Viewed – 22 December 2009 Cinema
It has to be said, the wait for director James Cameron’s next film has been waaaaaay too long. Having swept the boards at the Oscars with Titanic, and more importantly being responsible for arguably the best sci-fi action movie ever made – Terminator 2: Judgement Day, I went into this with high expectations. Sort of a throw back to the likes of Aliens and the aforementioned Terminator franchise, but given a personality and story very much its own, this epic fantasy / sci-fi movie places us on the forest world of Pandora, where tall, lithe blue beings known as the Na’Vi inhabit a world full of strange creatures, danger and spirituality. Then comes along mankind in its usual bull in a china shop way, hell bent of mining the planet for its resources, and to hell with whoever lives there. Yet thankfully, in amongst the army of gung-ho marines are a bunch of scientists who have developed a technology to artificially grow their own Na’vi, where they can transport the consciousness of a human volunteer, enabling he or she to walk amongst the tribe as one of them.
Sam Worthington plays paraplegic marine Jake Sully, who is drafted into the Avatar programme after his own twin brother is killed in action. Soon he becomes a Na’vi and his goal is to befriend the tribe and persuade them to move village before the military arrive, whilst at the same time learn about their behaviour for scientific research. Worthington is joined by Sigourney Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez, as well as Steven Lang as a trigger happy Colonel. Worthington carries the film well, but lacks a little presence (especially considering that mostly he’s a big, tall blue dude with a dawky grin), and Weaver is her usual, dependable self. Yet it’s the performance of Zoe Zaldana as female Na’vi Neytiri who steals the show, and her personality brings the story to life.
The world of Pandora is so beautifully realised, that it no longer feels like an effects film; the emotion on display from mostly computer generated people is astonishing, and their similarly CGI’d surroundings an incredible achievement, with every minute detail stunningly crafted and breathing with life. Thankfully Cameron backs up the lush visuals with a decent story full of emotion and substance, but also doesn’t falter on the action, delivering some amazing sequences that made me want to shout out with delite. It was also interesting to see a movie where we, the humans are the alien invaders, the change in perspective refreshing, and certainly got me thinking about the ruthlessness of mankind.
So yes, it’s long, your arse will be numb as hell, but I assure you, you won’t be bored for a minute. The concept alone is worthy of your ticket price, and it’s probably the best looking movie to come out this year – with a professional touch as expected from a director of such acclaim. So welcome back James Cameron. You have been missed.
Verdict: 5 /5