Thursday, January 21, 2010

Avatar is amazing....

It's been 12 years since filmmaker James Cameron last had a film in theaters. A little movie called Titanic that you may have heard of. It made stars out of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. And it set box office records that have endured up until now. Cameron took his time and waited for technology to get better so he could bring us the stunning world of Pandora in Avatar. This is an epic sci-fi tale that everyone has already stated is a familiar story of an outsider who comes into contact with natives and begins to question his actions. You've seen it before in Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas and other countless movies. But trust me, you have never seen it done on this massive of a scale with the most impressive visual effects you have ever seen in film so far.

The story is set in the year 2154 and Earth is running out of resources. So the moon called Pandora is discovered four light years away that is rich in a mineral called unobtainium. The natives that live there are called the Na'vi and are blue-skinned and stand over 11 feet tall. A project called Avatar is developed by scientist Grace Augustine (A strong performance by Sigourney Weaver) that will place human consciousness in genetically bred Na'vi clones so they can interact with the natives and eventually become friends and allies.

One candidate that enlists in the program is ex-marine Jake Sully (terrific performance by Sam Worthington, that is way and beyond better than his earlier foray into sci-fi: Terminator-Salvation) and assumes his recently deceased brother's avatar since they match up extremely well due to matching DNA). Did I mention Jake is a paraplegic. And he is not the candidate Dr. Augustine was looking for. Anyway, he assumes the avatar and through a period of adjustment gets flown out into the wilds of Pandora with Augustine's avatar and well as a linguistic expert. The pilot who flies them there is Trudy (played by Michele Rodriguez from Fast and Furious films, and who is actually likable for the first time ever in film). Anyway Jake gets cut off from everyone when a wild beast attacks and is on his own and must survive a suddenly terrifying place. At night he is surrounded by wild animals and is saved by Princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, who gives one of the film's best performances). There is immediate mistrust when the two meet that will eventually become attraction. Neytiri takes Jake back to the others including her tribal chieftan father and her spiritual leader mother. They take Jake in as one of their own to show him their customs and how to become a Na'vi warrior. In the meantime Jake is secretly working with Colonel Quadritch (played with relish by Stephen Lang) who doesn't trust the Na'vi not one bit. He is one hard core battle scarred marine that loves the thrill of smashing his opponents down with terrifying force.

Jake completes his training under Neytiri and tries to reason with the Na'vi before the military launches an all out attack to take the land they are living on. And once Jake realizes he has been on the wrong side, he tries to make amends. He rallies all of the different clans of the Na'vi to lead an attack against the military to defend his new home. . which sets up the last 30 minutes of the film with impressive battle scenes that up the stakes in film technology. I was completely starstruck by the visual wonders that were going on right before my eyes. Cameron has elevated film-making once again to a new level and triumphs anything you have seen in film before. And he even tops his great scene in Titanic when the ship finally goes down. Well in Avatar, there is this huge tree of life where the Na'vi dwell and the military strikes with all the firepower in the world to bring it down. It's majestic and sweeping and emotional, truly magnificent. Avatar is a new bonafide classic that will appeal to all people all over the world. As I stated before what the story make lack in originality, Cameron still knows how to create a spellbinding film. You forget about the effects and become totally caught up with the characters and start viewing them as flesh and blood creatures that talk and love and fight. Just imagine the character Gollum from Lord of the rings and multiply that by 10 and you get the picture. And Gollum at the time was state of the art. Avatar blows that away with amazing effects and intriguing characters of their own. And hopefully this film will make other creators like Spielberg and Lucas to get their creative juices flowing once again. Avatar is truly an epic piece of film making.

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