My initial plan was to see Avatar the LONG anticipated, hyped to death 3D Sci-fi epic from James Cameron, write a paragraph long review then spend the rest of my time explaining in fully documented detail why I hate JAmes Cameron as a person... his hubris, his egomaniacal behavior... I mean the man is just a cunt. However, I forget that, despite his biggest hit being the biggest film of ALL TIME Titanic (which I find schmaltzy at best) he has directed the following films which I love: Aliens, The Abyss, Terminator, Terminator 2: Judgement Day, True Lies (oh and Pirana II:The spewing-that's the one where they fly incase you forgot) so it's hard to discount the skill of James Cameron to craft a well made intelligent action movie... and there in lies my dilemma... I was soo blown away by Avatar I can't refocus my argument on why I hate Cameron-the man,so for that just watch the making of The Abyss it's legendary, for reasons you'll see.
Avatar tells a fairly well worn tale in a lot of respects. It's about the evils of colonialism and private militarization for the progression of commerce. It's basically the story of the New World (both historically speaking "New World" Americas as well as the Terrance Malik masterpiece The New World) the t with aliens. Only we are the true aliens on Pandora a lush and toxic plant home to the Na'vi, giant(ish) blue humanoids who have a very complex symbiotic relationship to their home world which Humans seem intent on strip mining ... they are understandably not thrilled with "us" The gorgeous Sam Worthington (more on him later) stars as Jake Sully, a paraplegic former marine who's hand is forced into accepting a mission to Pandora to become an Avatar. Basically a human remote controlling a Na'vi body with their mind downloaded inside-it makes more sense in the film trust me.
Well without giving anything away all hell breaks loose, love is fallen in, war breaks out, hearts are broken LOADS of deaths occur and you are truly awed by spectacular special effects so convince that within minutes you don't care that the film is 90% CGI. Zoe Saldana (who is on a sci-fi role after her turn as Uhura in the excellent Star Trek reboot/sequel/remake) acts via motioncapture technology and gives by far the most compelling vocal performance I've heard all year, reducing me to near tears on a number of occasions in the films 162 minute run . It's shock and awe and occasionally very heavy handed. Yes we get it colonization is very bad indeed. Corporations and the military are not humanitarians. Scientists should be wary of their strange bedfellows. But it's not made for a deep thinking philosophical audience. This is not La jetée nor does it really try to be. I feel most of the negative reviews have come from one of three distinct and often overlaping camps. :
- Neoconservatives who find the eco-spiritual message offense-preachy-dangerous to their raping of third world countries.
- Right-wing Militarists who can not take any criticism of the armed forces even when presented with documented facts of atrocities they will defend them as need, just, and possibly not extreme enough against "the other"
- Pseudointelligensia who have complete forgotten the joy of a spectacle. Film vs Movie arguments could be made all day: Terrance Malik's the New World tells the fact-based but impressionist account of the devastating story of Pocahontas and Avatar tells a very similar tale, the same people first inline to call The New World a masterpiece are picking Avatar apart. Some people are off put by the use of motion capture finding the prospect of the film focusing on blue CGI natives silly or somehow less engaging than human actors, completely missing the mark that all this digital wizardry is a form of man craftsmanship and is nothing without the actors performances.
Sigourney Weaver turns in one of the most surprisingly delightful performances of the year as bitter botanist/boss lady Grace. (which made us discuss how we'd like her to keep reprising the role of Ripley periodically into her 90s)
Ugh it pains me to say this, but once again James Cameraon has created a film that I love and one that will stand the test of time, one that will redefine movie technology and will more than likely launch a franchise, which is fine by me, as battered as the experience was on Pandora I'm eager to explore it further.
BTW to the naysayers: the trailers do no Justice to the effects and 3D so see the film in the theater, then decide. I dare you not to enjoy the ride.
Now back to the gorgeousness of Sam Worthington!
He first caught my eye in the sexy Aussie flick Boot Men and the again years later in Greg Mclean's criminally overlooked survival horror film Rogue as Rahda Mitchell's damn sexy redneck exboyfriend in the outback. Now he's on a roll bouncing back from the dud that was Terminator:Salvation, to Avatar, and next up as taking over the role made famous by Harry Hamlin, Perseus in 2010's highly anticipated remake of Clash of the Titians .
Aussi, Aussi, Aussi Oi Oi Oi!