Sunday, December 27, 2009

Review of Avatar

Well, James Cameron’s long in the works film Avatar has been unleashed to the world. It’s obviously one of those “big event” type of films that line the pockets of movie producers. And it’s no surprise why: the budget is enormous, the effects are rumored to be fantastic and the fact the movie used brand spanking new technologies is also mouth watering. Hell, Cameron made a new language just for the film . Of course, there are many people going nuts at the idea of it. Some people see as a beacon of the future of film making. Myself: relatively unexcited though curious to see if Cameron lives up to the hype.
I saw the film in 2D. I’m that uninterested in the idea of 3D film making and the “Biggest film Ever” hype, that I decided that I wouldn’t spend the extra $5 to see it in 3D. Some folks will call me out for this, saying it weakens the experience. Well, I doubt that claim, because even in 2D, the film looks phenomenal. Except for some awkward moments, specifically whenever real humans interact with the realistic effects, the film is visually breathtaking. The world of Pandora is a truly wondrous spectacle that will make even the biggest grouch’s eyes wide. Not only that but thanks to the special effects, the Na’vi people feel like real people, not some mythical creation. It’s something that other action films will try to emulate in the future.
But what about the film as whole? Well, special effects are one thing, but plot, characters, and acting are another thing. The performances are fine, especially from Australian actor Sam Worthington playing the hero Jake Sully. The actors playing the Na’vi people are quite good and Stephen Lang is absolutely frightening as Colonel Quartich. Of course not everyone delivers a good performance in the film. Giovanni Ribisi is pretty much disposable, just like his character. Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore are bit annoying as the do-good biologist who help save the day. And now the plot, the meat and potatoes of any film and what makes this film either an totally important film, or just a technical marvel. To be honest, it doesn’t really live up to the effects. Plot wise, Cameron’s film seems stuck in 90s pep and optimism, with none of the post-9/11 angst that shows up in films in general nowadays. The environmental theme is preachy, with it’s imagery of trees getting knocked over, coupled with the goofy in-joke-that’s-not-really-an-in-joke of the “Unobtanium” are both are groan inducing things in the film. Now that’s just nitpicking certain things in the film. In short, the plot is nothing new - just your typical savior plot line with environmental undertones.
The plot doesn’t do much damage though. Avatar is still an entertaining film, despite it’s short comings. The technology and special effects are definitely breathtaking and will definitely influence Sci-Fi and action films in years to come. Now some are saying that the film will be the first step to all films being in 3D, but I really doubt that the Coen Brother’s A Serious Man will become 3D anytime soon, nor Werner “I made my crew drag a riverboat over a mountain” Herzog will walk out of the theater a changed man, but it will certainly make the Spielbergs and the Jacksons of the world change what they do.

3 out of 4 stars

1 comment:

Mike Meltzer said...

While the effects were mindblowing,I think you right on with the story. It was really generic, with bits and pieces taken from his other movies. Some of the dialogue was really awkward and unintentionally hilarious.
The tech in the movie will definitely be used in future mo-cap movies though, like John Carter of Mars, directed by the guy who did Wall E, and The Adventures of Tin Tin, which Spielberg is directing.