make this a fun movie to watch.

If you do decide to see this movie, there are several different ways to see it. There is the traditional 2D version, which is just like any other movie you’ve seen, albeit with some amazing CG work. Then there is the 3D version, which uses the RealD technology to project the film, so you use the clear glasses, instead of the annoying red and blue glasses. Option number three is the IMAX 3D version. So you’ve got plenty of choices to make, depending on the area you live in. I was able to see the film twice on regular theater size screens, once in 2D and once in 3D. Granted, I had a miserable theater experience when I saw it in 2D, but if I had to choose, I would say that seeing it in 3D is the way to go. From the very beginning of the film, you can see that most of the shots were made to be seen in 3D. More importantly, this is a film that is all about the location, and Cameron’s use of 3D really immerses the viewer in the world and makes you feel like you are actually on this new world. Seeing it in 2D is just like seeing any other movie, well made as it is. 3D adds another layer to the film and I found myself enjoying the film much more when I saw it in 3D. I would compare the 3D experience to seeing the director’s cut of Ridley Scott’s Kingdom of Heaven. If you’re not seeing Avatar in 3D, you’re not getting the director’s true vision of what the film is, in the same way that if you don’t see the director’s cut of Kingdom of Heaven you haven’t really seen the film as intended.

This is a movie that at the very least must be seen in a theater. This is a spectacle, and the only way to really appreciate the visuals that Cameron has put so much effort into is to see it on the big screen. Is it the greatest film ever made? Not really, but there are a lot of fun moments and the action scenes are worth the price of admission alone. If you haven’t seen it yet, I highly recommend it and if you can, see it in 3D.

  • korollocke

    I was bored to tears after 27 min and left.

  • Chuck Deuce

    Just watched it in a Regal Imax theater in Las Vegas. I’ve bagged on these “Fake” Imaxes in the past, especially ones wedged into pre-existing screening rooms. Be that as it may, the 3D effects were wonderful, non-gimmicky like the 50s films. There was real depth in viewing Pandora. Great filmmaking. Story? Hell, Star Wars actually sucks too and I love it all the same. My kids have their Star Wars now.

  • scrotumbagmonkeyflicker

    Havent bothered to watch this (yet). Is it like fern gully on crack?

  • Clint

    If you don’t go see this movie in 3d, your doing yourself an injustice. People got past the crappy transformers 2 story that came out this year, and it still grossed over 400 million…

    Get past the story, and enjoy it for what it is. One of the most beautifully made 3d cinematic works. Going to the movies shouldn’t be like watching a dvd in your living room, and this was one of the best movie experiences I’ve had in a long time.

  • Alacrity Fitzhugh

    Get past the story and enjoy it?

    Swallow the awful tasting food and be nourished.

    Drink the algae filled water and be quenched.

    The story, is the movie.

    People go on and on about Titanic but when was the last time you watched it? Avatar is the same. Destined for the DVD bargain bin.

    Visually stunning and as hollow a story line as you can get. Dances with Wolves meets Pocahontas, in space, for 3 hours.

    I am amazed at the amount of Cameron groupies, especially after he told a fan to “F#ck Off” recently when approached for a signature.

    Can people stop sucking up to this individual and step back and take in the “whole” picture.

    The story sucks. Period.

    Everything else is just eye candy designed to separate you from cash. 15 years and this is the story we get?

    Epic fail.

  • Black

    Lets see your movie then. Dont like the movies Hollywood makes then why dont you make your own. Or better yet dont go see them. I hate the fanboys, but loathe the “haters”. Apparently some people go into a theater with the notion the movie will not be up to their standards. Others go in expecting action to start right after the opening credits. I went to see this film with low expectations especially with the crap hollywood puts out constantly (G.I. Joe, Transformers, and countless unimaginative movies based off comic books, cartoons, toys) but I actually enjoyed this. Yes the plot was predictable but most films are. Want to see a great plot, invest time in classic films.

  • Alacrity Fitzhugh

    It’s interesting that if I don’t agree with people’s gushing for this movie I must be someone filled only with hate.

    Or if I don’t like everything Hollywood puts out then I have to start my own movie industry?

    I watch everything from Evil Dead to The Third Man, and I enjoy them both. I love all sorts of movies.

    This movie was hyped beyond belief, the new technology that would save the theatres. Theatres across North America have been building these new 3D screens in that hope.

    This isn’t a $100 cheesy movie I can make allowances for.

    A 15 year, 400 million plus film.

    I don’t need to make my own crap to recognize crap when I see it.

  • Stella

    The story? What story? Is there something original in this movie? No way!It is stupid! If there wasn’t any fights even the 5 year old child would get bored watching this.Everything was seen before in better movies.It’s a ‘copy’ from the begining to the end.

  • Jke

    You know what. All just shutup. None of u can b####ch bout this film cuz you all either watched the trailor or in theatres. And none of you can make a movie that will last through you home videos. Im in middleschool and have to you to shutup. cold. THis movie might be a fail. Might be a hit. But Cameron didnt make this movie towards adults, he made for the kids and young teens that enjoy these animated fantisized themes.

  • TheKindOne

    I think you all are down right STUPID! This movie was amazing. If you can sit there and b**ch about every other movie that comes out, please just try and sit down and actually try and feel what the director was trying to get across. He didn’t make the movie to be something that someone sits there and says that it will never be a classic but he made it so that he can say that even animated characters can feel love. Just because half of you sit there at your mothers house eating a huge bag of potato chips, doesn’t mean that you can sit here and right terrible things about an amazing movie.

  • Terri

    AVATAR CRAP? You are dead spiritually, mentally, visually, emotionally.
    It was amazing. Bored? OMG you have no soul, or better yet, no eyes.
    This movie amazed me beyond words, and I didnt’ even see in in 3D. Taking my friend tonight to see it in 3D.

    Glad the world isn’t led by mediocre souls like yours.
    Where would we be without Walt Disney, Steven Speilberg,
    Bill Gates, (YES, SERIOUSLY) Steve Jobs, people who dared to dream BIG and make it a reality.
    Pessimists have no room on this planet.

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