Monday, January 18, 2010
Avatar. This is a title that will remain recognized and remembered for a long time to come. Tens of millions of people have already seen the movie and it is on track to become the highest grossing of all time. Congratulations to James Cameron for following his dream. After years of work (Cameron didn't write or direct anything meaningful since Titanic in 1997) and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, audiences- thankfully- are spellbound.
The movie, set in 2154, begins with a narration by Sam Worthington and shows his character, Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine, taking his deceased twin brother's place in the Avatar program, a secret mission designed to infiltrate the world of the Na'vi, a colony of blue creatures who live on the distant moon Pandora. The exploration and exploitation of Pandora is crucial to the humans as the Na'vi tribe is living on top of an enormous amount of extremely precious, and expensive, ore.
Jake is not trained for this mission but since he is a genetic match to his brother, is sent anyway. His wayward actions get him into trouble relatively fast, especially since on Pandora, with his new Avatar body, he is able to run and use his legs which on Earth are paralyzed. As he is experimenting with his newfound freedom he meets the beautiful Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana, a Na'vi huntress who shows him around and introduces him to the rest of the tribe as well as their culture, language and habits. As I'm sure you can imagine, a love story ensues and Jake's loyalty shifts rather quickly from his own race to that of the blue Na'vi's.
Pandora is magical. The jungle is lush and rich, teeming with life. Sights, sounds, and smells abound. There is an understanding between the people and the land, a harmony, a balance which is not exploited for profit as it is on Earth. Trees, plants, animals and the Na'vi coexist in peace and utmost respect. Trees are considered to have souls and nothing can be harmed, touched or disturbed. Each and every life, be it human, animal or plant is valued equally. This is no doubt alluring to us all, as we watch our own planet suffer from the ravages of our growth and absorb the great damages of our years of neglect.
Sigourney Weaver plays a tough talking scientist, unlikeable at first (she is even shown smoking cigarettes which has caused great controversy) but her true character unfolds and is revealed throughout the movie. She has a purpose and a mission, fighting against the capitalist exploiters from Earth who are trying to ruin Pandora and expel or kill the Na'vi peoples. Stunningly beautiful moments (some of my favorites were the spectacular scenes with the flying dragons) are mixed in with scenes of utmost destruction and devastation that leave you extremely saddened and horrified at what we are capable of. I have read that some theatergoers are leaving the movie with serious depression issues, wanting to leave our world to live on a planet like Pandora.
The story is simple, perhaps too simple, and themes like these have already been seen, but the movie is enchanting and the technical achievements and cinematography outstanding. The special effects are hard to put in words, they must be seen and experienced in 3D. This movie deserves a lot of the praise it is getting and is therefore a must-see. Personally I'm happy I saw it and although I wouldn't see it twice, can recognize its triumph. If it is seen as such it will be an enjoyable experience and it will be understandable why Cameron waited so long to come up with his next billion dollar blockbuster.
My rating: 7
Total Score: 13.5