First off, I don’t do spoilers. The way I see it, if you want to see a movie, you shouldn’t ruin yourself by knowing everything that happens. That said, let me talk about Avatar. Now Avatar story wise isn’t original. If you’ve seen Dances With Wolves or The Last Samurai then you’ve seen Avatar. If you’ve seen the trailer then you know the gist of the story, there’s nothing really to add to it. But if you haven’t, here’s the cliff notes: Marine goes to alien planet, uses an avatar of a being that is just like the dominate species of the planet. The plan: get in, get the info needed so that we (the humans) can move them somewhere else so we can get some kind of mineral that’s worth alllllllot of money. Marine has a change of heart and chaos insues. There you go.
Somehow though, I’m thinking people aren’t going to go to this movie for the story. Just a shot in the dark on that theory. The thing that makes this movie everything that it is are the effects. Every few years a movie comes along that raises the bar (yeah that’s cliche I know, couldn’t come up with another way of saying it) on effects. You had Cameron’s own Abyss, then you had Terminator 2, then you had Jurassic park then Star Wars Episode I and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King. Now you can add Avatar to the list of movies that raises the level of what can and can’t be done, and based on what I’ve seen from this movie, there’s very little, if anything that can’t be accomplished now. I’ve read some reviews that compare the technological achievements in this movie to the very first Star Wars from 1977.
After seeing it for myself I understand what they meant now. The effects are the true stars of the movie. The planet Pandora isn’t real, but from the second you go out into it’s jungles and vast mountains you would’ve sworn that Cameron filmed there. Every single thing involving the Na’vi (the planet’s indigenous species) is computer generated. From the Na’vi, to the animals, skies and plants around them down to a single blade of grass. But you don’t see it as fake, not for one second did it cross my mind or say, “Oh that’s not real.” You’re there among the Na’vi and the world they inhabit, and what a world it is. Imagine a rain forest filled with beauty. Now imagine that rainforest on some serious acid and you have Pandora. Practically everything you touch reacts to you. From the plants and trees to certain parts of the ground you step on. The animals there are works of art themselves with truly awe inspiring creature design. Every frame of every scene within the jungles of Pandora is filled with a nature that’s familiar and alien at once and every detail is expertly crafted to give it a realism you won’t for a single second think isn’t there.
Then there’s the Na’vi themselves. Much has been said about their ability to emote, more than any other cgi creation before, thanks largely to technology created by Cameron. I thought Gollum from the Rings trilogy was a watershed moment in cgi acting, but, as stated earlier, this film raises that level immensely. Every nuance, from a slight frown, a twitch of the eye, a joyous smile or heart breaking cry comes through more clearly and emotionally than I’ve ever seen on a cgi creation. Not only that, but since the Na’vi actualy look like the actors that portray them the believability is that much more. If you do see this movie see it in 3D to get a true sense of Pandora and the wonders it holds.
The story isn’t original, you know what’s coming from the second Jake encounters the first Na’vi. But if the story that is told is crafted in such a way that you still care what happens then it doesn’t matter. Avatar manages to pull this off thanks to, ironically enough, the humanity of the Na’vi. Yes, parts of the story are very very heavy handed, but you’re able to look past it for the sheer spectacle of the setting the story is told in. Visually this movie is B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L. It’s a masterpiece stunning to behold and delight to look back on after its done. If you’re a fan of movies in general, or of filmmaking, you owe it to yourself to see this in theaters, on the big screen in all its glory.