Film Review Avatar Essay

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington)

There is not a single frame in Avatar that doesn’t look stunning and authentic: from the heavily militarised human mining colony to the beautiful forest planet Pandora that contains a rare mineral that the humans want, to Pandora’s indigenous Na’vi population who aren’t too happy about the human’s presence. In order to better understand the Na’vi, the humans have developed the means to mentally occupy specially grown avatar bodies that look like the giant, wide-eyed, opaque-skinned Na’vi locals. Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation) plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine who adopts one of the avatar bodies in order to infiltrate and gain the trust of the Na’vi.

Describing Avatar as “Pocahontas in Space” would not be too far off the mark as Jake’s relationship with the Na’vi people follows the white-man-assimilates-into-Native-American-Indian-culture narrative of many post-colonial films. However, Avatar is more in tune with Kevin Costner’s Dances with Wolves (1990) rather than films such as Michael Mann’s The Last of the Mohicans (1992) or Terrence Malick’s The New World (2005), which both contained a slightly more complex exploration of racial and cultural identity.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana)

Avatar is still a white-man-saves-the-day film and it is occasionally guilty of some rather naff moments when depicting the Na’vi as noble-savage types. However, at the core of Avatar is a very simple yet sincere environmental and anti-colonial message that removes all doubt about the film’s good intentions. Besides, such gripes are just so incredibly minor compared to the sheer beauty and exhilarating visuals at the forefront of Avatar. The scenes depicting the forests and floating mountains of Pandora are truly wondrous, the Na’vi and the avatars look incredibly realistic, and the action is exactly the sort of thing audiences have come to expect from writer/director James Cameron.

Cameron has long been at the forefront of setting new standards for high quality spectacle cinema with films such as The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986) and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) rightly regarded as classics of the science-fiction/action genre. With Avatar Cameron not only sets new standards for the use of computer-generated imagery special effects but also the use of 3D photography, which has a full depth-of-field and is integral to the texture and sensory impact of Avatar. Cameron has made no compromises with Avatar from a technical point-of-view and in time it will come to be regarded as a benchmark film.

© Thomas Caldwell, 2009

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This entry was posted on Monday, December 14th, 2009 at 10:28 pm and is filed under Film review. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

My favourite movie is Avatar which premiered in 2009. I went to see the film to the cinema as I heard earlier that it is very spectacular and it must be watched in the pictures. What’s more it is a 3D movie and we needed 3D glasses to experience all the special effects it contained.

Avatar is a science fiction film written and directed by James Cameron. The film is set in 2154, when humans are mining a precious mineral called unobtanium on Pandora which is a moon. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the existence of a local tribe of Na’vi—a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film’s title refers to the hybrid bodies used by a team of human researchers to interact with the natives of Pandora.

The film broke several box office records during its release and became the highest-grossing film of all time in the U.S. and Canada and also worldwide. Avatar was nominated for nine Academy Awards.

The main character of the film is Jake Sully, a former Marine. When his brother is killed in a robbery, he decides to take his place in a mission on the distant world of Pandora. There he learns of greedy figurehead Parker Selfridge’s intentions in which he wants to drive off the native “Na’vis” in order to mine for the precious material which can be found in their rich woodland. While Jake begins to bond with the native tribe and quickly falls in love with the beautiful alien Neytiri. Selfridge moves forward with his extermination tactics and he forces the soldier to take a stand – and fight back in an epic battle for the fate of Pandora.

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