Science Fiction


Distributed by: 20th Century Fox

Reviewed by Melissa Minners


            I love James Cameron films and have seen a great many of them, most notably the Terminator series, Aliens, The Abyss and Titanic.  What I love best about James Cameron is his movie style.  His films tend to have great stories featuring action, adventure, romance, strong female characters and the best special effects available.  When I saw the trailer for Avatar, I could tell this film was going to be big.  3-D technology has advanced a great deal and, knowing Cameronís love for mixing brilliant storylines with cutting edge technology, I just knew that this was a film I was going to want to see!

            Avatar begins in the year 2154.  The people of Earth have been exploring the far reaches of space for many years.  The RDA Corporation have begun mining unobtanium, an extremely valuable mineral on Pandora, a moon with a deadly atmosphere and even more deadly indigenous species.  RDAís biggest problem are the Naívi, a blue-skinned humanoid species whose homes rest on some of the biggest concentrations of unobtanium on the entire moon.  Scientists have been attempting to gain an understanding of the Naívi, setting up schools to teach them English as they learn about the Naívi culture.  But things have been slow going.

            Enter Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a disabled marine who volunteers to take his dead brotherís place in the Avatar Project on Pandora.  Avatarís are genetically engineered Naívi bodies operated by humans via mental link.  The project leader, Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) is none too pleased to have a marine on her team rather than the scientist she expected, but her opinions of Jake soon change as he adapts very easily to the Avatar body he controls. 

            After a chance encounter with one of the more dangerous animal species of Pandora, Jake is rescued by Naytiri (Zoe Saldana), princess of the Omaticaya clan.  Jake is readily accepted by Naytiriís mother Moíat, the clan's shaman, who believes that Jake is chosen for greatness.  She instructs Naytiri to teach Jake the ways of the Omaticaya clan, hoping that he will bring what he has learned back to his people and that they will eventually leave the Naívi in peace.

            Unfortunately, a marine at heart, Jake doesnít just tell the scientists in the Avatar project what he has learned.  He also makes strategical status reports to Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), head of the mining operationís security detail.  Quaritch doesnít approve of the Avatar program thinking it slow and unnecessary.  Biding his time, he waits until he feels he has enough information to head up a strike force and take out the Naívi.

            As time moves forward, Jake begins to become attached to the people of Naívi and their way of life.  He realizes that, until he came in contact with these people, he never really felt in control of who he was.  As his bond with the Naívi grows stronger, he finds that he no longer supports the mission he has been sent on.  But is it too late to turn back?  Can Jake stop the RDA from destroying the Naívi and, eventually, the entire moon of Pandora?  Or is it his destiny to die fighting for control of the land alongside this alien race he has grown to love and accept as his own?

            Avatar is an amazing special effects experience.  As James Cameron has explained in interviews, the technology that went into the creation of this film wasnít in existence when he first came up with the concept years ago.  He actually had to wait until technology caught up with what he wanted to do in the film.  The result is an epic journey into the depths of an imaginary moon inhabited by invented alien species that actually feels real.  The viewer feels very much a part of the movie, whether he/she is just strolling through the forest, soaring along on flying dragon-like creatures or dodging fire in the midst of battle.

            Some film creators would rely solely on the value of their special effects for a movie of this magnitude, but happily, James Cameron isnít your average film creator.  Heís up there with the best of the sci-fi greats like George Lucas and Stephen SpielbergAvatar has a storyline that is readily acceptable, easy to relate to and contains a very important message. 

            The events in the film parallel that of our history and how the imperialistic nature of our forefathers destroyed countless Native American tribes and took their land.  The RDA Corporation security force can be seen as the military might of the fledgling United States whose desire to expand outweighed what the so-called savages might be entitled to.  Cameron makes certain that when these parallels are drawn, they are very easy to spot - note the weaponry, the speech (which sounds a great deal like Lakota to me), the clothing, the culture, the love and respect shown toward nature.

            Characters in Avatar are easy to relate to.  Viewers become completely vested in their outcome.  Youíll find yourself rooting for specific characters and loathing others.  I, myself, became rather angry at the loss of a couple of my favorites in the film, as I had become so engrossed and so tied to their outcome.

            Some say that the film is too long to sit through, but how many epic dramas are over in a couple of hours.  Besides, if you are a true science fiction fan, two hours and forty-five minutes is nothing compared to all of the amazing effects, terrific storyline and the adrenaline rush of the incredible action sequences.

            Avatar is one of those films that have it all.  Great special effects, a brilliant storyline, a terrific cast, great characters that you can relate to, fantastical science fiction elements, adrenaline-pulsing action scenes, romance - you name it, this film has it.  Avatar is the must see film of this generation.


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