Posted by: Staff | 01.18.2010

Staff Review of Avatar

 

Avatar: A Hit for Some but a Miss for Me

By Sophie Dietz ’11

The hype about the new movie Avatar brought me to see it on one of the many rainy days of winter break. I thought the movie would have the same love story as the one in Titanic. In addition, since the movie was in 3D, I knew it was going to be an exciting movie to see in theatres. As I sat down and put on my 3D glasses, I was taken to the land of Pandora, where the U.S. government is trying to utilize the natural resources that are affluent there. The whole film the scientists talk about a small rock that is worth about 20 million dollars, which is found in large quantities under the land owned by the Na’vi tribe. The protagonist, Jake Sully, is a war veteran who is paralyzed from the waist down; the avatar program, which creates an “avatar” ,which resembles the people of the Na’vi tribe, will allow him to be able to function once again with his legs. The beginning of the movie was compelling and there were even some comedic parts.

 

The movie was interesting for the first two hours, but it was in the last forty-five minutes that it became monotonous. I remember countless times when I thought the movie was going to end, when there would have been a perfect moment for the movie to end, and it just kept going. I expected a similar plot line or a feel to the movie Titanic, because it was directed and written by James Cameron; however, it was nothing like Titanic, and the plotline itself was not that interesting. It was very cliché and predictable. The fact of the matter is, this is a movie you should go out and see yourself (preferably in theaters, preferably in 3D or IMAX); it may be long and monotonous for some but could be an adventure for others.

James Cameron Scores With Avatar

By Sebastian Smith ’11

Avatar was truly a new type of movie experience; the visuals and a spectacular alien environment created a new generation of science fiction. From the moment the movie starts, James Cameron combines the astonishing surroundings with a riveting plot and includes many underlying themes. First the inhabitants of the alien planet believe in god named “Ewa” which they believe is inside every part of the luscious nature. The faith combines many human religions from the god having powers to the magical trees holding the voices of the aliens ancestors. The interesting part of the religion is that it actually exists; one of the human scientists describes Ewa relationship within the environment as the “brain.” Each tree or other plant can send a signal or synapse between connecting roots much like a brain; with this evidence, the scientists argue this is a valid reason to stop harming the environment.

The reason the humans are on the new planet is to harvest some sort of rock called unobtainium which reflects current human dependency on fossil fuel and hints that our society may not be able to break the dependent bond we have with oil. This clash between two communities resembles the colonists destruction to Native Americans in the 18th century. The plot also contains love between the human protagonist Jake and a local, the princes of the Omaticaya clan, Neytiri. In conclusion, I greatly recommend this movie to everyone; it is another exceptional James Cameron classic way ahead of its time.

Avatar Visually Pleasing, but I’ve Already Seen Pocahontas

By Tyler Starr ’10

After hearing tons of mixed reviews, I decided I had to see Avatar and find out for myself what the movie was like. Now that I have seen it, I can say that when you analyze the film, you have to split it into two parts: the visual effects and everything else (the acting, the plot, and the dialogue). The visual effects made the movie. If it wasn’t for the beautiful colors and stunning images, the movie would not have been in the least bit entertaining. For me, a big question going into the film was, “will watching a movie with really good visuals be more entertaining than watching my iTunes visualizer?” Avatar was better than watching my visualizer, but if I had the choice to see Avatar again or watch my visualizer, I would choose the visualizer because I could choose my own soundtrack, it would be free, and it would be shorter than two hours.

It seemed to me that director James Cameron decided to make all these beautiful pictures first and then work backwards and make a movie around them. At times, it looked like the characters’ actions were just to show off cool concepts and visuals, instead of the cool ideas complimenting the story line.

Despite the amazing visuals, the movie was not well done. The plot was very predictable and almost the same as Pocahontas.  It also seemed that the film focused too much on the wrong events of the story. The dialogue was hackneyed and made all the characters sound very dim. The acting wasn’t terrible but did not stand out as something far better than Beaver’s drama students.

I was very upset that the movie’s new world (Pandora) was not that original. All of the animals, especially the horses, looked the same except they had a third set of legs. The native people looked like humans except they were half cat, blue, tall, and had long pony tails that were USB connectors to other living things. Some of the native plants were cool and colorful, but some of them, especially the bamboo trees, were not that creative.

I am not upset that I saw the movie, and I would recommend it. If you have not seen the movie yet, just go into it with the mindset that you’re not going to watch a movie but actually cool special effects for over two hours.

Why Avatar Deserves a Category of Its Own

By Willy Tucker ’10

        Let’s get this out of the way first.  Avatar, James Cameron’s recent magnum opus, is no Godfather.  This is not a film which people are going to come away from stunned by the flawless acting and perfect plot.  The basic idea of the movie is that a contingent of humans have been sent from Earth to the planet of Pandora to gather the mineral “Unobtainium.”  As it turns out, the locals, the Na’vi, aren’t too pleased with their presence.  Interspecies romance, sci-fi action, and slightly heavy-handed environmental messages follow.  The acting is serviceable but nothing special, and as many have pointed out, the storyline is essentially Pocahontas with blue people.  The pacing is irregular, and there are stretches of the movie that seem to last an eternity.  These problems would sink any other movie into the realm of mediocrity. 

        With Avatar, however, they are thoroughly irrelevant.  This is a movie that transcends what we have all grown to know about movies.  Avatar is a cinematic experience like no other.  Years and years of incredibly hard work went into creating the technology for this movie.  James Cameron essentially re-invented the camera for this movie, and it pays off.  Watching Avatar in 3D was as close as I have ever come to being totally immersed in a movie; it’s the first time I’ve come out of a 3D movie actually impressed.  And boy was I impressed.  The 3D effects don’t just make one explosion pop out of the screen.  It’s as if the world in the film is seeping out of the screen and into ours.  This is a movie that everyone should see.  Absolutely 100%.  This movie is the Wizard of Oz of our time.  The technology used in this film is lightyears beyond anything that has been seen before, and in the years to come, one word will be used to describe Avatar: revolutionary.

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Responses

  1. Without getting too involved here….

    0. I saw the movie before reading any reviews, and am very glad I did, for I believe it enabled a greater degree of independence in my initial evaluation.

    1. A corporation called RDA is mining unobtanium on Pandora, not the US government. The only USG involvement seems to be that Marines are up for hire.

    2. I do not think that the visual effects should be evaluated apart from “everything else.” The medium is the message. Saying Avatar would not be entertaining without the effects is like saying a car would be a poor form of transportation if not for the wheels and motor.

    Avatar, with the amount of CGI involved, should almost be considered an animated movie. It is closer to a painting than to a photograph.

    (For the record, I had no problem with the writing or acting.)

    Yes, the plot closely parallels that of Pocahontas. But I am not impressed by that fail blog image. You can do that with Star Wars and Harry Potter, too, and I don’t think any less of Harry Potter for it.

    So sure, you can make a case for Avatar being Pocahontas 2.0. But you need look no further than the title of the film itself — Avatar — to see evidence of Cameron’s innovations. Technology, enabling us to see from a perspective other than our own. That’s what Dr. Augustine’s avatar program is doing, and it’s what film does — and, in my experience, no film does it better than Avatar.

    I’ve heard others suggest it’s Dances with Wolves 2.0, or FernGully 2.0. It’s also powerfully reminiscent of the Wizard of Oz, especially as a film that is bringing new technology mainstream, technology that is as we speak transforming cinema.

    Every story owes a debt to those that came before. There are certain themes – beliefs, questions, hopes – that we have wrestled with for ages and that are bound to recur in our art, and with good reason.

    If you still have not seen Avatar, please do. You may dislike it, but at least you will have formed your own opinion.

    And please see it in 3D, if at all possible. Avatar in 2D is like The Wizard of Oz in black and white.


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