Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Avatar. James Cameron. The movie has earned $1 for every three people on the planet. If you haven't seen this movie you are truly missing out on an experience. Jake Sully, an ex-marine played by Sam Worthington, is thrown onto a new planet when he is asked to fill his recently deceased brother's role in the Avatar project. Jake lands on the planet Pandora where he learns from a stern Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver, that his mind is going to be put into a make-shift body of one of the Na'vi, the native people of Pandora. He gains the trust of Neytiri, the daughter of the chief of her Na'vi clan, played by Zoe Saldana. Their friendship grows as they learn from each other. Their relationship is put to the test when Colonel Miles Quaritch, played by Stephen Lang, leads the American troops on Pandora in an all-out brawl for Na'vi resources. Jake must decide where his loyalties lie; either with his American military family, or with his new family, the people of Pandora.

I mentioned above that if you haven't seen Avatar you were missing out on an experience. And that's truly what Avatar is. It is a movie going experience. James Cameron creates a world that is so easy to be drawn into and it leaves the viewer in awe and wanting more. This immense and amazing world makes it easy to lose sight of how good the movie actually is. I'm going to ignore the much talked about fact that Avatar is essentially "Dances With Smurfs" because the plot isn't the point of the movie. The point is the time and effort James Cameron put into creating his perfect world. Avatar is not necessarily a plot driven movie. It could effortlessly be driven solely by the world of Pandora. So to me, the fact that the plot is unoriginal isn't as important as it seems. What I find important are the performances of the lead actors. Sam Worthington falls short of the typical American war hero he's played out to be. Part of it comes from his mediocre accent, and part of it comes from his character's slew of stereotypical American catchphrases. On the whole though, Worthington provides a performance that is good enough for the movie, but not as good as it should be for the lead in the highest grossing movie of all time. Zoe Saldana does a great job, especially considering the audience never actually sees her. She had a huge year in 2009 and I think she's found her acting niche in being the harsh female lead who keeps up with the boys.  Sigourney Weaver brought everything she normally does, she makes her presence known and she is clearly in charge. Part of her casting might come from Cameron's familiarity with her, but I'd like to believe even if this past relationship didn't exist she'd have been given this role. With this being said, in any other year this movie would not have been nominated for Best Picture. Unfortunately 2009 was a dismal year for film. Without a doubt, Avatar deserves its status as the highest grossing film of all time. It is a fantastical voyage that anyone can enjoy. But James Cameron is very lucky that Pandora turned out as good as he'd hoped.

Grade: B

Appeals to all audiences - Box Office
Entrances the audience - Box Office
Leaves room for sequels - Box Office
Some high-billed actors - Box Office and Oscar

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