‘King of the World’ James Cameron rises back from the depths of the sea after his “Titanic” success twelve years ago to deliver one of the most epic films of all time with “Avatar.”

Let’s get the main two questions out of the way: Is it a good movie?  Heck yes.  Is it a game-changing film that will transform movies forever? Well, possibly.  But can any film really do that?  On a technical level, movies can always advance special effects and what can be accomplished as far as the limits of imagination and reality go.  And to its credit, Cameron’s imagination graces every expensive frame of this movie to an unbelievably believable effect.

I’ve heard much complaining about the simplicity and cliche of his storyline.  I’m at a loss to understanding the reasoning of such complaints.  ‘Avatar’ presents a classic Pocahontas narrative.  In 2154, the American government dispatches a high-tech military unit to ransack the planet of Pandora in an effort to obtain a valuable mineral deposit.  The problem?  An indigenous race of humanoid Na’vi warriors (standing over twice the size of a human) refuse to relocate and give up the forests of their planet for human greed.  The plan?  American scientists are utilized to understand the Na’vi and negotiate a compromise.  After one of the scientists is killed in action, his twin marine brother, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Terminator Salvation) arrives to replace him and operate a genetically-engineered and remote-controlled avatar of a Na’vi that will infiltrate their race.  The expected happens when Jake soon loses his militaristic ideals, becomes one with their race, and falls for his Na’vi counterpart, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek).

Call the plot cliche or predictable, but I found it to be the perfect setup for Cameron’s world.  Never once does the audience not know where the story is headed, but never once do they know what this incredible director will show us next.  The very world he creates rivals any other cinematic achievement in history to date.  Witnessing the incredible design of the creatures inhabiting Pandora generated serious awe for me, as they felt authentic and extremely realistic.  Even on the human side of things–all of the military equipment: the helicopters, weaponry, and human-operated tank-bots stand as incredible accomplishments in design.  Cameron has pronounced every detail of his endless visionary world.  And I haven’t even mention the 3D factor.

This is, above all things considered, the most profound and immersing use of 3D to date.  It really opens up Pandora and allows you to enter its universe.  I can’t stress enough the level of detail utilized in the film, and the 3D really eliminates all the barriers from receiving a truly monumental movie experience.  Whether or not the movie will play as well at home remains to be seen.  Even without the third-dimension factor, the visual effects still top anything Michael Bay threw at the screen this year.  The motion-capture used to create the Na’vi characters works tremendously well in capturing authentic expression and emotion.  You can actually see the faces of Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and Zoe Saldana under the layers of computer-animation.  How this was all accomplished is way beyond me, but Cameron fails to let us down after all the hype surrounding the technology he furthered to create his vision.

James Cameron may not be a storytelling genius, but the man knows what works, and he consistently tackles all of his projects with huge success and accomplishment.  ‘The Terminator,’ ‘Aliens’, ‘The Abyss,’ ‘Terminator 2: Judgment Day,’ ‘True Lies’ and ‘Titanic’ (all among my favorite films) pushed the limits of filmmaking and what could be done with their budgets.  Luckily, Cameron doesn’t puke throwaway spectacle all over the screen.  He delivers something special and memorable with characters you care about and themes that are universal.  “Avatar” continues his streak as a filmmaking pioneer pushing the boundaries of technology to show audiences the limitless potential of the imagination.  This is certainly one of the best films of 2009, and one of the great movie-going experiences of all time.  Get up out of your chair, head to the multiplex, purchase a big tub of popcorn, and witness this incredible film in all its 3D glory.

-MJV & the Movies

Last 5 posts by Matt V

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Rating: 3.1/5 (7 votes cast)
Avatar, 3.1 out of 5 based on 7 ratings 2 COMMENTS


  1. I’m with you on all of this, man. What a fantastic movie. I don’t understand the concerns about the plot, either. Not every movie is supposed to be Shakespeare or Shawshank-level of storytelling. In some ways, Avatar’s straightforward tale is all the more classic because of its simplicity.

  2. islaffnatu says

    Well, for me the movie was fantastic. As for the simplicity, it is about time, too many people are into so much “drama”, blah, blah, blah! I was a fascinating show.

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