Avatar is James Cameron’s opus. He’s been working on it for the last fifteen years, a fact that is certain to raise most people’s expectations to impossible-to-meet standards. Without going into details, the film focuses on a future where the human race is attempting to mine an inhabited planet for a valuable resource. The inhabitants, a tall, strong, blue-skinned humanoid people called the Na’vi, are resisting, and so Na’vi bodies are grown that can be controlled remotely by humans so that they can walk among this alien race.
The story is predictable and simple. It’s Dancing With Wolves meets Alien meets The Abyss. The original script treatment by Cameron had many more elements that created ambiguity and complexities that were noticeably absent in this version. I have no doubt that the director’s cut will likely contain some of these aspects and will probably be six hours long, too.
Even with the basic plot and one-dimensional characters, the movie is phenomenal. I saw it in 3D, and the world was so engrossing that you begin to get lost in it. At one point, characters in the movie raised their arms, and I almost yelled at the people sitting in front of me because I thought it was them. You forget that most of the movie is not real. Each Na’vi is so realistic, with subtle facial expressions and a tangible feeling of having a soul, that you are fully invested in each of them as characters.
This movie earns its PG-13 rating. It’s dark and violent and will frighten small children. The two five year old children seated behind me were perfect examples of kids who should not have been at this movie, especially since their mother had to leave with them about half way through. This is a movie for kids 10 and older, at the very minimum, and only those who have the attention span to sit still for almost three hours.
I thoroughly enjoyed the film and can’t wait to go back and watch it again, this time in IMAX 3D. It’s one of my favorite movies of the year. I give it four and a half out of five stars.