(12-20-09) Greetings again from the darkness. Any lover of movies has been anxiously awaiting this “next film” from James Cameron. If you have lost track of time, it’s actually been 12 years since Cameron’s “Titanic” became the ultimate mega-box office champion. Finally, people can stop asking him what he’s been up to!
This is a very difficult movie to review or critique, so here is how I will describe it: it is a Film spectacle … I mean that in a good way. “Avatar” is an event similar to “Star Wars” or even “The Exorcist”. Much anticipation for seeing something we had never before seen on screen! And make no mistake, there are MANY things in this one we have never before seen. You will not find the list here because I believe this one should be viewed with as little upfront knowledge as possible.
The star of the film is not the actors, and certainly not the script, but rather the technology and special effects. Be sure to see it in 3-D, the way Mr. Cameron meant for it to be seen. Some segments are breathtaking in beauty and creativity and splashes of color. I was fascinated by Pandora, the planet where most of the action takes place. The plant life, creatures and inhabitants are truly a new world from the mind of Cameron and crew. Wow.
On the downside, the story is ho-hum at best and downright cheesy in more than a few scenes. Fans will easily pick out the influence of “Aliens”, “The Abyss”, the “Terminator” series … heck, even the song over the credits reminds of Celine Dion’s claim to fame. Another negative is Sigourney Weaver’s completely over the top and unbelievable scientist, and Giovanni Ribisi’s mugging corporate puppet. Who would have even imagined the usual laconic Mr. Ribisi was capable of overacting? Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are actually very good as the leads. Especially Ms. Saldana, who emotes a wide range of emotions despite heavy make-up (an understatement), and is really the best non-technical thing about the film.
In a year of terrific, accessible sci-fi (Moon, Star Trek, Avatar), this one comes up short on story, but makes up for it with awe-inspiring imagery and visuals and sound.