PLOT: A paralyzed Marine, Jake Scully (Sam Worthington), is given the chance to walk again when he's recruited for a top-secret program involving the exploitation of an alien planet. Scully's assignment is to infiltrate the planet's indigenous population, called the Navi, through the use of a lab-grown, Navi body, which he will be able to control with his mind. After several months living among the Navi, Scully's sympathies begin to shift, especially after he falls in love with a beautiful Navi warrior (Zoe Saldana).
REVIEW: First, the good news. AVATAR is much better than the under-whelming trailers would suggest, and it's nowhere near the disaster some have been pegging it to be. It's a solid, exciting, sci-fi action adventure. And now, for the bad news. Anybody expecting another classic from James Cameron is going to be sorely disappointed, as this ain't it.
In the highly hyped role that's been tipped to make him the next big action star, Sam Worthington comes across a lot better than he did in TERMINATOR: SALVATION. However, I'm still not sold on the guy as a star. Sure, he's decent, but he totally lacks star power, and comes off as a very bland hero. I think an actor with a lot more presence was needed here, and if you compare him to former Cameron heroes like Schwarzenegger, or Michael Biehn, he can't hold a candle to them. Co-star Zoe Saldana fares a lot better as the Navi love-interest. Even though we never see the real Saldana, her voice and motion captured mannerisms were enough to make an impression on me, and after this, and her work in STAR TREK, I have a feeling we'll be seeing a lot of her in the years to come. She does a lot with a thinly written role, and at times, I almost wished she was the lead as opposed to Worthington.
Another issue I had with the film was the generic, all-too-familiar musical score by James Horner who continues to steal from his earlier work (some cues sounded like they were lifted directly from ALIENS). I also didn't care for the theme song by Leonna Lewis, which, I suppose, they're hoping will be the next 'My Heart Will Go On' (I doubt it).
Flaws aside, I still would have to say I enjoyed AVATAR. My biggest fear walking into it was that I wouldn't be able to get past the CGI Navi's, as I never liked the blue fairy design, but after an hour or so, I started to get sucked into the Navi world. It should also be said that the effects come across a lot stronger in 3D than they do in the conventional 2D trailers. I didn't get a chance to see the film in IMAX 3D, but even in the slightly less impressive Digital 3D version, this was still a very immersive, visually stunning experience, and is easily the best use of the 3D process that I've seen to date.
In the end, AVATAR is not the kick-ass, mind-blowing James Cameron movie I was hoping for, but it's a perfectly serviceable sci-fi adventure that's well worth seeing, despite it's flaws. While I doubt this will catch on like TITANIC, it's still good to have James Cameron back directing movies, and I hope we don't have to wait another twelve years for his next film.
* NOTE: Wow, just under a month later- I guess I was wrong about it not catching on like TITANIC, eh? While I stand by my review, obviously I REALLY underestimated it's box office performance. Alas- no one's ever accused me of being psychic... RATING: 7/10
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