Secondly before I review the film and give my opinions on this epic blockbusting and revolutionary movie I have to say this is the first film ever made, in my opinion, that you HAVE to see at the cinema, it’s what it’s made for and the only true way to experience the beauty of Avatar in all it’s true glory as you won’t have this experience on a dodgy copy bought in the pub, on a special edition Blu-Ray version released with the Red and Green lenses to compensate for our standard TVs or even at a cinema showing the standard 2D version because nothing will live up to seeing it in full 3D on a big cinema screen, I promise you. It’s changed everything I expect from a film forever and raised the bar for everything to come.
I will try keep the review as spoiler free as possible so read on for more.
The Story of Avatar
Avatar’s story will be what most reviewers base the strength of this movie but to me it’s so much more than that. The story as a whole is good, very enjoyable and engrossing which peaks at the immense and reaches a low as almost annoying but only once or twice in the overall 2.5 hours. Avatar is fundamentally a love story between Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and a native of Pandoran Na’vi called Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) but it is also about the invading and mining of the world of Pandora for it’s rich valuable raw material and the battle of these two factions over it. Avatar is also of course an action film and those that want their action thick and fast wont be disappointed, in fact they will be beside themselves with joy as the action, when it comes, is unforgettable and perfectly choreographed.
Jake is a paraplegic sent to Pandora to replace his deceased twin brother’s position on the Avatar programme, lead by Dr. Grace Augustine (the excellent Sigourney Weaver), where Na’vi and human DNA are joined to create an Avatar, a remotely controlled biological Na’vi body using the consciousness of the user. Once in this body Jake is thrilled at being able to use his legs again and goes all out immersing himself into the world of Pandora, joining the Na’vi to gain their trust and attempt to negotiate a solution for the mining to proceed and we go along for the unforgettable ride.
The battle hardened and menacing Colonel Miles Quaritch (played brilliantly by Stephen Lang – with whom we have an exclusive interview which will be posted shortly), is the real villain of the film, effectively bullying the decisions of Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) the administrator for the company wanting to mine Pandora who also has Little regard for the Na’vi inhabitants, together they forge ahead against the advice of the Avatar scientists to excavate the area under a sacred tree of the Na’vi’s spiritual land and home. This leaves little choice but war. Jake is used as a mole for Col Quaritch after he is accepted by the Na’vi and reports back Intel, Jakes initial motive being the promise of an operation to get the use of his legs back but as he becomes more involved with the Na’vi he becomes unsure what side he wants to be on.
The war builds momentum and for the final third of Avatar we are treated to some of the most enjoyable set pieces of action from the film that are all superbly paced and stunning to experience in 3D. A scene where the humans assault the Na’vi’s sacred tree is just so remarkable I remember my eyes were hurting cause I just did not want to blink and miss anything, the scale and size of what was happening was incredible and a special fx dream, a true joy to watch.
The Design of Avatar
The film is technically the most stunning piece of cinema I’ve ever seen, nothing has ever been done like this before. It’s almost flawless in it’s design of the planet of Pandora, it’s many inhabitants, the numerous ships, the big mecha robot war suits, the characters, the plant life, the Avatar concept, weapons and those huge floating mountains, it’s all just so incredible to see unveiling before your eyes and when you see the floating mountains of Pandora you won’t believe they aren’t real.
The step up from previous motion capture designed characters in movies is just phenomenal. It’s so hard to tell they are CGI, at times it just felt like the actors were in blue makeup and that is a kudos to their design. It was the Na’vi’s emotions that brought them to life, the eyes, the mouths, the slight facial expressions showed every emotion and made these Na’vi more realistic than anything ever created before. I recall watching other CGI created characters and there was always something just not right, even with the likes of Gollum from Lord of the Rings it was incredible but still it wasn’t perfect but Avatar has nailed it, they really look incredible.
As for the 3D, It’s so good you do actually forget that the 3D is there as it seems so natural and real what your watching and you forget those big blue aliens are CGI creations as their emotions and interactions with the actors and scenery is just perfect and seamless. A real credit to Cameron and his team, nothing has ever been this close to photo-realism before and it is a shear joy to experience 15 years of development coming together.
The 3D is at times subtly hinted on the screen showing depth and other times the screen is completely filled with layers of depth that really adds to the impact of this great movie. From the opening scene in a spaceships long and deep sleeping quarters that is slowly rotating in space which creates an intense sense of vertigo and jaw dropping effectiveness of what the 3D has to offer, and then there is a subtle shot of Jake landing in a gushing river and the bubbles floating around him under the water seem to have millions of rows of depth and as he comes to the surface the sense of the water flowing towards you is stunning in its beauty and realism. True 3D vision has definitely arrived and has never been so good. it’s truly sensational.
The sound and music partnered perfectly with the film and never seemed to take over from the films visual assault on your eyes . The score by James Horner was beautiful to hear and the sound fx brutal in the huge set piece scenes. The planet of Pandora came further to life with the sounds of it’s animals, it’s huge expansive setting with waterfalls and creaking forests and the dialect of it’s natives all further adding to belief that Pandora is a living breathing world.
Sam Worthington and the entire cast are all fantastic and show a real commitment to their characters. Sam is showing why he is becoming an true A-List Hollywood star with a performance that stood out and with excellent strong supporting performances from Sigourney Weaver and the truly brilliant Stephen Lang adding something special to the overall film and with Lang especially providing a much needed villainous presence that gave everyone something to fear on top of the huge flying machines and weapons that invaded Pandora.
From the numerous interviews I’ve read and watched about Avatar you sense the entire cast are so proud of what they have made and all gave everything to James Cameron who definitely gave his all in making his vision come to life.
Yeah the plot wasn’t Oscar winning material but it had more than enough to make it a work and leave you wanting more of Avatar and it’s characters, and yeah the Na’vi do look a bit strange from the trailers and magazines before you see them on the big screen but they steal the show with their shocking realism and personalities that are brought to life by the actors and the motion capture which is awesome. The only fault I can remember was a strange ritual dance that is performed by the Na’vi which was the worst looking of the CGI effects but that is a minor part of what is a almost faultlessly enjoyable film.
Avatar is a genuine masterpiece, not because of the story or because of the stunning special fx but because they worked so perfectly together on screen in 3D to bring us something we have never seen before which isn’t said very often in the world of film. I can’t be more excited about the future and what can now be achieved but I’m also very aware of the utter rubbish this is going spawn from copy cat stories by studio executives trying to cash in on the guaranteed success of Avatar.
I would like to see a film without so much need for special effects using this new technology in the hands of Cameron, Spielberg, Jackson or Coen Brothers and see if this new 3D future can fit with a film Noir or suspense thriller. God, could you imagine Hitchcock with Cameron’s 3D cameras and what he would have made!?
I really can’t praise the film enough, I wasn’t one of the pre-release skeptics and was really hopeful of it working and I’m glad to see for me it did on every level. Go see this film and make sure you pay the extra pounds/dollars/yen/Euros etc to see it in 3D because it’s worth every penny and the only way to see Avatar.