Avatar – 3D IMAX
If the visuals don’t hook you then the battle sequences will.
Wow, where to start – the anticipation for James Cameron’s Avatar was for a lack of a better word, uncomfortable since the day I was treated to 15 minutes of teaser footage at the local AMC. The 15 minutes of eye candy solidified my interest in the movie and as the nay-sayers multiplied, I stood my ground in knowing this would be a cinematic feast for my eyes. Now after seeing it in full IMAX 3D, I feel inspired, enlightened and especially happy at the visuals, the story and ultimately the outcome which had audience members clapping in joy during the entire finale. 2.5 hours of splendid CGI, melded in with the acting talents of Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver. Although the story will not surprise you, as I had it all figured out within minutes of the start, it is the execution that will ultimately win you over for Avatar.
James Cameron has created the equivalent of a Sci-Fi nerd’s porno. From the inclusion of military mecha, (looking very much like large versions of the mover Sigourney Weaver used in Aliens to fight the queen) to the Matrix-like stations that the soldiers use to place their bodies in stasis throughout the trips to distant planets. There are high-pulse smart guns, and primitive knives, Military brass and an Alien race of warriors. It’s as if they did a study on what makes us Sci-Fi nuts go oooooh and mixed it all together to come up with this movie. Then you have the actual planet of Pandora. The lush forests that glow beautifully at night, the floating mountains and the rolling plains are right out of a Final Fantasy video game.
The characters are memorable and although the focus lays heavily on Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri, I really enjoyed Sigourney Weaver’s portrayal as Dr. Grace Augustine. Her motherly nurturing and loving heart starts out under the guise of impatience, snippiness and annoyance but as the character is revealed, you grow to really love the character along with the rest of her team. Colonel Miles Quaritch is played by Stephen Lang and he is the consistent hardcore, vinegar and piss military leader we know oh so well in the Sci-Fi world. The Colonel Tigh of Battlestar Galactica and the Sergeant Thomas Highway of Heartbreak Ridge all balled up into one hardcore piece of no-bullsh-t gunmetal.
Michelle Rodriguez plays pilot Trudy Chacon and it’s the typecasted role we know her for which is the cute but hardcore sidekick. The thing that differs Michelle’s role in this however is her calm and subtle nature unlike the typical bravado, sh-t talking roles she has done in the past (think Resident Evil). I can go on about the casting but I will cut it short after Michelle by saying that the acting as a whole – if you can withstand Zoe’s cries and battle screams – was spot on.
Not without it’s faults, the story of avatar is the standard tale of one culture plotting a hostile takeover of another. You have seen the tale a few times before and many of the elements will echo the sentiment of real life occurences but please let’s not go there. The Navi are an alien race whose planet aptly named Pandora holds a precious resource that is worth millions of dollars. In order to retrieve this resource, the government sends a military unit along with a few scientists to study the aliens and convince them to allow the mining of the resource. The problem with this plan however is that the Navi people are primitive and a secluded warrior race. While they allow the scientists to come in and share things like language and medicine, they will not allow the military to destroy their forestry to get to the resource.
In order to change their minds, the scientist use biological clones of the Navi that are controlled via the human mind in order to integrate into their society. When Jake Sully’s twin brother dies in the line of duty, he is selected to come in and assume control of his brother’s Navi avatar in order to continue the infiltration mission. Jake is a Marine and survivor of a war injury that has paralized him from the waist down. When he is promised new legs for his service, he jumps at the chance to use the avatar. After coming into the mission at both the disdain of his fellow Marines who laugh at his disability and the scientists who scoff at his ignorance for their academics, he finds the Navi avatar to be more than a welcome fit for him. His bond with the new body and ultimately a Navi girl named Neytiri will eventually cause him to blur the lines between the two worlds and he has a hard time deciding which side he is on.
Although there are plot-holes, mistakes and a not-so-deep story behind it all, you will find it hard to make fault with this movie. The visuals are an absolute masterpiece and the battle scenes hold some of the best aerial warfare I have ever seen on the big screen. And it absolutely MUST be seen on a larger than life screen. I implore you not to wait on a DVD release to see this, the sheer size of the 10ft tall Navi and the creatures that reside within Pandora, may not be appreciated on a small screen. I recommend an IMAX viewing of Avatar if there is one available and the 3D effects while hokey at times are very effective on a lot of the action sequences.
There are epics and there are epics and the size and deliverance of Avatar is of Epic proportions. It was well worth the wait and hopefully worth the money that James Cameron burnt into creating it. What an absolutely unforgettable experience.