Movie Review: Avatar

After hearing a slew of words such as “awesome”, “beautiful”, and “totally worth it” to describe the CG movie destined to shatter all records – including the director’s own number one spot that Titanic claimed years ago – I decided to follow the bandwagon and spend the $9 to see it in 3D.

I found if you combined the plot of Pocahontas with the fictional technology of the “dream state” in The Matrix with a pinch of the universe of Ferngully, you give birth to Avatar. The main character of Jake Sully, played by newcomer Sam Worthington, is a disabled Marine chosen to fill the shoes of his recently deceased brother in the world of Pandora by becoming like the indigenous peoples called the Na’vi through technology which he is “plugged into” in order to inhabit a body, or avatar. His job is to infiltrate the Na’vi and convince them to relocate in order for a greedy businessman to mine a precious material from the forests they inhabit.

However, while following orders, Sully earns the trust of the Na’vi, learns to live like them, and falls in love with the world and the people he comes to know which eventually conflicts with the plans of the business man and the ruthless military Colonel who have the same idea.

As expected, the film was visually stunning. The graphics were top of the line, but the colors got my award. They were vibrant and expertly done, even down to the mixtures that were reminiscent of oil on water. The daylight scenes showcased brilliant brightness contrasted with shaded underbrush, while the night scenes were illuminated with spectacular neon colors last seen in a package of Sharpie Highlighers.

The other best thing was seeing the new world of Pandora. It somewhat resembled Earth, but in landscape only. The atmosphere was not made of oxygen, or at least not enough to support humans, and the planet was teaming with plant and animal life which can only be formed in great imaginations. Vegetation was abundant, full of oddly shaped species which glowed, contracted or changed with only a touch. Trees were enormous and all different – some looking typical while others boast limbs of tentacle-like appendages which resemble rope lighting. The creatures were extremely unique, to my satisfaction. I was afraid they were going to be copies of things movie-goes have seen before, but I was proven wrong. They were a fascinating mix of prehistoric animals, fantasy legends and Earthly beings that were amazing to behold and quite intimidating.

The Na’vi culture was pretty basic, though still interesting. They were large communities of a few clans, living off the land hunting and gathering and domesticating horse-like animals and flying creatures to use for travel and leisure. They are tall and lean, and have an interesting, unique quality that stems from the long braid of hair. At the end of the braid come fibers which connect with certain things in their world. For example, to ride their horse-like creatures,  they connect the end of the braid with a part of the animal, which allows them to mentally communicate. The Na’vi call it a bond, but it is an intimate connection, almost sexually suggestive.  They have a deity and a belief system that is connected to the energy of the planet they live on. I think the thing I liked and respected most was that a language was developed specifically for the people of the Na’vi, which we understand through subtitles and repeated learning as Sully interacts with the people.

The movie runs almost 3 hours, though with all of the action and visual stimulation, it certainly doesn’t feel like that amount of time. It’s an exciting film which you can connect with and fully enjoy while rooting for the Na’vi as they fight for their home, freedom and lives. It is definitely worth the rising cost of a theater ticket, and it needs to be seen on a large screen to appreciate the full beauty of the scenery. Unless you have a big-screen HD television, don’t wait to rent this flick.

Director James Cameron created Avatar in the same way J.R.R. Tolkien created “Lord of the Rings”. Cameron developed an entire new world. A brand new landscape, new creatures, a new culture, civilization and even a new language. It took years to create in its entirety, and in order for it to fulfill Cameron’s vision, state-of-the-art technology and photography were a must. I would say it was worth the wait. Already grossing $1.841 billion world-wide, there’s no doubt that those who haven’t seen it are missing something.


Sources: Associated Press,

About Karin

Journalist, singer, reader, movie fanatic, photography buff, GVSU alum, wanna-be-Brit, Crohn's fighter, Coca-Cola addict, animal lover, not a kid person, hater of winter, Michigander
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