Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Review: Avatar


Every thirty-odd years, a film like King Kong or Bonnie and Clyde or Star Wars comes along and completely redefines cinema, changing the way that movies are made. As a budding film critic and avid film lover, I've always wondered what it would be like to have been on the ground-floor of these masterpieces' accomplishments; seeing them for the first time, having to scoop my jaw off the floor in response to a type of cinema I'd never seen. Well, dear reader, I now know what that feels like.
Let's just get it out right now: Avatar is like no other movie that has ever been made, and every movie that is made after Avatar will owe something to it. Everyone should see this regardless of its quality: it's not every day that one can take part in cinema history.
Luckily for us, however, the film's quality is not to be questioned. The first time I saw it, I had trouble articulating what exactly the film made me feel. All I knew was that I wanted it to happen again. Two more viewings (in two days, no less) later, I know now: Avatar makes me feel like a little kid. As a piece of cinema, it has the ability to strip me of all my preconceptions, my cynicism, my anger or bitterness, and replace it with something joyous on a primal level. Avatar touched a deep, resonant chord somewhere inside me, transporting me to a place that I can never return to in reality. Avatar reminds the viewer what it's like to look at the world for the first time.
Not that I need to state this by now, but Avatar is one of the prettiest films you will ever see. The world of Pandora, all created by James Cameron, is singularly unique and beautiful, and seeing this on a big screen (preferably in 3-D) is the only way to truly enjoy it. The visual effects, of course, cannot be adequately described. I have no comparisons to draw. Either you've seen this film, or you haven't. I can't capture what the film looks like with something as simple as words. Suffice to say that everything is photo-realistic, and the motion-capture technology allows the acting performances to shine through completely.
Admittedly, James Cameron is not the best writer in the world. No, let me rephrase that: James Cameron can create compelling, entertaining stories with the best of them. Writing them, on the other hand, seems to be more of a challenge. Such is the only complaint I can raise about Avatar: The story is moving, compelling, and supremely entertaining. Sometimes, though, the dialogue clunks. Not frequently. Not as much as it could have for a James Cameron movie. But every now and again, the dialogue can hurt. What a masterwork Avatar would have been as a silent film.
These are just tiny complaints, however, and only really noticed after exiting the theater. Avatar is a singular accomplishment, a technical achievement of unparalleled proportions, and an incredibly entertaining film. Anyone with any self-respect as a film-lover, or film-goer of any kind, needs to see this film. And you won't be disappointed.

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