Avatar (James Cameron, 2009)

08Mar10

When I finished watching Avatar for the first time, I was in awe. It was hard not to be. How can one not be overwhelmed by the grandiose beauty of the world Cameron created, which comes to your eyes in 3D? I found, however, that the loyal attachments one feels to the film immediately after viewing soon wane. Avatar might be aesthetically stunning, but it’s hard to single this virtue out from the prevailing vices of a vastly deficient plot and annoyingly cliché characters.

Cameron should be commended for his imagination and employment of CGI in a visually game-changing way. Through Pandora, he creates a complex world that’s rich in possibility, and whilst the joy of those surroundings lasts, Avatar fulfills one of those primary roles of the fantasy genre and a key aim of cinema: to help one escape.

An aggravatingly obvious political message of environmentalism and anti-imperialism, however, largely ruins the film, for it provides the platform for the type of army-general to emerge which can deliver lines like ‘it’ll be humane… sort of’ in response to questions over his use of tear gas, and who wants his troops to hurry up in their annihilation of the indigenous Na’vi people so he can ‘get home for dinner.’ This is awfully sloppy screenplay on Cameron’s part, and make’s Avatar’s human aspect, which is a significant portion of the film, feel incredibly lame.

You should see Avatar. There’s no doubt about that. Its aesthetics are more than a worthy reason to do so. But expect no cinematic masterpiece, for this excessively great aspect of the film alone is not sufficient for the making of a great movie.

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