Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The most anticipated movie of the decade opened to worldwide audiences earlier this month. Breaking his own previous records of most expensive movies ever made, James Cameron’s Avatar registers at a whopping $300 million.

Bordering on sensory overload, Pandora, in all its phosphorescence glory is a journey beyond one’s wildest imagination. Charged with expectation, this CGI generated planet boasts sights and sounds that are alien and supremely fascinating. Every detail of the lush forest and its inhabitants has been painstakingly designed by Cameron and his crew.

Avatar’s action takes place on a distant planet named Pandora, which is home to humanoids called the Na’vi. The Na’vi, with their own culture; stand nearly 10 feet tall have blue skin, yellow eyes and long tails. Having corrupted Earth, humans have moved onto Pandora to mine the aptly titled mineral, ‘unobtanium’ from right under the blue noses of the Na’vi.

The film follows the actions of Jake Scully(Sam Worthington), who during the course of the movie, goes from being a paraplegic ex-marine to warrior extraordinaire. Due to the death of his twin brother, Sully gets chosen to participate in an expedition to try and gain the trust of the Na’vi. He attempts to look like them by slipping into a Na’avi avatar suit that has been specially designed for him. The chief's daughter, Neytiri spares Jake's life and shows him the ways of the Na'vi. Over the course of two hours, he manages to gains their trust and becomes indoctrinated into their lifestyle.

The Pandora orientation process is inadequate and sketchy, with audiences being left to draw their own conclusions about the background story. Sadly a true example of form over content, Avatar is poorly scripted, leaving it only a phantasm of the masterpiece it could have been.

The interconnectedness of all Pandora inhabitants, the felling of the giant tree, the quest for ‘unobtainum’, jab at almost every global issue there is, all with a running theme of environmentalism. To add to this, Cameron seems to almost relish every plot cliché that he comes across. The last forty minutes of the film are pure celluloid pleasure, with the effects, action and actors coming together in a fitting finale.

It is ironic that a 3D movie has characters that are one dimensional. From the predictable cigar smoking, scarred villain, Col Miles (Steven Lang) to the jilted lover Tsu Tey(Laz Alonso), the wooden acting is saved by the aptly named Dr. Grace (Sigourney Weaver).

Avatar carries the Cameronian seal of bluntly titled movies, with each one raising the bar for the cinema industry. Every flaw can be overlooked by the sheer weight of the all forgiving budget and the movie banner. Avatar joins the ranks of classics that never really managed to fully leap over the pitfalls of cinematic clichés.

Cameron has expressed a desire to produce two sequels to Avatar. One can only hope the successors will not be flung away onto the ever growing pile of forgettable sequels.

All said and done, here is a movie that brings back the magic of cinema in its full glory. If only Cameron had taken the time to garnish this delicacy a brain of its own.

By Blassy Bobin