#84: Avatar

Don’t be fooled by her blueish good looks…

Director: James Cameron
Year: 2009
Genre: Sci-Fi

I feel a little embarrassed including Avatar in this list. It can be tough justifying the integrity of top grossing films because generally the more money a film makes, the more it compromises on its more edgy or challenging aspects. Avatar, being the highest grossing film of all time, is not exempt from such treatment. Before its release, all the geeks out there were expecting an explosively unique Sci-Fi story, instead we got a re-telling of Fern Gully: The Last Rainforest (1992) and Pocahontis (1995) with a sci-fi outfit. I guess I’m embarrassed because, like a lot of Avatar haters, I see right through the film’s story and can recognise its many flaws yet I’m as captivated as fuck.

Avatar is the most visually stimulating cinematic experience I’ve ever had. It boasts the most impressive and seamless CGI to date. The world Cameron created, the planet of Pandora, is jaw dropping and luscious, and the 3D is gob-smacking. I’m not usually a fan of 3D, or CGI for that matter, but whatever Cameron did here paved the way for the future – strange that no other films have utilised this technology since? The depth that Cameron’s 3D created was so new that I physically felt sensations in my eyes. It was a whole new way of viewing the moving image.
Unfortunately the only way to take advantage of this experience is in the cinema – 3D TV technology is not yet up to speed. I’ve watched the film in 2D on DVD and it’s still impressive. I was worried that without its stunning 3D the CGI would suffer, but thankfully it still holds up.

The visuals aren’t the only thing worth a damn in this film. If you leave your cynicism in carbon-freeze and open up your heart you may find yourself as captivated as I was. Despite its flaws, the direction and performances were effective enough that I got caught up in the story regardless and found myself getting teary in the emotional and climatic parts. It was a shame though that Avatar wasn’t as much of a sci-fi as it should have been. ***SPOILER ALERT*** The film’s biggest let down is that the whole idea of having an “avatar” isn’t really explored at all. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) uses a Na’vi (they’re the natives of Pandora) avatar, that is, he walks around in a Na’vi body, to infiltrate the world of the Na’vi. Cool, right? Despite his avatar,the Na’vi know that he’s a human from the get go! What a missed opportunity for challenging character developments and unique plot points. Fuck me, and the movie’s CALLED Avatar. That’d be your $237,000,000 budget talking – can’t take any risks with that budget! The film is fuckin’ solid though. A lot of the best stories are old and familiar ones anyway. As long as they’re executed masterfully, the audience is your bitch – and Cameron is quite the maestro.

Don’t be expecting any complex sci-fi concepts and you’ll be in for a visual spectacle and an exhilarating adventure. If you haven’t already seen it you won’t be able to have the same overwhelming experience I had until the film gets a cinematic re-release. Don’t worry, they’ll surely do one in conjunction with the sequel which promises to be all the more orgasmic!


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