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Possibly the most beautiful film I have ever seen - like spending time in your most ravishing imaginary world that you can only recall in tantalizing fragments from your childhood, but here you get over three whole hours to explore it. Watching it is so intense, it is almost like having an out of body experience, especially if you cough up the extra dosh to see the 3D version.
It doesn't matter that the plot is clearly derivative (there was a very charming children's animation about fifteen years ago called something like Enchanted Forest with an almost identical story) or that the Na'vi are essentially East Coast Native Americans only eight feet tall and blue, or that the stunning landscapes first appeared on Roger Dean album covers in the 70s. It isn't in the least bit jarring to find the inexplicable (and I think oddly endearing) Hollywood obsession with portraying one's own government and military as corrupt, greedy, treacherous bastards in the midst of this unearthly paradise.
Because this film is quite simply awesome. Just surrender yourself to it utterly. I am sorry I left it so late to see it, because now I have little time left in which to see it again (and again) before it disappears, and this is a must-see for a big, big screen, preferably a 3D one. The FX are astounding - basically the entire film is FX - but the story is one of mythic simplicity and beauty, and the central performance by the chap who plays Jake Sully is pretty damn good. If you haven't seen it yet, rush out and buy tickets now.
When is America going to get over itself? Here's the plot to Avatar: a US mining company has invaded an alien planet called Pandora to mine for the rare and extremely valuable mineral 'Unobtainium'. To get its hands on this filthy lucre, they have to move the ecologically-at-peace Na'vi people, who believe in living at one with Nature, and in co-operation among themselves. The company employ ex-US marines as muscle.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? An American invasion to mine for valuable resources without any particular interest in the welfare of the indigenous people? It's as if some Hollywood films just scream, 'We don't agree with US foreign policy! We're cool and right on!'. Frankly, it's a bit boring.
And there's more. The whole 'hearts and minds' theme of imperial occupation is reproduced in the ability of humans to genetically inhabit the bodies of Na'vi people, which means that they can live among them. One, ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is asked to inform a military offensive against the Na'vi. Head scientist Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), is interested in education and finding out things. So she's the nice one.
But predictably enough, Jake learns that the Na'vi are GOOD PEOPLE and he soon leads them in their battle with the BAD PEOPLE. The violence and battles are full of Viet Nam motifs – helicopters, calls for medics, a psychotic lead marine (Stephen Lang), and even an episode when the sounds of battle fade to allow orchestral music – let's hope Oliver Stone is happy that Platoon is referenced so blatantly.
I should now mention the 3D effects, shouldn't I? Well, I liked the little jelly fish that, I think, represent Na'vi souls. They looked very cool, like when you blow bubbles with washing up liquid. But to be honest, I'm not bored with 2D yet, and if I wanted to blow bubbles, I wouldn't need to pay quite so much for the privilege. This cost nearly £10 because it was in 3D.
So, I left Avatar wondering what the fuss has been about. It's a very pretty film, but the storyline is clichéd – there is a love interest between Jake and a Na'vi girl, of course – and the dialogue is sometimes unintentionally laugh out loud funny. It's like it's been written on the day of shooting. But maybe I'm being harsh. Is it meant for children? It certainly felt like a kids' film. I think I need to watch something very arty and obscure next to get back to reality.
Dances with Wolves meets Princess Mononoke in James Cameron’s Avatar. Ten years in the making, it’s a gripping, boundary-pushing eco-fable. It’s also a sure-fire blockbuster. But is it anything more?
Jarhead marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation) is hired by a mining corporation to aid its rape of the moon Pandora. Populated by the Na’vi, Pandora is a living organism – with all its flora and fauna interconnected. The Avatar programme projects human consciousness into the bodies of the Na’vi to gain their trust. Jake, a paraplegic, finds a new lease of life as a Na’vi. Love, loyalty and respect for life will follow. But betrayal and a battle are looming.
James Cameron (Titanic, The Terminator) loves technology. In Terminator 2 he created the liquid CGI which revolutionized screen effects. In Avatar, he’s sought to create the most believable digital, 3D world ever filmed. And it’s a stunning achievement, fully deserving a big-screen view. Pandora’s myriad creatures and country are ravishing. The Na’vi – blue, lizard-like creatures – are expressive and convincing.
But Avatar comes after Lord of the Rings; and 3D computerised movies are now commonplace. So Cameron’s wow factor is restricted to his scope and detail. Avatar is not so much a turning point but simply the one to beat. Cameron hoped to create a new wave. Ironically, the effect is to remind you of other films.
Plotwise, it’s Dances with Wolves, a soldier outposted to a different race and culture, lured in by their hearts and minds and turning against his own. Thematically, it’s Hayao Miyazaki’s Princess Mononoke, an eco-tale in which an outsider learns to protect a living world from rapacious mining. But it lacks the depth of either.
Snippets also remind you of other movies, even Cameron’s own. Aliens’ robo-showdown is rebooted for an exciting if overdone scene. Even the uploading of Jake’s mind into the Na’vi is reminiscent of the plug-in device from the The Matrix.
Still, Avatar is exciting, thrilling stuff and hardly fluffs a beat. Cleverly upending expectations, Pandora comes alive – sinister creatures reappearing in a different guise later. Action man Cameron also delivers. From jungle chases to aerial sky-dives on the backs of birds, it’s edge-of-seat entertainment. Helicopter gunships take on birds-and-arrows in a bravura battle.
Nearly three hours long, you wouldn’t think so. All credit to the cast (including an excellent Sigourney Weaver who looks cute as a lizard, and to Zoe Saldana from Star Trek as a Na’vi princess). And to Cameron for a well-balanced film that packs a punch.
Though it’s not deep, its message to Americans that they’re ruining the planet will reach more people than any classroom documentary. No kid will easily forget the stand-out surely-not moment when the Na’vi’s world meets the missiles from hell.
The verdict? Better than Titanic. Less gung-ho than Aliens, more human than Terminator, less stodgy than Lord of the Rings. In short, hugely entertaining. Princess Mononoke for the multiplex generation.
I've watched the original and now the special edition and consider that those who appreciate stunning special effects and fantasy worlds will surely love this movie.
The fairy tale storyline with a hint of Hollywood cliche makes it harder to rate very highly and at nearly three hours long it starts to push the boundaries a little, but a memorable film which will doubtless have a cult following.
Seriously boring and a touch subversive. Central message of the Na'vi is to make love to the animals (literal bodily interfacing with them ) and being one with the planet. Complete New Age message added to regressive predictable story. No wonder this lost out to The Hurt Locker. A mind messer of a movie up there with the worst torture porn.
I had to write something just to get rid of the stupid comment below. A case for state censorship me thinks. Just use your eyes and wonder in awe at what they achieved - yes the dialogue could be better, yes it's predictable but, but BUT... just look!
Probably the worst film that I've ever seen. The plot for this would have looked stretched and cliched if used for a 10 minute demo of the 3D technology. This is at least 3 hours too long, with shockingly predictable and boring storyline and dialogue.
Not an entirely original plot. Americans have set up a base on the planet Pandora and are digging up a rock which is not really explained too well but apparently this little rock is worth twenty million a kilo. On this planet there is already a spiritual alien race. Scientists have found a way to blend in with techno wizardry- while humans sleep they walk around the planet controlling their avatars which look just like the aliens. The scientists are fooled into believing they are studying the culture of this planet, meanwhile the corporation types are just like "Yeah, if you could find some way of getting them to leave their homes or just basically get out of the way while we dig up this rock everything will be just peachy." Meanwhile the military is getting ready to destroy everything. The way the avatars work is a bit like The Matrix- you go to sleep and while you are dreaming you're linked to another body walking around like one of the aliens, if the avatar sleeps, you wake up human again or if the military insists on just barging in and pushing the big red button you are quickly woken and they see your avatar fall to the ground.
[WARNING: WHAT FOLLOWS MIGHT WELL BE THOUGHT OF AS SPOILERS -ED.]
Before being sent to the planet Pandora the scientists are supposed to have spent a few years researching everything, however when one of them is killed at the last minute they send his paraplegic ex-marine identical twin brother. Jake Sully foolisly agrees to share information with the military believing that in exchange they will pay for him to have an operation to walk again. On his first test run with his avatar he is captured and trained to be like the na'vi tribe (similar to The Last Samurai) during which he falls in love with a princess and eventually a chaotic battle ensuses.
I haven't seen that many 3D films so all I can say is that it's better than Friday 13th Part III and Chuck Versus the Third Dimension.
Even though the story is flawed I still find myself actually liking this movie. It is an enjoyable experience to see bows, arrows and weird creatures destroying advanced military weapons. Occassionally seeing things floating around the audiences' heads with surround sound can almost make you feel like you're really there. Even though it is 3 hours and 10 minutes long, the pace seems to go so quickly you barely notice you've been sat there all this time.
Large, technologically advanced nation invades distant land inhabited by a hunter-gather people adapted to live in harmony with their ecosystem. Invaders mock the culture of the native peoples and seeks to eliminate them from their homeland so that they have access to resources. Native peoples driven out of homeland and wiped out, with only a few remaining to forever live as persecuted outsiders in the new, globalised land ruled over by the invading nation - if they're lucky.
But not in Hollywood. Cinema must have its brave last stand where bows and arrows defeat nuclear gunships. It must hammer home its anti-war message by making the good guys win.
Avatar is very pretty and the 3D effects are superb. The acting is satisfactory for a film of this type and the first half of the film is nicely set up. If you're happy to see a film with an interesting take on the anti-colonialism message undermined by a typical Hollywood cliché ending, then I would strongly recommend this film.
It's not clever, but it sure is pretty!
So, when exactly are the Americans going to get over Vietnam?
Gaia earth mother morals combine with gun-ho futuristic military action and giant blue USB enabled kitties to produce an entertaining cross between Last Samurai and Apocalypse Now.
I saw it in 3D, which was genuinely added to the experience and was not over done.
Long and with a fairly predictable plot, but worth seeing if only for the visuals.
How do you fancy oodles of cats with lithe hairless humanoid bodies and powder blue skin? Sound good? How about loincloths and braided hair all round, cattish stares and twitchy tails, living the life of the lemur, making good in the jungle canopy? Yes? YES? Then behold the six-hour jamboree of good-living organic gaia-cats in action.
But those pesky cats can't have it ALL their own way, RIGHT?
So now think great big slobbering Fat Cats. All jowls and drool. Fat cats with a budget of $300 million. Fat cats funding movies with Meaning. With Feeling. Movies about War! and Environmental Destruction! and the Disenfranchisment of Native Peoples! How the Fat Cats weep! They weep golden dollars! They weep with guilt! And they cash that guilt in by making movies about it! Eureka! Here's how:
The Premise 1. Gaia-cats have got diamonds. 2. Fat-cats want the diamonds. 3. Gaia-cats won't give up the diamonds, because diamonds stashed deep under cattery. 4. Fat-cat solution: Zzzooom! (gunships!) Whoosh! (rockets!) ROOOOOOOARRR! (battle-cats!) SIZZLE! (catburgers!)
The Turn Gaia-cats rise up and SLAY Goliath-cat. Meow!
The Romance Fat-cats' henchman masquerading as (avatar) gaia-cat espies princess gaia-cat, swoons, 'mates' (hilarious), and coupled power-duo save day. Henchman-turned-Romeo magically becomes permanent gaia-cat.
The Profound Guilt Allegory Fat-cats=US capitalists Battle-cats=US army Gaia-cats=Native Americans/Vietcong Cat-planet=pre-Columbus US/rural Vietnam
The Requirements 1. Blanket & cushions 2. Hip flask 3. Commode
American marines beat the crap out of bows-and-arrow wielding natives? It doesn't make for easy watching, unless you suspect a happy ending might occur. However, if you enjoy gross characterisations, and lip service to conservation, then this film won't disappoint.
As other reviewers have noted, it has plenty of plus points - the creativity of the scenery and world of Pandora being the best. Acting got lost in a fairly sluggish script, and overwhelmed by the action scenes.
I wouldn't bother renting it as a DVD, which I always think means something - to me the Na'vi were based on some rather unpleasant reductionist thinking of what natives do - dancing in mass reverence to their God wasn't very dignified, or intelligent, given they were meant to be both, and could hold their own against far superior technologies and far meaner psychological opponents.
A film for 3D buffs, Cameron fans, and for those wanting very light entertainment.
Too bloody long- otherwise it was good!
What the most acest movie in the world! Amazing alien scenary like the canopy that really came bright out. Stunning animals they produced. The atmosphere was very cinematic like them riding the back of those flying creatures. Really a great imagination, aciest aliens ever, made the Narbines. James Cameron has thought of film like no other over the last 12 years to bring a breathtaking blockbuster. Definitely the ultimate must see movie.
What a fun film to watch! The plot and concepts struck me as somewhere between cowboys and indians, Apocalypse Now, the Julian May novels and some Tolkien thrown in for good measure (I half expected the Ents to go to war :-) ) But I don't mean it's complex, it's a very easy story line. The 3D effects are amazing - as someone with eye problems my depth vision is limited, and yet I saw all the 3D which runs through most scenes in the film - a very pleasant surprise.
Don't expect depth in anything but the visuals though. But it would be a real treat for most people over the Christmas period. I'd happily spend money to watch it again.