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Avatar (2009)

Directed by:

James Cameron

Rating: 8/10

Running Time: 162 minutes

US Certificate: PG-13 UK Certificate: 12A

With James Cameron’s very impressive back catalogue, the almost unlimited coffers of Hollywood behind him and the most up-to-date power of CGI, Avatar has become one of the most talked about movies of 2009. Did it live up to the hype or did this dangerous concoction prove fatal?

The action takes place on Pandora, a beautiful jungle-planet far from earth, home to large deposits of an expensive mineral and teeming with a spiritual smurf-like alien species. A human corporation headed by cynical Parker Selfridge (Ribisi) has come from a dying Earth to harvest the crop and keep the locals at bay. The corporation try to win hearts and minds through an Avatar project where humans can direct their very own alien with their minds. One-time army grunt, paraplegic Jake Sully (Worthington) takes control of an Avatar and comes under the tutelage of Dr. Grace (Weaver) as they to try and get to know more about the species by hanging around in their settlement. Predictably, Sully falls in love with the Na’vi people and one foxy looking smurfette inparticular (Saldana) and then, unfortunately, the human military, with a delightfully over-the-top Colonel Quaritch (Lang) at the helm, want to use ‘shock and awe’ tactics to get them to move away from a motherload of minerals.

Firstly, I’ll state the obvious – Avatar looks amazing. The state-of-the-art CGI has used the brilliant mind of Cameron to make an amazing home world for the Na’vi. Cameron’s influences are plain to see and the movie is a nice hotchpotch of colonialism, American foreign policy, Last of the Mohicans, Aliens and the surreal Seventies artwork of Robert Dean and Chris Foss. The computer generated flora and fauna look nice enough to make David Attenborough cry tears of joy and even the aliens are a step up from the standard Star Trek fare. Whilst the forest burns and the indigenous people are being systematically wiped out, instead of feeling pity, it’s hard not to sit there mouth agape thinking about how amazing it all looks.

There’s no doubt that the backgrounds, beliefs and practices of the Na’vi are painstakingly created throughout the audaciously expanded jumping-around-the-forest scenes but the pace is a little meandering and could have been cut well short of it’s epic runtime. This is not from an ADD point of view as it really does need to be shorter for a full appreciation of the graphics. The majority of scenes for the first half seem to be there just for the purpose of showing what the CGI lab boffins can do, however, when it looks that impressive, good on ‘em, I say. The acting and dialogue do offer more ham and cheese than a pizzeria but the inventive aspects of the film mask this for the most part.

It's Got: Mind blowing graphics and a wonderfully created planet, a good concept

It Needs: A little less cheese. To be seen in 3-D.


Last of the Mohicans, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, Starship Troopers


James Cameron uses the full capabilities of CGI to create a truly beautiful film that is sure to be one of the Noughties’ most definitive movies.

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