Well well well. My my my. Let’s cut to the chase, shall we. No sense in beating around the bush. Avatar is good. Quite good actually. This comes from a guy who, one: thinks James Cameron is a wee bit of a douche bag, two: thought Titanic well… blew, and three: was actually rooting against Avatar (which, along with a friend of mine, dubbed it Fern Gully 3-D in the weeks leading up to its release.)
But no, seriously, this movie kicks hard core ass. I knew that Avatar would LOOK great, but I expected the story to be garbage. Such is not the case. Way in the future (2154ish), soldiers travel to a planet (Iraq?) where a war is being fought. The war, it appears, is simply taking place so the Earthlings can acquire a profitable mineral (oil?). Nine-foot tall blue creatures inhibit the planet and aren’t all too pleased that the pesky “Skypeople” keep ruining their sacred land.
More specifically: a paraplegic soldier, Jake (Sam Worthington), enlists in the Army’s Avatar program. Now stay with me. Scientists create an Avatar, a replica of the planet’s inhabitants, from a soldier's DNA. Then that soldier can “plug” into his or her Avatar and roam the jungles in disguise. Soon enough Jake gains sympathy (and love) with the blue people, and joins them. Sound complicated? Well, it is. But don’t worry, you have 2 hours and 45 minutes to figure it all out. It’s like The Matrix meets Fern Gully meets The Last Samurai.
But let’s get to the good stuff. The special effects in this film are literally breathtaking. Early in the movie, when Jake’s Avatar jumps off a cliff, I sat in my seat completely transfixed. “Whoa”, is all I could think to utter. And that’s just the beginning. It’s a very good characteristic that it is extremely difficult to tell what is computer animated and what is real. In fact, Avatar is the finest technological achievement in cinema since 2001: A Space Odyssey 41 years ago. This film will change the way we watch movies. I would be stunned if Avatar doesn’t walk away with at least four of the technical Oscars.
If you asked me a week ago what this review would be like, I would’ve guessed a lot of Cameron bashing was in store. But now, in ways I’m still trying to figure out, I say with complete sincerity: well done, Mr. Cameron. Well done indeed. A