Thursday, December 24, 2009


What do you get when you cross a Marine with a Na'vi? Answer: A very tall, blue-skinned warrior. And he's the star of this show.

The Na'vi are Pandora's indigenous species, part human, part something-else. But they stand in the way of human plumbing of Pandora's natural resources. And the Na'vi are too primitive to fight back as Earth's military forces move deeper and deeper into their lives.

The Na'vi have allowed Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine, who seems to be all kinds of scientist (botanist, human engineer, sociologist), to come into their tribal lives, but only so far. Enter Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, late of Terminator Salvation), who, as a paraplegic Marine, enters the Na'vi life through his surrogate, or avatar.

Pandora is a wild world, depicted colorfully and menacingly through the wonder of James Cameron's newly developed 3D. Over and over again, sometimes quite ponderously, we see Pandora's natural beauty, I guess so that we can wonder how these horrible military types (actor Stephen Lang is the most menacing) can plunder it.

We've waited a long time for this movie -- three or four years hearing about its development and longer than that for its 3D motion-capture technology -- and the movie fulfills some of its promise. It would probably be impossible to live up to all the hype, to be truthful.

Pandora is a wonder to watch. The humans and Na'vi aren't as interesting, except when our blue-skinned friends jump onboard their chosen Mountain Banshees, a large flying creature that is able to physically, emotionally and mentally connect with its Na'vi rider. The 3D enables us to almost ride with the Banshee, save for the wind rushing through our hair.

But most of Avatar is not an E-ticket ride. Much of this very long movie is exposition, or Jake training with the Na'vi for his right of passage, his bonding with the Banshee, and, for us, the moment when he achieves total buy-in to the Na'vi culture so that he'll be able to side with them in the fight against the human military.

Avatar is a film that could've used a better story that made more sense -- there are frequent "hiccups" in logic -- and a liberal cutting in the editor's room. Still, it's part of the Cameron legacy, and if you're a deciple like me, you have to see this to file it among The Abyss, Terminator, Aliens, and Titanic books in your library.

Thumb's up, but we could've hoped the last decade could've been spent writing a better story and screenplay as well as perfecting screen-capture technology.


At 12:02 PM, Blogger Sheryl said...

I would describe this movie as part science fiction (so-so); part love story (fair); and part National Geographic special on Pandora and the Navi (fantastic) I loved the nature/sociology part of the film. I totally agree that there wasn't much story to the rest of it.


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