Movie: "Avatar"
Year: 2009
Rated: PG-13
Genre: Science Fiction / Fantasy
Directed by: James Cameron
Writing credits: James Cameron

Reviewer: Protoclown
Posted: 1/11/2010

Plot: A paraplegic marine takes his twin brother's place in the "Avatar" project, in which humans pilot genetically engineered bodies to interact with the natives of the planet Pandora, a world rich in exotic minerals. Sent to gain the locals trust and convince them to move their home away from a wealthy mineral deposit, Jake Sully eventually has a change of heart and finds himself at odds against his own people.

Review: After twelve years of apparent sitting around with his thumb in his ass, James Cameron has finally made a new film. And it is pretty damned impressive, just like everyone is saying. It's probably the most visually stunning, beautiful use of CGI I have ever seen. The motion capture technique used to animate the faces of the alien Na'Vi was flawless--these are the most convincing computer generated characters I have ever seen (they make Gollum look like a sock puppet).

The plot is simply Dances With Wolves in space, and "about as deep as a pie plate" as a friend of mine put it. But just because the road is clearly marked with signs warning about every turn ahead, that doesn't mean the ride can't be tremendously enjoyable. For an action movie, it delivers as much as it needs to, and the battle scene at the end of the film is jaw-droppingly impressive to watch.

Sam Worthington does a fine job in the role of Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine who seems chosen by destiny to participate in the "Avatar project", in which humans temporarily transplant their consciousness into a genetically modified vat grown hybrid that they can then control as if it was their own body (it's what World of Warcraft players fantasize about when they masturbate). Sigourney Weaver is a welcome, familiar presence as Dr. Grace Augustine, a scientist who has been working with the Na'Vi for some time. Steven Lang played a pretty standard evil military colonel in his character Miles Quaritch, and though he basically portrayed an all too familiar villain archetype, he was still fun to watch. Better than all of them put together was the actress whose actual face you never see in the film: Zoe Saldana as Neytiri, a princess of the Na'Vi tribe we follow throughout the story. She was the most interesting and convincing character of all of them, and with the motion capture technique used to create the Na'Vi characters, her performance was much more than mere voice acting.

But the most impressive character in the movie is the planet Pandora itself. Never before have I seen such an alien world portrayed on film. The environments from the dense jungles teeming with all kinds of alien life to the majestic floating mountains in the sky are breathtaking in the scope of their design. All kinds of interesting alien and plant life is shown in the movie, and the amount of detail and effort they put into designing and creating this alien world is truly impressive. Remove all the characters from the film and you could still have a satisfying "documentary" experience depicting this remarkable alien world.

Now, as for the 3D, which James Cameron is making such a big deal about: yes, I saw the movie in 3D, and I was not exactly blown away. I'd heard reports about how this 3D is so much better than all previous attempts where one flat object appears slightly raised before another flat plane behind it. I could see curvature in the shapes that certainly gave them a real, rounded look, but ultimately I found the 3D to be a distracting gimmick that didn't necessarily detract from my experience, but it certainly didn't add anything to it. I could have seen this film in the normal 2D and I would have been just as impressed by the visual spectacle created by the film. I saw the film with two friends: one who is simply unable to see 3D images, and another who said the 3D was giving him a nasty headache by the end of the movie. So I guess you could say I enjoyed it more than they did, but none of us were exactly fans by the time it was over and done with.

Mr. Cameron believes that this digital 3D stuff is the future of film--I for one do not believe it will catch on (and I certainly hope it doesn't). It's just a gimmick, nothing more, and the majority of us when we watch the film on DVD or Blu-Ray will enjoy it just fine in a normal 2D presentation. So is it worth paying a few extra bucks to see it in 3D? I would say no. The most impressive things about the film (the visual design, the animation) would look just as good in 2D. This film is a beautiful chunk of eye candy well worth seeing, but will it revolutionize the film industry? I highly doubt it.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

Reader Comments

Jason's a Furry! Run!
Jan 11th, 2010, 12:07 PM
This film is good, but I don't think it's quite deserving of a lot of the praise it gets. Pretty much all the characters were bland and uninteresting (Stephen Lang's Colonel was awesome, however), and the plot really predictable (complete with some foreshadowing they all but beat you with). A lot of the Na'vi moments, especially the 'serious' things and situations, left me giggling more than anything else (especially the mating scene). I just couldn't take them seriously.

Still, the visuals are very awesome to look at. Especially the night sequences, with all the glowing plants, that was outrageously cool. And the final battle (narm-inducing lines omitted) was very fun to watch. Good movie, entertaining movie, but that's about it.

And I feel the exact same way about 3D. Making a movie 3D simply doesn't make it a better movie in the end.
Jan 11th, 2010, 01:43 PM
If you saw it in 3D how did your friend who is unable to see 3d images enjoy the movie in blurred vision? And protoclown you are so wrong about the future of 3D. 3D will keep movie theaters open and profitable for the foreseeable future. Unless you want to see movie theaters become non existent I suggest you embrace the 3D format because its def the future of movies and theres no turning back the clock now on this technology. my friggin grandma saw avatar in 3d. its offically been introduced to the general public with avatra.
Jan 11th, 2010, 01:44 PM
I also heard from people who seen demos of the 3d blu ray, claim its even better in 3d on your tv because your closer and thus more in the world
Gix Gix is offline
Jan 11th, 2010, 04:33 PM
"it's what World of Warcraft players fantasize about when they masturbate"...LOL, i hate you
Anyways, i do plan on seeing this,but not sure if i want to see it in 3d or not..mostly becouse i would have to drive an hour outside of town..
Jan 11th, 2010, 04:39 PM
Movie theaters are in no danger. I know cause I used to manage one and an article just came out showing that that had a slight 3 year slump that had more to do with the quality of movies than people paying to go to the theater.

3D will probably kill a theaters as all you will see is visual crap fests.
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 11th, 2010, 06:08 PM
Ant10708, my friend who can't see 3D didn't see the movie in blurred vision. While wearing the glasses he saw everything normally, not in 3D. He said it was still a beautiful movie in regular 2D, as have other people who have seen it that way.
aint nobody
Jan 11th, 2010, 06:24 PM
I'm in the minority of people who didn't like this or think it was groundbreaking at all.

Just thought it was boring with bad sfx that reminded me of Beowulf.
Jan 11th, 2010, 08:08 PM
"Dances With Giant Smurfs", is what it is. They took the Pocahontas story, changed the names, and figured no-one would notice. So no, colour me purple unimpressed.
Forum Virgin
Jan 11th, 2010, 09:18 PM
I can't wait for the Piranha remake in 3D... Flying killer fish in 3D ... I am there
Jan 11th, 2010, 09:25 PM
It does look interesting, but I think I will wait for the Blu Ray release.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Jan 12th, 2010, 02:08 PM
The problem with movies built on eye candy is that sooner or later I stop paying attention to it and start paying attention to the plot and characters, and it's clear James Cameron didn't give a shit about either when making Avatar.

What really needles me, though, is that some reviewers are trying to gloss over that by saying Cameron "made well-worn ideas fresh again." No, he fucking didn't; he took a very bland, trite and horribly cliched story full of uninteresting, one-dimensional characters and hung a lot of pretty window dressing on it. I've never before seen critics fawn over a movie built on nothing but special effects, and I'm afraid it sets a terrible precedent for films to come. At this rate, Transformers 3 will end up sweeping the Academy Awards, and I'll just have to make the permanent switch to books.
Jan 13th, 2010, 02:17 AM
Next James Bond will be in 3D. Because you managed a movie theater does not mean you know about the health of the industry as a whole
Shining Beacon of Virtue
Jan 13th, 2010, 03:15 AM
I honestly loved this movie. I thought the story and characters were awesome. Not necessarily unique, mind you, but diffidently awesome. I even really liked the 3D. I'm sure the movie is still great in 2D, but I enjoyed seeing it in 3D and I wouldn't mind seeing other movies in that format. I actually saw it twice with two separate groups of friends (dragged the second group along in traditional "YOU HAVE GOT TO SEE THIS" style and they all loved it).
Jan 13th, 2010, 01:25 PM
Originally Posted by Ant10708 View Post
Next James Bond will be in 3D. Because you managed a movie theater does not mean you know about the health of the industry as a whole
I think I have a little more insight than a patron on the subject. :/
Forum Virgin
Jan 14th, 2010, 06:45 PM
I'm glad to hear that I wasn't the only one not really blown away by the 3D. I liked everything else about it, though. I just love the planet that he created, and the plot reminded me of a space Western. Other than the 3D, it was really good.
Forum Virgin
Jan 15th, 2010, 02:56 PM
In general I don't like 3D; I don't like having to watch a movie through dark glasses as my eyes are already bad, I don't like the idea that someone with poor hygiene may have worn those glasses before me, I don't like having to remember to wear contacts on the day I'm going to the theater if I want to avoid the stupidity of having to wear 3d glasses over my regular glasses, and I don't like the eyestrain that 3d causes when things start getting too "exciting" for my eyes to handle. I know I sound like an old coot (I'm 30, which probably makes me ancient here), but its true, I know plenty of young people with the same problems. However, I do have to say that certain movies, like silly horror movies, work well with the 3D gimmick. I just think that if the future of film really is 3D, nobody is going to want to put up with all the drawbacks just to see some shitty rom-com or oscar worthy drama.
Shining Beacon of Virtue
Jan 15th, 2010, 08:26 PM
Goblyn, I'm not disagreeing with you or anything but Avatar's 3D doesn't have a lot of the problems you listed. The glasses you get are new, and you just throw them out afterwords. They're also big enough to fit over your glasses (I have big, dorky glasses and the 3D ones fit comfortably over them). Also, the 3D effects never "Jump" out at you. Honestly I never really liked 3D movies, because I also have bad eyes and don't like it when things jump out at me, but the new 3D system they used in Avatar isn't like that. I was really skeptical going in, as a matter of fact. It just makes the movie look nicer.
Jan 16th, 2010, 12:00 PM
It seems like new movies in 3D just look like really good High Def instead of stuff jumping out anymore.
Strange blob from beyond
Jan 17th, 2010, 12:30 PM
I went to see it in 2D and it was great!
Forum Virgin
Jan 17th, 2010, 10:50 PM
Avatar is a phenomenon you can't ignore, monumentally imposing and done with extraordinary expertise ?but the same could be said of the Dubai skyline, and I'm not sure that represents any future worth investing in.
nfl shop
coach outlet
The Goddamned Batman
Jan 18th, 2010, 12:07 AM
Originally Posted by Coryjonc View Post
Goblyn, I'm not disagreeing with you or anything but Avatar's 3D doesn't have a lot of the problems you listed. The glasses you get are new, and you just throw them out afterwords. They're also big enough to fit over your glasses (I have big, dorky glasses and the 3D ones fit comfortably over them).
Actually Coryjonc, it depends on the theater you go to. The first time I saw it I got glasses that came in plastic wrap that were mine to keep or throw away afterwards. When I went to see the movie for a second time with my family, the second theater had really shitty reusable glasses that were all scratched up (nearly every pair was), and they weren't comfortable at all like the disposable pair was. They had people standing there to collect everyone's glasses as we left the theater.
Sympathizes with the foo'
Jan 18th, 2010, 02:43 AM
Moc320: That was very nicely put.

Protoclown: They charge that much for 3D and won't let customers keep the glasses anymore? Christ, I hope they at least stay to cuddle afterwards.
Jan 18th, 2010, 02:46 AM
i think moc320 is a spambot, guys
Shining Beacon of Virtue
Jan 18th, 2010, 08:06 PM
Ah alright. Thanks for clearing that up, Proto. I figured that the glasses all came from the same place.

Anyway I read on Yahoo news that Avatar is damn close to taking Batman's spot as No. 3 highest grossing movie domestically. I thought Avatar was incredible but Dark Knight is a modern freaking classic, so I'm not sure how I feel about that.
Forum Virgin
Jan 18th, 2010, 09:21 PM
My only issue was: In the big battle, why the F@CK did the mecha-robot pull out a freaking hunting knife??? Was he going to clean a fish? Skin a buck? Robots packing knives! What is the world coming to?