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Avatar the Movie beats the Hype

published  First Published: 18/12/2009
Article written by: Nigel Brookson
The story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.
Rated:  [ M ]
Cinema release:  17 Dec 2009
Director:  James Cameron
Stars:  Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang
This is one of those rare, game-changing movies which makes you believe not everyone in Hollywood is a cynical hack.
Remember the feeling you got when you first saw "Jurassic Park", or "The Fellowship of the Ring", or "Jaws"? "Avatar" is like that only on a more immense scale.
That's mostly due to the amazing, much-talked-about special effects. The faraway world of Pandora has been created in a computer, but it's a lush, neon, glowing paradise crawling with fantastic flora and fauna. By the end of
the film, you'll wish you could book a one-way ticket there.
The Na'vi are an even more impressive achievement: they're the tall, blue, cat-alien humanoids who inhabit Pandora.
Paraplegic Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) becomes one of them when his consciousness is uploaded to an artificially created Na'vi body an "avatar".
The villainous Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) sends Jake out into Pandora's toxic (to humans) atmosphere, to find ways to bring down the Na'vi so mankind can get at the precious metals buried under their village. While exploring this
deadly but beautiful world, Jake encounters Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a Na'vi princess who shepherds him into her society.
There's no "uncanny valley" here. The Na'vi are stunningly created; their faces, particularly their huge golden eyes, are so expressive it's sometimes hard to believe they aren't real, but computer imagery.
It runs for almost three hours but never feels that long. Even those who aren't fans of sci-fi will be drawn into the plot's action and romance, and some of the film's set pieces are stunningly emotional.
But "Avatar" isn't perfect: the plot is sometimes too black-and-white, there's some cheesy moments (what do you expect from director James Cameron, the man who coined "I'm king of the world"?), and there's occasionally a weird
racial subtext that might put off the Politically Correct brigade. But the film is so engrossing that its flaws are overwhelmed by what makes it great.
And there's a lot of greatness here. "Avatar" is a film like no other.


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