Year: 2009| Starring: Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez | Directed By: James Cameron | Length: 162 min.
Let me begin by saying that this was one of the rare films I saw in the theater multiple times. I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen this film on IMAX or in a 3D theater to somehow find a way to do so. Visually, Avatar is stunning and worth an $18 IMAX ticket.
The attention to detail is amazing. I couldn’t help but picture the films Director James Cameron sitting alone in his basement with a fine-edged brush meticulously air brushing each piece of scenery, as someone who paints models would. Every visual piece, from the feet of the Na’vi, to the outer-space views of Pandora looked like they took a life time to plan. As a visual work of art, Avatar stands alone in film history.
As complex and beautiful of a film is visually, its story and characters are just as simple and dull. I couldn’t help but compare these elements from Avatar to my favorite Cameron film, The Terminator. In that film, Kyle Reese is sent back in time to save the future savior of humanities mother from being killed by a representative of from an evil robot race. We learn about the world Kyle comes from as Cameron brilliantly (and relatively cheaply) paints a terrifying picture of a post-apocolyptic Earth run by robots. In Avatar, we learn little about the protagonist Jake Sully’s (Sam Worthington) background. Why does he choose to go to Pandora? We know Kyle Reese chose to travel in time because of his undying loyalty to John Conner, but why did Jake accept? Some passing references are made to debts, and one would think it may have been to continue his brothers’ life work, but his brother is barely mentioned again throughout the movie. The film is filled with moments where its characters make life changing decisions for seemingly no reason. Why did the tough pilot Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriguez) free Jake and the scientists from their cell? Why did the evil corporate guy (Giovanni Ribisi) dismiss the idea of a peaceful resolution and immediately begin to murder the Na’vi?
The characters actions are not only unexplainable, but some of them are completely one-dimensional. The evil military guy (Stephen Lang) is laughably predictable throughout the film. In The Terminator, the villain was also one-dimensional, however there was a good reason for that; he was a robot! The evil military guy having the complexity and emotional range of a robot is not believable and simply lazy screenwriting.
I think if I had to use a word to describe the story in Avatar it would be lazy. Potentially complex moments are quickly resolved and the story is always pointed in a direction so it can arrive at a glorious visual scene. Avatar is eye candy. Amazing, awesome eye-candy.