Director: James Cameron
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
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.
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.
("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