Avatar (2009)

DVD Cover (Twentieth Century Fox)
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Overall Rating 70%
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Ranked #39
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Connections: Avatar

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. --IMDb
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Review by Tobes
Added: January 21, 2010
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.

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.

Ginose #1: Ginose - added January 21, 2010 at 7:16pm
John Smith/Paul Marshall "Firekind". I refuse to offer a single word of praise for this blatant plagiarism.

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.
It was pretty too look at, though.

Thanks for finally giving me one worth sitting through your ridiculously bad-editing for, Cameron.
Rest Easy Soul #2: 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.
Tobes #3: Tobes - 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?
Greg Follender #4: Greg Follender - 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 here.

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 opening credits.

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.

Ok... most 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.
Tobes #5: Tobes - 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 everyone says.
Ginose #6: Ginose - 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 of it.
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'm sure 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.
Tobes #7: Tobes - 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.
Ginose #8: Ginose - 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.
Greg Follender #9: Greg Follender - 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?
Even 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!!!
This ridiculous 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 bother?
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.

To be honest, I'm ALREADY finding myself forgetting whole sections of the film... aside from the obvious set pieces... and that says a lot.
A visual romp... not terribly original or impacting... but entertaining nonetheless.
Crispy #10: Crispy - 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 all.
Ginose #11: Ginose - 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 wrong.
Though I have about ten or so more that have more DIRECT baring on the plot, if that's what matters to you.
Crispy #12: Crispy - 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 here lol)

Sure, unobtanium could have been covered a bit more, and given a better name, but plotholes they were not.
Ginose #13: Ginose - 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?
There's no 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 imaginative.
waxtadpole3657 #14: waxtadpole3657 - added January 24, 2010 at 11:52pm
[url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/avat ar-pocahontas-in-spac_n_410538.html]http://www.huf fingtonpost.com/2010/01/04/avatar-pocahontas-in-sp ac_n_410538.html[/url]

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 joke).
Crispy #15: Crispy - 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.
Greg Follender #16: Greg Follender - 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;)

All ribbing aside...
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?
Ginose #17: Ginose - 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 DARE you).
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 worthwhile.
Crispy #18: Crispy - 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.
Ginose #19: Ginose - 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 movie,
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 explaination.
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 #20: Norman S. Wolfe - added January 29, 2010 at 5:34pm
One word: diarrhea!
Lucid Dreams #21: Lucid Dreams - 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. 7/10
BuryMeAlive #22: BuryMeAlive - added June 6, 2010 at 4:39pm
Easily in my top 10 worst movies of all time. 0/10
Roybot #23: Roybot - added June 6, 2010 at 5:04pm
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