Archive for james cameron

Avatar (2009)

Posted in 2009, Action, Blockbuster, Drama, Romance with tags , , , , , , , on December 21, 2009 by filmglutton

Yesterday I saw James Cameron’s long-awaited blockbuster Avatar.

The year is 2154 and a human corporation is living on Pandora, a far-off moon in a far-off galaxy that has a precious mineral called unobtainium that the corporation wants to mine and sell at a huge profit. The only problem is that Pandora is home to a native species of humanoids called the Na’vi. The story starts in a blur or story set-up as we meet our protaganist Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic ex-marine. Dr Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) leads a team of scientists and researchers on the Avatar Program, which involves blending human and Na’vi DNA to create an Avatar that resembles a Na’vi. The development of these Avatars is extremely expensive. Jake’s twin brother was a scientist in the program but he died so Jake, who shares Tommy’s DNA, takes his place in the Program, and is esctatic about being able to walk and run in the body of his Avatar. Jake inflitrates the world of the Na’vi, where he learns about their ways and reports back to both Grace and the sinister Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who wants to destroy the Na’vi to get to the unobtanium (which is deposited in the ground below the Na’vi hometree, the centre of their literal and spiritual life). As Jake begins to learn and love the ways of the Na’vi, and develops a relationship with a female Na’vi warioress named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), he is at odds with the goals of the corporation and must fight to do what he thinks is right.

Phew, seems complicated (I do hate writing synopses)! There has been so much hype surrounding this film, and a lot of pressure, not unlike that of his last project, a little film called Titanic. Much of the hype has been about the CGI and the amazing new 3D techniques. I saw Avatar at a cinema that was not equipped for 3D films, and it really did not matter at all. The film stands without the 3D, but I am keen to see it in 3D now…although, a friend of mine did see it at Imax and she was annoyed a) because it didn’t fill the Imax screen and b) because it made her feel a bit motion sick, so perhaps that’s something to consider. As for the CGI, it’s certainly very elaborate. We see some of the characters as both humans and Na’vi, such as Jake and Grace (can I just say, there was something a little creepy about Sigourney Weaver’s Avatar, maybe it looked a little too much like her!!), while some of the Na’vi are never seen in a human form (such as Zoe Saldana). Their work is projected in an entirely CGI form. Motion capture has made them so human yet so different – the detail on their faces is amazing, it’s incredible technology that’s getting closer and closer to photoreal but it does still have that CGI ‘look’. Not that motion capture is anything new, but I don’t know if it’s ever been done quite to the extent of this. While CGI can get a bit overwhelming at times (and I will say that even without 3D the image can make your eyes go a bit funny), the CGI in this is amazing. It really brings this world and this story to life.

Which brings us to one of the strong points of the film, which is the story. Now, some will say that the story is the weak point, which in many ways it is. There are some corny things happening here, but overall the story is so incredibly immersive that you won’t care about the cliches. Avatar goes for about two-and-a-half hours but I hardly even noticed, I was engrossed. All of the actors were good, though some of the human characters could have been a bit more multi-dimensional.The film is technically amazing and should pick up some prizes at awards time!

Sure, there are plenty of things you could criticise about this film. Maybe you won’t like Sam Worthington’s America accent, or the voiceover, or the not-so-hidden references to imperialism, colonialism and environmentalism. Maybe you will roll your eyes at some of the corny one-liners, or that there is a love story amidst the action. Maybe you will hate the CGI world, hate the over-the-top spirituality of the Na’vi that’s a weird blend of Native American and African, and find the whole thing either to sentimental or too stupid. But I didn’t really think of any negatives until I left the cinema, because this is such an accomplished, impressive film that draws you in and delivers on its promises. Actually, I lie, there was one thing that really bugged me…a damn pop song coming in over the closing credits! Now, maybe James Cameron and James Horner (just as a side note, there are quite a few Titanic-esque moments in the score, you definitely know it’s James Horner again) are trying to recapture the success of My Heart Will Go On, but I just cringed, it was so out of place. Run from the cinema before it ruins the aura at the end!!

Forget the negatives, just enjoy this for the great piece of entertainment it is. I’m not going to talk any more about this, just go see it!

My rating: