Avatar the movie: a review
I like books and films where I’m transported to another place and time. I want to be swept up in the adventure or majesty of the moment… to suspend disbelief and soar, run, or cry with the characters as they struggle against the odds.
James Cameron’s wonderful 3D epic, Avatar, is just such a film and it certainly impressed critics at its London premiere.
Avatar takes place in 2154 on the mythical planet of Pandora. Earth has been stripped of its resources, so the greedy Resources Developmental Administration, backed by a ruthless military contractor, casts its covetous eyes on Pandora, a sensual, wild, and often dangerous planet filled with gargantuan trees, floating mountains, and wondrous creatures in a lush, luminescent jungle. It is truly spectacular world created by Cameron’s CGI wizardry.
The film’s main character is Jake Sully (an excellent performance by Australian actor, Sam Worthington), a former Marine who lost the use of his legs in battle. His scientist twin brother has just died and Sully, whose DNA matches that of his brother, has taken his place on a mission to Pandora, where a group of scientists led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) have spliced the DNA of certain humans (Sully is one) to that of the indigenous population, the feline-like, gracile, ten-foot-high Na’vi, to create avatars of the creatures, which are then brought to life while their human counterparts lie in a sort of computerized coffin in the lab, channeling thoughts and life to the avatars. The purpose is to become part of the Na’vi society to learn more about them.
But the Resources Development Administration wants Sully to secretly furnish intel on the Na’vi in order to defeat them. Being the good soldier that he is, Sully agrees. It is when Sully falls for princess Neytiri (voiced to perfection by Zoe Saldana) and begins to appreciate Na’vi ways, that he regrets his agreement and instead decides to help them defend their planet against the coming invasion.
There have been a few negative comments from critics. Not a lot, mind you, but a few. While appreciative of the film’s 3D special effects, they nevertheless see a hackneyed storyline: an invading government’s willingness to do anything to anyone in order to gain access to what is coveted, in this case a priceless mineral lode buried beneath the home of the Na’vi. Sound familiar? Of course. But hackneyed? Not at all. It’s a theme reminiscent of how Native Americans have been treated in America, and I applaud Cameron for it. It’s a reminder of all we can be — the depths and the heights.
Through the years, many people have been kind enough to rave about my books, so allow me to do the same here. This film deserves it. After all, I’m a romantic and I like satisfying endings. I like being swept away with majesty, heroism and a great love story in the face of danger — where I fall in love again with the trials and wonder of falling in love. Avatar has all this and more. Five stars out of five from me.
I have a feeling one viewing just won’t be enough!
James Houston Turner writes thrillers from his home in Adelaide, South Australia. You may visit him at www.jameshoustonturner.com