FILM REVIEW - Avatar
Okay, okay, I get that I’ve seen this film quite late. The truth is that I’d seen this film when it first came out and I didn’t particularly get it then, but I was only 17 years old, so you have to cut me some slack. I wasn’t the hotshot reviewer that I am now, ha! Nevertheless, with the current buzz about the sequel all around, I thought that it was time that I journeyed to Pandora and watched ‘Avatar’!
‘Avatar’ tells the story of Jake Sully, a disabled ex-marine who is given the offer of a lifetime. His twin brother, Tommy, was involved in a project that would have seen him travel to the alien planet of Pandora to help learn about the local alien race. Unfortunately, due to a tragic accident, Tommy dies and Jake must take his place. When he gets to Pandora he learns that he must operate an ‘Avatar’, i.e. a hybrid of human and Na’vi, who are the local humanoid species of alien. Although he has no training, Jake begins to learn fast, much to the annoyance of the scientists who developed the programme. His military background, however, attracts the attention of Colonel Miles Quaritch who is in charge of the military aspect of the project. He’s keen to push the Na’vi out so that the planet can be mined for ‘Unobtanium’, a rare metal on Pandora. Initially Jake is keen to help but as time goes by he begins to enjoy the company he keeps with Dr Grace Augustine and Dr Norm Spellman who are piloting ‘Avatars’ of their own. During one excursion Jake is separated and taken in by one of the Na’vi clan, the Omaticaya, and in particular, Neytiri who is the daughter of the chief. Initially, she finds Jake annoying and unrefined, however as the two begin to spend more time together, they bond and eventually fall in love. Naturally, this causes a rift in Jake internally as he finds it difficult to keep reporting back to Quaritch. One day whilst out together, Jake finds that Quaritch with the backing of the funders of the operation on Pandora has begun an assault on some of the land of the Omaticaya. Despite pleas from Grace and Jake, the military is hellbent on driving out the Omaticaya of their tree base so they can extract the unobtanium from underneath it. Can Jake do anything to stop the humans from carrying out their ruthless plan? And will the Na’vi even trust him?
Imagine this. The year is 2009, and you’re looking to cast an up-and-coming actor who you know is going to be the biggest star. Enter Sam Worthington who plays the main character Jake Sully. Worthington is an interesting actor in that I don’t think that he’s a bad actor, but I’ve only ever seen him play these tortured characters so seems a little one-dimensional. Zoe Saldana plays Neytiri and I’ll admit for a CGI character she’s able to bring more emotion to the role than the rest. Kudos to her because she’s managed to get into all the big franchise films of the last 20 or so years! Supporting cast includes Sigourney Weaver who’s unfortunately become typecast as ‘woman who finds herself in hostile alien environment’. That being said, she didn’t put in a bad performance. Playing the villain of the film, Colonel Quaritch was Stephen Lang who has got a ridiculously villainous face. Completely aside, I could see him play a very good Deathstroke in the DCU.
Now my views on this film are going to be extremely controversial. I think this film is extremely overhyped. If we start with the story; it was pitched as this super original story but I’m pretty sure this film is just Pocahontas in space. The plot is almost the same. Aside from that, there isn’t much that the film story gives us that is revolutionary. Now I understand that when the film first came out it probably pioneered that entire era where we had 3D films. In all honesty, I hated 3D films. They really made my eyes hurt. So once again another thing that I didn’t think was all that fantastic. Now if we assess the film aside from all the hype, I could say it was an alright watch. Some good graphics. But underlying my entire feeling for this film is that I’m not sure why people thought that this was James Cameron’s best work.
If we’re talking about the cinematography, then yes I do have to mention that the CGI was good. It was certainly very good for 2009. The way that they integrated the Na’vi and the human actors was excellent and I liked some of the weird and wonderful creatures they created for this film. I know that the sequel will probably be looking to up the game, and providing that it doesn’t suffer from the same issues that Marvel films have been having with regards to their CGI, it may do well. The soundtrack was present at certain moments, however, I don’t particularly remember it being very prominent. Overall, this film was quite average. I understand that opinion may get me a lot of slack but I’ve seen too much to be impressed with unoriginal ideas.