so let me break down avatar. in blade runner (1982) the replicants toiled the soil in different planets to seek mineral wealth however we never see these planets ( as that wasnt the focus of the story) what we get is a elegy from a replicant who states that he has seen things that we humans can only dream of. this is where Cameron takes off with Avatar; we are going to see what that replicant was able to see. we are going to see a wonderous world of untold beauties etc etc. when you meet the na'vi who do they remind you of? at first i was thinking native americans; then i thought indigenous african tribes; and then the aborigines came into view. the philosphies used to establish their existence in the film are weak because it is a melting pot of all those tribes on earth and cannot come together as a new whole (weakness of allegory in film). as a student of history it is clear that all tribes believed in the power of nature and so forth. they were all simple not caring for the troubles of the world. they cared only for their existence as a peace loving people. i mean Who are these people with all their technology?. The philosophy used to identify us with the navi is the life force (star wars on a plate). every living thing is all connected in the cirlce of life (lion king) a soldier played by sam worthington joins the avatar program to replace his dead brother. sigourney weaver who is the navi expert doesnt want a loose cannon in the form of a marine to aid in the exploration that it seems that is her only option. the avatar program involves cerebral alignment between the inductee and the apparent lifeless body of a Navi (matrix). this allows them to roam the world without masks and allows them to interact with their environment. anyways on his first trip outside the camp in the Avatars body he is left behind (where have i heard that before). he meets beautiful navi girl who decides, after introducing him to the tribe, to train him in navi ways ( where have i heard this before). he is the chosen one or pure soul ( yes, yes i have heard this a million times). girl falls in love with the avatar inductee ( where have i heard this before). inductee carries secret; he is a traitor working with the greedy capitalists (Hmmm). capitalist uses his information and penetrates the forest so as to bull doze the tree of life ( getting familiar). avatar inductee, after spending much time with the navi has an attack of conscience and decides to lead the people to victory over the greedy capitalist (thats great is it the sequel to dances with wolves?). then what happens next. no thats all folks. this is the melting pot but unfortunately for cameron it never comes together.
avatar would have been stronger had it not been allegorical. it can be forgiven if it was mildly allegorical. take lord of the rings for instance. why is it the greatest fantasy film ever made? the world was unfamiliar. the pandora in camerons piece is too familiar. there are no discoveries to be made only the premise of oppressed people who can only be led by their oppressor with an attack of conscience. yes the environment is nice but only from a glitzy perspective. i expected to find stunning elements, concrete environments but they are only assembled colours. there is nothing more. its just colours. i am still surprised that thinking individuals believe that its something they have never seen before simply because its in 3d. does anyone remember seeing Lothlorien for the first time in the Lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring; the argonauth and the mines of moria. these were fully developed concrete places with their own histories. for the characters( at least some) in lord of the rings they were just passing through. lord of the rings never ran out of gas because the world was fully developed. there was always something new to view. in avatar its just a big tree and a couple animals( again the melting pot of dinosaurs and modern day mammals), and some colourful plants. the history of the place is flimsy because it is a melting pot of our own history with a touch of the aesthetic you can tell that Cameron was overreaching here.
i have to rubbish claims that this is money well spent. 200+ million went into the project. this is a movie that would have been better for 50 million. if they were more interested in the viewpoint of the navi instead of the oppressor they could have made it a more worthwhile story. even star wars had to take time to allow us to appreciate the galactic war and the many creatures involved. in star wars a new hope they decided to focus on key individuals rather than making it about everybody. it was about everybody but instead they focused on the actions of these individuals and allowed us to see how their small actions could impact the wider picture. that was why it was successful. in avatar they have someone come from outside to show them the way. they could have internalized it more and given more heed to a build up so that the transitions would be more effective. there could have been more time spent on the other tribes (why am i calling them tribes?). in this film the viewpoint is from above (Cameron in his studio) and we will never understand the movements below because although we get a sense of the environment and the people when they speak they are speaking through the eyes of the man above who has brought his own superficial understanding of them to film. he cannot fully develop them because they do not exist. he cannot give them a history because even he is befuddled as to how he will find the time to create an original world . he says 'boy let me borrow from what we have here and then i can understand what im doing better'. he borrows from what we have and then he puts it on the screen in the form of aliens; the aliens speak like us and have our feelings and so everythin is universal. the man from above knows he doesnt have a concrete story so he tries to impress with bright colours i.e handing out free candy. we suck on the candy untill we find out that it is too sweet. but when we go to the man from above to explain why the candy is so sweet without any new flavours the candy man is gone.
overall the story was one dimensional. too much candy (3 D Dolby) and when you get the cavity you have to go to the dentist. the melting pot of all these great sci fi films and our own histories never came together. you can take your girl and wow her with the 3D at least that will be worth your money.
Definitely memorable in the visual department, and while the story is very cliche and the moral is very obvious/forced, I still feel the movie does get a lot of unneeded hate. It's still a great movie to experience, just don't expect high quality storytelling.
James Horner's score for "Avatar" is, well, it does the job extremely well despite the fact that Horner recycles themes from his best known scores: Legends of the Fall, Glory, Titanic, Aliens, etc. There's even one cue (I believe it's called "Gathering All the Na'vi Clan...") that actually sounded a bit like Pirates of the Caribbean. The score is rich in ethnic instruments, sounds, and percussion; so even if it sounds familiar to those who have heard Horner's previous work, the music works. Especially compared to what we would have heard if *certain* other composers had gotten the job [hint: Horn of Doom, "drum orchestras," etc]. It's a solid score nonetheless, and Horner's method of re-adapting his own music is better written than anything that his younger peers can compose.
Positives: Avatar is a visual feast for the eyes. The planet of Pandora comes to life with all its creatures and plants in what is probably the most visually impressive film I've seen. The 3D greatly enhances the film's astonishing visuals. The special effects are top notch with the most convincing CGI I've seen in a film to date. In these realms, Avatar certainly deserves praise.
Negatives: While the special effects of Avatar are amazing, the story lacks anything of originality or substance. This is the film's major flaw. The story of a soldier finding his place with the natives he is supposed to be fighting and turning against his own race has been done to death. James Cameron is a good director, but his writing is another story as most of his films are poor when it comes to the characters and story. Most of the characters are cardboard cutouts with no dimension or development. They serve one purpose and that is for the story they are in. You have your less-than-interesting hero and the villain whose only role is to make the audience hate him in the cheapest way possible. My biggest annoyance with Avatar comes in that the film is not subtle in any way with the themes and messages and is conveyed in the most simplistic and cheapest way possible. The film is an obvious ploy for environmentalism as well as being an anti-corporate, anti-war, and anti-military movie. These are what bring the film down. For a race that is so scientifically and technologically advanced, it makes no sense that the humans in this film are still stuck in the 18th century mindset of cultural understanding. The alien race, the Navi, are too "perfect" with no flaws or traits to make them fully engaging. The movie does have some decent performances considering the wooden, clunky dialogue that Cameron has written and the abundant CGI.
All together, James Cameron's Avatar is a pretty poor excuse for the highest grossing film in history. While the special effects and 3D are amazing, the story and characters are one-dimensional. It certainly is not the worst film in cinematic history, but don't shut your brain off and buy into the nonsensical messages that the movie is conveying. We can only hope that Avatar 2 and 3 will avoid these problems, but I kind of doubt it.