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On the lush alien world of Pandora live the Na'vi, beings who appear primitive but are highly evolved. Because the planet's environment is poisonous, human/Na'vi hybrids, called Avatars, must link to human minds to allow for free movement on Pandora. Jake Sully, a paralyzed former Marine, becomes mobile again through one such Avatar and falls in love with a Na'vi woman. As a bond with her grows, he is drawn into a battle for the survival of her world.
There are a lot of weird names in this review, so I'll try to use them as little as possible to make it easier to read.
Review by Tobes
Added: January 21, 2010
When the first Avatar trailer hit the theaters, I didn't want to see the movie.
Everything they showed during the trailer screamed futuristic Ferngully to me, and I wanted nothing to do with the movie. When it hit theaters, and in the past month, when all of the "Best movie ever" hype started, I still had no desire to see this movie. However, I finally said to myself "Well what the hell, I have gift cards to the movies...it'll be free, and if it sucks, then it sucks."
Avatar is probably one of the best films I have ever seen.
While the general plot is nothing new, and you can almost predict certain lines in the film before they happen, the way the story is told and the visual style it's presented in makes this one of the most imaginative movies in the past decade. The movie itself is three hours long, and even though that might seem like a long period of time to tell a basic story, there is so much going on constantly in the world of Pandora that the time will fly by and will leave you wanting more.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a wheelchair-bound military man who's brother Tom recently passed away. Jake comes to find out that his brother was working on a special genetic military experiment, and that Jake can finish this experiment because they share the same basic DNA. Jake agrees, and gets to travel light years away to the world of Pandora, a world that most people have only heard about. The world of Pandora is inhabited by the Na'vi, a blue cat-like race who live within the lush jungles of the planet. Upon arrival, Jake finds out that he's involved in the "Avatar" program, a program that lets you control a Na'vi looking creation, who's made out of both your own and Na'vi DNA.
Jake meets Norm Spellman (Joel Moore), the other new recruit for the avatar program, and the two meet the other doctors on the project; Grace Augustine (Sigorney Weaver) and Max Patel (Dileep Rao). Grace is the head of the science aspect of this project, and she's working towards making a peaceful connection with the Na'vi. This is imporant, because the reason the humans are on Pandora, is to mine Unobtainium (good name!), a super precious ore that's worth millions to corporations on Earth, and the cure for the energy crisis that Earth is facing. The Resources Development Administration, led by Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribis), is the group that's facilitating all of the mining and interaction between Earth/Pandora/Humans/Na'vi. Along with Parker, there's also Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who is extremely military-minded, and wants to shoot the shit out of anything that moves, just to help get to the Unobtainium ore.
Colonel Miles pulls Jake aside, and talks to him about helping get the military inside information about the Na'vi, to help their cause. Miles also promises Jake that if he helps with all of the scheming, that Miles can put a word in with the military to help Jake get his legs back again. This all leads to the first conflict in the movie, science/humanity vs military to accomplish the goal of getting the ore from the Na'vi homeland.
As Na'vi Jake (NJ from now on) goes into Pandora for the first time, he has some run-ins with the local animal life, and ends up stranded from his group. He eventually gets left behind, and has to fend for himself during the night. Trouble starts, and NJ is attacked by what look like zombie dogs, only to be saved at the last second by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a young Na'vi girl. After saving NJ, Neytiri yells at him for the fact that the dogs had to die, and that everything on their planet deserves to live. As they talk, Neytiri receives a sign from Ewya (the spirit of mother nature) that NJ has a warm heart, and is there to help them. She takes him back to Hometree (their home city), and introduces the Na'Vi tribe to him, including her arranged husband Tsu'Tey, and her parents Eytukan (dad) and Mo'at (mom). Neytiri tells everyone about how NJ is there to help them, and to understand the "sky people", and that she wants to train him to be a Na'vi. The elders reluctantly agree, and this starts conflict two in the movie : Jake's allegiance to the Na'vi vs his allegiance to the humans.
Without discussing more of the plot, anyone can see where this movie is heading. Will Jake help the humans or help the Na'vi? Will the brute force approach accomplish things, or will peaceful democracy get the humans what they need. These are the two "main" conflicts in the movie, but as the film progresses, there are multiple smaller storylines that appear, and the conclusion to each of the smaller stories are just as important as the main conclusion to the film.
The grand story is simple yet robust, with a twist here and there about what you might think is about to happen, but it's nothing over the top or outlandish. There are "slow" times in this film, where it's just random conversations, or training montages, but as a whole it all works well together.
You owe it to yourself to see this movie in either IMAX, 3D, or IMAX 3D. The visuals in this are gorgeous, and I feel like you would miss out on a lot of the immersion if you didn't have the higher quality projection. The 3D version doesn't use the "lets stab things towards your face" camerawork, it actually adds depth in the opposite direction of you (where it seems like the screen goes deeper into the wall). There are some truly EPIC battles that happen in this film, and you would be missing out on them by only watching this in a standard film format.
One of the weird concepts that appeared since this movie came out is Pandora Depression, where there's apparently groups of people who are sad and depressed that Pandora isn't a real world. I don't know if this is a testament to how realistic the graphics have become in films (or this one specifically), or if people just get really hyped up about movies, but it's interesting that people seem to be so engrossed in this film that this "condition" is even any part of reality in 2010. I don't remember ever hearing anyone having issues with The Shire not being real, or not being able to fight with lightsabers when LotR/StarWars came out, so who knows what future films will bring us as digital films become more and more realistic.
Overall (and once again), this is a movie that NEEDS to be seen. There are a lot of movies that envoke small emotions from things happening, whether it be happy, sad, etc, but this movie will leave you emotionally drained by the end of it. I was so engrossed in the story, that even though the movie was three hours long, I never noticed how long I was in the seat.
Also, this movie is now stated to be part of a trilogy, and god I hope so, because if there's more to this world, and they can keep up both the story quality and visual quality, I can't wait to see it.
- added January 21, 2010 at 7:16pm
John Smith/Paul Marshall "Firekind". I
refuse to offer a single word of praise for this
It was okay,
though. A little too drawn-out and familiar. The
characters were all such boring, flat archetypes
that I was spouting their lines before they were
most of the time. In true Cameron style, however,
it was much too long, but this is actually the
best part about it too me: Too long, but there
still should have been more of it. This will be
the first time in Cameron's filmmaking history
that I will actually buy his "director's
cut" of a film, because this one had so many
MASSIVE FUCKING PlOTHOLES that I can only get the
full gist of all of these boring, stereotypical
characters if I know the full story.
pretty too look at, though.
Thanks for finally giving me one worth sitting
through your ridiculously bad-editing for,
Rest Easy Soul
- added January 21, 2010 at 11:17pm
I love this movie and think it's a top 10 in the
past decade. The visuals were phenomenal, the
story was incredible, the characters were so
attachable and when watched in 3D.. You really
feel like a part of the movie. 10/10.
- added January 22, 2010 at 9:06am
Just for conversation sake, and
not an arguement, can you tell me some of the
"Plotholes" you thought there were?
- added January 22, 2010 at 9:27am
Ok... here is where I pretty much write my own
epitaph by damning this film to mediocrity.
And that's what this movie is... barring all the
technological and special effect wizardry, of
course. Sure, there are some that will say that
the ends justify the means... but I wholeheartedly
disagree. If James Cameron had invested even a
FRACTION of his budget on a better script (or even
another round of rewrites or editing passes), we'd
have a far more memorable film on our hands
We're given all we need to know
about the main character in the opening voice-over
(and even that is fairly concise; we don't even
really learn much more about him, his brother, and
what makes him tick throughout the entire
eye-blistering length of the film) because Cameron
doesn't want to waste any screen time on character
development. All that happens to this character
in the entire running time of the film is that he
has a change of heart that we see coming from the
Why? Because this film
is such a painfully obvious lift of "Dances
with Wolves" (and to some degree "Little
Big Man") that we can't help but see that
decision coming from a mile away. Everything from
the shamelessly obvious rape of the Native
American imagery to the shockingly stereotypical
portrayal of the military mindset reeks of
ham-fisted appropriation. I'm all for reoccurring
themes within film, folks... but some of the
unimaginative ways that those aspects were used in
this story were disappointing. Considering the
time it took to get this juggernaut of a film out
to theaters in the first place... the shortcuts
taken are a real letdown.
kids these days probably haven't seen the films
that this movie borrows so heavily from... (and
there are plenty) but this criticism aside, the
hollow, stereotypical characters within this story
don't illicit any real empathy or connection to
their respective plights. Throw in a few
ridiculous plot-holes and you have all the
ingredients for a 7/10.
- added January 22, 2010 at 1:12pm
Without using the "no
character development" statement, give me
plotholes in the movie. I just want to see what
- added January 22, 2010 at 6:44pm
K, the plotholes, for conversation sake, didn't
take much from the story, overall, but still were
enough to annoy:
1.) Backstory for
Weaver's character, specifically the school, what
she did prior to the mining operation's
open-warfare against t he Na'vi. It's touched on
alot, but nothing is ever directly said about any
2.) The reason they were there mining
for the ore ("unobtainium" lol). Why
were they after it? What the fuck was it? A
precious metal? A fuel source? What corporations
were funding a mining operation on a hostile
planet? The actual profits made back after such
loses would seem... minimal...
I could imagine a few more if I tried, but these
two stuck out at me, I'm sure Greg found others
more annoying, to be certain.
Truthfully, as I said, it's not as if it's a BAD
movie, it's just not a great one, in my opinion.
Beautiful, yes, and it may just give Joel Moore's
career the boost it needs, but too plain and samey
for me. Not some kind of cinematic nirvanna.
- added January 22, 2010 at 9:00pm
I'll definitely give you her back story as a flaw
But I'm pretty sure they said that the Stupidly
named ore is for earths energy crisis and that's
why it was so important.
- added January 22, 2010 at 9:26pm
I don't recall them mentioning much of an
"energy crisis" so much as an economical
instability, which means the ore COULD be used for
anything, but was probablly just a catalyst for
oil or whatever fucking other resource big,
powerful nations need.
Truth is, like I said,
didn't matter, but any sort of explaination would
have been nice.
That's what I mean bout
getting the "director's cut", if it's
released; that would probably have alot of omitted
scenes that were cut to keep the movie from
getting... haha... too long.
- added January 22, 2010 at 11:48pm
I don't think a blow by blow list of the
plot-holes would serve any purpose but to drum up
conflict between fans and detractors of this
film... but I will mention this...
While I do understand the idea of certain local
phenomenon causing computer scanners to go awry
for the Earth forces... we still clearly saw
during the "Tree assault", they were
perfectly able to fire rockets/missiles mounted on
helicopters/cruisers and cause massive
destruction... camera guidance anyone?
Why the HELL did they have to HAND PUSH huge
pallets of explosives out of a frigging cargo
hatch of a plane to destroy the "Spirit
Tree" towards the end of the film?
high school students these days can manually
direct fireworks at range... no less futuristic
aircraft from a culture able to span light years
of space travel!!!
contrivance was only executed so that the craft
would get close enough to the defending Na'vi as
to force a conflict between Jake and Col. Miles...
because realistically, they could have either
nuked the damned tree from orbit (now that
"negotiations" had failed) or rocketed
it into oblivion from a distance... as would be
possible with EVEN TODAY"S TECHNOLOGY!
I could go on forever... but why
I know it's just a movie and that
suspension of disbelief is part and parcel for
this fare... but stuff like this really began to
add up for me and eventually became far too forced
for me to ignore anymore.
honest, I'm ALREADY finding myself forgetting
whole sections of the film... aside from the
obvious set pieces... and that says a lot.
visual romp... not terribly original or
impacting... but entertaining nonetheless.
- added January 24, 2010 at 3:57am
@Ginose, neither of those are plotholes, just
loose ends. Sure, you can argue the lack detracts
from the movie, but do they really matter in the
grand scheme of things? Do they matter as to the
story we're following. I don't think they did at
- added January 24, 2010 at 8:23am
Hmmm... actually, without clear, set motives
almost 60-70% of shit that happens in the movie
happens without any clear reason. Sure, we can
paint our own explainations, but it still leaves
big logic holes that we have to fill ourselves...
Pretty sure that's what a plothole is. Could be
Though I have about ten or so more
that have more DIRECT baring on the plot, if
that's what matters to you.
- added January 24, 2010 at 7:09pm
No, a plot hole is not just missing exposition. A
plot hole is an occurrence that derails the logic
and realism of the plot at hand. For example,
Jurassic Park: We don't know how Hammond got his
hands on all the money to fund that little genetic
adventure and buy a pair of islands to it, but
that doesn't make things implausable. A plot hole
would be the point discussed a few weeks ago: how
a twenty foot tall lizard snuck up on our heroes
with that level of stealth. (Yes, I'm eating crow
Sure, unobtanium could have
been covered a bit more, and given a better name,
but plotholes they were not.
- added January 24, 2010 at 7:19pm
No, no. I still feel both of my sighted examples
were easily enough to throw off the course of
logic this movie had. Losing points in exposition
isn't enough, but no clear motivation or reasoning
behind a characters actions tend to throw off the
whole of the plot. What was the point of creating
a damn near army of security mercs when they had
the Na'vi's trust before? What caused the downfall
in a guerilla war with the people?
motive for about 90% of the reasoning behind the
attacks and espionage, this was more than just a
"loose-end". Or maybe I'm not just that
- added January 24, 2010 at 11:52pm
That's all I
have to say about that matter. And also, it did
NOT deserve the Golden Globe for Best Picture
(aside from the fact that the Golden Globes are a
- added January 25, 2010 at 4:26am
Actually, there's obviously motive, we we were
just never privy to it. I can definitely see why
you might find that annoying, but it doesn't mean
the plot as a whole doesn't make sense. But like I
said before, we really didn't need any of this
information because the war isn't the focus of the
movie, it's merely the background for the true
focus, which is on this guy's interaction with the
tribe. Offhand, I can't think of too many movies
where any good came from over developing a mere
subplot, which is what the war was. It seems that
your biggest problems with this movie is that you
wanted to watch an action movie, when Avatar is so
much closer to the drama genre. I'd imagine this
is a common complaint, considering the way the
movie was advertised, but has nothing to do with
the film in its own right. Shame really.
- added January 25, 2010 at 5:14pm
Did you enjoy your meal, 385?
I hope that it
wasn't overly distasteful... I mean, at least
afterwards you hopefully enjoyed a fine dessert...
my complete respect;)
Such interesting discussion between
you and Ginose... pity it couldn't be over a more
noteworthy film, IMHO.
Still... the people
need their popcorn flicks... and this juggernaut
certainly fills the bill, eh?
- added January 26, 2010 at 1:41am
Well, Cris, I'll be honest, I don't think you can
really call the primary event that sets all the
pieces in motion and was the only REAL conflict in
the film a "subplot" (go ahead and TRY
to defend Jake's acceptance as a conflict... I
I knew exactally what I was going
to get from the movie before I saw it, and I
CERTAINLY didn't want an action movie. I had a
feeling it was going to be another cliche-ridden
drama like all of the movies that used the plot
before it (except for "Pocahontas", that
shit was legit), and I was right. Doesn't mean the
movie was bad, by no stretch of the word, it just
wasn't anything special. It wasn't anything
original. It wasn't anything different. It was
just pretty. Very pretty.
It'll break all
kinds of records, sure, but that's what Cameron
does. Can you give me three good reasons why
"Titanic" did as well as it did? I sure
as hell can't. The man can make an expensive
movie, and he can make it look good, but his
recent films just aren't that damned iconic.
My biggest beef with "Avatar" isn't
its lack of logic, it's its lack of anything
- added January 26, 2010 at 5:10am
Fair enough. I'm certainly not trying to claim
your reason for not finding it absolutely amazing
is a faulty one, and this is quickly heading
towards a boildown to semantics over the word
"plot hole". For me, I compare it quite
easily to Terminator. The machine uprising is
barely covered at all, but it's the event that
sets the actual movie in motion, and we don't need
the details of the past (technically future, but
you know what I mean) to enjoy it. Same with
Avatar. We know that shit hasn't exactly gone
according to plan, and that's all we need to know
to understand the plot presented.
- added January 26, 2010 at 8:21am
I suppose it is all semantics, and I could never
berate "Avatar" on its own merits. Like
Greg said, it really is the perfect popcorn
But, come on man, atleast
"Terminator" told us why AND how there
was a machine-uprising. "Avatar" gives
us a vague "why" and some VERY loose
information as to "how" and tells us to
fill in the blanks ourself, almost like slapping
our foreheads and saying "NOW WATCH THE
PRETTY CAT-PEOPLE!". it probablly ISN'T
necissary, but I feel that it truly demeans the
movie's worth when it won't give a simple
Like I said, I'm looking
forward to the "director's cut" (the
first director's cut in history from Cameron that
I'm looking forward to), which hopefully has some
more information in those regards.
Norman S. Wolfe
- added January 29, 2010 at 5:34pm
One word: diarrhea!
- added May 7, 2010 at 1:12pm
I thought Dances with....oh, I mean Avatar was an
alright movie. There is nothing original about
this story at all and it has been told many times
in many movies or books. The graphics were very
good, but however this movie was way over hyped.
- added June 6, 2010 at 4:39pm
Easily in my top 10 worst movies of all time. 0/10
- added June 6, 2010 at 5:04pm