Lara’s Solo Review of Avatar

21 Dec

Avatar: the most anticipated movie of all time. Wait, that’s not completely true… Avatar: the most anticipated move of this year. No, that’s still not right. Avatar: the most anticipated movie of this year for fanboys since no one else has any clue as to what the movie is about. That’s it. While movie nerds such as myself have been eagerly awaiting this weekend for the last year or two, every “normal” person I’ve talked about the film with has expressed puzzlement and a lack of interest in watching “a bunch of blue people run around for three hours.” Because of this I, along with many others, was afraid that the most expensive movie of all time would prove to be a flop, not making back near the $237 million dollars it cost to create. I, along with many others, was wrong. In its opening weekend Avatar took in $232 million dollars worldwide, making it the ninth largest worldwide opening of any film, and the largest ever for an original (aka non-sequel, non-adaptation) of all time. Good, the money is there, the numbers are high; the question now is does Avatar deliver as a film? I am happy to report that it does. And then some.

Technically, Avatar is astounding. James Cameron’s insistence on creating the 3-D Fusion Camera System technology was completely called for and utilized brilliantly. The technology is used in a subtle way that makes the film completely gimmick-free; there are no creatures popping straight out of the screen provoking audience members to put their hands out in a pathetic effort to touch what they see, unlike in many other instances in which the third dimension is abused. Though I thought the 3D was unnecessary through the beginning half hour of the film, because it wasn’t showing anything different, once the planet Pandora was explored I had fully changed my mind.

Pandora is breathtaking. The jungles, the Na’vi, the creatures, every element is detailed visually with its own history. Cameron made an entire new world, and he successfully employed the fusion technology to put the viewers in the thick of it. The Na’vi, especially are intricate beings to be marveled at: they have their own language, theology, and values. Even their mannerisms, the way they cry and scream and express grief is completely unique and beautiful. The Na’vi interact with the nature around them in a spiritual way that borders on being sexual at times, and there is no wonder for the world in which they live is magnificent and rich. I found myself tearing up at several times, solely due to the beauty of the planet and its creatures. Cameron has successfully kept his title of “King of the World,” only the “world” of which he spoke is no longer Earth, but Pandora.

Jake and Neytiri

Despite all the good it has to offer, Avatar does have its downs: the formulaic characters and dialogue. To effectively illustrate this I have made a checklist of Movie Character Archetypes: Hero man (preferably an outsider anglophile who comes to help save the savages): check. Sexy heroine counterpart: check. Sidekick geek: check. Gun-happy Army Colonel who is hellbent on destruction: check. Former local Hero Man who is threatened by new Hero Man, and at one point in time scowls at his friends for cheering new Hero Man: check.  Sigourney Weaver fulfilling every fanboy’s fantasy: check. They are all there, shining in their stereotypical glory. And, unfortunately, the script doesn’t help these characters along. It is cheesy and the delivery is often mediocre, especially by the lead Sam Worthington, whom, as much as I like him for the character, lets his Australian accent slip a few times too many. That being said, the movie doesn’t really radical character development or a profound screenplay, for what it lacks in depth, it makes up for in utter entertainment and spectacle.

Fanboys, stop your worrying, you will be far from disappointed. Non-fanboys, there is no need for any confusion, you will understand once you see it. Avatar transcends fantasy nerd boundaries; it can be loved by geeks and mothers and unemployed stockbrokers alike. However, the journey of Avatar is far from over. I’m afraid that the almost unanimously positive reviews partnered with a historical box office debut could lead to the same strong backlash that James Cameron experienced with Titanic. Who knows, the movie that is currently being adored could be next year’s biggest joke. So go now. See it and enjoy it and fully embrace it. It is unlike anything you will ever behold.

Wishing I had an Avatar,


2 Responses to “Lara’s Solo Review of Avatar”

  1. Adam December 22, 2009 at 12:07 pm #

    If you get a chance read the latest Wired article on Cameron. Its amazing, it goes over creating the language of the Na’vi and the Pandora world encyclopedia written in part by botanist describing the worlds animals and plants.

  2. Adam December 22, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Also, great Review!

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