Thursday, 17 December 2009

Avatar - Dir. James Cameron

‘Avatar’ is an action-packed, pulse-pounding, visually astounding, multi-million dollar blockbuster that assaults every available human sense violently for two hours and thirty minutes leaving the audience with a grin the size of Pandora on their faces. You have probably seen incarnations of the story, heard the B-Movie-esque terrible dialogue and experienced the structure of ‘Avatar’ numerous times before. But the real beauty, the real of heart of this film lies in the wonderful world of Pandora that James Cameron has created.

In 2154, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a paraplegic ex-marine is sent to take his brothers place in the Avatar program on a planet named Pandora. Pandora is home to the Na’vi, a sentient alien race that is currently living upon the largest unobtainium (1kg is worth over $20 million) deposit within travelling distance to Earth. The Avatar program, run by Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and financed by the Resources Development Administration, is focused around producing and controlling genetically engineered human-Na’vi hybrids.

These human-Na’vi hybrid characters, controlled by the human surrogate’s consciousness, allow the humans to enter the Na’vi’s community and engage, teach and learn from the race. With the sole intention of the RDA being to remove the Na’vi from their home through diplomacy so they may obtain the unobtainium with minimal causalities as the complete annihilation of a race “does not play well with the media.” However, old-school Military Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) simply wants to go in quick and with an iron fist. As Jake starts to become more and more attached to the Na’vi community, his loyalties become increasingly torn between that of his initial objectives and his adopted race, including his alien love-interest Neytiri (Zoe Saldana).

The narrative, structure and human characters are recycled components from the various hundreds, if not thousands, of Sci-Fi Action films made previous to ‘Avatar’. From the slow-developing inter-galactic relationship between Jake and Neytiri, to the stereotypical ‘hard-ass’ Marine leader Colonel Quaritch (he’s Sgt Hartman’s second cousin) and climaxing with a predictable, yet comfortable conclusion. You will have seen and experienced it all before, including the terrible script which contains many cringe-worthy one-liners. However, technically Cameron has created a very proficient film overall. He paces the film perfectly and continually drives the narrative forward with some concise editing, while the cinematography and special effects, well, they truly bring forth the world of Pandora and immerse the audience within.

From the first scene in which Jake’s Na’vi avatar is let loose in the forest under the midnight sky, to the final beautiful concluding scene, the stunning landscape of Pandora is what creates, combines and blends together the mythical nature of James Cameron’s ‘Avatar’. Every scene, every animal, every organism, is crafted in huge detail and depth to create an astonishing world of beauty that you just can’t help but sit back and admire. And this allows you to forget about the fact that the story is thin and clichéd or that the majority of the characters are two-dimensional pieces of computer wizardry and simply enjoy what can only be called; a filmmaking spectacle. Cameron hasn’t created anything revolutionary here, but with the technology he has created and bestowed upon the cinematic community, it will certainly help along the three-dimensional train, and hopefully win over those who think 3D is nothing more than a cheap gimmick.
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