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Avatar, 2009 – Movie Review by LFF

Posted by LiveFor on December 21, 2009

Director: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguea, Giovanni Ribisi, Wes Studi

Score: 8 / 10 – Visuals: 10 / 10

This review by me.

I have just got back from watching Avatar with my 11 year old son. My first response is that it is mind blowing stuff.

Previously, I had been worried that the weakest link was the story. It looked as if it was something we had seen many times before – Ferngully, Dances With Wolves, Battle for Terra and many other Westerns showing the white man being a bastard to the natives mixed in with some tree hugging hippy crap (although I dig the tree hugging hippy crap). After watching the film, yes it is exactly like that. You know the beats of the tale within moments. Who will live, who will die, the reason they showed that bit etc. I envy my son seeing it at the age of 11 before he becomes more aware and jaded of the few plotlines Hollywood use.

However, like other reviews I have read, it just doesn’t matter that you know the story. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if they used such a familiar story deliberately. The reason being is that you don’t have to worry about keeping pace with who is doing what to whom, instead you can just enjoy the ride and gaze in shock and awe at the amazing visuals in front of you.

That is what Cameron has done with this film. He has pushed the boundaries of what 3D can do and uses it as a proper filmaking tool – no deliberate nods to the technology with things flying out at you for no reason – It is there with the lighting, CGI, sound and everything else. This gives such a depth to what you are seeing and makes you almost believe it is real.

I won’t go into the whos, hows and whys as you will no doubt already know. I will say this though. Following Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) as he gets to the Pandora is a great way of getting you used to the 3D. By the time he has tried on the Avatar for the first time you are there with him and, as my son said as we left the cinema, you really felt as if you were on Pandora. It leaves you wanting to see more of the place.

The acting is spot on as well. Everyone does exactly what they are supposed to do and you buy into the characters as well. Having Worthington works so well as he is, currently, still an unknown face so you dig his character so much quicker that way. On a side note some of the best effects on the human side of things are when you see his paralysed legs that have suffered muscle wastage. So well done.

Stephen Lang as the big bad of the piece, Colonel Miles Quaritch, takes what is basically a two dimensional villain all the way up to 11. He snarls, growls and takes no prisoners. He’s so tough he goes out into the Pandora atmosphere that is poisonous to humans and holds his breath to get the job done.

Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Sigourney Weaver and the rest of the human faces do it all well, but again you have seen all their characters before in different films with different faces.

Those actors playing the Na’Vi are all amazing and it is here that the technology behind it really shows. You really do feel they are real (by the end of it you almost think the human characters are the CG). Their skin, movements, but most of all their eyes hold so much life (take note Zemeckis). Zoe Saldana is Neytiri is just sublime – the looks she gives as she goes from hating Jake to respecting and then loving him are a superb performance.

Pandora itself is equally amazing. They created a living, breathing ecosystem and there is just so much life in it. You start trying to figure out how this relates to that. The big creatures you see all have a similar look in that you could see how they have evolved or are related to each other.

The set pieces are eye catching and well thought out with the big battle at the end a joy to watch.

I could go on but it is late.

Basically, go and see it at the cinema in 3D. Even if you aren’t a lover of sci-fi go see it. It is one of those events or raising of the bar that you need to be a part of. Some of you will hate the story and pick holes in it – it will be very easy to do – but just watch, enjoy and soak it all in.

It’s not often a movie comes along like this. Still not sure how the mountains float though.

8 / 10 as a whole due to the story being what it is, but the performances pull it up a few points. The visuals and viewing experience in 3D I give 10 / 10. I will see it again, but I do wonder how repeated viewing will make me feel about the film. I can also imagine that watching it on blu-ray will also be quite disappointing.

Let me know what you thought of the film in the comments below.

Avatar (Two-Disc Blu-ray/DVD Combo) –
Avatar (DVD + Blu-ray) –

9 Responses to “Avatar, 2009 – Movie Review by LFF”

  1. Xxnapoleonsolo said

    Spot on Phil – just relax and drink in the visuals. Think Sam Worthington better make hay while the sun shines tho – don’t rate him based on this

  2. anotherzen said

    i wonder if there will be a directors cut, as there usually are with Camerons movies hehe, i thought there where som holes that would
    be nice to have explained. Still, the movie as a whole is mostly perfect for me, prolly get myself a blu-ray drive for my computer
    just to watch it in best possible quality when it comes out hehe.

  3. Edward Woodward said

    I can not wait to see this!! Cameron is a favorite of mine. Theres not doubt he follows a formula but he always manages to do it with style.
    As far as opening weekends go Avatar started well down the charts (#31 Domestic and #9 Intl) but I have a feeling that it is really going to pick up steam through New Years.
    Thanks for the great review!

  4. liveforfilms said

    Anyone catch how the mountains float? They talked about vortex and energy fields but think I missed something.

  5. Good review, this was an excellent film that only tried to break new ground in the terms of visuals, but the acting and script did not suffer as much as the majority of blockbusters.

  6. pam fruendt said

    ok, phil…you’ve convinced me to see the film. comments to follow.

  7. Craig Grobler said

    Excellent review. Possibly the only film I’ll see twice this year on the big screen. Also I thought Michelle Rodrigues was the star of the show she came up trumps every time 🙂

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