Avatar: DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2010)

5/03/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review


Written and directed by James Cameron, 166 minutes, rated PG-13.

By Christopher Smith

Last year’s most ambitious and visually arresting film, James Cameron’s “Avatar,” was budgeted at nearly $270 million, every cent of which was spent to create a world so rich and lush, you give yourself over to it and then lose yourself in it. The film’s sheer beauty is a good thing because it’s enough to detract you from the fact that Cameron, a competent writer, is not a great writer. Many of his characters are caricatures. Too much of the dialogue is stock.

The good news? Not a lick of it matters.

At nearly three hours, the movie is long, but the trick is that the storytelling is quick, with Cameron focusing the bulk of his film on Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former marine paralyzed from the waist down and now confined to a wheelchair.

How a team of scientists get him out of that chair and on his feet is unconventional, to say the least, but the year is 2154, after all, and apparently anything is possible. Besides, getting Jake mobile is critical to the movie. Doing so involves the use of a scientifically created, 10-foot-tall avatar modeled after the Na’vi, an alien race that lives on the planet Pandora, which has the misfortune of possessing a mineral called Unobtainium that could save Earth from its dwindling energy reserves if enough of it is mined.

And so it will be mined--by force, if necessary, though the idea behind these manufactured Na’vi is to allow for assimilation in an effort to move this race to another part of Pandora, where the Unobtainium isn’t present.

Through sleep and science, Jake becomes his avatar--long and blue and lithe of limb, it’s a thrill to watch him run again--and soon he’s off to Pandora with Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and a handful of others. Once there, the beauty of Pandora shields a wealth of dangers. Anything can and does happen, with Jake eventually being separated from his crew and stumbling upon the cat-like Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who mocks him, nearly kills him, and whose parents lead the Na’vi. Naturally, in spite of all her hissing, Jakes falls for her.

Since the film’s pleasures go beyond the brilliance of its visuals--Cameron’s strength always has been his ability to mount one mother of a climax, which he does here--it would be a mistake to reveal more. Safe to say that the supporting cast (Stephen Lang, Giovani Ribisi, Michelle Rodriguez) is solid; our own sorry history is evoked via the Na’vi, who recall the American Indian; and the love that grows between Jake and Neytiri is heartfelt and real.

That said, this home-viewing version of the film isn’t perfect. The problem? Twentieth Century Fox, eager to squeeze every dime it can from the movie, is releasing it first in 2D and not in the 3D in which it was originally shot. The movie still looks great, but fans will be disappointed that they’ll need to wait until 2011 before they can have the full experience at an additional cost.

Grade: A-

View the trailer for "Avatar" below. What are your thoughts of the film, and how do you feel about how 20th Century Fox is offering the movie in segments for home viewing?

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