A jaded Marine is sent to assimilate into the native culture of Pandora,
but becomes torn between his orders and his loyalty to his new home.
Written and Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Dileep Rao, Laz Alonso
Oscar Wins - Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects,
Best Art Direction
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Director,
Best Film Editing, Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing,
Best Original Score (James Horner)
Well, it's been thirteen years since James Cameron convinced himself he changed the landscape of cinema with Avatar. Somehow, this blue-tinted clone of Dances with Wolves grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide and remains the highest grossing film of all time. With a belated sequel now out in theaters and getting the same reviews the first one got (all style, no substance), it felt like it was time to finally revisit a film that made an insane amount of money but had virtually zero impact on popular culture. And I can understand why. This thing is visually stunning, yes, but has a screenplay comprised entirely of poorly-timed exposition and one-liners.
Centuries in the future, mankind has begun colonizing other planets to hunt for resources. One such place is Pandora, a forest moon thriving with alien species, mainly the Na'vi. They're a tall, blue, humanoid race who worship nature and are fighting back against the technologically superior invaders. Sound familiar? Our hero is Jake Sully (Worthington), a paraplegic Marine who is chosen for the Avatar program, meaning he'll connect virtually to a homegrown Na'vi body so he can assimilate into their culture as one of them. Of course, as an Avatar, Jake falls in love with Neytiri (Saldana) and becomes connected to the Na'vi culture, leading him to betray his own race and help the Na'vi fight for their planet. And that's a really cool part of the movie. It just takes two and a half hours to get there.
Avatar has no business being as successful as it became. It's simply not that great. Eventually, it does become good, but never great. The cast, apart from Zoe Saldana and Stephen Lang, are all phoning it in. The screenplay is Cameron's absolute weakest, though I suspect Avatar: The Way of Water may eclipse it. We'll have to wait and see. For what this film boasted back in 2009 and the kind of money it made globally, it should be so much better.