Wednesday, 23 September 2020
Wednesday, 23 December 2009 00:00
avatar_zoe_poster1I’ll just start by saying “Wow”! If you want pure bang for your buck this holiday season, you will not get more sheer entertainment from any other film. Millions were spent making it, millions were spent promoting it, but your dollars and time will be well spent on seeing Avatar.

It’s not often that Hollywood hype actually amounts to a film worthy of all the commotion. With Avatar James Cameron has given us not only a visual thrill ride, but a movie with some power and depth of emotion as well. Avatar immerses you in a fully realized fantasy world – one that feels fresh and exciting.

Although science fiction, the story is reminiscent of Pocahontas or Dances With Wolves. Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, an ex-marine sent on a special mission to the planet of Pandora. Inhabited by a species called the Na’vi, the planet is rich in a precious resource called (appropriately enough) “Unobtanium”. Humans want to mine this substance, but the natives stand in their way. Through a scientific breakthrough Jake is able to inhabit a Na’vi body in order to learn about the tribe, but ultimately he is meant to betray their trust.

avatar_movie-thumb-500x281-31755One thing I loved about this movie was the sense of discovery. Seeing Jurassic Park in theatres for the first time gave me that feeling and it was not something I quickly forgot! Once Jake inhabits his 10-foot tall, powerful Na’vi body, you are literally drawn into this strange place right along with him. Some scenes are absolutely exhilarating, such as flying on the backs of huge dragon-like creatures, or being charged by a heard of rampaging alien rhinoceros’s! The 3D effects are eye-popping but never overdone. Rather than jumping out at you, they literally draw you in to in a world full of wonders. It is a perfect example of how 3D should be used.

The use of motion-capture technology is absolutely stunning. Instead of feeling like I was watching a bunch of cartoons running across the screen, you can feel the weight of real people and real expression. Basically how it works is that the actors’ movements are digitally recorded using special suits. Their voices and even their facial expressions are captured as they act out scenes in studio. This raw material is then CG rendered, which creates very realistic and very expressive characters. It is a tribute to both the artists and the actors that so much emotion and personality can be preserved once the computer effects take over.

avatar-navi-blue-photo2Some of the characters are formulaic, but it is a very small concern when there is so much to praise. A fault of many big-budget action flicks (*cough* 2012) is that I don’t really care what happens as long as lots of things get blasted into tiny pieces. With Avatar I really did care about the characters and the story. Sam Worthington was already the best thing about Terminator 4, and he once again proves his abilities as a great actor as well as action hero. Zoe Saldana (Star Trek) was a surprising breath of fresh air in her role as Neytiri, the warrior who trains Jake in the ways of her people.

Avatar is a stunning piece of work. It’s hard to imagine a more enjoyable movie-going experience and I was not disappointed for a second. It truly sets a standard for big-budget filmmaking, proving that if Hollywood is spending the money they might as well make it count.