We enter the alien world through the eyes of Jake Sully, a former Marine confined to a wheelchair. But despite his broken body, Jake is still a warrior at heart. He is recruited to travel light years to the human outpost on Pandora, where corporations are mining a rare mineral that is the key to solving Earth’s energy crisis. Because the atmosphere of Pandora is toxic, they have created the Avatar Program, in which human “drivers” have their consciousness linked to an avatar, a remotely-controlled biological body that can survive in the lethal air. These avatars are genetically engineered hybrids of human DNA mixed with DNA from the natives of Pandora… the Na’vi.
Reborn in his avatar form, Jake can walk again. He is given a mission to infiltrate the Na’vi, who have become a major obstacle to mining the precious ore. But a beautiful Na’vi female, Neytiri, saves Jake’s life, and this changes everything. Jake is taken in by her clan, and learns to become one of them, which involves many tests and adventures. As Jake’s relationship with his reluctant teacher Neytiri deepens, he learns to respect the Na’vi way and finally takes his place among them. Soon he will face the ultimate test as he leads them in an epic battle that will decide nothing less than the fate of an entire world.
Genres: Action/Adventure and Science Fiction/Fantasy; Running Time: 160 min.; Release Date: December 18, 2009; MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
Directed by: James Cameron
I am skipping ahead a little by writing this review, as I’m behind on a couple of other movies I’ve seen recently. I went to see this Monday. It was a holiday, Lay was working and didn’t want to see this, so it was a good time to go. I saw it at Westshore Mall, and the theater was nearly full.
There is no doubt this is a visually beautiful film. Cameron, with WETA Workshop and ILM, have truly outdone themselves. They have created a very real seeming alien world, and made it a work of art besides. I saw the 3D version after some debate (I don’t generally like 3D), and suggest that is the only way to see it. I appreciated the fact they used the 3D effect merely to help immerse you into this world, and not using it as “device” merely for the sake of the effect (no scary creatures jumping out of the screen at you).
The actors played their parts well, and the characters came through as realistic and believable. It was a good screenplay, but frankly could have easily been 30 minutes shorter. It was also a bit predictable and clichéd. I read a comment somewhere that it was like “Dances With Wolves” meets “Star Wars”, and I can certainly see how that was an apt comparison…in nearly every detail.
I can see why some neocons and others of the believers in “American Exceptionalism” would be unhappy with this movie. It is clearly an indictment of colonialism, and points out how Americans (and everyone in this movie from earth appears to be at least english speaking) abuse natural resources and have a sense of entitlement about it. Also, it clearly portrays our own sense that “our way” must always be better. So, yes Virginia, there is a political message here, and it comes through loud and clear. Maybe some people will take it to heart.
This would normally be a film I’d recommend seeing, but suggest waiting to see it on DVD. However, because of the stunning visuals in the film resulting from the colorful world Cameron has created, and the 3D effect, I have to suggest watching it in the theater on a big screen.