Avatar (2009) (PG-13)

James Cameron certainly knows how to make an epic movie, putting aside all the other movies he's done, just "Aliens" and "Titanic" should be proof enough of that. But this man also made "The Terminator" and the sequel to that before making the highest grossing movie ever with his sinking ship saga. For over a decade "Titanic" stood as the pinnacle of movies, earning a record eleven Oscars and maintaining the top money spot until....guess what?—another James Cameron movie came out.
 "Avatar" was the renaissance of the epic movie. It had been a few years since the last "Lord of the Rings" movie (which also took eleven Oscars) and we had been lacking in a story that told both an interesting tale and had great action. Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight" had come close but everything was simply obliterated when "Avatar" was released. Smashing all box office records it became the highest grossing movie with over 2 billion dollars in its bank...not bad for a day's work.
Jake Sully, a paraplegic Marine, is being moved out to Pandora (reference to Pandora's box perhaps? Not too light on the symbolism are we, Mr. Cameron?) to take his twin brother's spot in an experiment. His brother was a PhD who had extensive training with avatars...see here's the problem: there's a mining company that wants the mineral deposits below a big tree; but the indigenous species of the planet just happen to have that tree as their home...it's a really big tree. In order to convince the natives to move to a different spot, a group of scientists are not only trying to negotiate with the people but also trying to learn a little something about them along the way.
Jake really doesn't appreciate the science like he should, but with his avatar he is given the freedom of movement again. He, through some jungle running and being chasing by a scaly version of an Earth panther, finds himself tangled up with the Na'vi, the native people. He is different from the rest of the humans because he is a "warrior".
Meanwhile, the mining company is still wanting their minerals, unobtanium (Not really too original with the 'naming rocks' business are we, Mr. Cameron?) and they seem to be willing to do anything about it.
"Avatar" has a clear ulterior motive. Through all the smoke and bullets and the explosives and the 3D and the special effects, "Avatar" tries to tell everyone to "be green"—so please recycle your 3D glasses.
This movie was hyped because of its special effects and they are simply magnificent. With an almost 250 million dollar budget. you get just what you pay for with "Avatar". The CGI effects are breathtaking and revolutionary.
Whether you like it or not, "Avatar" spawned a mini-generation of big-budget box office pleasers that include "Inception", "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Avengers"—funny how many of these seem to be superhero movies.
"Avatar" isn't Cameron's finest work...for something that he supposedly spent almost a decade writing out, you'd think that it would have a little better dialogue.
The first time I saw "Avatar" I was blown away by the visuals, which is what first grabs you. A few views later and "Avatar" looses some of its magic with lines as cliches as "Come to Papa". To see a brain child, years in the making played out superbly, watch "Inception"...then again watch "Inception" anyway.
The cast includes a very likable Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and the quite good Zoe Saldana, whose human face we never actually see; but she seems to be the best actor here.
The story that "Avatar" tells is not boldly original, it's been done before with "The Thin Red Line" and "Dances with Wolves" but this film is original in the way that it tells the story.
"Avatar" has many haters...I'm not sure why because though it's not perfect it's still a really good movie. I think the best aspect of the movie is James Horner's score which really drives the tribal forces of the planet into the viewer's mind.
Though it's no great feat in plot twisting or story telling, the medium that it uses pulls it off quite attractively.
Or to put it into modern day, meme terminology "Haters gonna hate!"

Score: 3 and a half stars out of 4

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