Without doubt the most hyped and publicly marketed film in the history of contemporary cinema, Avatar dominated the big screen in all corners of the world, and went on to generate over $2.7 billion in revenue. It made James Cameron the master of the two most financially successful cinematic endeavors of all time.
Avatar takes us more than one hundred years into the future, where the Earth (played by the United States) sends a group of Marines to mine the foreign planet of Pandora for an extremely rare MacGuffin known as Unobtainium. Involved in this operation is the crippled Jake Sully, who is given the task of fusing his body with a cloned native in order to gain the trust of the planet’s Indigenous population, the Na’vi, and convince them to flee their home in to accommodate the excavation of their sacred site. Along the way, Jake becomes more than friendly with the Na’vi princess Neytiri and begins to question the underlying motives of his employer.
For many cinema goers, this film offered a comprehensively positive answer to the most debatable of movie topics: can a film made with the budget of a small (or, in this case, not-so-small) country which is made to appeal to the masses also be embraced by the critical community?
Unfortunately, I’m not one of those believers. For hype about Avatar to include such claims as ‘it will revolutionize the way people watch and interpret cinema’, it’s fair to say expectations were pretty high. I walked into the film expecting a heavy dose of originality to complement the many socially conscious themes suggested by trailers, and ultimately implicated in the film’s plot (including a criticism of America’s involvement in the occupation of Iraq, as well as the need for us all to make our thumbs a little greener).
What I got was same-old, same-old, Hollywood production-line stuff. A plot recreated dozens of times in different environments, coupled with a ‘romantic’ sub-plot lacking any sense of depth meant this was ‘just another movie’ in my eyes. I’m always open to give two thumbs up for innovation in film and, quite frankly, would have had no problem in seeing the closing credits roll following Jake’s refreshingly insightful monologue about how ‘we all have to wake up sometime.’
Of course, the film dragged on for another 45 minutes, climaxing in a fierce battle scene allowing the special effects crew to show off to their heart’s content, which was, that’s right, thrown in to appeal to the masses.
Despite this, I am impartially obliged to list three positives to come out of what was otherwise a disappointing film. Sam Worthington’s portrayal of Jake Sully was, while by no means Oscar-worthy, leaps and bounds ahead of his previous enterprise in the dreadful Terminator: Salvation. The attention to detail offered in terms of the mannerisms of a paraplegic was something I was worried would be pushed to one side in the scope of such a grand undertaking, but Worthington did the role justice.
Secondly, You can watch Avatar on 123movies, it also has given 3D cinema the push it needed to avoid being just some flavor-of-the-month promotion, and I for one am glad to see it hang around. Avatar is the first, and by no means the last, blockbuster to accommodate this revolution in film-making. And speaking of revolution, no one can voice their opinion on Avatar without mentioning the visuals. Not since our encounter with a real-life T-rex in Spielberg’s suspenseful 1993 roller coaster have computer-generated effects taken such a huge step forward. Now if only JC and company could have formed the plot, character development and dialogue to match.…