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Monday, 28 December 2009

Movie Review: Avatar

It's been a while since I've done a movie review even though I meant to write one up for Ninja Assassin but events conspired to keep me busy. I’ll just say that I felt sleepy 30 minutes into the movie and it didn’t let up until maybe the last 10 minutes or so. The action scenes were brutal but also narmy and silly 70% of the time and the story was deeply disappointing and unoriginal. The fact that I finished up my popcorn in the first 20 minutes should tell you how dull the entire thing was.

In any case my review this time is not about Ninja Assassin but actually about James Cameron’s Avatar which I’ve read to have disappointed by a critic featured in my local newspaper. Have no idea who the guy was but on what basis do these so called professionals judge the movies they watch because there was no way we were watching the same movie if you go by that guy’s review. Basically, Avatar was downright awesome and critics are basically anti-popular. I just can’t see how they find District 9 to be a masterpiece while I found it to be a good film but not that good.

Avatar runs for about 2 hours and 45 minutes long and is set in the fantastic world of Pandora, a lush green planet filled with more or less living plants with the dominant race being a population of giant blue tribesman called Na’vi that live as one with their environment. Humans have come to mine a rare material called Unobtainium(I remember this being mentioned sarcastically on several TV Trope entries) and that they are at the brink of war with the locals. This is where the Avatars, synthetic remote controlled Na’vi, are brought in to find a way to make peace with the tribesman by trying to see their world through their eyes.

The main character is a marine named Jake Sully who’s paralyzed from the waist down and after the death of his brother, he took his chance to find a way to start walking again. The circumstances of him being brought into the Avatar project however initially puts him at odds with the scientists running it while the businessmen and mercenaries want him to report any information they can use to them which we all know means trouble eventually.

While the story is a rehash of a plot that’s been done since the black and white era of films, the real treasure here is the ideas that go into it. The world of Avatar is just so god damn amazing and vibrant that just seeing all of the giant trees, flying mountains and rpg-esque monsters make the whole thing worth it. All the scenery porn they gave us in there was only made better by the fact that they did a very good job of blending in the real stuff with the CG. I couldn’t even tell the difference between what was CG and what real with my eyes even though I knew what just couldn’t be real.

There’s also quite a surprising amount of room for humor between all the action and adventure they put in. I myself couldn’t help chuckling whenever Neytiri of the Na’vi talked since she sounded like a cross between a cat and a pissed off girl. A lot of it came from how different the Na’vi’s culture was and would probably be racist if they were real. There was also a whole lot of subtext in there that was pretty obvious like the go green message but thankfully it doesn’t get in the way of the enjoyment.

Like I said, the story isn’t anything new but the director managed to execute all the right scenes in all the right ways. He obviously knows what people want to see in a big budget sci-fi CG movie and that’s a massive all out battle involving giant robots and weird monsters. The entire final battle was spectacular but my favorite part was the epic knife-fight between Jake and the Colonel. Do not underestimate how awesome a knife-fight can be, especially when the knives in question are giant hunks of metal made for the huge battle armors the human side have.

It’s been a long time since I watched a movie that absorbed me right into the experience and I have to praise Avatar for being able to do that. This is absolutely a movie you’ll want to catch in the cinema and not on DVD or even Blu-Ray to which I’m expecting very high sales for. It seems they’ve also got sequels planned for the future and with any luck they’ll be just as epic as this one was.

I’ve got plans to watch Sherlock Holmes this Wednesday so look forward to a review maybe a few days after. I’ve also got a year end post planned to set off at midnight on the 31st so look forward to that too.

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