Monday, December 21, 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

12 years after giving us the highest grossing movie of all time with Titanic, James Cameron is back to push the envelope once again with Avatar!

Avatar is a rehashing of an old tale. A soldier without a home finds solace and a new lease on life in a new culture and new people. Of course it's not as simple as that little description, but that's the basic driving story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). Jake is an ex-marine who was paralyzed in the line of duty. However the death of his twin brother gives Jake a chance to join the Avatar program in his brother's place.

The Avatar program is a scientific expedition on a planet called Pandora near alpha centauri. A human settlement is there to mine "unobtainium", a rare substance that sells for a lot of money back on earth. The atmosphere, along with pretty much every other living creature on Pandora is lethal to human beings. . In this harsh environment, the Na'vi live in small tribes. The Na'vi are 12 feet tall, blue-skinned, worship a mother nature like deity called eywa, and are considered primitive by "Human" standards.
Any of this sounding familiar folks?

So the Avatar program is basically taking human scientists and having them control human/Na'Vi Avatars that look like the Na'vi and can breathe the Pandoran atmosphere. The theory is that if the humans look like the Na'vi, build them schools and roads, teach them english, then they'll be able to persuade them to relocated from their lands. The reason for the relocation is that they happen to be living directly on top of the biggest "unobtainum" deposit on the planet.

Jake's twin brother was in this program, and since his Avatar, which is insanely expensive, is linked to his genome, Jake can pilot it.

So now that I've set up the story for you, I'm going to stop right there. I don't want to ruin any of the storyline or experience of what is going to become a landmark film in special effects history. What do I mean by that?

The following films are landmark films in cinema to me:

Original Star Wars Trilogy: These films redefined how special effects were used in film.

Jurassic Park: First truly realistic CGI creatures

Toy Story: First Computer Animated film

Matrix: Redefined the action film genre

Titanic: First film to genuinely recreate inanimate objects authentically

Lord of the Rings/New Star Wars trilogy: Pushed the bounds of believable computer generated characters that interacted with real ones. Also pioneered massive CGI battle scenes

Transformers: Added so much complexity to the previously simple CGI constructs.

Avatar: The first truly realized computer generated film to put believable human like creatures on the screen.

The special effects of Avatar are truly astounding. James Cameron has given us not a film but an entire fully realized world for our imagination to play in. The environment shots rival the "Planet Earth" documentaries for sheer awe and beauty. You can see the Na'Vi's individual pores, their sweat glistening on there blue skin, there veins tense when they shoot an arrow. As i was watching the film I literally couldn't believe what I was seeing because it was "right" to my eyes.

The Na'vi aren't the only ones who get all the CG toys to play with. On the human side you get futuristic Mech-like military vehicles and heli-planes that will have the department of defense drooling.

One should go see this film for the eye candy alone, especially in 3D, however this film isn't just bells and whistles. Even though it's an old story, it is magically told, and you can't help but root for the Na'vi as the film's climax approaches.

I honestly cannot recommend this film enough, but the best thing is I won't have to. Your best friend will, you're co-worker will, even your parents will. Because Avatar isn't just a holiday film, it's an experience that everyone should see.

Rating: MUST-SEE!

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