REVIEW: ‘Avatar’

Director:
James Cameron
Cast:
Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldana
Sigourney Weaver
Stephen Lang
Michelle Rodriguez
Rated: PG-13

The visionary director James Cameron returns with a gorgeous picture, just not a very deep one.

The film follow’s the character Jake Sully (Worthington), a wheelchair bound man who’s legs have been paralyzed after years in combat. Because of a chance to use his legs again, Jake takes an opportunity to go to another planet where humans are digging for a resource and have to deal with a native people to do so.

Jake’s  role in this is to transfer his consciousness into a bio-mechanical suit called an Avatar, a replica of the inhabiting species the Na’vi. At first Jake is apprehensive toward the Na’vi, but as he starts to embrace their culture, he begins to see the humans digging in a less positive light.

Right up front, it’s easy to see that “Avatar” doesn’t feature the most original concept in its story development. You can take you’re pick in story comparisons where a person starts on one side, gets introduced to the other side and changes allegiances. Elements from films such as “Dances with Wolves,” “Pocahontas” and “The Last Samurai” are all here.

This leads to the movie not having very much depth, as the world here, despite its vibrancy, comes across as very black and white. There needed to be more grey here.

While the story is rather generic, though, its structure is still solid. The movie’s pace keeps things going, the movie develops things properly and everything happens coherently. Therefore, the film is highly watchable and easy to get some interest in.

The main character, Jake, is a fairly typical action hero, but he works for what’s happening in the picture. He spouts off some one-liners, has a bit of a smart-alec attitude but overall has a heart of gold. Worthington serves the role well enough, and actually makes good use of the motion capture technology.

The veteran cast was a bit underwhelming, though. Sigourney Weaver plays an environmentally conscious scientist and Stephen Lang is the average no mercy military man. The two are polar opposites and they are so far in extremes that they seem to lack in humanity.

What does make this movie worth a price of admission was the significant special effects featured. Whether its the Na’vi, the various creature, the world they’re on itself  or even the mechs and aircraft, everything looks fantastic.

In terms of spectacle, “Avatar” is perfect. However, it is lacking in some character and story. This is a very high 3 out of 5.

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Author: Matthew Liedke

My name is Matthew Liedke. I'm a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer in Minnesota, but I also have a passion for the art of film. This passion led me to start writing about film in 2008. From 2008-2016 I wrote pieces at my own website, After the Movie Reviews. Then, from 2016-May 2018, my write-ups were featured on AreaVoices, a blog network run by Forum Communications Company. Today, I now write film reviews and other pieces here on Word Press. More about me: I'm a 2012 graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where I studied journalism and film. Outside of film, I enjoy sports, video games, anime and craft beers.

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