Avatar is easily the most talked about movie of the past year. It's been a tremendous box office success and is up for a huge pile of awards. The GF and I finally saw it tonight. It was a good movie and I'm glad to have seen it on the big screen. It wasn't quite the amazing experience many people have said it is, but it is still worth seeing.
The depth of development that James Cameron put into this movie is truly stunning. From creating a language with grammar to creating and entire taxonomy of flora and fauna, the volume of source material for this movie is simply stunning.
As many reviewers have already said, it's a beautiful movie. Seeing it in 3D on an Imax or pseudo-Imax screen is worthwhile.
The story itself is familiar. I saw this movie in the early 80s when it was called "Dances with Wolves." Fortunately, that was also a great movie. Like that earlier one, this movie was also long. At times it seems a bit too long, but any cuts that could be made would likely be a minute here, and a minuter there throughout the movie, rather than cutting entire scenes.
The message is a bit heavy handed. We get it. The corporate interests running down the natives are bad people. The names of some of the characters and items are a bit eye-roll inducing. The miners are after a mineral called "Unobtainium." The corporate head of the operation is "Parker Selfridge." The belligerent Colonel is "Miles Quaritch" and the hero who is sent to undermine the natives is named "Jake Sully."
If you can get past all that it is a good movie and fascinating exploration of an alternative and fake culture.
There's one additional thing I want to note. By about 20-25 minutes in, it's pretty clear the mercenary marines and corporate liason are "the bad guys." Later in the movie, the audience finds itself in the position of cheering the deaths of the mercenaries -- the soldiers there to protect corporate interests. And while they are certainly not fighting for a noble cause, I can't imagine a movie like this could have been made in many countries of the world. And in many places had Cameron made this movie, he would not be up for awards. He would be up for prison time. The beauty of or country lies in the fact that he could make this movie. That's something not to take for granted.
I'm not saying he's worng for making this film. It's a film worth seeing. But sometimes it pounds the good/evil aspects of the story too hard. There are no shades of gray in this story. And its so strict it sometimes take me out of the movie and becomes a bit less effective.
I did enjoy the Norm Spellman character and his growth.
I also liked the Trudy Chacon character (remember we're still in the spoilers section here), but her role in the story seemed a bit contrived. She bails on a major attack due to her conscience. She breaks a bunch of "good guys" out of jail, and then flees the mercenaries, stealing a gunship in the process. The character appears to have been thrown in just to break out the other characters. She feels bolted on to the rest of the story. Still, seeing that helicopter show up with blue war paint on it was pretty awesome.
If you haven't seen Avatar yet, check it out while it's still on the big screen. That experience makes it worthwhile.