Movie Review: Avatar

Director: James Cameron

Cast include: Zoë Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel Moore

‎2hr 42min‎ – ‎Rated 12A‎ – ‎Action/Adventure/Fantasy‎

Answering the obvious question first; yes, I did wear the 3D spectacles and yes I did peak over them from time to time to see what difference they make. Having not seen the 2D version it is hard to compare and assert whether it is worth investing the extra cash in a 3D experience but I will say that sometimes it did enhance the spectacle visually and others its impact was less obvious.
 
Avatar has been receiving rave reviews and plaudits with some justification. I wouldn’t call the plot original or ground-breaking; you have your evil corporation motivated solely by profit (RDA) your peace-loving, nature worshipping natives (Na’vi) and in the mix the pure-hearted but a little rough diamond military types, scientists and the clunking-fist, vaguely fascistic military types.
 
In the absence of original narrative the movie is heavily reliant on powerful characterisation and stunning visuals; both of which it achieves with a reasonable degree of success. Sam Worthington does well as Jake Sully though some of the dilemmas faced by his character are never fully explored (like, for example, how he is empowered once his disability vanishes not by positively overcoming it) but nonetheless its a creditable performance and his insistence he is ‘from the Jarhead clan’ is worth a little laugh.
 
Of course, for every ‘rough diamond’ there must be the other side of military power and that is present in Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). Quaritch’s insistence that you should ‘fight terror with terror’ and the negative portrayal of organised military power in general (as opposed to heroic individuals) shows how cultural discourse is increasingly angled against the whole ideological construct of the ‘war on terror’. Often  this is said to be criticism of the war in Iraq but it see ms odd to me that you can critique one but arbitrarily not another.
 
Science meanwhile gets off relatively lightly as a neutral; quasi-benign investigative force. The dis-juncture between the scientists appreciation of Pandora and the Na’vi’s wholly different one is again something that is never really discussed at great length; basically they are presented as being so in sympathy that they are natural allies.
 
Cameron has said that he viewed the Na’vi thus;
“the Na’vi represent something that is our higher selves, or our aspirational selves, what we would like to think we are”

It is an interesting comment in itself that in Cameron’s eyes our idealised vision of ourselves harks way-back to a pre-Enlightenment closeness with nature which is established on a level that is spiritual and therefore much more than an observational respect. In 2012 science and technology was presented as the salvation of humanity whereas Cameron’s view is clearly different.

At the very least he sees the solution is being through an active engagement and appreciation based on more than a desire to control and survive. It will be interesting to see how much this discourse shapes environmental politics and policies in the years to come…

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About darrellgoodliffe

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11 responses to “Movie Review: Avatar”

  1. jrnymn says :

    James Cammeron spent a fortune on it, roughly around $ 350 mn including marketing.
    >when did money alone equal quality? If someone could spend millions of dollars on marketing alone I wouldn’t be surprised if some of that money went in to “buying” some or all the critics to put out ”great” reviews. Think about it. If you really want to read a “true” review try googling around blogs and forums or simple just google “Avatar sucks” and see the results.

    A breakthrough in film technology especially 3D technology
    >nobody gives a shit about technology, period. What do 6-12 years kids know about 3D technology. It’s only the hype that is being generated by the “media” that is putting out sentences like: “a ground-breaking technology”, “it’s going to pave way for a whole new genre of movies just like Titanic”, “James Cameron has raised the bar”, “A must watch” etc

    Not only is the pacing of the movie slow but insanely boring and what with the predictable plot.

    How lucky the scientist for whom the avatar was built had a twin brother.
    Jake Sully lands at that site with no training whatsoever and is suddenly running around in his avatar.
    There is no explanation of how Pandora was discovered.
    There is no explanation of how the avatar technology works. We know that the DNA has to match to get into the avatar, but how is transportation of nervous system and mechanical functions transferred from the human to the Navi. A switch is pushed so many times to “wake up” the human, but what does the switch power.

    read more:
    http://rkisho.blogspot.com/2010/01/avatar-sucked-period-review.html

    Like

  2. darrellgoodliffe says :

    jrnymn,

    Well to be honest I disagree. I can see how you would feel that the plot is maybe a little thin and unoriginal but I do feel that is compensated for in other areas.

    Like

  3. Luke says :

    Thin plot? I can name many films most critics adore that have plots just as thin or even thinner than Avatar’s.

    Like

  4. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Luke,

    Well I think its a bit thin and predictable when you get down to it but each to his own 🙂 I accept your right though that movies with thinner plots do get alot of critical acclaim.

    Like

  5. bunyan 10 says :

    If you are over 21 —and you’re thinking ‘AVATAR’ is anything
    —anything at all -you are definitely suffering from an acute
    case of ‘screensaver worship while living at mom’s’ syndrome.

    See you doctor —and whatever your do –DON’T ask where Cameron and Hollywood are getting their funding.

    (Clue —-the most awesomely genocidal regime in history
    —across the Pacific. TRUE)

    Like

  6. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Bunyan,

    If you say so lol. I had no intention of asking where the funding came from; there are quite a few genocidal regimes so I am not sure I follow on that one.

    Like

  7. DerekGoodliffe says :

    I thought it was a great film,thin plot or not, 3d made a big differance i feel.
    My thoughts regards where he gets any sort of story or plot from go back to the Americans persicution of the native American Indians.
    And on that note,a film or even the book of the same name are worth a look and read, that being,Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee.

    Like

  8. darrellgoodliffe says :

    Ye I did too. Probably not, that except the price lol.

    I havent seen that one. Dances with Wolves is the other film people have mentioned in connection with it. But a great film overall….

    Like

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