Avatar (2009) Review

avatar

RATING: 2.5/5

[SPOILERS]

A man is caught between the conflict of humans and the native inhabitants of an alien world. It is there he must choose the side he feels is right.

In 2009, this was the highest-grossing film of all-time. Back then, I was like everyone and was blown away from the experience. Though now watching it again, while it does retain some of that spark, it doesn’t quite live up to everything.

The first thing that one should bring up about this film were the special effects, which were very cool and beautiful. The world of Pandora was bustling with color, whether it was during the day or night. Now by today’s standards, some of the CGI did look dated. But it looked gorgeous and pretty to look at.

In terms of the fauna and flora of Pandora, there was definitely imaginative stuff there. A majority of the alien life was so cool. Whether it was the Banshee, the Thanator, or the Navi themselves they looked and acted the part. It was nice seeing the home and customs of the native inhabitants. One of the more interesting things was their language. Something that James Cameron took time to actually make.

Cinematography was nicely done when it showed the scope of the Pandora landscape. One of my favorites was when the Floating Mountains were introduced. Another gorgeous shot was the gas giant, Polyphemus, covering most of the nighttime sky. Shining away with its blue hue atmosphere.

The sound design was well-done. It was good at making one feel as though they were in the Pandoran jungle.

The concepts/ideas in general were pretty fascinating to say the least. James Cameron and his team really put a lot of effort in the world. Because the plot itself, was the Achilles heel of the movie.

I mean the plot wasn’t awful sort of speak. It played out pretty average-like and one could tell how it was going to play out in the end. The main theme that was being forced out was the importance of nature and the environment. Which was not a bad theme, but it was so obvious and again, it played how one would think it would.

The characters were not that engaging, most notably the main character of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). While not giving a terrible performance, he was very bland and boring. It doesn’t seem like he was that into his role and whenever he did put emotion on-screen, it didn’t feel natural. The best human character was Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), the Jane Goodall of the Navi. The antagonists weren’t nothing special as they were cliche in wanting to only care about the moon’s resources as opposed to the Navi.

The Navi were a bit better performance-wise. As they were the ones that made me at least care for the bad stuff that was happening to them later on.

What the film felt like to me was plot-driven and for this project to have quite a few characters, that wasn’t good. There was hardly development for many characters and they were there to simply move the plot forward. It seemed like things happened just because. Like plot points appear out of nowhere and it can lead to one getting confused. Like why did Michelle Rodriguez’s character (Trudy) all of a sudden wanted to help the protagonists, why did Joel David Moore’s character (Norm) hated Sully, etc.

Now it appeared that those questions were answered in the deleted scenes. It made me wonder why the filmmakers chose to cut those points as it would have served the plot much better. It would have added a little more character development, showed more of the Navi culture, or in general, showed more context as to why this scene/event happened.

The film had a great first act. It was really good at introducing one to the world of Pandora and the acts the humans were taking part in. Though honestly it would been made better if Worthington would shut up. His narration throughout was another big negative. It was annoying and pointless in many scenes. I feel like the audience could get a better grasp on whats happening if they just watched instead of getting expositions here and there.

Besides that, the first act was great. Bit by bit giving the audience a taste of what they were getting into. But the film did go on for nearly 3 hrs, something that could be fixed easily.

“Avatar,” it was a landmark movie released a decade ago. It pushed the boundaries of CGI and crushed box-office records. It had pretty visuals, very cool concepts/ideas, and a great style. But style will get one so far. As the plot, the mediocre characters, their alright performances, and forced message bogged the style down. This was a film that had substance, but no substance. If that made any sense. I’m still looking forward to the sequel when it comes out in 2021. FINALLY!!!

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