Avatar – My Review

I saw it over the weekend.  I still would like to see it again – for various reasons, some of which I will discuss in this review.  I’m going to cover this film a little differently than I have for other films.  I am not really going to go into details regarding the story or the plot.  I will basically just be listing the Strengths and Weaknesses of the film.  So, here we go:

Weaknesses:

The story.  This is a pretty big weakness.  The more I’ve thought about the film the less I want to think about the plot.  It’s just not that great.  It would have been great 50 years ago before 16 other films had the exact same plot, but now it just feels derivative and cliched.  If you have seen Dances With Wolves, or Dune, or any Pocahontas film then you pretty much know the story for Avatar.

The dialogue.  It’s not terrible, but Cameron has never been a gifted dialogue writer and this film has a few moments that just fall flat, or worse, cause the audience to groan.  Most of the time the dialogue is adequate, but great dialogue can elevate a generic storyline to another level.

The content.  I don’t want to go into too much detail here but the film is rated PG-13 and that is fairly appropriate I guess, but on another level it’s seems a bit to lenient.  Let me put it this way: The N’avi (blue aliens) don’t wear a lot of clothes – ever.  I would not take my teenager to see this film.  It’s not done in a sexual or seductive way, but it could still be problematic for some.

Music.  James Horner can create good music.  Too bad he didn’t for this film.  Generic and tired are the two best words I can think of to describe it.  He recycles some of his previous scores and they don’t work any better this time around.  Specifically, he borrows a theme from Troy that was only average in that film and is worse for the wear in this film.  Too bad, because a great score could have made people overlook some of the more predictable plot contrivances.

Strengths:

Eye Candy:   Man is there a bunch of that.  This is the most impressive CG work I have ever seen.  These are real characters on the screen, even though you know they are just pixels.  The are alive as much as the human actors – at least they are for the purposes of the film.  Cameron just goes crazy with how much detail he packs into each scene.  The depth of field is just jaw dropping and the N’avi are perfect. 

Zoe Saldana as Neytiri.  She gives this film a heart beat.  Her performance is right up there with Andy Serkis’ Gollum.  It’s not quite as captivating, but not because of any lack on her part.  She does everything she can to make that character live and breathe on the screen. 

The action:  Cameron knows how to stage and shoot action scenes. That much will surprise no one.  There are some really immersive and intense action beats that just put a smile on my face.  This type of sci-fi – with the robotic mechanical suits and such – is not my favorite but Cameron makes it work for the most part.

I know it sounds like I didn’t like the film – and in the end it might end up being that way – but the film is so impressive on a visual level that I feel like I should watch it at least one more time in the theater.  It is truly awe inspiring at times and that makes a return visit likely. 

Grades:
Story = 3 out of 10
Music = 3 out of 10
Characters = 7 out of 10
Visuals = 10 out of 10

Final Grade = 6.5 out of 10

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