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Avatar [2009 film] by James Cameron

Avatar [2009 film] (2009)

by James Cameron (Director/Screenwriter)

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A militant corporation is mining an inhabited planet.

I was entertained. The action scenes are done quite well, although they're not especially memorable. The science fiction aspects don't work at all; I think Cameron forgot about a third of the way through writing the script that it wasn't supposed to be a magical fantasy world. And the not-so-subtle racial undertones made me fairly uncomfortable. Of course, it's the special effects that matter for this sort of movie, and they're great. But when all is said and done, I have to wonder why, if you're spending $250 million on a movie, you can't be bothered to come up with a story more compelling than a rip-off of Fern Gully.

Concept: D
Story: C
Characters: F
Dialog: C
Pacing: B
Cinematography: B
Special effects/design: A
Acting: B
Music: D

Enjoyment: B

GPA: 2.2/4 ( )
  comfypants | Feb 14, 2016 |
I don't give 5 stars to many films. I'm kind of surprised at how much I love this movie, in fact, because I never even bothered to see it when it was in the theatre. After all, I reasoned, while it's goundbreaking in terms of the way it was made -- and even though it's opened up an entirely new way of making a movie, no one's ever said anything good about the story. And isn't that the real reason for making a movie? To tell a story? And Cameron _did_ have a story to tell.

Even though the story reminds me greatly of _Dances With Wolves_, it is told beautifully. A man from a different way of life, living in a dystopia, comes to a new place and meets a different people. Unlike his own, these folks live in unity with the land and nature. He learns their ways and comes to love them and their world passionately. At last, however, his own people come and try to destroy the simpler, gentler culture because they have something the dystopians want/need. In the case of the Lakota people of _Dances_, it would ultimately gold. Here, on Pandora, it is "unobtainium."

Remarkably, the addition of the extra few minutes in the Collectors' special edition makes a great movie even better. The added footage shows how bad Earth has become, explains exactly why unobtainium is so highly sought-after (It's not too big a spoiler for me to reveal that it's a room temperature superconductor, something of a "holy grail" to today's scientists), and expands on the link types of critters found on Pandora and the Na'vi's link to them and all of nature. I wish (and hope) that in the ultimate edition, he spends more time letting us get to know the People better, since all but Natiri are one-dimensional. This was one of the strengths in Dances With Wolves -- Costner fleshed out many of his Lakotas, and we grew to love the people individually as well as the culture.

Do I recommend Avatar? You betcha. I've got both releases now, and will spend more money buying the next, ultimate version when it is released in the future (or, to quote Tommy Lee Jones in _Men in Black_, "I guess I'm going to have to buy the White Album all over again."). I'm not anywhere near bored with watching it, and it's going to stay in my DVD player for a while longer. I hope that, if you haven't discovered this great piece of filmmaking for both its story and its ground-breaking techniques. ( )
  bfgar | Nov 18, 2010 |
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  wdjoyner | May 17, 2010 |
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» Add other authors (6 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Cameron, JamesDirector/Screenwriterprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Horner, JamesComposersecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Landau, Jonsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Ribisi, Giovannisecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Sigourney Weaversecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Worthington, Samsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
After 12 years of thinking about it (and waiting for movie technology to catch up with his visions), James Cameron followed up his unsinkable Titanic with Avatar, a sci-fi epic meant to trump all previous sci-fi epics. Set in the future on a distant planet, Avatar spins a simple little parable about greedy colonizers (that would be mankind) messing up the lush tribal world of Pandora. A paraplegic Marine named Jake (Sam Worthington) acts through a 9-foot-tall avatar that allows him to roam the planet and pass as one of the Na'vi, the blue-skinned, large-eyed native people who would very much like to live their peaceful lives without the interference of the visitors. Although he's supposed to be gathering intel for the badass general (Stephen Lang) who'd like to lay waste to the planet and its inhabitants, Jake naturally begins to take a liking to the Na'vi, especially the feisty Neytiri (Zoë Saldana, whose entire performance, recorded by Cameron's complicated motion-capture system, exists as a digitally rendered Na'vi). The movie uses state-of-the-art 3D technology to plunge the viewer deep into Cameron's crazy toy box of planetary ecosystems and high-tech machinery. Maybe it's the fact that Cameron seems torn between his two loves--awesome destructive gizmos and flower-power message mongering--that makes Avatar's pursuit of its point ultimately uncertain. That, and the fact that Cameron's dialogue continues to clunk badly. If you're won over by the movie's trippy new world, the characters will be forgivable as broad, useful archetypes rather than standard-issue stereotypes, and you might be able to overlook the unsurprising central plot. (The overextended "take that, Michael Bay" final battle sequences could tax even Cameron enthusiasts, however.) It doesn't measure up to the hype (what could?) yet Avatar frequently hits a giddy delirium all its own. The film itself is our Pandora, a sensation-saturated universe only the movies could create. --Robert Horton
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When his twin brother dies in an accident, paraplegic ex-Marine Jake Sully takes his place on a mission to the human outpost on Pandora, where a corporate consortium is mining a rare mineral that is the key to solving Earth's energy crisis. Sully works with a group of scientists cloning near-duplicates of the planet's inhabitants, the Na'vi, whom specially trained scientists can control mentally to foster peace between the corporation and the natives. But when Sully finds himself lost on Pandora and trapped in a Na'vi clone body, a beautiful Na'vi woman saves his life and Sully discovers the corporation's plan to mine the mineral--at any cost.… (more)

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