Visuals: For years Star Trek, Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and all sorts of other sci-fi or fantasy movies have been trying to take us to another world. This one succeeded, and it was so beautiful. I swear that I had a religious experience in reaction to the visuals to this movie, probably akin to the feeling that many people had when they watched the original Star Wars for the first time in theaters. I don’t tend to get teary eyed over physical beauty that often, but this world moved me to tears from the sheer beauty of it. It was like stepping inside an expressionistic painting. If you get a chance to see this in 3D, do it! If you get a chance to see it in the theater, do it! If you miss out on all that and watch your DVD in an old tube television, well… still watch it, although you might not have quite the same reaction as everyone else. The visuals get an A, and I somehow feel that an A isn’t high enough to do this movie justice.
Sound: If the sound had failed, then the visuals would have too. Pandora sounded alive and organic. The creatures made sounds that matched the visuals and the music superbly added to the drama of what was going on. A
Acting: I tip my hat to every actor in this movie. The humans interacted with the CG characters in such an organic way that I really never questioned the fact that the humans were reacting to no one. Sam Worthington, mixing this with his roles in Terminator 4 and Clash of the Titans, may be establishing himself to be the next big action star since Jason Statham. Likewise, Zoe Saldana’s career is on the rise as she just came off playing Uhura in the Star Trek reboot. And then there’s Stephen Lang… good Lord, I do not want him angry with me under any circumstances ever. The man was ripped in this movie and looked like he could give Chuck Norris a run for his money. In fact, I wouldn’t mind seeing a movie with Stephen Lang portraying a character very similar to his role as Col. Miles Quaritch, but as the movie’s main protagonist instead of villain. The acting department gets an A!
Story: Normally, I tackle story first thing in my reviews. I saved it for last here, because I really loved this movie, but that doesn’t mean that I’m blind to some issues with the storyline.
My initial review was too long for IMDb, to read my full review visit tacmovies.blogspot.com
Anyhow, this is the archetypal mole goes native story. There are some shocking similarities between it and the novel Call Me Joe, and it wouldn’t be the first time that Cameron had been sued for plagiarism, as Harlan Ellison sued him over Terminator, but I still think that simultaneous creation is possible in this instance. Regardless, the story is pretty good, but it’s definitely the weakest link in the chain. All of the characters played their parts in making this story function, but I definitely thought some parts were written a bit shallow, for instance (SPOILER WARNING):
1. The Na’vi never once thought that Jake was giving intel to the humans? I think tvtropes.com might call this “Plot Induced Stupidity,” especially when you consider that they only let him stay there to gain intel on the humans. Slightly hypocritical, if you ask me. Since we’re on the subject, Neytin turned on Jake and immediately never wanted to see him again before the humans attacked and her father died. This despite the fact that the Na’vi mate for life and the two just mated. After taming a red dragon-like creature, she welcomes him back with open arms.
Okay, this functionally works to progress the story, but I think a better progression would have been to have the two mate, Jake reveals his mole status and the rest of the Na’vi turn on Jake but Neytin, feeling that strong, irrational mating bond, stands by her man until her father dies, at which point she turns on him. Jake then tames a red dragon and symbolically regains the trust of the Na’vi but it takes a little longer for Neytin to forgive him. At least, that’s how I would have done it.
2. The evil human corporation is willing to massacre innocent natives to make a quick buck. It’s so one dimensional that it’s painful. Not to say that it couldn’t happen, but I wanted more, and I think the movie hinted at more. In fact, Worthington’s character mentioned that the earth had been ruined somehow. If we as a race no longer had a home world and were dependent upon Unobtainium to survive, and the Na’vi were unwilling to negotiate giving us any Unobtainium for over six years (which the movie stated was the timetable the negotiations had gone), then I think stealing it wouldn’t necessarily have been the right thing to do morally, but necessary for the survival of the human race. The story hints that this is what’s going on behind the scenes, but never says it outright probably because we the audience would turn on Jake Sully if we knew that. In any case, I would have preferred that the storyline be less cut and dry. The soldiers just started shooting. They didn’t try a covert mission to steal the Unobtainium first, and the money grubbing corporation didn’t recognize the potential money to be made in harvesting the forest’s telepathy/soul bank?
Again, I thought the writing was okay, but with some major problems. C
Overall: You should see this movie. It’s awesome. Yes, the writing is a bit shallow at times, but it’s still really good in spite of the writing. A