Avatar – FurnGulley meets Pocahontas

18 Dec

Avatar, James Cameron’s budget busting sci-fi epic, never really sparked the fire of anticipation that so many assumed it would. It’s failure to stir up a fanboy frenzy though will quickly be forgotten as Avatar delivers exactly what it promised, an extraordinary journey into a new world.

Floating mountains, six-legged horses and hammerhead bulls are just three of the thousands of details that make Cameron’s Pandora almost believable. It is a veritable Eden with a native population, the tall and slender Na’vi, living in harmony with the rainforest around them. Enter the industrialist human’s who seek to destroy and pillage everything in their path for material gain.

Cameron matches the natural and organic grandeur of Pandora with the mechanical and technological advances of his futuristic human race. Among the space odyssey-esq journeyors is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a paraplegic marine who is the only person who shares the genetic code to drive the avatar created for his now dead brother.

Avatar is Sanskrit for decent, referring to the incarnation of a deity in the lesser world. The avatar’s of the film are grown from a mixture of human and Na’vi genetics, creating a physical vessel for the human’s to operate. Basically avatar’s are the absolute completion of the muppet and puppeteer relationship. While Jake’s real body lies in a electronic cocoon, his brain is transported to his Avatar body.

This is the beginning of the classic hero journey for Jake, who feels his oats as a member of Dr. Grace Augustine’s (Sigourney Weaver) avatar team. Augustine’s team of scientists try to study and learn about Pandora, while brokering a peaceful eviction of the Na’vi from the sacred land, as it sits on a large deposit of unobtainium.

But when Jake is disconnected from the team in the wild of the Pandorian jungle the only thing that saves him from hyena like wolves is Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a female Na’vi.  The two form an classic John Smith – Pocahontas bond. Her soft heart wins over the gruff marine personality, opening his eyes to the natural beauties of Pandora yadda yadda. But just as Jake becomes an accepted member of the Na’vi, the corporate powers become impatient and invade.

This is where film loses some steam. The military caricature depicted by the under-appreciated Stephan Lang, as Col. Miles Quaritch, is full of original phrases like, “You’re not in Kansas anymore.” For every brilliant movie there is a clear and obvious failing, in Avatar it’s the obvious plot and clunky dialogue. Cameron, who is the only writer credited, prefers lines like, “Whose bad?” and “They’ve sent us a message… that they can take whatever they want. Well we will send them a message. That this… this is our land!”  Every character is a caricature whose dialogue becomes a guide to the obvious metaphors of the film. That being said such failing are eclipsed by the magnitude of Pandora, the being who inhabit it and technological awesomeness of humanity.

The scope of the world Cameron creates is as impressive as his attention to detail. Every flower and organism seems to have an inherent and believable biology, that while fantastical and mindbending, are strangely believable. That being said, it’s still stretches the bounderies of fantasy with the Na’vi have an exterior brainstem that allows them to physically link into the brains of every other living organism on Pandora. But the fantastical elements of Pandora world in perfect parallel against the realism of Cameron’s future humanity.

On the whole Avatar is a visionary film. It will pave the way for the new motion capture technology Cameron helped develop, bringing an actors performance into animation.  Beyond that it’s a film that will reinvigorate the sci-fi genre, hopefully moving it back to its classical roots.

While at times  political preachy, Avatar is a great film which would exceed your probably low to moderate expectations; through a combination of dazzling effects and sheer imagination.

Thunder Awards

Winner of the Week: Joe Lieberman, the former Democrat may have exacted some political retribution this week, dominating the Senate health care issue and turning it on its head by threatening to oppose the bill if his new found, mostly hypocritical, demands weren’t met. What happened? He got high level meetings in short order and may have squashed the public option in the Senate. Regardless, of the policy implications you have to admit, this guy scored a huge political win this week by being taken serious and proving he’s not a man to be messed with.

Loser of the Week: The mother of the four-year old who got drunk and stole christmas presents from neighbors. That’s a patently fail for the ages. The kid was actually quite industrious though. Read me here.

New Show to Watch: Jersey Show, it’s so stupid it’s hilarious.

Trailer (s):

Robin Hood – Russell Crow, Cate Blanchett. Directed by Ridley Scott. Get ready for Gladiator middle ages style. Scott supposedly has taken a mix of folklore, mythology and historical fact in creating this new take on the classic hero.

Shrek Forever After  – It actually doesn’t look half bad

Universal Soldier: Regeneration

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One Response to “Avatar – FurnGulley meets Pocahontas”

  1. Nick December 31, 2009 at 1:07 am #

    That’s funny, I walked out of the theatre thinking the exact same thing — That was Ferngully for grown ups!

    While I agree it’s not an original plot and the characters are stereotypical of similar roles, but I actually don’t mind at all — in fact I welcome it. That character arch is fun to watch, no matter how many times I see it in every movie — The 5th Element, The Matrix, etc.. over and over again.

    Cinematics were outstanding. In fact, better than outstanding; we have to make-up a new word to describe how awesome they were. I’m also glad Cameron didn’t overdo the 3D element of it, too many 3D movies use 3D as excuse to just throw stuff at you none stop — it gets old after 30 minutes. However, in Avatar about 15 minutes into the movie I forgot it was in 3D — the edges of the movie just faded away leaving me feeling like I’m in Pandora.

    I recommend this movie to everyone.

    By the way, It’s “Ferngully”: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104254/

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