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Movies, Reviews

Review: Avatar – 3D (12a)

Directed by: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver

James Cameron returns to the fore after a 12 year hiatus with his $3oo million game-changer, Avatar. This simple story of man’s ruthless desire to take anything he wants has been brought to life in stunning 3D. Paralysed ex-marine Jake Sully is the last hope of a peaceful arrangement with the native population of the planet Pandora, the Na’vi. Using a remote controlled Na’vi body called an Avatar, Sully must gain the trust of the native population and urge them to move away from their home, an area of great interest to the human invaders. As patience runs out, Sully finds that he may have been on the wrong side of the fight all along.

The Na'vi

Not many films get hyped as much as this one. First of all, it’s the director’s last movie since 1997, and that was the highest grossing movie of all time. Secondly it’s been delayed so long because we were assured by the director that the technology he was using would be worth the wait. So high hopes all round. But does the movie deliver? Well, yes. Yes it does. But not in the way that you might expect from a sci-fi epic written by one of the most revered sci-fi writer/directors working today. You see, Terminator and Terminator 2 were shooty, explodey eye-candy movies but they had quite a complex underlying plot that raised a lot of questions about time travel that were very very original. Aliens had great special effects, sure but it was also a very well written sequel, devoid of plot holes and other nasties and despite being a sequel was, again very original. Avatar is a bit of a curve ball. The plot is very basic, sure there are some complex ideas and some very well thought out intricacies, but on the whole it’s essentially the plot of FernGully: The Last Rainforest. What Cameron has chosen to focus on here is the visual experience of a new, alien world and it’s many inhabitants.

This is where the movie knocks the shit out of pretty much everything else ever released. Cameron’s new 3D camera technology has produced quite simply the most beautiful film ever to hit the big screen. From the word go you are immersed into a lush and vibrant world unlike anything that has ever been seen before. The new style of 3D cinema brings this to life even more. Cameron has done the seemingly impossible; truly integrated special effects into a movie so well that they become like another character, in fact more influential than a character. The importance of the world to the natives is not told through emotional character exchanges, although there are some in there, it is told through the visuals. Because of this, Avatar can transcend the age range. There is a dark indictment of the cruelty of mankind and cool-as-fuck military hardware for the adults but because of the elemental way the story is conveyed through visuals, nothing will be lost on the younger generation.

Avatar is simply spellbinding. The only thing that I recommend more than going to see it is that you go and pay the extra to see the full 3D version. The added depth isn’t just a gimmick, it completes James Cameron’s vision and gives you the full intended journey. District 9 taught us that originality is what we make of it. That movie took pretty much all of it’s concepts from other sci-fi movies such as The Fly and Alien Nation but it remained truly original in the way that it delivered those concepts. The same applies here. We may have seen this story before but nothing can prepare you for Avatar.

Verdict: 5/5


  1. kym - December 19, 2009 7:50 pm

    Nice review Dan, right to the point, an enjoyable read. Really can’t wait to see this now :)

  2. Couchart - December 21, 2009 2:33 am

    I saw Avatar yesterday in 3D, and I thought it was fricken awesome! You’re right too; the story is quite simple (and just like FurnGully, haha), but I think that its a classic plot that touches on human nature and historical events/issues and it’s portrayed in a way that only Cameron can pull off. It’s got everything that he loves to put in his movies, like the futuristic guns and mech warriors which i can’t get enough of, as well as the fictional new world he immerses you so well in.

    I like how you finished this review off, we’ve seen this story before, but you’ve never seen it in the way that Cameron can deliver it.

  3. Zoe - December 30, 2009 1:16 am

    RIGHT, as soon as i saw the trailer i just knew it was IMAX all the way. I have only seen one IMAX film before, and had to convince my boyfriend!!! We just got back and wow it is truely amazing, beautiful and the best £9 i have ever spent. the night scenes are exceptional and the war scenes are a visual feast. I have read a lot of reviews and they all talk about a dull storyline (except this one) and my response to them is take a closer look. We have a love story, one of faith and trust, a story of hope in that there are still human beings with compassion and a conscience. A story that compares to what we have already done to our own planet!!! Not that i am a tree hugger but does make you think. Anyway my advice go and see, oh and it must be IMAX.

  4. Dan Schonhaar - December 30, 2009 2:47 am

    I think you’re absolutely right! The story can be called unoriginal, even written with questionable skill and subtlety, but certainly not dull!

    People say the “look what we’ve done to our planet” story is played out but I challenge them to find a movie that drives it home the way Avatar does.

  5. Rick Nunn - December 31, 2009 12:33 am

    I’ve just got back from seeing this in 3D and I have to say I am incredibly disappointed. I thought the casting was sub par, the acting was… ok at best – but the story was, well err… where was it? And yes I can appreciate the visuals but they didn’t really do anything for me. I would have much rather seen Downtown Manhattan being blown to shit than some magical Fern Gully style rain forrest. Personally I’d give this film 2/5.

  6. kym - January 3, 2010 10:30 pm

    I am with Nunn, and whilst you called us “a pair of over thinkers”, Dan, I’m sorry but I just couldn’t enjoy it.

    Sure it looked pretty, but the story, the acting, the dialogue… all just made me cringe.
    I feel like it was made that way to appeal to a very, very wide audience, and that ruined it for me.
    District 9 was a million times more enjoyable for me.

    As far as my first 3D cinema experience goes, I was more excited by the trailer for Alice in Wonderland! 😉

  7. Adam - March 1, 2010 2:30 pm

    I thought you said the storyline was shite?

    And yeah I *agree* with Rick – Don’t make it common knowledge though yeah 😀 (Ricks blatantly going to tweet that).

    Everyones said something along the lines of “spent millions on the effects, and pennies on the script”.

    The only thing really good about this movie is the 3D!, it literally could not have been any more predictable!

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