Avatar is a fantasy drama film written and directed by James Cameron, best known for his work on monumental films like Titanic, Terminator 2, and Aliens. Set roughly 100 years in the future, the film tells the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a paraplegic marine who joins up with a squad of private militia going to the alien planet of Pandora.
As humans work to colonize the lush and beautiful planet by mining its resources, the indigenous tribe of humanoid creatures known as the Na’vi fight back. Avatar promises breathtaking action and drama on an epic scale, with gorgeous and unbelievable visual effects to match. At a run time of nearly three hours, this James Cameron epic leaves a lasting impression despite some of its cliché story aspects.
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The Film Review
On the planet of Pandora, Jake works as an “avatar driver”. Along with Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore), Dr. Grave Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), and a crew of other scientists and doctors, the team study the island of Pandora. Using futuristic mind-linking technology, the team control human-Na’vi hybrid creatures and attempt to reach diplomacy with the natives.
Despite Jake’s military background, he gains access to the avatar program following the death of his twin brother, who was originally training as an avatar driver. Since avatars are expensive to grow and matched specifically to a genome, Jake is the only person who is able to fill his brother’s shoes.
Feeling under-appreciated and out of his depth as a security escort, Jake struggles with feelings of inadequacy and a lack of loyalty towards other team members. When he is approached by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and asked to help move the Na’vi from their homeland, he more than happy to assist.
Jake’s journey through the wilds of Pandora is packed with action and drama, with incredibly realistic visual effects that consistently impress. Once Jake dons his avatar body and adventures into the untamed reaches of Pandora, it’s often difficult to distinguish the practical effects from the CGI. The visual design of Pandora is always vivid and colorful, with an assortment of inventive plants and animals.
Time and time again, Avatar is a visual feast, and years ahead of its time in the quality of CGI. The movie flips back and forth between Jake’s time in and out of the avatar body, as the human colonists begin to consider more drastic measures to move the Na’vi. The beauty and freedom of Pandora’s wilds and the Na’vi culture are alluring to Jake, presenting a dilemma that forces him to choose sides.
Overall, Avatar is an exciting and epic sci-fi tale that packs a lot of drama and action into its run time. Although the overall narrative can be a bit predictable at times, the movie never stops being entertaining. This is mostly due to the gorgeous visual effects, which add even more spectacle to the intense action sequences.
Rounded out with a bit of romance and themes of loyalty and family, Avatar is a robust movie with plenty of heart. If you’ve got the time to invest, we highly recommend it.
- Stunningly realistic CGI
- Colorful and lush setting design
- Exhilarating action sequences
- Predictable story beats
- Occasionally slow pacing