Sunday, 20 December 2009

James Cameron's Avatar - Mini Review (No Spoilers)

Back at the beginning of this year I was very lucky to be a part of a limited scale out of secret information given to Mattel (the toy manufacturers) for the upcoming big budget James Cameron movie Avatar. The rather large release had dozens of images, names and descriptions for all the Pandoran creatures, the human vehicles and weaponry, the Na'vi natives and the human military/ RDA characters.

I have to admit to being a bit underwhelmed when I had all this info in my hands and even more so when I actually saw the Mattel prototype action figures... Then the movie images started coming out and then the preview clips and it still didn't really rock my world. There were those out there that just panned the whole thing straight away without even seeing it, saying that it was millions of dollars spent on Cameron fulfilling a 13-year-in-the-making dream and that it would dive bomb once released. Then there were those that then saw the high def footage on Avatar day (that I was invited to, but couldn't go to) and went crazy for it. I tried very hard to stay on the fence about the whole thing and because I'd been involved before most of the public I was a bit "meh" about it and was simply waiting to see it for myself.

But, and this is probably the biggest "but" I'll ever make about a movie, I, and everyone else who pre-empted the movie with trepidation and negativity, were wrong... OH. SO. WRONG.

Yesterday afternoon The Dark Knight and I took a trip down to the cinema to catch the 3-D showing. Having spent the £9.60 on the ticket and 80p on the funky NHS style 3-D specs (as DK put it) we sat down to over half an hours of crappy adverts and trailers... and then Avatar began...

First of all I will say this: James Cameron's Avatar is truly a masterpiece in cinematic history, an experience like no other I've had in my 31 years of obsessive movie watching. This film is the kind of thing that will drop your jaw to the floor and hold it there for the whole 2 hours and 42 minutes without reprieve. It is quite simply one of the best and most enjoyable films I've ever seen. Those who complained about its dialog, its cliched story and character types or its predictable plot are clutching at straws and are the kind of people I can't stand, it's nitpicking. They probably went into the cinema fuelled by heavy preconceptions, a dislike for action or sci-fi, or even a love story for that matter, and they really need to sit back and watch it again to take it all in and enjoy it for what it is, rather than what it should be. Review it by all means, but don't be a Scrooge about the little things that don't even detract slightly from this films quality.

This quality that I mention isn't just in the special effects either, which of course are photo-realistically flawless and stunningly beautiful, just as Cameron had promised, but also in the direction, the acting (by both the live action actors and the motions capture CGI actors) and the story itself. It is of course a story we've all seen before; A large and powerful military-backed corporation seeks to pillage the natural resources of far off land to fulfill its greedy and selfish needs whilst not caring about the lives or homes of its aboriginal residents, eventually resulting in their forced removal/ destruction through means of a greater and more advanced power. It's something we've seen throughout our own human history and Cameron pulls upon this age-old story to create Avatar's main plot. Within the story we also see people discovering right from wrong, falling in love, having faith in a higher power, fighting for what they believe in and the weaker power overcoming unimaginable odds to succeed and survive. It is at its heart a story about the human soul and its journey through the atrocities and wonderment's of life, even though it's based on an alien planet with alien creatures being the main focus.

On the point of the actors; they all do a great job. Man of the moment Sam Worthington does a good job of portraying crippled fish out of water Jake Sully and his CGI counterpart, Sigourney Weaver, as always, puts in a solid performance as Dr. Grace Augustine and her Avatar version is uncannily spot on for her, even though it's more attractive than Sigourney herself! (sorry hun, no offense meant), Stephen Lang is incredible as the super hard-ass Col. Miles Quaritch and has some of the best moments of the movie, both in and out of the mechanised power suit, and Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi & Joel Moore all do adequate jobs as the supporting characters for what little screen time they're given. Cudos however go to Zoe Saldana as Neytiri who not only nails her vocal performance on a professional level but also brings incredible emotion and fire to her on screen warrior princess. It's a testament to the special effects crew that they actually make Neytiri stunningly beautiful, even though she's clearly a feline looking 8ft tall, skinny, blue-skinned alien. Yes that does indeed mean that I thought she was hot... No real surprise there.

The world of Pandora has obviously been in James Cameron's mind for quite some time and the process of getting it to the big screen has been a labour of love for him and his team, and it shows. Every little detail is represented in the most dazzling and awe inspiring way and when you get a close up of the Na'vi faces you truly see just how much effort has gone into the CGI creations. Michael Bay's Transformer movies may have brought believable walking talking robots to the masses but James Cameron has finally created CGI humanoids where you can't see the flaws, you can't tell what's real and what's not, and you're dragged into that world as if you could really touch it... It is, for lack of a better and more fitting word, flawless. If I were in Jake Sully's position I'd do exactly the same thing! There are so many moments that engrave themselves into your mind and that's a Cameron trait. Think of his films like Terminator 1 & 2, The Abyss, True Lies and even Titanic... You can always bring specific scenes and characters to mind because you love his movies, he does them with skill and passion and it reflects on the audience. Avatar is his piece de resistance and a crowing achievement for what is truly a testament to 3-D films of the future.

OK so you can say that you can see almost every plot point coming a mile off and that the ending is completely obvious, but it's exactly how it should be. It's classic formulaic storytelling, but it all works. You want it to go the way it does and you wouldn't want it any other way. Why moan about predictability in a film like this? I was so enthralled by the spectacle of beauty and action that the silly negative points that might have crept up melted away.

I won't say anything more about it as I sincerely urge you to go and see Avatar for yourself. See it in 3-D, sit back with your peanut M&M's and large Coke and take it all in. You won't be disappointed in what you see, I guarantee it.


1 comment:

r4i software said...

i would love to see it again because....The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-'em-ups you care to mention.