Avatar(DVD)

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Avatar(DVD)

A paraplegic ex-marine war veteran is unwillingly sent to establish a human settlement on the distant planet of Pandora, only to find himself battling...

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Review of "Avatar(DVD)"

published 01/02/2010 | JOE.B
Member since : 28/10/2009
Reviews : 63
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Super
Pro Stunning Effects
Cons Sloppy dialogue in places, but doesn't detract from the film as a whole
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"'Av a Look at Avatar"

Floaty things!

Floaty things!

Intergalactic Planetary

It is the year 2154, and Earth is a dying planet - years of deforestation and uncontrolled emissions have left it in a state of ruin. A military group has been sent to the beautiful forest planet of Pandora in order to mine (or basically 'steal') the precious fuel known as 'Unobtanium' (yes, it is a rather cheesy and stupid name for a rock!). Unfortunately, the Unobtanium lies deep under the spiritual home of the 'Na'vi', a humanoid race who inhabit the planet. Wheelchair-bound Marine 'Jake' (Sam Worthington) has been chosen to control the body of a genetically engineered Na'vi, with the ultimate aim of being accepted by the alien society and eventually negotiatiating them away from the Unobtanium reserves. Will Jake succeed in his mission?, or will he realise that his orders are morally corrupt, and therefore rethink his plans?


3D!

To be honest, I had low expectations of Avatar, and although I had seen some overtly positive reviews, I couldn't help but relate back to as my previous experience of movies which have been optimized specifically for 3D viewing - think 'Jaws 3D' from the 80's, or the decidedly dodgy 'Polar Express'. Yes, years of promised but undelivered three dimensional thrills had left me rather cold.


Written and directed by James Cameron (a director who has always been happy to utilize cutting-edge technology in his work), Avatar has been in the pipeline for over ten years, painstaking created to be the ultimate cinematic experience - but does it succeed? From the off it is apparent that Avatar is a film which *has to* be seen in 3D to be fully appreciated - and briefly taking the glasses off midway through the showing serves to highlight the differences between the two versions. It's a viewing experience which, after you've adjusted to the heightened sense of depth, feels like you're actually exploring a vast new alien world for yourself. This isn't the blue and red cellophane 3D experience of old - objects feel like they are actually there in front of you, hovering magically in the middle of the cinema. Combine this with the cutting-edge CGI effects (something I'm usually not a massive fan of) and you've got an experience which immerses the viewer incredibly deeply into the events depicted onscreen.


Something that impressed me (because it was unexpected) was the fact that the 3D effects weren't overused, and whilst 99% of the scenes had a sense of depth to them, objects aren't continually thrust into the viewers face for the sake of it. The heavy duty constant 3D effects are saved for the climatic battle sequence towards the end, and it's frantic and top-quality stuff. The 3D is surprisingly easy on the eye, and didn't leave me with motion sickness as Disney's 'Bolt' did. If you do struggle with motion-sickness however, rather than taking your glasses off (which will result in a blurry screen) leave the glasses on, and watch the film through one eye, which will make for a pleasing respite from that pesky extra dimension! The 3D glasses are comfortable enough (or at least the ones that Cineworld give you are), and are large enough to be worn over the top of regular specs - that is unless you've got a passion for flamboyant Elton John-esque eyewear.


Cinematography

Throughout Avatar, the cinematography is simply stunning, and the world of Pandora is beautiful and imaginatively created. Deadly creatures seem to be lurking around every corner, and the attention to detail is immense - tiny seed-pot-like creatures float around the screen, in many cases passing the viewers attention almost un-noticed, but all the time adding an incredible depth to the overall picture.


From seeing the trailer to the film, I initially wasn't impressed by the look of the Na'vi - the blue humanoid creatures who inhabit Pandora. My criticism was that they appeared too cartoon-like and awkward looking to be believable. However, in the context of the movie they fit in beautifully, moving with a authentic grace and realism which I was extremely impressed by. Similarly, their skin texture has been beautifully rendered, looking like real flesh, albeit with a blue tint. Let's not forget however, this is a film with an absolutely huge budget, so anything less than perfect would have been really easy to criticise - good job the animators got it pretty much spot-on.


The story in general features a strong moral message, relating to themes of racism, the environment, and the power of the community. These are handled in a way which never feels preachy, and allows the viewer to form his or her own opinion of the events depicted. I have actually been informed that the story is a little similar to both Disney's Pocahontas and Fern Gully - but seeing as I haven't watched either of those films I can't comment. The movie in general has a pacing which is akin to Cameron's previous award-laden movie 'Titanic', and although that particular film deals with a completely different subject matter, the audience's imagination is captured and held in a similar manner.


Performances

In terms of the performances, the acting was pretty much spot on throughout, and I honestly couldn't find fault with any of the lead roles. Sam Worthington was great as Jake Sully, and handled his transition from being on the side of the humans, to empathizing with the Na'vi, beautifully. Worthington also plays the part of someone who is wheelchair bound with an authenticity and realism which I was similarly impressed by. In the lead voice acting role, Zoe Saldana really excels, packing real emotion into the character of 'Neytiri' who is responsible for teaching Jake the ways of her culture. As blue eight-foot aliens go, she's pretty hot (erm, did I really just say that!?).


Sigourney Weaver (who I actually didn't realise was in the film before I watched it), is very good as the Scientist who empathises with the Na'vi culture, and acts as a sort of missionary. Weaver seems to be on top form, and although her part doesn't require that much emotion, she is convincing throughout. It's a little odd to see Weaver playing a caring character, as she usually gets the rather cold and hard-woman roles as we first saw in her performances as Ripley in the 'Alien' franchise.


If there is a weakness with the film, it probably come in the form of a slightly sloppy dialogue which is a little clumsy in places. There are quite a few cheesy lines thrown into the mix for good measure, and this is one of the reasons why I have awarded the movie four stars instead of five. On the whole though, this doesn't detract from the groundbreaking nature of the film, but I generally feel it could have been cleaned up in some places.


Final Thoughts

Overall, I found Avatar to be a visually stunning and well conceived film which exceeded all my expectations. The question has to be asked, 'would I have enjoyed the film as much in regular 2D?', and the answer is undoubtedly 'no'. Similarly, I wouldn't enjoy the 3D DVD version which comes with the cellophane style glasses which have the effect of washing out the colours, leaving the lavish world of Pandora with a monocrome wash over everything. On the whole though, the non 3D version of Avatar is still an incredibly watcheable film, due to the fact that the story (even though it's not massively original) is crafted to a high standard, and the performances are spot on. A high recommendation from me, and and even higher recommendation in 3D.


Lead Roles

Sam Worthington - Jake Sully
Zoe Saldana - Neytiri
Sigourney Weaver - Dr. Grace Augustine
Stephen Lang - Colonel Miles Quaritch
Michelle Rodriguez - Trudy Chacon
Giovanni Ribisi - Parker Selfridge

*I have also published this review on dooyoo.co.uk under the username JJJJ*

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Comments on this review

  • theguester published 11/02/2010
    Excellent review :) I will be back with an E :)
  • adambrown400 published 10/02/2010
    Avatastic
  • Praski published 08/02/2010
    Fine review, Joe. Gets my vote.
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Product Information : Avatar(DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

A paraplegic ex-marine war veteran is unwillingly sent to establish a human settlement on the distant planet of Pandora, only to find himself battling humankind alongside the planet's indigenous Na'vi race in this ambitious digital 3-D sci-fi epic from Academy Award-winning TITANIC director James Cameron. The film, which marks Cameron's first dramatic feature since 1997's Titanic, will be shot on the proprietary FUSION digital 3-D cameras developed by Cameron in collaboration with Vince Pace, and will offer a groundbreaking mix of live-action dramatic performances and computer-generated effects. Australian actor Sam Worthington stars as the reluctant human settler, Jake Sully, with actress Zoe Saldana signing on to portray the local woman who enters into a romantic affair with the hero. The revolutionary motion-capture system created for the film allows the facial expressions of actors to be captured as a virtual camera system enables them to see what their computer-generated counterparts will be seeing in the film, and Peter Jackson's Oscar-winning Weta Digital visual-effects house has been hired to supervise AVATAR's complex visual effects. Joel Moore, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Michelle Rodriguez round out the cast.

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