Movie Review: Avatar (3D)

>> Monday, January 11, 2010

I remember some weeks ago, I wasn't thrilled at the idea on paying to see a movie about blue lizards with an environmental message. It sounded unrelatable and preachy, and they do tell you why no restaurants sell blue food. And all the plugs on late night TV just made it worst, they made it sound like a major effort to salvage a sunken big budget movie, I wasn't convinced that it will be good at all. But then two weeks in every friend who has gone seen this movie has started to tell me about how visually stunning it is with comments on the less stellar storylines, I started to think that I was wrong about Avatar and the more raving reviews I've heard from different people, the more I'm sold.

I didn't expect to come into a fullhouse almost a month after the film was released. I guess since it is not a franchise and people are not quite sure what the movie is about, they don't rush all in to see it the very first week so the viewers are still coming in a steady stream.

In the year of 2154, handicapped marine Jake Sully is recruited to be in a planet exploration project his twin brother was supposed to take part. His brother died unexpectedly and since they share the same biological profile, Jake became the natural choice to overtake his brother's avatar - a remote controlled biological shell that resembled the occupants of the destination planet Pandora. The people of Pandora, called the Na'vi, are 10-15' tall blue skinned creatures who lived harmoniously with their surroundings and can communicated with animals and vegetations on the planet. Jake gained the Na'vi's trust and learns to be one of them while the military's interest is to secure a rare mineral called Unobtainium. So Jake must find a way to prove himself and find where his loyalty lies.

Basically, Avatar is Pocahontas set in a distant future, a far away planet, with less music and more CGI creatures and action. At least it's a sorta classic story and the viewers are all dazzled by the visual effects and the gun blazing to care about the oddly familiar storyline. I don't know if it's appropriate to compare to Wizard of Oz in its period, but it felt what my first experience of seeing a color movie would be like. Avatar succeeded in the seamless integration of CGI and real people with 3D effects, the use of vibrant colors throughout the movie also achieves dazzling results.

You can't help but feel for the blue creatures as their homeland was being destroyed. All the Na'vi characters are really likable. Main character Jake Sully played by Sam Worthington comes alive in his avatar and his sex appeal did not diminish in either form. Sigourney Weaver is a sure bet for sci-fi credibility. Zoe Saldan of Star Trek 2009's Uhura fame, plays a Na'vi princess with complete control and believability. I love movies that open my eyes and take me places and Avatar achieved both.

Visually is stunning and original, wished I could say the same for the storyline, but I was too dazzled to notice. A-

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