James Cameron’s Avatar – One Year One Month Later

9 01 2011

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.




10 responses

11 01 2011

Thanks for your kind words on my blog! 🙂 I enjoyed this post and the others. You have a knack for finding what makes films work.

13 01 2011

Oh thanks! 🙂

Your blog is pretty good too!

21 01 2011

I definitely agree with you! Avatar is good but give me Star Wars or Lord of the Rings any day! Good blog! 🙂

23 01 2011

Oh thanks! Your blog is good too! 🙂

23 01 2011

Thank you very much! 🙂

26 01 2011
Embodying Freedom

Thank you! It’s always nice to gain a reader 🙂

4 02 2011

It’s a nice watch, and those visuals are down-right gorgeous, but the story did become too conventional after awhile. Good Review!

8 02 2011

I think your review is pretty spot-on. Though it is this supposedly super-futuristic mega-movie, the CGI feels a lot like CGI in quite a few scenes and the cookie-cutter love story doesn’t really make it feel any less dated. Having said that, I think it is a decent movie that makes for entertaining watching, but I love that you pointed out the whole chosen-one crap. Cause let’s face it: our hero is kind of a douche and we actually really wanna see Sigourney Weaver take over and kick the bad guy’s ass. Or at least I do.

24 02 2011

Loved it in 3D and seen it three times in IMAX. Tried watching in 2D a couple of times – couldn’t make it through the first 30minutes.

Loved the flying islands. The first time I saw them, I got exactly the same kind of feeling like when I saw “Dragonheart” for the first time 15 years ago – like it was for real.

7 04 2011
Grande Falcone

Your post cracked me up, especially Worthington’s distaste for purely human roles (I wasn’t aware of those other roles). I tend to defend Avatar’s “cookie cutter” story line, however, because there are relatively few truly original story lines in cinema anymore. What it comes to so frequently is story TELLING, and Avatar does that very well. Sure, it’s Dances with Wolves, but it’s told well.

As for the special effects, though, I am so glad I got to see it on the big screen in 3D. It was by far the most immersive cinema experience I’ve ever had, unique because the 3D wasn’t used as a novelty so much as a tool to draw the viewer into that world. That was very effective.

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