Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Avatar: $1 billion dollars says - "ya don't really need a plot"

It took director James Cameron’s Titanic 44 days to reach $300 million in the U.S. domestic box-office. Twelve years later, Avatar has reached that same milestone nearly three times faster, in just 15 days. As the movie has now shattered the vaunted $1 billion mark and speculation is mounting that the self proclaimed "King Of The World" will eclipse his own phenomenal record and beat Titanic's box office revenue of $1.84 billion.

Does this mean Cameron has crafted the most astounding, nuanced drama that makes movies like Raimi's Spider-Man, Nolan's Dark Knight, and Bay's Transformers look weak by comparison? Hell no, he was simply a man who convinced Fox to part with some $300m [not including an assumed $200m in advertising] to make the first mainstream modern 3D blockbuster. This is by no means the greatest story Cameron has crafted, look to his Terminators for that; nor is it his best movie in terms of balls-to-the-wall action, that's Aliens. No, this is more like just what he did 20 years ago with The Abyss - he has pioneered the next evolution of computer generated imagery - only this time he gone a colossal step further and he has melded it with the latest 3D technology previously reserved for children's animated movies.

The premium price of 3D coupled with the natural curiosity of the average Joe to see what the fuss is about is what I'm sure is responsible for some Avatar's commercial coup, but the fact it's simply an amazing theatrical experience is the true key. I've never been disappointed by any of Cameron's dramatic efforts that I've seen since The Terminator [I've never seen Titanic] and I have them all in my DVD collection; Avatar is no exception. It's easy to see why this has taken so long to make; the care and attention to each and every detail, creature, character and environment is abundantly clear. Cameron is undoubtedly mentally unhinged in some fashion, sure he carries a gun, screams at autograph seeking fans and created The Terminator from one of his recurring nightmares - but his imagination is practically limitless in human terms. Sadly there's only so much of it he can show at once.

Graphically, Avatar is a masterpiece. A triumph of three dimensional projection technology that pushes the boundaries of cinema as we know it. For the first time since the dawn of CGI we finally have believably moving characters with fluid natural motion, not robotic mimicry. Sheer madness aside, Cameron must be heralded as a true genius of creativity for crafting such a detailed film, if it can even be called a “film” anymore as it so audacious and revolutionary in its example of entertainment berhaps a new word should be invented for this as it keeps you glued to discover the next outstanding effect.

There's not much I'm going to say about the plot here. You'll hear words like "predictable", "simplistic" and "infantile" in so many reviews, but when it boils down to it is just basically insulting. My main issue is it's advocacy of nature versus technology, industrialisation and progress. It's bizarrely hypocritical of a man who spent hundreds of millions on technology, to have a problem with progress and even worse to go off on an Al Gore style tangent with money he got from FOX of all people. It's easy to see he has a little issue with the U.S. going into a country to secure oil by subduing local wogs? I wonder where he thinks the fuel for his personal helicopter comes from? Texas? For someone who carries a gun tucked into his belt - I wished he be more "right" minded in his writing; a superior story - even a propaganda piece to teach underdeveloped nations not to challenge the superior might of the the U.S. may have been a way to provide a more stable influence to world peace and security and even certainly would have been better than the conservation crap presented here, considering the movies popularity.

Cameron's cast of characters are sadly as predictable as the plot, but nonetheless superbly realised and acted within the limits of the story. Former Australian bricklayer Sam Worthington who proved himself more worthy of admiration than Christian Bale in last years Terminator: Salvation and who will again grace our screens this year in Clash Of The Titans, plays Jake Scully a U.S. Marine rendered a paraplegic during a conflict on Earth who regains the use of his limbs when his mind is transferred into a cloned alien body. It's mainly from Scully's perspective that we view the movie and it's through his training and indoctrination into the Avatar program that we receive our much required exposition to this new and exciting universe. Sigourney Weaver is Dr. Grace Augustine, a xenobotanist who holds the rights of Pandora's population in high regard as she does the conservation of the alien world. This naturally puts her at odds with the military, embodied by Colonel Miles Quaritch (Steven Lang) who despite being the main antagonist of Avatar and the Chief of Security of the human base - Hell's Gate on Pandora, is obviously the character I can most identify with. You'll see what I mean when you see it, this is why Marine Colonels get tarred with the same brush! Zoe Saldana is someone we never see but in her Na'vi form as she portrays Neytiri, one of the indigenous population of Pandora and love-interest of Scully. Through a somewhat over-long section of the movie, Neytiri trains Scully to become a Na'vi warrior who must gain the respect of the clan in order to save them.

Final Verdict: Despite having a mediocre, if not infantile plot, Avatar is no exception to the director's stellar repertoire. The poor story will sadly keep it off the list of true sci-fi classics like Blade Runner and The Matrix but Cameron's vision of an entire populated alien world realised in the impressive, reality-immersing medium of 3-Dimensional graphics will easily become one of the, if not the most entertaining and enthralling cinematic experiences of your life. It will deserve, nay demand the best picture at this years Academy Awards.

Colonel Creedon Rating: *****

1 comment:

Civilian Overseer said...

"his imagination is practically limitless in human terms."

Have you ever read "Deathworld" by Harry Harrison?, written in 1960, great book, I always wished that someone would make it into a movie and now Jim Cameron has. Of course he forgot to credit Mr.Harrison in any way shape or form but I've always said that disguising your sources is the true secret to genius. ;)