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AVATAR (2009)

>> Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Hey lady, you look familiar. Do you have a little smurf in you? No... Would you like some?

So... it's been a while. Christmas caught up with me and I didn't get a chance to see a lot of movies. My next review will be for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Sqeakuel, which I actually saw before this one, but who wants to start the new year off with that? Like, yeah... Nonetheless, I give you the first review of 2010.

So a few months back I do what I usually do every day, and sit at work and look up movie reviews, news and trailers. Upon my search I come up with a new trailer for a upcoming film called Avatar. I said to myself “Alright, I’ll bite. Sounds like some Japanimation stuff or something, but whatever, let’s check it out”. Frankly, I didn’t think too much about it past the point of seeing the trailer. The characters looked cartoonish, the movie looked incredibly sci-fi, and I didn’t really know what the plot was. I’ll admit, it looked decently epic, but it was well on the way to becoming one of those movies you think about seeing, and eventually settle on renting it from Blockbuster 18 months later when you see the DVD case and say “Oh yeah….I forgot about that one”.

Well, as most of you are probably familiar with by now, it didn’t take long for this movie to get some buzz, and more buzz, and MORE buzz. To the point where, like Twilight, you have to say to yourself, alright, let’s check it out. Whether it be the fact that this is director James Cameron’s first film since Titanic, or the fact it has the biggest budget of all of time (reports put it at nearly half a billion), or simply the fact that Cameron has babied this film for nearly two decades, which means that’s it’s not a quickly put-together “let’s try and win an Oscar” flick. These things alone make the story of making the movie epic, so what was the end result of the actual film?

Avatar is easily the best movie of the year, if not the decade. I know that’s a lot to say, because there have been MANY great films over the past 10 years - The Dark Knight, Lord of the Rings, Kill Bill, etc. And perhaps my statement is a bit unfair, as it’s different in a lot of ways than those films. Plus a movie always seems better when it’s in its glory days and everyone is talking about it. There was a day when all I would hear were Napoleon Dynamite quotes ringing through the halls of the University and spewing from the mouths of my friends. “Napoleon your just jealous because I’ve been talking to hot babes online all day” and “can you pull me into town?” Ahhhh, to reminisce of yesteryear….
But, I digress, upon making such a bold statement I must now explain myself. Most will think I say such a thing about Avatar because of the special effects and epic of it all, this is not true. The special effects are hella-ground breaking and amazing to see, especially in 3-D, and Avatar, much like Christmas Carol, used 3-D in the right way. In Carol because of things like following Scrooge as he flies over town, in Avatar because it actually held back a little making the experience not so over-whelming and easier to settle into. But it’s not the visuals that sold it for me, although it was a nice hefty layer of icing on this cake.

Here it was the story, and the care that can be seen in every frame of film courtesy of Cameron making sure he spent each cent of this ginormous budget in the best way possible, including the task of creating a whole new language and culture for the aliens to speak. This translated into a film that a person of every age can see, even though it has mature themes, much like Titanic does. Those mature themes translate into a very touching bond that is built between Marine Jake Sully, played excellently by the relatively unknown Sam Worthington, and native Neytiri played by Zoe Saldana, who also played Uhura in this year’s Star Trek. The bond between them feels very real, and might be one of the most memorable romances in film history. Even though both characters are CG most of the time, motion capture has gotten to a point where there’s no difference between the actors actually being on set as opposed to be on a motion capture stage. The same goes for the supporting cast made up of Stephen Lang, Joel Moore and Sigourney Weaver, who Cameron obviously new could work well with species from other planets.

The story here is that ex-Marine and paraplegic Jake Sully takes a job replacing his dead twin brother, who was supposed to operate an expensive avatar that was made with his genetic code. Turns out Jake is a perfect match and with his help (and the promise of a new pair of legs), that costly toy won’t have to go to waste. On his first day out Jake gets lost meets up with Neytiri, who was going to kill him but decided against it due to signs from the “Gods” so to speak. Because of this Jake integrates into their society and when it comes time to decide whether he should follow his initial malicious military orders or protect the people he is learning more about every day, our hero gets his struggle and must make a decision.

At nearly three hours, Avatar is not a quick in and out movie, but it does not slow or waver or get lost in the vast possibilities introduced by this new and fascinating world. It moves at a very tolerable pace and you will find yourself immersed completely in this visual and emotional wonder. The story will hold onto you and at the end of the movie you may find yourself inspired, or wanting more, or simply wanting to see it again (perhaps all of the above). So do yourself a favour and start this new decade off right and walk through this door. Avatar (especially on the big screen and in 3-D) may just be one of the best movie experiences you might have in a long time.
*Still courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox


Alex Chandler February 19, 2010 at 8:41 PM  

I completely agree, Avatar was an amazing movie, and the CGI was spectacular. I actually haven't seen Titanic, but I have to....ha

One thing I thought could have been improved upon was the length, it was amazing, I wanted more, but it seemed like it was slow at parts and could have been a bit shorter, but maybe that's just me....

Tyler Cyrenne February 20, 2010 at 9:47 AM  

Thanks for the comment, Alex! I think you're right about the length for this film. It definitely had its slower moments and I believe that if anything had been shortened it probably wouldn't have been missed.

That said, I heard director James Cameron cut out a good hour or so of useable footage from the final cut that we should see when this film gets released on DVD and Blu-Ray later on this year. And yes, I fully expect them to milk the 'Blu' in Blu-Ray for all it's worth with this one!

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