So tonight I watched Avatar with my parents. From what I hear, the director James Cameron who is also the director of Titanic, The Terminator films and The Abyss, aimed to make Avatar an epic that would be of as much fame and as notorious as Titanic. I'm not sure if the film can actually accomplish such a feat, if that really was the idea, but the film is definitely a success in it's own right.
My number one reason for its success is its gorgeous aesthetics. Gorgeous doesn't even appropriately describe the beauty of this film, all 2 hrs and 42 minutes of it, or at least every shot that involves the fictional world of Pandora. The effort put into every scene reminds me of Haruki Murakami's Princess Mononoke (which I can't seem to find a good website of) and the fantastical plant life in that film as well. And it's not only the imaginary flora and magnificient forest that are works of art, the indigenous Na'vi people are equally beautiful in their own right as well as the creatures of Pandora that on the whole seem very likely to rip your throat out. I could probably expand even further on how much the beauty of Avatar is enough to make it worth watching (and worth winning a couple awards for) but I feel it's necessary to mention things like plot and characters.
Sam Worthington plays the male lead of Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine taking his dead brother's place in a scientific mission to understand Pandora better, and the very attractive Zoe Saldana acts as the Na'vi who takes him by the hand, Neytiri. Honestly, there isn't a great deal of character development, though I suppose in films of this sort aimed to be epics it's not necessarily the most crucial element. The one source of change in heart lies within the male lead and it's a transformation you can see coming - you expect certain roles from certain characters: hero, heroine, bad guy, secondary characters that help the good guys triumph (sigourney weaver and michelle rodriguez)...Avatar does tug at your heartstrings (or it did tug at mine) but not because of dynamic characters, for reasons of more epic proportions involving ideas that are regularly approached by films: the meeting of races, total irrational violence, rallying of people around one cause, the maturing of one person and being accepted, as well as good winning out over evil.
I think the film can easily be split into two halves, a first half giving the audience total understanding of the world of Pandora and creating an emotional connection with the people of Na'vi and then a second half where all the action happens. Action that I prefer greatly over the guns and car chase types of a great deal of films nowadays. Let's not kid ourselves, before stepping into the theater I already knew there was going to be romance and I knew very well that there was going to be a happy ending. I'm not complaining, I think both were tastefully executed and I'm the type to enjoy both of those elements in a good movie. (I don't handle the reality of misery very well when displayed in Hollywood generated films.) Both halves let you fully appreciate the stupidity of the human race and if you're the sentimental sort (like me) then you also can spend the movie considering the utopic idea of a race completely interlocked with the nature around them. (and actually in love with their world)
Though this is a lengthy post, (and really just my amateur shot at a movie review) I think it's worth mentioning again that the aesthetics of Avatar alone are amazing. That balance struck between complete fantasy and plausible reality (which I also said about Up by Pixar) is incredibly well done and is part of why I can be so in love with this movie; it's a wonderful example of imagination at its fullest and an unfathomable amount of hard work and labor (which I like to perceive as very passionate and heartfelt). My last additional comment is that the 3D element is, in my opinion, not necessary and almost an obstacle in fully appreciating Avatar - something so well done doesn't require the gimmick.
this movie is so gorgeous.