Movie Review: Avatar (Andy’s Take)

Movie_Grade_Poster_Avatar_AndyFive minutes into James Cameron’s new sci-fi epic, Avatar, I thought I had been transported to the George Lucas Prequel Tram Tour of Computer Generated Hullabaloo. As the lush forests full of giant trees and crazy critters passed before my 3-D glasses covered eyes, as floating mountains and towering waterfalls rushed into view, I sighed thinking this supposed breakthrough in filmmaking was another soulless love affair with CGI from an egotistical and nonsensical director.

But I was wrong. Dead wrong. The difference between the comatose worlds idling in the Star Wars prequels and the universe James Cameron has created in Avatar is the very core of the movie’s story: life, energy and, yes, soul. Avatar gets this injection of zip and vigor from Cameron’s original story, from the actors who give both solid virtual and skin-and-bones performances, and is held together with glue made from fast-paced action, breathtaking visuals and even a little romance.

avatarpic13Can we really expect anything less from Cameron? I mean this is the guy behind Terminator, Terminator 2, Aliens, True Lies and Titanic. Nothing he does is half-assed. And after the success of Titanic in 1997 – including best picture and best director Oscars – he’s walking with even more swagger, enough to turn this science fiction action flick into somewhat of a message movie. Or, as Cameron would prefer, a movie with a “conscience,” something that makes you think “a little bit about the way you interact with nature and your fellow man.”

Avatar’s story is pretty simple actually, but it’s the setting – the moon of Pandora, a six year journey from Earth – that is ornate and far-reaching. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a crippled former Marine who heads to Pandora, home to tribes of Na’vi people – eight-foot tall shiny blue aliens that look like someone mated cats and humans – to take part in the avatar program, a science operation that links Jake’s mind to his genetically created Na’vi-human hybrid. Sounds find and good, like an interstellar Peace Corps mission, but Jake soon discovers a three-way tug o’ war between science, military might and the boardroom. Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) wants to study and befriend the Na’vi and their world, Parker Selfridge wants to mine the moon for the trillions of dollars of minerals it contains and Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has an itchy trigger finger.

avatarpic17After Jake is separated from Dr. Augustine and Dr. Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore) on a routine expedition, he’s left to fend for himself in the Day-Glo Pandorian forest infested with all sorts of nasty beasts, and just as he’s about to become dinner for a pack of hissing “viperwolfs,” a Na’vi warrior woman named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) comes to his rescue. Like the start of many romances, including that of Jack and Rose back on Titanic, he is enthralled and enchanted, she is annoyed but curious. Neytiri takes him back to the tribe and because Jake is identified as a “pure spirit” they agree to train him, albeit skeptical of the results.

avatarpic6If there is one minor flaw in Cameron’s story, it’s that much of what transpires is easily seen and predicted. I found myself thinking “oh I saw that coming a mile away” numerous times during the two-hour and 40 minute runtime, but I also didn’t mind what unfolded, because it was an adventure. So, even though I knew Neytiri and Jake would fall in love, even though I knew a massive battle would capstone the film, I was still left breathless, white-knuckled and all goosepimply pretty much non-stop throughout Avatar.

It’s not a perfect movie by any means, but Avatar is an adventure and is a bold, daring movie from a filmmaker whom, after a 12 year absence, I’m happy to see back behind the lens. Avatar is definitely worth the full-price ticket and I’m already looking forward to another viewing, as well as the visual magic it will showcase on Blu-ray upon its release several months from now.

15 comments On Movie Review: Avatar (Andy’s Take)

  • Pingback: 3D Avatar Movie Review: Avatar (B+) | World Breaking News ()

  • Very well written, Sir, very well indeed.

  • it was hard to believe that 10 feet tall creatures. they are so stunning and through out the movie they fascinate me. i really enjoy this movie. all features in this movie have used in full capacity. i love this .

  • hello guys, nice to meet you.

  • Theres nothing lower in my book than one who visits anothers site just to plug their own site.


  • Don't you worry. I deleted it. I despise comment SPAM.

  • i saw this anti-capitalist, white-guilt movie already. it was called “the last samurai dances with wolves.”

    visual creativity – 10
    story – 6
    originality – 2

  • Wow, Renn, what an original comment. I think you accidentally found your way here while searching for “Rush Limbaugh Sucks Donkey Dick.” Dry those tears, lil’ fella and move on.

  • ah yes…a true critic. criticizes easily, doesn’t allow others to have a voice, insults the person, blames rush or bush…oh wait! you’re a liberal!

    • So, Renn– did you like Avatar? It’s easy to fault a movie on convention, but it can still be enjoyable, can’t it? What’s your take?

      • breath-taking cinematography. captivating special effects. gorgeous.

        like i said – creativity 10, story 6, originality 2.

        the nouveau “journey of the hero” is old schtick.

    • You left criticism of the movie? I must have missed that. Try specifics next time. Why is the story a six? Why is the originality a two? And sorry, Renn, but the anti-capitalist, white-guilt drum bang stinks of right-wing nutjobbery. I’d say, based on the story (and history), that white people and capitalists have plenty of reasons to feel guilty.

      • the story 6 – “the journey of the hero” always contains temptation that leads the hero to abandon his mission/quest. it’s always something fleshy; a woman, money, power. although the hero is tempted by the flesh he always overpowers it by choosing the mission. in Avatar, the hero has one mission that drives him for the first 1.5 hours, then he copulates with an indigenous woman and discovers a new mission. money–or new legs lieutenant dan–and the woman are both temptresses and in neither case does the hero atone with the father. jumping on the back of the biggest, brightest bird in the sky is not an atonement nor is sharing critical data regarding hometree.

        the antagonist switches from a greedy suit to a mercenary commander mid-movie with has no apparent motive.

        the female helicopter pilot pulls out from the attack on hometree but has no apparent disciplinary actions. she still has access to the chopper. that’s called desertion.

        because of the hero’s betrayal, the indigenous female loses her home and father but once the hero rides up on the biggest, brightest bird that only 5 of the tribe’s ancestors have ridden, all is forgiven.

        six foot arrows are enough to kill a human. although it sounds indigenous, do they really need the neurotoxin tipped arrows?

        “the humans sent a dreamwalker to infiltrate our community and learn about us, let’s teach him everything about us.”

        one can use their keycard to help high value prisoners escape, communicate with the escapees while they are in hiding using the company’s communication system, and still not be suspected of anything.

        originality 2 – it is a carbon copy of dances with wolves and the last samurai.

        if a military force invades a distant planet, harms the natural ecosystems, and starts a war with the natives all over a few valuable rocks, they are american by default.

        lastly, why is guilt and blame exclusive to whites? why shouldn’t all races and cultures feel equal guilt for slavery, genocide and greed? africa enslaved, asia enslaved, europe enslaved, south american enlsaved, australia enslaved, north america enslaved. thanks for point out (and history) because i would have forgot to mention that.

  • What I don’t understand is why do people read WAY to much into this movie? Take it for what it is– a beautiful, enjoyable movie.
    I am 100% that I could find a way to compare every movie and story to another and tie in some political statement– but I don’t have that kind of time– I’ve got to go to biology and learn about global warming:)

  • Between bipartisan claim of white-guiltism, everyone’s a winner with Avatar!

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