Friday, 18 December 2009
FILM REVIEW: AVATAR
20th Century Fox
It cost $200 million dollars (or $300 million, possibly four) and, yes, that's obscene, but to his credit, director James Cameron has thrown everything in his arsenal at the screen to create Avatar, a 3D, live action, animated, sci-fi, pro-environmental, anti-war blockbuster.
Cameron's first film since 1997's Titanic (has it really been 12 years?), Avatar has been a long time coming, mostly because there wasn't the technology available to bring the director's vision fully to the screen. That vision includes wondrous forests on the distant moon, Pandora, and its indigenous population, the Na'vi, 10 feet tall beings with tails and blue skin, who live primitive lives in tune with nature. Oh, and they speak their own language – sci-fi nerds rejoice.
We become immersed in the Na'vi culture when crippled ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), replacing his deceased twin brother as part of a science project, headed by Sigourney Weaver's Dr Augustine, has his thoughts transferred to an avatar – a being created from human and Na'vi DNA – which is sent to live amongst the natives, to learn their ways.
Sully's marine past, however, is seen by the military (Stephen Lang relishing his role as a 'shoot first' army colonel), and the business interests (oily entrepreneur Giovanni Ribisi) driving them, as an excellent means to gain valuable intel on the Na'vi, whose village just happens to rest on the largest deposit of a mineral that now provides Earth with its energy resources. Sully agrees to this with the promise of having his legs restored.
But after having his life saved by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who then becomes his guide, Sully goes native - and falls in love, Dances With Na'vi if you will. Still, the romance ensures there is something for everyone in Avatar and not just the geeks and fanboys.
Avatar is definitely worth seeing on the big screen but not necessarily in 3D. I find those glasses tend to dull the colour palette of a film, and Cameron's rendering of Pandora is worth experiencing in its best light; I found myself regularly dipping the shades to soak it up. Besides, 160 minutes in a pair of 3D glasses can be uncomfortable.
So too can Cameron's dialogue - he's no wordsmith - but Avatar isn't as cheesy as you'd expect and its screenplay certainly doesn't do as much damage as it did for Titanic; I caught that film on TV recently and the dialogue has not aged well. In 12 years I may say the same of Avatar, but like Titanic the visuals will hold up.