It was one year and one month ago that director James Cameron’s sci-fi / fantasy epic Avatar hit cinemas. I watched it the first night it opened, and even dragged my parents to the theater. All I knew then was that James Cameron previously did Aliens, Terminator 1 & 2 and Titanic. Titanic was the highest grossing movie at that time, so the guy must be doing something right. Sadly, he has lost his reign as “King of the world” because another movie managed to surpass Titanic. Oh wait, that movie was Avatar.
So is Avatar a good movie? Sure, why not… it has a (somewhat) likable hero played by Sam Worthington, who was a half-human-half-robot in Terminator Salvation and a half-human-half-god in Clash of the Titans. So obviously he doesn’t like playing fully human roles, or acting in movies that are set in the present time.
In any case, there wasn’t anything terrible about Sam Worthington’s acting or his looks. The Dances with Wolves storyline was okay, I suppose. This is another one of those “chosen one” myths where the hero has no capacity of accomplishing anything, but because “it is his destiny”, he somehow manages to do whatever he is destined to do.
Avatar is a mighty long movie, and as if it wasn’t long enough, I recently purchased the 3 hour “Extended Collector’s Edition” on Blu-ray. When the movie gets into the epic battle scenes it looks very impressive, but when the humans are standing around and talking, it gets boring. That’s because Avatar is all about the CGI and the 3D flying around on screen, so you are just waiting for the next giant action sequence.
Of course there’s also the Titanic-esque love story between Sam Worthington’s character and the blue alien girl played by Zoe Saldana. The Blu-ray has a little behind-the-scenes footage of Sam and Zoe doing a bunch of serious working out for their roles. Do they really have to go through so much physical training when the final product is going to be computer generated anyway?
Despite my (somewhat) negative tone here, I actually do not hate Avatar. In fact, I liked it a lot the first time I saw it. The viewing experience was definitely enhanced when I saw it in a 3D theater, which was the whole point of Avatar – to show you this new 3D technology that James Cameron has been developing for quite some time. I’m not sure how well the movie will hold up say, ten years from now when this same technology has become the minimum requirement for giant action movies. (Some CGI scenes here are already starting to look dated!)
I like Avatar for its “epicness”, but I still prefer my Stars Wars, The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix. If you think Avatar is better than any of those I mentioned, watch Return of the Jedi (or even Predators) again and try to convince me that those jungles are not better than Pandora.