When his twin brother is killed, disabled ex-Marine Jake Sully is recruited to aid a mining expedition on the distant jungle moon of Pandora as only his DNA will bond with the alien hybrid body, known as an Avatar, that allows humans to breathe the toxic air. With orders to infiltrate the Na’vi, Jake finds himself falling in love with native girl, Neytiri, and complications soon ensue…
It is by no means a secret that James Cameron is my favourite director of all time. Unfortunately I made this choice long after Titanic sunk the cynical "I'll decide it's crap before I have even seen a trailer" critics and became one of the most popular movies of all time!! So I have not had the experience of seeing my favourite director working his magic on the big screen. I was also pretty rewarding to hear that he was returning to sci-fi with a movie so ambitious that he had to build the technology to make it happen.
So the self-proclaimed King of the World is back big-time baby. Originally set for a release date in 1999, however, at the time, the special effects he wanted for the movie ran the proposed budget up to $400 million. No studio would fund the film, and it was subsequently shelved. He also wanted technology to "catch-up". And he was right to.
In my 20 years of living, I have sat in cinemas many times and been blown away by certain effects. Notable examples include several scenes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Day After Tomorrow. Avatar was beyond that. I was speechless (honestly!!) and getting goosebumps. For once I was watching a film where everything didn't just look real, it felt real. Just little things like facial muscles and pupils that add more realism than anything Pixar has ever done! Even the creatures as they flew around the mountains and the helicopters themselves didn't look like they were Computer Generated. It is impossible not to be completely immersed in the stunning visuals with such painstakingly intricate details that it would take a few viewings to catch everything. Astonishing stuff. This is proof that maybe George Lucas should have waited about 10 years!! All the things that Lucas did wrong in those prequels, Cameron did right in Avatar.
Cameron is so good at a lot of things. But unfortunately, his writing isn't too great and the story is predictable. But I just do not care!!! So yes it is Dances with Wolves in Space and Smurf-ahontas but I felt for these characters, even though they were CGI!! So the story is predictable. But I don't care!! Everything else, in my opinion, is so right!! Pandora itself is amazing. Cameron has created a world and a culture that makes you care for these people to the point that you actually want the humans to die horrible deaths!! And the last 40 minutes is what Cameron is at his best at: action. Pure no-holds-barred, imaginative battle scenes that are just astonishing to watch, bringing that adrenaline rush that we love from Cameron films like the scene where the marines discover the hive in Aliens and the motorcycle chase in T2.
Now to the 3D arguement. I wouldn't say I have been against 3D, I'm just not a big fan. This could also be coupled with the fact that I am so skint that I didn't even pay for this trip!! I saw Coraline in 3D earlier in the year and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience. I reckon Avatar will be just as much fun in 2D but the 3D is definitely an experience to relish.
Now, the actors. Sam Worthington, fresh from his highly praised role in Terminator: Salvation (well, he was one of the better things about that movie!) establishes himself as a Hollywood actor. His performance as Jake Sully may well be what Jack Dawson did to Leonardo DiCaprio. Stephen Lang is absolutely badass in the role of the Colonel!! But I do wish Michael Biehn had the role as was originally intended during pre-production. Zoe Saldana finishes off an astonishing year for her career in style. The roles of Uhura and Neytiri will be enough to make people forget that she was in the god-awful Britney Spears movie. And Ellen Ripley returns. Well, not quite. Sigourney Weaver returns to the world of Cameron and she, as usual, never disappoints. She's like Michael Biehn: No matter how shite a movie she is in she will always squeeze out a reason to watch - which is her!!!
There are also a lot of references and what-nots to other movies of interest. A particular scene where the Colonel jumps out of an exploding helicopter inside an AVP suit is so "Terminator coming out of the fire" moment which is just awesome!!! The AVP suits are also a blatant nod to the Loaders from Aliens in which the greatest movie quote in all of creation was snapped to the Alien Queen. And it could of been my imagination but does "Jake Sully signing off" sound a bit familiar??
8/10 - Despite a few flaws, Avatar is an extraordinary experience that more than lives up to the hype. I will even go as far to say that Avatar is this generations Star Wars. A bold statement, but Avatar will change films in the same way Star Wars did in terms of how films were made as opposed to how we, as the audience sees them.