Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
After being approached by the military to be part of a project previously meant for his now deceased twin brother, paraplegic Jake Sully is shipped off to the planet of Pandora to fulfill his duties and potentially regain the use of his legs. Soon enough, Jake learns of the planet’s indigenous population, the Na’vi, and the humans’ intentions to relocate them in favor of mining the rich mineral deposits under their feet. In order to do so, Jake and a team of scientists much inhabit the bodies of their own Avatars: creatures bred using one part Na’vi DNA and the other part human. When Jake and his comrades begin to bond with the natives however, they find themselves torn between helping their own and defending their new friends, resulting in an epic battle between these opposing factions that will forever change the lives of all involved.
Never have I been so thoroughly engrossed by any one particular film, especially one that relies so heavily on digital 3D presentation. In both size and scope, James Cameron’s Avatar is shaping up to be every bit as entertaining as the legend that is George Lucas’ Star Wars, even if the thought of it comes off as blasphemous. While many have been taken aback by how thin the film’s narrative is in relation to its simply breathtaking visuals and mammoth budget, it’s hard not to acknowledge the amount of time and effort Cameron has sacrificed to make this sci-fi epic every bit as absorbing as its predecessors, if not more so thanks to the aforementioned 3D approach that had my jaw perpetually glued to the floor.
What Avatar lacks in terms of complexity it more than makes up for by way of an overabundance of sheer originality. Granted, the aforementioned visuals do tend to overshadow a good portion of the story, but the environments themselves and the ideals and customs established by the indigenous Na’vi are truly something to behold, even if some have (inevitably) likened them to Native Americans of the present. Additionally, the film’s central characters are fleshed out thoroughly enough to give us a true sense of what it is to be involved in a conflict such as the one that Jake and his comrades are hastily thrust in the middle of, allowing us to sympathize with Pandora and its plight that much more. Toss in a generous dose of eye-popping battle sequences, and you have everything characteristic of a film of Avatar‘s stature and then some.
Despite some of the film’s shortcomings being masked behind dialogue littered with future scientist techno-jargon, each member of the cast does a pretty terrific job in making each character seem as humane as possible when paired with those consumed by their desire for the almighty dollar. Worthington as the male lead is very much worthy of such a description, as his efforts are very respectable in successfully rising to this particular occasion. Zoë Saldana is also pretty terrific as Neytiri, Na’vi warrior princess and the object of Jake’s Avatar’s affections, bringing an appropriate amount of emotion to the role and portraying said character as accurately as can be. As for the supporting cast, Ribisi and Lang are great as the proverbial supervillains, stopping at nothing to claim what’s “rightfully” theirs.
So, after entering the theater with relatively low expectations, I can safely say that my mind was blown about 5 minutes into the dazzling spectacle that is James Cameron’s Avatar. While it’s very easy to admire the simply flawless visuals the film has been known for both prior to and after its release, the amount of originality Cameron’s concept possesses is hard to ignore, even in the wake of a disappointingly paper thin narrative. Flaws aside, Avatar can very well be considered one of the best films of the year, and just in the nick of time at that. If you’re looking for a good way to spend 3 hours of your time, I suggest you make a trip to the theater ASAP and catch the next showing in 3D: the way it’s meant to be seen.