This may get very film nerdy very fast so bare with me.
Only out for a few days and Avatar is already getting a lot of interesting reviews. They seem to range from awesome to meh.
This review will probably be no exception.
To sum up my opinion on Avatar in a quick bite sized line, it's very used story done so spectacularly well that you forget that you've seen the same story (more or less) dozens of times.
...that may not make as much sense as it did in my head... maybe I should explain.
For those of you who don't know (from what I gather in the theater I sat in, a lot of people are going to see this with no clue what the film is about) Avatar is about a guy named Jake (Sam Worthington). Jake is a marine who was paralysed in a conflict in Venezuela. Unfortunately while technology got better in this future, health care didn't. Jake could get his back and legs fixed but doesn't have the cash for it. In the meantime he had a twin brother who was a scientist. Said brother had signed up for the Avatar program on the jungle moon of Pandora.
Unfortunately, Jake's brother died and the company is left with a very expensive avatar that was grown for him. Being a twin, the company figures Jake is a good second place and brings him out to Pandora.
The company and a group of scientists are using avatars (human hybrid Na'vi clone thingys) to study and communicate with the local aliens, the Na'vi. The company in order to try and move them out of an area that is rich with Unobtanium (a mineral that sells for a crap ton of money on Earth) and the scientists to study the people.
Jake is made a deal by Col Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) that if he can get intel on the Na'vi and get them to move, Quaritch will get his back and legs repaired.
But while Jake is in his avatar he becomes kind of the chosen one for the Na'vi and then starts to see all of the awesomeness of being a Na'vi and living on Pandora. He even takes a liking to one of their women, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who is teaching him in the ways of the Na'vi.
This does not jive well with the company and well you can probably take it from here.
James Cameron has always been really good at taking stories we know and turning them into something fantastic. If you look through his resume of films from Terminator to Avatar, none of them have an original concept at their core. But it's the details that he throws in the scripts that make them great.
While you can easily compare the story for Avatar to Dances with Wolves and Ferngully (I'm serious, Avatar shares a lot with Ferngully) the details that have been added in the screenplay make it a bit more unique.
And then we get to the film itself.
Now I only got the chance to screen it in 3D not in IMAX 3D (I got to the theater around 2pm, all IMAX showings were sold out for the day) but as I said, wow.
The recent rise of 3D has worried me a bit. Everyone seems to want to use it these days and I'm all for it if it is used well. The problem with the technology is it can sometimes hamper the rest of the film. My Bloody Valentine (the most recent one) is a great example. Great use of 3D but I probably won't ever watch the film again. Certainly not in 2D.
Avatar uses a lot of 3D and a lot of CG but at no point does either feel gimmicky. A lot of the 3D for instance is background and set. The CG feels very much "real" as you forget that these things don't really exist and you just dig the whole thing.
But most importantly, it feels like a Cameron directed film.
The problem with CG usage on such a heavy scale tends to be the fact that director's voice gets lost. James Cameron's previous films have a distinct look and style to them. Camera moves, lighting, etc, when you see one of his films, you can usually tell it's his work. I'm happy to report that Avatar feels the same way.
And the cast isn't crappy either.
A pretty awesome ensemble cast was created for this film and I was impressed by most of the performances. Standouts include Sam Worthington and Stephen Lang. And I'm not just saying this out of fear of Lang coming to kick my ass. Worthington is quickly becoming an actor that I will go to see.
Yes I saw Termiantor: Salvation and yes I liked it. So there.Overall a fantastic film experience from top to bottom (with the exception of the concession staff at Colossus but I can't blame Avatar for that). I may check it out again in IMAX in a few weeks to see how it rates in IMAX and for a second viewing.
I'd even go so far to say as it almost makes up for Titanic.
One more awesome movie should about do it.