20th Century Fox’s handling of the marketing for Avatar does not truly reflect the magnitude of this film. However, I don’t really see how they could have properly marketed the breadth and dimension presented in this nearly 3-hour thrill-ride. Perhaps it’s because I saw it in 3D and not 2D, but this massively impressive and engrossing film IS something that MUST be seen on the big screen. Avatar will stretch the fabric of your imagination. It is like watching a dream come to life.
James Cameron has done something with this film that no other film has ever done to me. It invited me not only to Pandora, but made it feel as though I was really there connecting personally and emotionally to the inhabitants. Can the same be said of a 2D viewing? That is a question I cannot answer yet, but the 3D experience is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced.
3D is no longer a gimmick. Cameron uses the 3D to suck you into the story and the world of Pandora. He has given us a glimpse of what proper use of 3D can do by raising the bar to a whole new level. Not unlike he did with The Abyss and then later with Terminator 2, James has taken film technology and given it a major shove into the future.
The CG in Avatar also takes realistic computer animation to another level. I can’t recall a time in the film where I could distinguish between the animated and practical. Obviously, I know the Na’vi creatures and much of the vegetation is animated, but try guessing where those aspects intermingle with the practical.
While the CG is alluring eye candy, the acting in this film is what sells the visuals. Sam Worthington (Jake Sully) and Zoe Saldana (Neytiri) both embrace the motion capture which aided in the belief of their digital performances. However, it’s Saldana that truly stands above the rest of the mo-cap actors. Her performance is the one I connected with emotionally the most in this film. Everything from her facial reactions to her mannerisms were unbelievably engaging. It was the strength of her performance that made me believe in the Na’vi and Pandora.
As Sam Worthington essentially has a dual role here, both human and the Na’vi avatar, he played both parts as differently as an apple is to an orange. You can see the regret he has over losing the use of his legs, and his rebirth each time he enters his avatar. I must also commend the filmmakers for taking the time to ensure his legs showed the atrophy someone wheelchair bound would have to contend with.
My next favorite performance comes from Colonel Miles Quaritch. If you recall Stephen Lang’s performance as Ike from Tombstone you’ll know how bad-ass he can be. Even though he’s a predictable character you will undoubtedly like him at the start of the film and despise him in the end. Lang plays the character with a singular focus – get the job done even if that involves breathing in the planets toxic air, or holding his breath longer than any normal human.
Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel Moore, CCH Pounder, and Wes Studi also add much weight to the film with their solid supporting performances. Sigourney, as always, is awesome, but Rodriguez surprised me with, what could be, her strongest performance since Girlfight.
Cameron has proven once again that he knows how to make an engaging, visually appealing, technology pushing film. With his incredible track record it makes me wonder if he goes into a studio and says “I want to make a movie.” and the studio says “Okay, do you have a budget in mind or should we just give you a blank check?”
Take note filmmakers. Avatar is EPIC heavily marinated with awesomeness. Avatar is the “unobtainium” of cinema.