Monday, 21 December 2009

Avatar movie review..

Avatar 3D (12A)
James Cameron (Writer and Director)

With the much talked-about budget in the region of $300 million dollars and at 161minutes in length Avatar 3D is clearly epic in it's aspirations. So, in order to prepare for this cinematic odessey, I thought it best to refamiliarise myself with some of James Cameron's earlier work and revisited Aliens and Titanic. Aliens is a favourite movie of mine and I think I'm probably alone in the world by saying I don't like Titanic but I wanted a sense of balance and a big budget vehicle to judge Avatar by. Where Aliens has a taut storyline and superb alien special effects, Titanic still seems to wallow in unecessary self-indulgence to the detriment of the cast and plot, something I've always found distasteful considering the horrific tragedy that the real Titanic was. So, would Avatar 3D be an Aliens or a Titanic?
By the time we were due to see Avatar 3D, two things had happened. One, people were talking about it being 'Dances with Wolves' but with 'nine foot smurfs' and two, half a foot of snow fell followed by a whole load of freezing weather. So, digging the drive to try and get to the cinema on time for our pre-booked tickets, while making sure the car had necessary provisions should we get stuck in a snowdrift did seem slightly OTT just for a film. This is the first time I've ever taken flasks, blankets, wellingtons and a shovel with me to the cinema and so the movie didn't just have to live up to all the marketing hype but be worth all the effort expended to get there as well.
The central character is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former Marine, now in a wheelchair who, after the death of his twin brother, is recruited to the Avatar Program on the distant planet of Pandora. Here he is to become an Avatar controller in order to help persuade the Na'vi, the indigenous population, to leave their forest dwelling and allow the mining of a precious mineral needed back on earth. What follows is a story woven around the good guys, Jake and the Avatar science team befriending the Na'vi and battling against the inexorable, faceless corporate machine, rapacious for the precious mineral and prepared to destroy the forest and all who dwell in it.
The plot is solid and though it may meander slowly through the first half, it is easy to become totally engrossed in the superb visualisation of Pandora. A whole new planet's ecosystem has been created to make the depth and detail afforded by 3D a real treat. The second half of the movie gains momentum with epic battle scenes and a love story crossing boundaries of culture, species and technology. The cast is great, headed up ably by a cigarette smoking Sigourney Weaver and featuring Wes Studi, Michelle Rodriguez, Stephen Lang and Zoe Saldana. It is clearly aimed at the teen eco-warrior/gaming market but certainly as a family movie (ages ranging from 9 up) this is without doubt a Christmas treat. As to whether it's another Aliens or Titanic I shall sum it up, in the words of our eleven year old ...'It has love, courage, cowardice...and weapons!'