Review – Avatar

★★★

“Avatar” tells a story that has been told before, it is basically “Dances with Wolves” in space. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is asked to go deep into space to the planet Pandora to do a job his twin brother was supposed to do. His twin brother died shortly before he was set to go to this planet. Since Jake is his twin, he has similar genetics to his brother, he needs this so he can do the job (will explain more on this soon). Jake decides to take the job. This megacorrproation is looking to mine this planet for a valued ore. Unfortunately the biggest deposit lies underneath the home of the Navi, a ten foot tall blue skinned native tribe who has been at the brink of war with the company. The company devolved Navi bodies that humans can use. Jake’s job is to gain is to gain the natives truest. But he starts to wonder if he is on the right side.

 This is Sam Worthington’s best performance to date. With that being said, it’s still not a fantastic performance. He is good, but his performance is bland, he doesn’t try to take his acting to a new level. You could say the same thing for Stephen Lang. He plays the villain, so I wanted him to really step up his acting, but he never did. Sigourney Weaver gives one of the best performances in the whole movie. The only problem is she isn’t in the movie for that long, so she doesn’t have that much screen time. The other great performance comes from Zoe Saldana, she is doing the motion capture the whole time, and she nails it. Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, and Joel David Moore do fine in their roles as well.

 What hinders “Avatar” in almost every aspect of the movie is the script. The script is poorly written. It’s not gut wrenching bad, but it’s pretty much mediocre dialog for the entire movie. The actors suffer from this because however good the actor, it’s hard to make cheesy dialog come out good. The way they explain all the connections that the Navi have with the forest is all cliched, as is mostly everything here. The script is a bunch of already used material. I wish James Cameron had gotten someone else to write the script other than himself, he just isn’t the best writer. With an epic like this, it would have helped to have better dialog than it has.

                           

 Now I said James Cameron wasn’t a good writer, but he is a good director (not an outstanding director, but a good one none the less). He directs the movie very well, he knows how long to linger on shots to show off the outstanding special effects, but he never lingers to long. He also knows how to handle everything else in general. Still, the direction is not perfect, there are some minor things here and there that could and should have been tweaked.

 Of course the best thing in this movie by far is the special effects. They are truly amazing. There is always something going on visually, every time you see something neat, you get to see something neat after it. You can never take your eyes away from the screen when their in the jungle. The jungle is a living breathing world, it’s alive. It’s filled with cool looking creatures, fascinating plant life, and more. The avatars even look like the people, especially Sigourney Weaver’s; hers really does look like her in Navi form. James Cameron said this movie would change the way we watched movies with his 3D. While he doesn’t quite do that. He still manages to offer the best 3D ever. Even though the 3D is good, I would rather watch it in 2D. I feel you get better visuals with the 2D, plus you don’t have to pay extra. Like I said, it looks fantastic; it is eye candy at its very best.

 All in all “Avatar” is a good movie, but it could have been much better. Bland acting and a weakly written script stop the movie from reaching greatness. When you think about it though, “Avatar” is all about the visuals. Everything else is a side note to the bigger picture of it all. The movie knows this too. James Cameron had thought of this movie a long time ago, but he knew the special effects could not have been done right back then. So he put it on hold for a while until the special effects were up to speed with his vision. Like I said the special effects are excellent, they drive this movie. If the visuals weren’t as good as they are, the movie would have paid dearly for it. James Cameron has made another one of his epics. While he still hasn’t made a great movie, he still makes his good and entertaining for the most part. I just hope for his next one, he hires a screenwriter.

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4 thoughts on “Review – Avatar

  1. I gave this one a strong review and counted it at year’s end as one of the best films of it’s release year. AVATAR all comes down to the wonderment and astounding visual tapestries, accentuated by the metamorphosis of a character who sees the inherent beauty in a culture ravaged by war, internal strife and foreign invasion. This creates in the viewer an emotion so powerful that it defies description. It’s almost like you found some clues to the meaning of life. But short of those lofty aspersions, the film raises questions of mortality and existence (much in the style of Darren Aronofsky’s The Fountain- a giant willow tree holding the meaning of life for all living things echoes the Tree of Life in Aronofsky’s film) and with a ruminative flow that recalls Terrence Malick) that turn a futuristic planetary action thriller into a far more profound philosophical experience. The blend of mysticism and environmentalism evident in Avatar also suggests Japanese filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki, whose influence might also be discerned in the scenes of awe and wonderment set in the centerpiece forest sequences. Avatar is so overwhelming that any objections to pedestrian dialogue or plotting are really beside the point. This is no movie but an “experience” that has become all too rare these days.

    Again, you’ve written with insight and persuasiveness my friend.

  2. Thanks, we obviously have different opinions on this movie, you make good points. If everyone had the same opinion all the time then things would get boring, so I like a little disagreement here and there.

  3. I am free today so spending some time reading your Reviews. Always good to hear what different people say about a movie. Personally, I loved Avatar. But you are totally right about the script and the lines being bland and all. Even Titanic has a few bland lines, I guess it’s Cameroon’s Trademark. I only loved one line in the entire film. It’s in the scene right before the battle when Jake is talking to the Goddess Eva: “If Grace is with you, look into her memories. Look where we come from. There is no green there. They killed their mother and they are gonna do the same here”. This part changed my view about the film and instead of seeing it as a cliched action movie with eye-candy visuals, I realized Cameroon has left an important message for us. I can see that Sam Juliano already mentioned Hayao Miyazaki. He’s right actually and some claim that the film was inspired by Miyazaki’s 1997 classic Princess Mononoke where the Princess tries to save her forest from Humans who cut down trees for Iron. I already mentioned this director in the comment section of your favorite movies page. I haven’t written a proper review on this film which is in fact my all time favorite. I will do so at the earliest.

    Nevertheless, I agree this has extremely good visual effects but a script that fails at times. But I still enjoy watching it. Good, very good. And I would really love to read what you think about Ridley Scott’s Prometheus. Have you seen Alien? And the second part of the series Aliens was directed by Cameroon. I think Aliens is Cameroon’s best movie to date, even better than Titanic, Terminator and Avatar.

    Again the above is just my opinion. 🙂

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