I wasn’t really sure what to expect of Avatar. I knew Cameron would deliver, but I wasn’t sure in what way or to what extent. In case you’re wondering, Avatar does deliver – in spades. See it as soon as possible, that’s all you really need to know. Still, I feel like I owe it to the film to write a bit more. Earlier I said that Avatar always seemed like “that movie Cameron had to finish before doing Battle Angel”. Boy was I wrong. Not that there are many bad reviews out there, but honestly those critics can go [expletive deleted] themselves.
Avatar blew my mind. I haven’t felt like this since I saw Jurassic Park as a kid, which is probably why the word “breakthrough” is making the rounds. This is the feeling of the bar being raised. A couple of trailers precede the film – Clash of the Titans, an epic visual effects action film, looks laughable by comparison. And Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (which from the trailer is probably Burton’s most beautiful film to date) can’t match it.
This is easily, I repeat easily the most visually stunning film I have ever seen. More so than any other film, I felt like I was transported to a different world, as if I was inside of a dream. And it’s not just due to the 3d effect, which is so natural you will soon forget it is there, but the seamless blend of live action and special effects. In some scenes the exotic flora and fauna are displayed in all their glory in slow motion so you can really savor the details. The best special effects artists in the industry clearly believed in the project and gave it their all.
The performances the world-class animators at Weta wrought from the Na’vi are just as nuanced and convincing as the best scenes with Gollum from Lord of the Rings. Though the Na’vi look more alien than Gollum their emotions come through, quite powerfully at times, and you will feel for them. The subtle hint of the actors they were based on gives them that extra believability, particularly with Sam Worthington’s character. Neytiri, the lithe female Na’vi (to the credit of the artists) will make you a furry for the duration of the film, and you won’t mind. You will wish that the beautiful but dangerous planet of Pandora was a real place; the proud indigenous Na’vi a real people. Digital characters have come a verrrrrry long way from Jar Jar Binks indeed.
Don’t get me wrong, the story is not as groundbreaking as the visuals. They say there are no truly unique ideas left in the world, and it is easy to point out similarities to plots or ideas seen in other epic films. And it’s true that the third act is pretty much balls-out action. That said, I was so swept away in what I was seeing that I could hardly care. The difference here is that this has James Cameron’s signature all over it: he gets your adrenaline pumping scene after scene with hardly a chance to breathe, and somehow manages to weave it all together into a touching story with a deafening message.
Everyone needs to get out and see this. Not for its story, nor for any particular visual effect, or for its use of groundbreaking 3d technology. You need to see this because the King of the World has come back from his long hiatus and brought back something truly spectacular. Unlike Lucas, Cameron hasn’t lost his touch. Bring on Battle Angel, your highness, but if you want to revisit Pandora I’ll gladly come along for another ride.
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