Stories Of Nerdy Adventures (Now With 100% More Cetaceans)
Friday, December 18, 2009
I must admit, the only place I've read about James Cameron's new movie was the nerd news site Topless Robot, and one of the editors of that blog has preemptively hated it to no end. I usually trust nerd news sites to give me good movie recommendations, so with all the negative stuff I've read, I decided to pass on it. However, I managed to catch Avatar today with a friend who was very excited about it, and thus I thought I should give it a chance (James Cameron usually delivers an entertaining movie). I went in with no expectations and was I glad I watched this movie. It was a spectacular visual feast. There are minor spoilers in this review from this point on so be warned.
The story is about interplanetary settlers from Earth who discover a rare metal called Unobtanium (does James Cameron read TV Tropes?) on a planet called Pandora. The planet itself has an indigenous sentient species called the Na'vi, who look like tall blue-skinned humanoids. They are a gentle people who live harmoniously with nature, and the humans need them to get out of the way so they can plunder the planet's natural resources. A team of scientists (led by a woman named Dr. Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver) who want to study the native population created an avatar program, which lets humans thought-control organically-grown, genetically engineered alien bodies that resemble the natives. These avatars let the humans mingle with the local population, and a crippled ex-marine named Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) is sent out with the scientists to learn about the Na'vi culture in order to gain their trust (and thus try to persuade them to relocate from the mineral-rich areas). Jake meets a Na'vi girl named Neytiri (voiced by Zoë Saldaña), who takes him back to her clan and teaches him about their culture. Soon Jake finds himself in love with Neytiri and her people, and thus is at odds with his superiors who really just want to mine the planet.
Now, the story is something I've seen countless times before (it feels like Dances With Wolves... IN SPACE!) and I can see all the plot twists from a mile away. However, the execution is so beautiful that you can forgive Cameron for it. The planet and all the alien life on it is a magnificent treat for the eyes. The love story is a tad cliched, but it's sweet and it works. I have to give the filmmakers credit for the sheer amount of imagination that they poured into the creation of this alien world, with all the plants and creatures on it living in a vibrant ecosystem that looks so real onscreen.
I haven't seen many good movies this year, but this is definitely one of the best.