'Avatar' questions human greed, morality
Superb effects, digital animation captivate viewers
In Avatar, scientists create avatar bodies in the form of blue native aliens, the Na'vi, and work to understand their culture and civilize the indigenous race. The computer animation and special effects make the native land and people seem incredibly realistic despite their irregular features.
Legendary producer James Cameron (director of Titanic and the original Terminator series) once again confounds audiences with another heart-throbbing and gripping movie: Avatar.
Well-known for its long length of production, Avatar took approximately 12 years to complete due to the stellar graphics and intricate set designs.
Raking in $73-million sales in the opening weekend, according to Bloomberg.com, Cameron lives up to his nickname, "the king of movie directing." However, his amazing abilities only scarcely prevail in this movie.
The movie begins after the death of handicapped Jake Sully's (Sam Worthington) scientist twin brother. Since he has identical DNA as his deceased brother, the government asks Jake to replace and continue his twin's research in using avatars -- artificial bodies controlled by the nervous system and created with human and alien DNA. Taking up the offer, the military sends him to another planet known as Pandora.
On Pandora, a single military base resides and a power-hungry colonel, Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), scourges for the multimillion-dollar-worth metal that lies beneath the surface of trees throughout the area. Residing under the protection of the military, scientists who created the avatar bodies in the form of the blue native aliens, the Na'vi, work to understand the culture of the indigenous race and civilize them.
When Jake arrives, he meets his brother's close friend, Norm Spellman (Joel Moore), and Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), the scientist who began the operation.
Soon after he learns to properly maneuver his huge blue avatar, Jake, Grace and Norm venture out to explore the forests of the planet, and at once are surrounded by the lush neon-colored plants and animals. Separated from the group, daredevil Jake explores the fantasy-style world. When he suddenly gets attacked by a giant rhinoceros, Jake jumps of a cliff and unrealistically survives a dive into the clear water.
"As one of the best movies of the year, Avatar will surely capture the attention of viewers and captivate them through intense fighting scenes, superb special effects and the originality of having giant blue-skinned aliens as the stars of the film." --Gigi Thao, '12
Now lost and alone, night soon falls on the Pandoran jungle, changing the scenery from beautiful to dangerous as he must fight off rabid wolf-like creatures. In a moment of near hopelessness, a Na'vi woman, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), finds him and quickly saves his life by killing the native animals to her discontent, as the aliens value all forms of life.
He eventually finds out that Neytiri is the princess of the Na'vi tribe that detests the humans. His only reason for survival was the fact that floating pure souls from the sacred tree had attached themselves to him, showing his good heart. Viewing him as a possible chosen one, the tribe gives him a chance to learn their culture and assimilate.
Using their trust in Jake to his advantage, the colonel gives Jake three months to persuade the natives to move, as their home tree rests above a huge deposit of the precious metal. Living in two separate worlds -- a human when his avatar sleeps and learning a whole new culture while awake -- Jake struggles throughout the rest of the movie with being honest to the native people he has grown so attached to and choosing which life to live.
When the three-month period ends, Jake must make his final decision and choose which is most important: to respect the life and culture of the natives, or to force them off their land to satisfy his own race. Whichever choice he makes, he must give up one life for the other.
Throughout the movie, Jake's ability to be absolutely convincing in each scene is reflected by the audience's tensing actions at every emotion portrayed. For example, when the villagers turn away from him and consider him a traitor among them, I noticed looks of sadness and heartbreak on the faces near me.
Filling in the place for his deceased brother, Jake Sully embarks on a mission with a group of scientist to another planet, Pandora, where he experiences a life far different from what he was used to. With Pandora's advanced technology, Jake is able to live his life through an avatar.
The plot seems very similar to the Pocahontas story and flim, because many scenes show acts of imperialism, tyranny and love.
Though Disney did not spend 12 years to create Pocahontas, one could easily describe the entire Avatar plot from the animated film, minus the musical aspect. The Pocahontas film includes similar concrete details like imperialism on a smaller and weaker area and the antagonist's demanding desire for a natural mineral. Also, a character from the enemy's side falls in love with a local native, and suddenly they are faced with the epic battle to save their home.
Along with this, another matter that contributes to the theme is the continual dictatorship of the military leaders. Throughout the movie, I could not help but wonder if Cameron wanted to warn viewers of the corruptness of power that could possibly result in killing an innocent group of people in cold blood -- simply for greed.
Noticeable from the beginning, the Na'vi tribe has a powerful and personal relationship between the planet and themselves. When their home becomes destroyed, I wondered how strongly humans would care about our own world being bulldozed in certain areas. This reminded me of our own planet and our relationship toward it, since we rely on plants for oxygen. Along with this, the animals and natives live side-by-side and I thought of the similar relationship between a man and a pet dog.
Despite the realistic emotions and captivating acting, there was a noticeable contrast between the computer-generated imagery (CGI) and the real background. However, the CGI used in the movie adequately plays in as the amazement of the scenery was expressed through the crowd's "oohs" and "awes."
As one of the best movies of the year, Avatar will surely capture the attention of viewers and captivate them through intense fighting scenes, superb special effects and the originality of having giant blue-skinned aliens as the stars of the film.
Avatar, rated PG-13, is playing in most local theaters and can also be seen in 3-D. For tickets and showtimes, visit Fandango.
For more movie reviews, visit the Dec. 30 article, Sherlock Holmes film recreates iconic stories.