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  Publicity Stills of
(Courtesy of 20th Century Fox)

Director: James Cameron
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver
RunTime: 2 hrs 42 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Rating: PG (Battle Scenes)
Official Website: http://www.avatarmovie.com/

Opening Day: 17 December 2009


Avatar, a fantasy-adventure from the director of Titanic, is set in a world never before experienced, depicted in ways you’ve never seen. Visionary filmmaker James Cameron takes us to a spectacular planet, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization from powerful, Earth-based corporate forces.  Avatar breaks new ground in delivering a fully immersive, emotional story.

Movie Review:

It’s here- James Cameron’s long-awaited "Avatar", the film that the 'King of the World' will readily tell you has been 15 years in the making. This is a film that Cameron has acknowledged he wanted to make since 1995, but never got to till recently. Technology was the reason for the delay, for he did not feel then that it was advanced enough to do his vision justice. Even up till last year, he had said that he would delay the release of his film in order to give theatres more time to equip themselves with 3D projection capabilities.

It’s inevitable therefore that one asks- is it all worth it? Was it worth the wait? Was it worth the hype? Or better still, was it going to be the disaster that naysayers were predicting when that unprecedented 15-min preview was screened in Aug? Yes, yes and no- "Avatar" is worth the wait, very much worth the hype and most definitely not a disaster. In fact, this reviewer will even go so far as to say that "Avatar" is a masterpiece, a seminal piece of cinema that will for years to come define what movies can achieve.

First things first, Cameron was not kidding when he said that "Avatar" would push visual effects to a new realm. It does- and there’s no other way you should experience it than in glorious 3D. The world in question (and the world over whom the battle is fought) is the planet Pandora, a place where the native Na’vi live in perfect harmony with nature. It is a wondrous world of flora and fauna, a lush rainforest of magnificent towering trees by day and mesmerizing phosphorescent plants by night. There are also white jellyfish-like creatures floating in the air, panther dogs, flying dragons, six-legged horses and hammerhead rhinoceroses.

In magnificent splendour, Cameron invites you to enter the world, a lush, sensual, sensuous world that will leave you thrilled. Like its lead character Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine who enters Pandora via a living, breathing Na’vi avatar, you’d share his wonder, his awe and his amazement as he journeys about this beautiful land. It is literally a breathtaking experience, one that not only is a remarkable CGI marvel, but an extraordinary accomplishment of imagination. And in 3D, it is simply the best motion picture that has employed the third dimension to create a totally immersive experience.

Lest you think "Avatar" is no more than a pretty film to look at, know that it is also a full-bodied action adventure. Before he made "Titanic", Cameron was the director of "Terminator", "T2: Judgment Day", "Aliens" and "True Lies". He is a prowess of action and it shows aplenty in the many, many exhilarating action sequences within "Avatar". Sully’s exploration of Pandora is in itself a great adventure- whether he is just leaping from tree to tree or trying to tame a flying dragon. But Cameron tops it off by staging hands-down the most thrilling finale of the year in the climactic showdown between Na’vi and human in the last half hour.

But what is a film without an emotional core? In the years since "Titanic", Cameron has made two underwater documentaries ("Ghosts of the Abyss" and "Aliens of the Deep") that have established himself as a staunch conservationist. Here he uses his socio-political environmental awareness to great effect by visually depicting the extent of mankind’s wanton destruction of nature and our disrespect for a delicate balance on which our very lives depend. Cameron’s use of imagery in "Avatar" is riveting, his picture of devastation one you won’t forget.

That environmental message is embodied in a story that some have correctly predicted shares certain similarities with Kevin Costner’s "Dances with Wolves"- also about an American who begins to assimilate with the very people he was sent to destroy. But one could also say the same for this year’s surprise sci-fi hit "District 9", where a human turns half-alien and is forced to go on the run from his own kind. Yes, its plot about mutual understanding may be familiar to many, but Cameron (who also wrote the movie) knows how and where to pull at your heartstrings, so you’ll quickly find yourself rooting for the supposed other side (yes, I’m referring to the Na’vi) soon enough.

Certainly, it greatly helps when the Na’vi look as lifelike and expressive as they do in "Avatar". This may be Cameron’s first performance-capture movie, but it is by leaps and bounds more impressive than any of Robert Zemeckis’ mo-cap animations. Not only does Cameron’s technology capture the liveliness within his characters’ eyes, it also picks up their nuances in his actors’ facial expressions and body gestures- just watch the disappointment and hurt in Zoe Saldana’s character Neytiri when she discovers Sully’s secret.

It is no understatement that James Cameron’s "Avatar" is a technological marvel- indeed, it is a CGI masterpiece, one that uses its technology as a reminder of why we love films. Great cinema has always brought us on a journey to a different time and place, a world that may be so different from our own yet at the same time feels so real. "Avatar" is that kind of cinema. It will transport you into a world you have never before seen- whether in real life or on the big screen- and tells a story so relevant and so poignant. Don’t miss it- this is one of the must-see movies of the year, especially in 3D.

Movie Rating:

("Avatar" is James Cameron’s at his finest, a groundbreaking work of art that is as visually and emotionally breathtaking as cinema can be)

Review by Gabriel Chong


. District 9 (2009)

. Terminator Salvation (2009)

. Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

. Star Trek (2009)

. Babylon A.D. (2008)

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