In James Cameron’s new film, Avatar, the Titanic director gives us an epic tale that took fifteen years and $500 million dollars to bring to the big screen -- and we get all of that for under ten bucks!
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The year is 2154 and humans have colonized the planet of Pandora to mine their rich deposits of the not-so-creatively-named mineral “Unobtainium,” which is key to mitigating Earth’s energy crisis. A team of scientists led by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) hope to relocate the indigenous people, the Na'vi, away from their sacred land using diplomacy developed through remotely-controlled hybrids of human and native DNA called “Avatars.” A complementing paramilitary force has the same objective but has less patience.
Progress is muted until ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is recruited to control one of the Avatars, then it is altogether threatened by his conflicting allegiance. His “Once a Marine, always a Marine” mantra initially obliges him to the local command’s Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang). But when the wheelchair-bound warrior finds liberation in his alternate self and a romantic interest in the Na'vi king’s daughter Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña, more or less), he rallies the Pandoran clans to defend what is rightfully theirs.
Early reaction to Avatar was akin to John Travolta’s response to a sip from Uma Thurman’s milkshake in Pulp Fiction. Just as Travolta had to know “what a five-dollar shake tastes like” film buffs had to see what a half-billion dollar film looks like. Their verdict: wonderment. Cameron created a culture and developed the technology to masterfully tell this story. So what’s not to like?
For one thing, the heroes are blue. That’s never really explained, but it’s probably not from waiting for a bus on South Broadway in January. The film’s length is also a chore. At two hours and forty minutes, it’s no small commitment to your attention span or your continence (the latter is more problematic because the film is so engaging that you literally can’t step away for even a moment). At times Avatar is overtly politically preachy with stereotypical hawkish dialog like, “Our security lies in preemptive attack, fight terror with terror.” If that’s obvious enough, there’s even a “Shock and Awe” campaign.
Thankfully, the story is easy to follow, unlike, for instance, Dune, or The Lord of the Rings films (for those who didn’t read the books, anyway). Essentially, it’s a retelling of Dances With Wolves, but with a happier ending.
Avatar is a must-see and only a “skxawng” would think otherwise.
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