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Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world and in here is the dream - Sully
James Cameron is one of my favorite directors of all time (along with Lynch, Argento, Eastwood, Polanski, Woo and Stallone) and to say that his films have shaped the way I see cinema, specially the action and sci fi genres would be going about it lightly. ALIENS and THE TERMINATOR have had such a hefty influence on me, its not even funny. Flawless works of celluloid art in my book! Now I have been
jonesing for some new Cameron, big screen loving since 1997’ TITANIC (yes I dug that one too) and now his new baby has finally dived out of the slit in the guise of the 3D, digital effects extravaganza
AVATAR. Was it worth the wait? Yes and no.
AVATAR stuck me to its web and ate me alive quicker than you can spell EYE and POPPING. It introduced me to a likable hero (Sully played by Sam Worthington) and slapped him (and me) in quite the peculiar situation. Although not all that they could have been (more on that later), the chain of events, growing relationships and the conflicts that followed kept me hooked the whole way. I was having a blast! The setting this story took place in was a big plus as well. I quickly grew fond of the Navi world; with its majestic mountains, waterfalls, trees and its countless unique beasties. In a perfect life, I'd vacation there someday, scratch that, I'd MOVE there! The digital effects definitely translated much better on the big screen than they did in the trailers. I believed and awed at the marvels of the world I was avatared in and that of course augmented the impact of the story. Throughout, I kept thinking: George Lucas only wishes he could be this good with digital effects. The money was on the screen and spent brilliantly. F*cking amazing!
What about the 3D you may ask? Well personally, I valued that the usual “shit coming out the screen” 3D shtick was kept to a minimum here. It would have been distracting for a movie of this ilk. All the 3D did for me was jack the feel of me almost being there, IN the film and in that respect it got the job done aces high. Casting wise, Cameron has always had a flair for picking the right actors for his movies and here was no different. Sam Worthington made for an endearing hero. I personally think the dude rocks! The camera loves him and he has a quiet intensity that gets me (He should be the next Mad Max if Gibson is a no go- I said it!). Furthermore, crazy pumped up Stephen Lang had a hoot with his fairly one note part; Zoe Saldana was solid, communicating so much within the limits of being a blue alien while Sigourney Weaver stole every damn scene she was in with her tough as nails yet big softy show. Long live the Queen!
Cameron himself was in top form too! The man hasn’t mellowed with age that’s for sure! He graced his picture with nifty camera moves (loved his often subjective approach to the storytelling), an impressive attention to details and delivered a smooth as Victoria Secret model ass pace. Moreover, the slew of ambitious, flawlessly staged and executed large scale action sequences were exhilarating to witness. I saw shite hereI had never seen before! NICE! Thematically; this sucka didn’t thread new ground but I have to admit that the “message” hit home none the less. The way I saw it, the Navi were living the way that us humans should be living; with respect to our planet while being one with it and its inhabitants. They lived a real reality, with TRUE values, as opposed to a society constructed and imposed one. Yup, I related to what the film was saying, it evoked points that I often think about in my every day wasting. Finally the production designs were stellar (the various military vehicles got me hard) and the humor that would pop out now and again added to the fun of it all.
Alas, all wasn’t tops in this Zoo. AVATAR’s story was incredibly predictable and clichéd within the “outsider gets in with the enemy, falls in love and joins them” subgenre. I was able to see the film coming every step of the way; I’m not playing here, EVERY DAMN step of the way! So that definitely took away from it. The same went for the relationships, some of the characterizations and the conflicts which were presented in a one dimensional way. Why wasn’t I moved more by the love story? Why didn’t Jake’s struggle with his dual life hit me harder? Cause the script only scratched the surface. Reminded me a bit of Disney animated movies. Not what I’d expect from Cameron. And was I alone in thinking that the score was solely serviceable? James Horner, who gave us the AWESOME music in ALIENS (which he ripped beats off here BTW) can do so much better. Underwhelming.
Now I don’t want ya to get me wrong here, see AVATAR on the big screen, its ideal escapism, with lots of che and ching on the screen, appealing actors, insane actions scenes and a 3D jive that will suck you in deep into this adventure. But I was hoping for more originality and layers from King Cameron and I didn’t get it. You gonna link up to this humanoid and take the trip?