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.
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.