SYNOPSIS: In the future a human corporation goes to a distant moon, Pandora, to mine the motherlode of a rare mineral. Unfortunately, the largest deposit in under the Na'vi's tribal home. To get the cooperation of the inhabitants, the Na'vi, scientists create avatars, Na'vi constructs from a mix of human and Na'vi genome that are controlled remotely by human scientists.
"Avatar" is one of those movies that I have been looking forward to for some time. But not for the same reasons as some others. I am not one to be bogged down about how much James Cameron's film costs, how long it gestated in production, if it can stand up to critical scrutiny, or if it can step out of the shadow of "Titanic". Those worries are for critics better paid than I... or more jaded than I. My only concern is that someone ready to shell out $10 for a warm theatre seat, $3 more if you see the movie in 3D, should bother.
In this case, "Avatar" is worth well worth. The advances in the motion capture technology that critics have written would overshadow the story and acting only serve to heighten the experience. Sure, it takes a few minutes to adjust to the Na'vi, whether it is the inhabitants or the crippled marine, Jake, using his avatar. But once you become part of Pandora's world, there is no need to look back. The scenery is elegant and wonderous. The culture of the Na'vi and their spiritual and actual connection to their surroundings is rich and inspired. The work done by WETA for the "Avatar" special FX make their work on LOTRs Gollum look rudimentary in comparison.
The film is epic in scope. Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a crippled marine asked to take his killed twin brother's place in the program to use the avatars on Pandora. In order to get the cooperation of the native Na'vi, Sam is asked to infiltrate the tribe to learn their ways and to intel how to get them to to relocate away from their homes. Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a Na'vi woman saves Sam's life and is ordered by her leaders to teach Sam the Na'vi culture. As time passes, Sam begins to question his loyalties to the corporation looking to exterminate anything and anyone standing in the way of the quarterly bottom line. There is romance, loss, betrayal, tears, tenderness, thrills, and a grand final battle.
Will "Avatar" meet or exceed Cameron's "Titanic"? It's hard to say. The number of tickets sold will probably be less, even if the total revenue is the same or more. Even so, "Avatar" is an achievement in filmmaking, like "Terminator 2" or "The Abyss" before it. Cameron builds each film with all of the tools at his disposal, and other filmmakers will draw upon "Avatar" in the future. And we, the filmgoer, are the ones who benefit most.
Worth: Friday Night Opening and BluRay