Throwback Movie Review: AVATAR

Posted: December 14, 2011 in DVD, Entertainment, Movies, TV
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Once in a while a movie like “Avatar” comes around. A movie that people will remember for years to come as the movie that brought in a new age of movie making, a new age of cinema. This is the kind of movie you will be watching with your kids 5, 10 or 15 years from now, telling them proudly that you saw it in the theater. This is “Star Wars” of our generation.

(If you’re not really into movies, I suggest you stop reading right now. The above paragraph is all you really need to know)

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James Cameron, the director of “Avatar”, does not have a long resume. He’s done less then 6 movies his entire career, which started in 1978; it’s been 12 years since his last movie (a little flick called “Titanic”).

Now, I know what you might be thinking “Why would I want to see a movie by a guy that made the biggest chick flick of all time?”…well, also on Cameron’s resume is Terminator 1 & 2, Aliens and True Lies. You cannot tell me that there’s even one person on there that didn’t enjoy any of those movies. Me, for instance, loved anything Cameron has ever came up with (yes, even “Titanic”) because he makes great movies, with great stories that invest you in the characters. He’s a storyteller at heart, he cares more bout the story then the special effects.

Another minor detail you might not know is that every time Cameron steps behind a camera, he pushes the envelope. The technology to create the special effects in “Terminator” did not exist before Cameron created it, the technology used to create the T-1000 in Terminator 2 did not exist before Cameron invented it…you see where I’m going with this? Take a look at “Titanic”, look at the special effects in that movie and tell me the CGI (Computer Generated Images) does not hold up to movies being released today. They do, and there’s no question that every time Cameron drops a movie, the effects are way ahead of the competition, but with “Avatar” he really brought it to another level.

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The story of the movie is simple, and like I said before, the less you know about it the better so I won’t reveal too much here. It’s a story that you’ve seen, heard or read a hundred times before. You pretty much know how the movie ends before you’re 15 minutes in, but I believe that was the point. I truly believe that Cameron chose this story because everybody is so familiar with it, and because we already know of this story, we won’t focus too much on it. If the story had twists and turns that the audience didn’t expect, we’d spend too much time focusing on it instead of the true star of the movie, Pandora, the planet the movie is set on.

20111214-003321.jpgOne of the attractions in Pandora? Being eaten by a dragon.

Cameron really went beyond anything anyone could have ever imagined on this one. He created another world, a living, breathing planet that seems like it exists just across the Milky Way. When you leave the theater, you’re going to leave disappointed because you can’t book a vacation to Pandora and you know you won’t get to see it in your lifetime. The movie only spends about 20% of its running time with real actors, besides that, everything is CGI, but not like anything you’ve seen before. You know how you felt the first time you saw “Jurassic Park”, when you saw that huge CGI dinosaur and you knew, even if you weren’t a movie geek, that movies are never going to be the same? That’s how you feel when you first see Pandora, a planet of such great imagination and realism that you really have a hard time believing that what’s on screen is not real.

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The main characters are mostly the Na’Vi (12 foot tall blue aliens) who expresses emotion just like an actor. Up until now, Golem from “Lord of the Rings”, had the cake for being the most realistic CGI character ever in a movie, but he does not hold a candle to the Na’Vi. Where Golem had pretty much 2 emotions that he could display on his face (normal and Anger), the Na’Vi has hundreds. The way their eyes squint, their lips quiver, their body moves…it’s not that you can just tell whether they’re sad, happy, curious or surprised, but you can tell how sad, curious or surprised they are.

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I will tell you this much, you have never seen anything like it, within 20 minutes of watching the movie, I forgot I was watching special effects and I truly started caring whether the Na’Vi live or died. This movie is truly a great experience at the cinema. Although the story is simple, it leaves you to enjoy the beauty that Cameron has created. See it on the biggest screen you can (I’m going back to see it at IMAX 3D, a regular sized 3D screen was good, but you’ll know what I’m talking about once you see it), and that’s another great thing about it, the 3D. The way Cameron uses it here, it’s not a gimmick like it is in so many other movies. You don’t have bullets or arrows flying at you, making you “dodge” them in your seat like you’d think. The 3D is used to bring you into the movie, to make you feel like you’re a part of it.
No matter what I say, word cannot describe the experience, you have to see it for yourself, and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it. The audience I saw it with gave the movie a standing round of applause when the credits rolled…..I guess I’m not the only one who liked it.

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