Avatar is one of the best movies I’ve seen in a long time. I still can’t decide if it beats The Blind Side for best movie of 2009, but they’re very different films.
Little in Avatar is original. The very real-looking animation is fairly common now. The massive battle sequences have already been done in the Matrix and Star Wars, just to name a couple. The human-driven robot fighters were already seen in Matrix: Revolution. The land-grab by the humans closely mirrors European colonization of the Americas or the British takeover of the Middle East, not to mention many others in history.
But the combination of all these elements into one story, one epic film, isn’t very common.
Simply put, Avatar’s story follows humanity’s attempt to colonize the planet Pandora, where a valuable mineral (“unobtainium”) is abundant. There are humanoid natives called Na’vi, who happen to live right on top of the largest unobtainium deposit, so the humans want them to move. Since the natives won’t move, the humans decide to attack.
But first, our main character (played by Sam Worthington) is sent in as an avatar, to help persuade them. While his human body remains at the human base, his mind controls a biological construct that looks like the Na’vi (This also isn’t original; see Poul Anderson’s 1957 story “Call Me Joe”). Controlling this “avatar,” Worthington’s character gets to know the Na’vi and attempts to become one of them.
I won’t give away any more of the story here.
As far as I can tell, most of the “cinematography” is computer-generated, but the scenery is gorgeous. The trees, mountains, and other scenery on Pandora looks real, especially in 3-D. The plants and creatures that were invented for this movie all appear realistic as well.
I can’t speak for the non-3D version of this film, but the 3-D effects only provided depth to the scenes; nothing came out of the screen at me. It looks like it will be gorgeous in non-3D as well.
If I had to take points off for anything, it would be for the naming of the mineral “unobtainium,” which sounds like something a child would come up with. (Then again, so do several real elements… Americium, Boron, Indium, Krypton, etc.)
Of all the movies I’ve reviewed in 2009, this is only the second one that gets a 10-out-of-10 rating from me. (The other was The Blind Side.)
I may not be as critical or strict as other movie reviewers, but I try to give 10s only to movies that I can’t find a fault with… Going back into history, my other 10s have gone to Blade Runner, Fight Club, Saving Private Ryan, Star Wars IV, The Fifth Element, The Matrix, Tombstone, True Romance, and V for Vendetta.
Avatar certainly fits into that category for me.
(for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking)
Length: 162 min. (2:42)
Director: James Cameron
Genre: science fiction / fantasy / adventure / action
My Rating: 10 of 10
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Dileep Rao