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MOVIE REVIEWS: AVATAR

by Dawn, December 20, 2009

OBS loves everything supernatural and that includes all forms of media for it. Today I bring you our first news blog of the film Avatar, by James Cameron. If you haven’t checked it out I highly suggest you do, but then i’m biast because I loved the film.

Name: Avatar
Rated: PG-13
Running time: 161 minutes

Director: James Cameron

Synopsis
In the year 2154, mankind has colonized a small planet called Pandora in the hopes of mining its natural resources. The only problem, an indigenous species of humanoids called the Na’vi. The solution, create a genetically engineered avatar through the infusion of human and Na’vi DNA so that we can interact with them.

The Avatar Program is a brilliant, yet costly, endeavor which only allows an avatar to work with the human’s who genetic material matches its avatar. So when one of their operator’s is killed, the military seek out his twin Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former marine due to the fact that he is now paralyzed from the waist down. Sent deep into the jungle of Pandora, Jake is now a spy for the military force that seeks to destroy the Na’vi clan that sits on one of the richest deposits of unobtainium, but when he gets lost and saved by a Na’vi princess called Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), everything changes and Jake begins to understand that we are the enemy.

Review
Once again I have found a movie that truly deserves and in depth look at just how great it is. If you follow our twitter you know that I said this, “I feel like I’m cheating on every movie I‘ve loved by saying this, but Avatar is the best movie I’ve seen in 10 years.” I stick by this… and yes I do watch a lot of movies for this to be an accurate statement.

This film has been in the works since 1994 when James Cameron wrote a 114-page scriptment for it and was subsequently held off until now do to technological advances in CGI. It was a good choice by the master of cinema.

The Story
Thematically Avatar is on par with today’s green standards, but it’s not so much about saving the environment as showing what these natives have; something we, as humans, can never hope to achieve.

Cameron said, “the humans in the film, even though there are some good ones salted in, represent what we know to be the parts of ourselves that are trashing our world and maybe condemning ourselves to a grim future.” I, like many humans, are now aware of what we are doing to this planet and feel isolated and alone by society and technology. The humans in Avatar are no different and by the end of the film I pitied their lack of understanding. The Na’vi have a connection to everything around them; themselves, each other, every plant, every animal and all of that is so precious and rare and something humanity can only dream off.

At just under 3 hours, I feel that no second was wasted as we were sucked into the immersive and complex world of Pandora. I found myself coming home and talking about it as if it really existed and I had to stop myself from daydreaming of visiting a world as breathtaking as Pandora is, despite its many dangers.

I’d just like to add that this movie get bonus points for naming the desired ore unobtainium.

Acting
A key feature of any film, acting can make or break its success. As my filmmaking teacher once said, “good acting can save shitty dialogue, but good dialogue can’t save shitty acting.” In order to properly sort my idea’s I think I’ll do this one by one.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully: The only movie I have seen Sam in was Terminator: Salvation and looking back now, I feel that movie didn’t do him justice. The newcomer was chosen because he seemed “game for anything,” giving the character “a quality that is really real. He has that quality of being a guy you’d want to have a beer with, and he ultimately becomes a leader who transforms the world.” He did just that, through only his voice and a wheelchair, so imagine what he could do if given the chance.

Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine: It’s been a while since we have seen Weaver in anything that one might consider good; even longer since we saw her in a sci-fi action movie that qualified for the same notation, 1992 was it? Grace Augustine is everything that you’d want in someone who is negotiating between two completely different cultures; she’s understanding, patient and put the greater good above all else. Weaver has finally shown that her acting is something that only gets better with age.

Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon: On the scale of this film, Trudy is a very minor role, but that didn’t stop me from loving every minute she was on screen. If you have ever seen Rodriguez in a film, you know she is a high powered, ass kicking, sex machine, and this is no different. She plays Trudy with all that and a vulnerability that shows deep down she is ultimately good and understanding. Trudy is by far one of my favorite characters and it is all thanks to Michelle’s brilliant acting.

Other Notable Actors: Honestly, ever character in this movie is played by an incredible actor. Everyone, human and Na’vi, have such deep and complex emotional range that makes you feel for all them, even the bad guys. On the Na’vi side of the acting, I have to give due credit to the amazing actors who only had their voice to express their feelings.

Dialogue
As I stated before “good acting can save shitty dialogue, but good dialogue can’t save shitty acting.” This is fairly true, but that doesn’t mention that good dialogue along with good acting can make for some really fun films.

The simple fact that Cameron took the time to sit down with a linguist, Dr. Paul Frommer, to develop the Na’vi’s own language and culture really shows. The Na’vi are like a whole other civilization that has complexity and depth and a spiritual center. No lines are chessy or out of place, but everything fits smoothly and accurately.

Make-up & CGI
Okay so by now most of you know that my major in college is computer graphics and therefore can understand when I complain about CGI, but this is not one of those days.

Cameron’s hold out on Avatar was for a well deserved because once you see this movie you’ll be blown away by it. The new camera developed for Avatar allowed Cameron to see the character in their virtual environment every step of the way, which allowed for adjustments on the fly and an incredible look and feel to the movie.

Other innovations included a new way to motion capture, the technique used to transfer actor’s movements to their CGI counterparts, which allowed Cameron to transfer up to 95% of the actor’s movements and facial expressions. This allowed for extremely realistic emotions and movement throughout the entire movie (Cameron really is the new George Lucas as far as technological advances).

Music
Like many of the other things in this movie, the music was infused with the Na’vi’s culture; from singing in their language to the help of an ethnomusicologist, to create a music culture for the alien race. I need to say very little about the score because it’s what gets your heart beating and your emotions flowing. It’s something that you have to feel and if you like the movie you will feel it through the beautiful score by James Horner, who worked on Braveheart, Aliens, and Titanic.

What didn’t I like you ask?
I walked out of this film with not one bad criticism towards it and even now I feel the same way.

Rating: 9.5/10 stars (because I feel like a schmuck if I put 10…. SCREW IT)
Rating: 10/10 stars

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