Director: James Cameron
Starring: James Worthington, Zoe Saldana
The movie industry puts out a film every few years that you “have to see because it will change movies forever”. Avatar, for many, is that movie for this time frame. Avatar is the first movie since the rebirth of the 3D feature to appeal to someone who is an average movie goer and does not have a 4 year old in toe. Not since Titanic (also James Cameron) have I had so many conversations that started with “Have you seen ____ Yet?” and after my no response, the conversation immediately took a turn for “Oh My GOD, you have to see it.” I have to hand it to Cameron, he really does have a handle on creating the exact spectacle that people want to see, even if those people are not me.
For the movie synopsis, please reference Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas. The civilized encounter a group of savages for whom they have no respect, one of the civilized tries to infiltrate the savages on a clandestine mission to try to destroy them. During his mission he learns about who the “savages” really are and that they are not savages at all, falls in love with one of theirs and converts to their culture. They find out about the mission and throw him out only to realize that he is their only hope because he knows the secrets of both sides and he truly does love the savages and really wants to help them beat his former comrades. Now for anyone who thinks I giving you the spoilers, remember, I am talking about the plot to “Dances with Wolves” “Pocahontas” “Tarzan” pick which ever one you want. I am not talking about the plot of Avatar….or am I?
This movie is visually stunning and the effects are breathtaking. James Cameron really was ambitious in this undertaking (although I cannot believe he took a writing credit for this story). Zoe Saldana’s performance was very good. All of this is true. The problem that I have is, Avatar is not an Oscar worthy film, with the exception of awards for effects and wardrobe. If you took the 3D away from this movie and set it in a jungle in Africa or the Amazon river basin and removed the blue cat people flying on dragons, the story would just be mediocre at best. I know that I am going to get hate mail over this, but when you strip away the lipstick and rouge, Avatar is an extremely obvious bore. The characters are stereotypes and cardboard cutouts. It seems the world has missed the fact that the dialogue and plot were painfully predicable because of all the big shiny things. We have long passed the time where you can woo me just by amazing effects, Pixar ruined that for you. Ever since I saw the dinosaurs walk across the fields in Jurassic Park, I expect great effects now. It is like telling me that a movie from the late 60s is amazing because it is in color.