Avatar might have been the most anticipated movie of 2009 and for good reasons. I've heard that it cost somewhere between $300 - $500 million to make and has been what director, James Cameron, has been working on for the past ten years; his first since his last movie, Titanic. Whenever that much hype gets put on something, it's a very risky move. On one hand you get the publicity you need to make sure asses get in seats, but on the other hand you better come through and deliver a movie that lives up to it. Avatar cost so much money to make that it will be almost impossible to see huge profit numbers, so the only way it will be remembered as a success is by what people think of it and what awards it wins. Cameron has made a staggeringly ambitious piece of fantasy that's unlike anything I've ever seen before. The FX are so life-like and vivid that it's impossible to tell what is fake and what is real. The fact that it's in 3D also helps to immerse you in a world that doesn't exist; that world is a planet called Pandora. Pandora is so amazingly real that it feels like you can almost smell the plants or feel the musty humidity in the air. The 3D effects aid in the camera's movement through lush jungles settings to give you the sense that you are ON this planet. The colors are so vibrant that it is a breathtaking just to look at it, especially the nighttime sequences that look as if the entire planet is lit with a Black Light moon. However, that's where the creativity stops. The inhabitants are called The Navi and are 10' tall blue humans with cat faces. All the animals on the planet are just like the ones we have here with minor changes. There is no Star Wars originality when it comes to creatures in this. And that lack of creativity expands to the story as well, which is one you've seen a million times before in other sweeping epics, except this time there are blue people involved. However, I kind of like the fact that Cameron chose such a generic story to tell the tale. The story makes absolutely no effort to hide its message of Imperialism. The overt story echoes the annihilation of the Native Americans, their land and culture. Their even called the Navi for God's sake, but if that's too cryptic the Navi even look, talk and act like Native Americans. But hidden in that story are also political statements about environmentalism, the war on terror, the Vietnam & Iraq Wars, over-zealous military leaders and the bleeding of natural resources. But don't worry, it's only a political movie in disguise. In actuality it's a 160 minute-long, brightly colored, emotional fantasy adventure filled with FX that amaze the senses and has one of the greatest battle sequences of 2009...just too bad it's a story we've heard far too many times.
Avatar (Rated PG-13)
Gavin Grade: B+
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