Does Avatar live up to the hype? My just might.

Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Action / Adventure / Sci-fi / Thriller

Avatar is the story of a bunch of blue, animalistic, hippy aliens running around a forest planet whining about having their trees cut down. Actually, no, it’s much more than that. Jake Sully (Worthington) is a crippled marine who is called in to take the place of his deceased twin brother to control a Na’vi/human hybrid Avatar. The Na’vi are a blue-skinned, primitive alien race living on the planet Pandora, which beneath its crust hides an incredibly valuable mineral. The Avatars are sent in to gain the trust of the native Na’vi so that they will peacefully leave home and allow the mineral to be extracted by the humans. It’s no shock when conflicts arise between the humans and Na’vi, leading to a full-scale battle.

The most captivating parts of the film are those that involve Sully’s infiltration, training, and acceptance among the Na’vi. Despite their radically different appearance, it’s very easy for the audience to connect with him and the budding relationship with Neytiri (Saldana). This wouldn’t have been the case had the visual effects not been so incredible. Emotions are conveyed seamlessly through the faces of the Na’vi. After observing them for long enough, it’s easy to forget that they are computer generated. The environments are expansive and breathtaking. The first time you see the waterfalls cascading off of the floating mountains is an image that will stick in your mind.

I was fortunate enough to catch the film in 3D, not IMAX, but still 3D. There have been many 3D films put out over the past couple years, but this is truly the first that I can say has used it as a tool and not a gimmick. There’s no excessive use of objects flying straight at you simply to show off that the movie can do it. The 3D is used to fully immerse you inside the beautiful world that is Pandora. Branches fly by as you race through the jungle. The sense of height is truly established as you look over the edge of a tree that is miles above the ground. Every other movie that is planning on being released in 3D needs to take a look at this film first so that they’ll know how to do it the right way.

As far as the plot goes, it can be argued that it’s not the most original thing in the world. You could easily say they borrowed a concept from here or from there, but honestly, when the movie’s over, you just don’t care because it’s done so well. You can confidently say that they borrowed concepts and used them in their own unique way. This movie runs about 2.5 hours, but the pacing is so good, the characters are so captivating, and the story is so wonderful that if you asked me how long it was, I would have told you about an hour and 45 minutes.

Bottom line: Avatar is not only a feast for the eyes, but also an engaging story in a unique world. Well done James Cameron…well done.

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Rob Logan

Rob is a movie buff, computer whiz, gamer, huge Batman fan, and above all... a geek. In addition to being the Founder and Host of The Geek Generation, he is also a photographer, graphic designer, certified clinical hypnotherapist, a former professional wrestler, and a current superhero.

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  • Well, Rob, I guess we’ll just have to agree to disagree….

    I finally had the opportunity to see Avatar this week and had the benefit of seeing it in IMAX 3D. While I was blown away by the special effects, I just couldn’t get past the formulaic story and its predictable conclusion.

    First off, the special effects were simply amazing. I thought the 3D was seamlessly integrated into the movie, and the “can I reach out and touch it?” 3D gimmick moments were kept to a minimum. I didn’t get dizzy, and adapted to the new experience rather quickly.

    The real star of the film is the planet Pandora. It is breathtaking. The landscape, scenery, and life that inhabit it are as (if not more) fun to watch and discover as the Dances With Wolves framework developing as the main story. James Cameron’s goal for Avatar was to reinvent and re-energize the theater-going experience. Future filmmakers: consider the enveloped pushed!

    In the end, I paid more attention to the details of Avatar’s environment than I did to the story unfolding on screen. Avatar zealots will claim that the story isn’t exactly like Dances With Wolves, but it reminds me of the Wayne’s World dialog where Noah believes that the pink bow in Ms Pac Man’s head constitutes a legitimate difference from the original Pac Man. While the endings of the two movies are different, I simply didn’t care: the damage of predictability had already been done.

    • Points taken and noted. While I can’t necessarily disagree with anything you said on a factual level, it more or less comes down to opinion. I suppose I was fortunate enough to have never seen Dances with Wolves, which allowed me to have a different experience with Avatar then someone who has.

      There’s something to be said for a formulaic approach and predictability, as long as it’s done well. I would compare it to a professional wrestling match…I and was thinking I might do that here, but then realized that might a good article in itself, so thanks for the inspiration.