Tuesday, December 29, 2009

James Cameron's Avatar Movie Review

Before this, I wish to credit IGN.com and the Avatar Wiki for the images used here.


"You are not in Kansas anymore. You are on Pandora, ladies and gentleman."

I never expected to anticipate Avatar. Movies with strong hype, coupled with supposed “genre-defying” gimmicks, seldom turn out well. I knew I had to watch it, given the crazy hype, but I never expected to look forward to it. Then, just a week or two before the movie was released, reviewers began praising this film, and I realized that perhaps it wasn’t destined to be as big a failure as I thought that it would be.

See, the thing is, when one doesn’t anticipate a film, it will turn out a whole lot better upon viewing. Many went into Avatar expecting the most gigantic, revolutionary film since the days of Titanic. Some came out utterly disappointed, with cries of “generic” and “unoriginal” thrown around. Let me ask you honestly though, was Titanic, the mighty Oscar winner of 11 awards, that original to begin with? It presented us with the same forbidden love romance story we’ve seen since Shakespeare penned it down in Romeo and Juliet (perhaps there are other classics before this, but I’m not scrupulous enough to think up any now).

Terry Pratchet once said that "The reason that clichés become clichés is that they are the hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication." Yes, I know I lifted this from TvTropes.org, but Pratchett summarizes what I feel about Avatar: it’s not the most original, but it does what it needs to do fantastically. Avatar is most probably (it has to fight with Star Trek for that) my favorite movie this year. It is a space fantasy, like Star Wars, and much like Lucas’ phenomenal saga, Avatar takes old ideas and freshens them up.

And boy, does director James Cameron make cinema-going a thrilling experience! I gazed in wonder at the lush jungles of Pandora (the fictional moon that the movie is set on) as we are taken on a breathtaking flight over the trees. Through amazing 3D and sound effects, I felt myself immersed in the experience, as if I was literally breathing and feeling this exotic world. I could almost feel the wind whipping in my face as the characters rode their winged steeds at full velocity around dazzling floating mountains. As soldiers worked the graphical interfaces in their machines, I swear I could almost touch those screens; they looked so real with their reflective surfaces.

The story isn’t so bad either. Much like Titanic, the adventure here is beautifully told and should appeal to most people. The directing is strong enough to make you feel for the characters; an impressive feat considering the fact that most of them are feline, computer generated blue aliens. Despite initial fears of the aliens, known as the Na’vi, being to cutesy and Disney-like, the end result is very convincing and the Na’vi are, dare I say it, better characters than seen in most blockbuster movies of today.

Really, I came out wondering if anyone but James Cameron, that titanic (forgive the pun) director, could have pulled it off. Make no mistake, because Avatar is a beautiful experience that must be had by movie lovers. On the other hand, it’s also a brilliantly told archetypal epic story of love, war, tragedy and heroism. In a nutshell, it’s like going to Disneyland: you’ve seen Mickey and Donald on television, but despite your familiarity with these characters, Disneyland is a whole different experience that cannot be easily translated to words. Go watch this movie and if possible, watch it in 3D. And IMAX. You won’t regret it.

Pictures are property of the aforementioned IGN.com and the Avatar Wiki, and of course of 20th Century Fox.

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