This Week at the Movies: Avatar

This Week at the Movies: Avatar

Sure, it’s been out for six weeks now, but I don’t really care; Avatar is nothing short of a historic moment in film (and film industry) history, and it deserves to be reviewed at any time. Any movie that remains number-one at the domestic box office for six weekends in a row – as Avatar, along with only a handful of other major film events such as Titanic and Back to the Future, has – will be regularly reviewed for years anyway.

Avatar has, in fact, just become the number-one highest-grossing movie of all time worldwide – no small feat in itself. To achieve an honor such as that, chances are the movie is good (or at the very least, crowd-pleasing). No surprise; I loved this movie, and I can understand why everyone else in the world is loving it too.

Priced at a whopping $287 million, Avatar marks director/writer/producer James Cameron’s first return to the screen since 1997’s Titanic. Such an enormous twelve-year gap of time between movies really makes one wonder: just how much work and thought went into this passion project? The film, after all, is visually stunning and incredibly conceived. Viewers are taken on a ride to another planet, called Pandora, where 12-foot-tall blue people known as the Na’vi roam the earth amongst other land-dwelling creatures. Floating islands decorate the skies as dragon-like reptiles sweep through the vast landscape.

Despite their seemingly paradise-like lifestyle, the Na’vi are also sitting on an extremely valuable territory that proves to be a major cause for concern. Pandora is surrounded by a rare element referred to as “Unobtainium,” which the U.S. Army has its eyes on. Viewers learn early on in the film that it is the intention of the U.S. government to invade Pandora for its Unobtainium deposit. To do so, the Army has invested billions of dollars into “Avatar” training, where trainees mix their human DNA with that of the Na’vi to form Avatar bodies (which are identical in physical appearance to the actual Na’vi people) that are able to live and breathe on (and steal Unobtainium from) Pandora.

The film follows Jake Sully, a former U.S. Marine and promising new recruit for the Avatar program. The year is 2154, and Jake has just begun roaming Pandora as an Avatar for the very first time. Yet with further exposure to the ways of the Na’vi, as well as to the atrocious treatment of Pandora by the U.S. Army, Sully finds himself defending the Na’vi instead of his native people. To complicate matters, Sully has also fallen in love with the Princess of the Na’vi, Neytiri.

In effect, viewers must fasten their seatbelts as Cameron sends them into amazing battle sequences. The ride is consistently thrilling and, while not always the most intelligent of stories, Avatar is so visually jaw-dropping that it is impossible to resist. Not since Star Wars came out in 1977 has a film so successfully transformed an audience. Although the 3-D presentation is far more stimulating than its 2-D counterpart, Avatar is an absolute must-see in any format. Highly recommended.