Like a world-destroying Death Star, Avatar came into Singapore and started to push all other movies to the wayside. The return of the “King of the World” James Cameron, 10 years & $400 million to make, the next stage of movie-making, etc; the promotional guys went overtime on the movie.
After all the hype, how was the movie?
First off, the story of Avatar is really quite predictable. Sam Worthington stars as Jake Sully, an ex-marine who lost the use of his legs in military service, and then lost his twin brother in a robbery.
Sully's brother was a scientist who was supposed to be sent to Pandora, an alien moon populated by giant, blue-skinned, humanoids called the Na'vi. Pandora has an atmosphere that is poisonous to humans, so humans created the Avatars; biological alien bodies created by combining human and alien DNA. These Avatars can only be controlled by the humans who provide the human DNA of the Avatars and Sully’s brother was one of these humans. With his death, his Avatar is useless but as they were twins; Sully was offered his brother’s position.
Once on Pandora, Sully found that he enjoy being in his Avatar body and was given the mission of infiltrating the Na'vi, and find out what they want in exchange for moving out of their village. The Na’vi village sits on a massive deposit of Unobtainium, an alien metal that the humans want to mine.
From there, Sully found himself and enjoyed life with the Na’vi. By the end of the movie, Sully had switched sides and helped the Na’vi fight against the greedy humans.
Avatar is a movie with a simple story but that doesn’t really matters because what Avatar is really about is CGI magic. The avatars were created by using motion-capture sensors on the face and bodies of the actors and adding CGI from the information gathered. I’m sure there is a better explanation of the technique but I just know one thing. It worked!
The avatars are amazing. Even though they are 3m tall, totally blue, with a slimmer built and shape to humans; you can recognized the actors playing the avatars. When I first saw Grace’s avatar, I went like, “that’s Sigourney Weaver!” The avatars actually do resemble their human counterparts.
They are so good and so life-like that I can say Zoe Saldana turned in an excellent performance even though her character, Neytiri, was totally in CGI. The CGI also work as Pandora was a beautiful world. Its’ jungle, rain forests, coastlines, flying mountains, alien vegetation, were all wonderfully alien. James Cameron really did manage to bring viewers to an alien world.
Graphically, out of 10, I will give Avatar a 11. However, that is the best thing about the movie.
The story is passable, but unfortunately so was the acting. Outside the already mentioned Zoe Saldana (who was excellent), everyone else was only passable…at best. Sam Worthington was very good in Terminator Salvation so I was kind of disappointed in his performance as Jake Sully. Sully’s jump from a more-than-willing spy to a more-than-happy to kill fellow human sympathizer required a leap of faith from viewers. He had alien sex, logout of his avatar, log back in, sees a giant tractor coming towards him, destroyed said giant tractor, and then he’s on the Na’vi side of the war. Wow, alien sex must be great.
Yes, the movie script didn’t help but really Worthington should have done much better. His weak performance made the love affair between Sully and Neytiri the weakness part of the movie. Even Stephen Lang turned in a better performance and his Col. Miles Quaritch character was a cardboard villain!
The movie also skipped a few key points. It was never said why Unobtainium was so precious. Yes, it’s expensive but the movie never explain why it was so sought after. I also feel that they missed a great chance about the massively-interconnectivity organism that is Pandora.
Pandora is like a living moon whose tree-roots can link up with each living being on the moon and the Na’vi can spiritually use Pandora to connect with other creatures living on the moon. The Na'vi called this Elywa, which could be what they called Pandora. The humans of course laugh at this. A living moon? Ha!
That was science fiction at its best. In sci-fi, one of the most important things to get right is the new and different worlds. It must be alien but at the same time interesting and understandable to people. Pandora fulfilled all of these points but instead of concentrating on the sci-fi story of Pandora, James Cameron had to put in a love story between a human and Na’vi that made no sense.
In fact, I’m not exactly sure what kind of movie Avatar really is. It’s like James Cameron tried to touch all the bases here because in the end Avatar became a sci-fi/love story/war movie hybrid.
Overall I have mixed feelings about Avatar. It was a technically beautiful movie set in a very interesting world, however what could have been a great movie was letdown by a poor script and so-so direction. If Avatar had stayed a science fiction movie, it would have been great but it didn’t and that ultimately turned Avatar into an average movie with good eye-candy.
In short, Avatar is a good movie that would and should have been great.