Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Review: Avatar (2009)

I haven't really been reviewing films I've seen at the cinema (with the exception of a mini one of 500 Days of Summer), but I felt I'd just give out three cheers to Avatar, now that it's still fresh in my mind.

I first heard of the film late last year because of some boards on imdb (it always comes back to imdb...) concerning the most anticipated films of 2009. Well, as is sometimes the case for me, I didn't really give two hoots about Avatar then. A few things would have to happen before I bought into the hype: first a friend of mine from cinema studies showed me the trailer, and yes it looked interesting. But the aspect of the film that really got me hook, line and sinker was the film's rising star, yes Sam Worthington. He appeared on Rove and his story about his struggles in his career and the fact that James Cameron plucked him out of obscurity kind of grabbed me. Soon Sam Worthington becomes my current actor crush (God I haven't had one of those in so long) and his face seems to appear everywhere. So I watched the trailer again and I became as excited as ever for the film's release. This was a few weeks back.

Now it's Thursday 17th of December, and I can safely say in my current mindset, the film is worth the price of admission. Objectively, as a friend pointed out afterwards, the plot structure is kind of predictable in that it takes the path of most Hollywood narratives - conflict/resolution. And that's not so bad, only that the writing sometimes draws attention to its formula. Not that this ruins the film, hardly. The only other issue I had with the film is that it was quite long. My left arm ached so much.

But that was because I didn't want to move it. I was pretty enthralled throughout the film. I mean generally I have to move around in my seat when I'm watching any film. I moved once this time (I'm pretty sure). There's just something about James Cameron's Avatar that works for me. I like the story - ex-marine in a wheelchair joins a crew to the planet Pandora in order to exploit the land from the natives. He is one of three who turns themselves into these natives - three feet and blue-skinned, quite a marvel - through a machine called an avatar. It's their job to gain the native's trust to make the mission easier. Only Jake Sully, the ex-marine (Sam Worthington) becomes so embroiled in becoming a native that he finds his sympathies lying with them. And you can understand his love - Pandora is this beautiful, natural place where there's a deep ecology happening, humans are one with all other living beings around them. He's wary of all this 'tree-hugging' behaviour at first, but then he understands the connections to nature that humans have long ago forgotten. On this level Avatar is quite significant in today's age.

Of course, Avatar is also an action-adventure film and I'll say, for someone who doesn't leap out of their way for these sorts of films, I loved the suspense-filled sequences. I was quite into them, invariably displaying tears, excitement and horror. I can't imagine the painstaking effort taken to make the film what it is, and I won't try to. I'll only say that it's a visual treat to see this film and I only wish I had seen it in 3D, but alas, in its 2D format it's still grand.

Superlatives are dangerous to use, as I'm probably blowing up the film out of proportion. It's suffice to say that I enjoyed it, and I went into it knowing the hype. It's entertaining, exciting and makes you think and feel. What else is necessary for a good film?

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