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James Cameron’s “Avatar” has wow-factor to spare (Review) December 19, 2009

Posted by ronannarbor in Entertainment, Movies.
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James Cameron’s AVATAR is, to put it mildly, the WOW-movie of the year. Or any year. You’ve never seen anything like this. Nobody has ever seen anything like this.

You know you want to see it — so just go see it. It’s everything it has been proclaimed to be. But before I even go any further, make sure you see it in 3D, or better yet IMAX Real 3D. Some theaters are showing it in the standard format 2D as well — DO NOT SEE this 2D version. This is a film that is designed in 3D and is meant to be seen in 3D, and the only way you will truly immerse yourself in the world of AVATAR is to see it in 3D. If you see it in 2D, you are likely to leave the theatre scratching your head as to why the amazing reviews — it’s not the movie itself that is getting raves, it is the WAY you see this movie — fully immersed in the 3D world of CGI film.

There is a star-turn here in Sam Worthington’s Jake Scully. He has personality to spare, and his Australian accent only once makes itself apparent. He made a blip on the American audience radar last summer in Terminator: Salvation. Here he becomes a full-blown star. Also turning in a showy performance is Stephen Lang. Great to see him on the screen again, he has been absent too long. Here he plays a blustery army general in a performance worthy of an oscar nomination — and that’s an amazing feat in a film that is 95% CGI. Sigourney Weaver has a showy role as a biologist and educator, and both Joel David Moore and Michelle Rodriguez turn in fine performances.

Not a month after 2012 set the CGI standard to beat – now comes AVATAR with visuals that you have never seen before…correction…you’ve never seen them this way before…it brings a new standard to 3D film-making as well. There’s no cheap tricks here – and no breaking of the 4th wall. Nothing comes hurling or poking at your eyes (think Walt Disney World 3D movies) — instead, it’s used to enrich the stunning visuals and bring you into the movie. Within a few minutes you are there. You feel like you are IN this movie. And I don’t say that lightly.

Those who suffer migraines, easily become nauseous, or otherwise suffer from visual difficulties will not enjoy watching this movie, and perhaps that is why there is a standard 2D release, other than accommodating those theaters that are not equipped to run 3D films. But if they don’t catch up soon, they’ll find themselves shuttering down, since this is the dawn of a new movie-making age. 3D not only comes into its own here, it blazes the path for what future films can accomplish with the techniques.

Also noteworthy is a return to SciFi which is bright, colorful, and visually appealing. You won’t see any of the Matrix-type inspired scenes here — there are no heroines wearing sunglasses and leather. The first scene on planet Pandora reminds you more of the moment in The Wizard of Oz when the door to Dorothy’s house opens and you see OZ in technicolor. AVATAR has that same magical moment — followed by another shortly afterwards as Pandora comes to magical, glow-in-the-dark colorful life.

There is some clunky dialogue here — your not going to care. There is a standard good-guys-win storyline here as well — again, your not going to care. But more importantly, you never feel the 2 hour 46 minute length of the movie is too long — and it’s not. The richly developed characters have immediate emotional resonance, and it makes the drama in the final scene battle (think Lord of the Rings stuff) dramatic, exciting, and sad.

By the way — it’s not for the kiddies — its rated PG-13 for a reason, and it’s not appropriate for young’uns, even though they will want to see it because of the commercials and McDonald’s happy meal tie-ins — which are misbegotten.

Go see it. It’s awesome filmmaking, and you will find yourself finding time to go see it a second time. I’m going again on Monday. It is that good.