Avatar

Here we have what may be one of the most significant films ever released. No, not just for the story, which is indeed simple (though effectively so, as there is no time spent thinking about it too much), but for the sheer immersive, visual realism. The 3D literally involves you deeply in the story- there is no pulling away to contemplate your navel, you really are there. Like the Avatar of the title, we are drawn into a richly-detailed yet alien world, a world which very soon becomes our home, if only for the next few hours.

What makes this even more of an achievment is the fact that ‘being there’ involves entering the life-space of a far-distant world with exotic and often terrifying (or terrifyingly beautiful) creatures, not only animals but also plants. The colours , shape, sizes are all quite literally out of this world. You very quickly start to feel empathy for the life-struggles of the ‘Na’vi’, an alien race not too disimmilar from the so-called developing peoples of our own world. Yet they seem to be quite at peace with the ecosystem they inhabit and even fuse with in their own ways.

Now as this is a movie review of sorts, I have to criticise the story’s simplicity, the ‘black and white’ portrayal of people’s motives (read the capitalist military are merely cold, bad men and the noble savage natives pure of heart to the end), and the sometimes annoyingly super-human feats of the protagonist. Yes, the plot can get a little ‘stupid’. Yet to get too much into this would be to miss the point- that a simple story with some very controversial twists is being used to draw you into an experience unlike any other. We perhaps unlike any other than Dances With Wolves (Dances With Smurfs, anyone?)

This film is all about our progress. If it has a message, it is to reconnect with nature before we really do become the ‘dying world’ spoken of and to do so we may need to reconnect with ancient wisdom that understands the energy circuits of our own. Stunningly beautiful landscapes help us feel this, rather than simply be lectured about it. As a Urantia Book reader and Star Wars fan, I personally have no problem with the concept of humanoids on other worlds of whatever colour, perhaps being at a different technological level to our own. The interesting twist here is that we are the high-tech invaders, at least when the film shows the Na’vi perspective.

As a film, the 3D makes an immediate and deep impression. You are no longer being tickled with drops of water juming out of the screen- the image is more about the depths of things and allowing much more detail than 2D ever could. And this detail is nigh-on perfect- the effects are seemless. Yes, it has been said before, but the film is indeed worth seeing for this alone. I haven’t really felt this way since way back when, when I saw the trench sequence in the original Star Wars A New Hope. Such is the sensation of being there, in a fantasstic, yet threatened world, a world you get to journey to and care about, as much as your own. Yet Avatar perhaps goes one step further by intoxicating you not so much with cool technology as with organic lifeforms, to an extent Star Wars didn’t quite reach. In fact, I have no hesitation in awarding James Cameron a Perfect Future
for what he has achieved here, not just in the field of entertainment,
but in the progress towards intercultural and even inter-species
understanding.

Like colour TV, or the first believable special effects (oh, why do I always go back to Star Wars, can I be the only one?), 3D is something we will one day take forgranted- Avatar makes this very clear for even the most jaded viewers. The door has been opened and there is no going back now (especially with the sequals already planned). So, what are you waiting for- go and see Avatar- it needs to be not just seen, but experienced afresh!

P.S. Good though it is, it isn’t better than Star Wars. So there. Yes, that does leave the door open for it being as good as, though.

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2 Comments

  1. Gideon

     /  January 10, 2010

    Hey Matt. Yes, you really do need to see it in 3D. I’ve now seen it twice (I wrote that after seeing it first, was up half the night enthralled by it ands saw it again the next day!) The second time cleared up any misconceptions I had about the story. As with Titanic or Aliens, James Cameron lets a simple story become a much deeper one, which carries you right into it’s world- commenting, of course, on important issues for our world (maybe all worlds?)Yes, it probably is as good as Star Wars, a large rerason for it being the feeling of seeing something real happen, albeit in a fantasy world. In fact, I am planning on a second review just to talk about this more.

    Reply
  2. Matt

     /  January 8, 2010

    Good comments, G! Yeah, the story was simple and often predictable, but the message, the music and camera techniques did make me feel that it was as good as Star Wars (could there be a trilogy here too?). I must admit that because I had a lot of things to do yesterday after seeing the movie, I didn\’t plan properly and the theatre where I saw it wasn\’t showing it in 3D, so that was a let down, but still enjoyed it anyway. Now, I want to experience it afresh, as you say, one more time in 3D!

    Reply

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