Avatar (2009) – Review

4 Stars


James Cameron’s first film in 12 years is a mesmerizing experience filled with some of the most visually brilliant images to have ever graced the big-screen. Riding in on a tidal wave of hype and expectations Avatar manages to meet and surpass any preconceived assumptions. Cameron single handily reinvigorated the 3D format in creating an immersive and stunning visual design, with a story that lends itself to indulgences in ‘showy’ sequences. The taming of a wild bird and the battle to save an ancient tree are just a few of the amazing set pieces in this long but briskly paced Sci-fi epic.

Jake Scully is a paralyzed Marine assigned to drive an Avatar based on his DNA match to a deceased brother who spent years developing his knowledge of an alien race. The film takes place on the planet Pandora; a world populated with exotic animals and an indigenous race of 9 foot tall humanoids named the Nav’i. The film has come under fire for being too similar to stories like Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. To a degree these criticisms are accurate, however Cameron serving as writer along with directing duties interweaves elements of corporate greed, environmental protection issues and tolerance between races human or otherwise.

James Cameron’s painstaking work on the film is evident in all aspects, from the color of the skin on the Nav’i people to the look of the floating mountains on Pandora. It’s a major achievement from a master storyteller and a benchmark for cinema in the new millennium. My only real complaint is an overindulgent hour long battle sequence between the military and the inhabitants of Pandora. A roller coaster ride in its true 3D format yet still superior entertainment in 2D as well. Avatar is the rare film that I feel is not to be missed.

Director: James Cameron
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver

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