Thursday, 18 November 2010

Avatar review (2009)

Directed by James Cameron, this film was an immediate blockbuster. In America alone it earned $27 million on its opening day and $77 million on its opening weekend, making it the second largest grossing film release with its first showing; only beaten by 'I am Legend' starring Will Smith. NYT had this to say about Cameron's film: 'Mr. Cameron has, after an absence from Hollywood, returned to the screen with a vengeance. He hasn’t changed cinema, but with blue people and pink blooms he has confirmed its wonder.'

This film is about humans who travel to an alien planet called Pandora, which is inhabited by large blue creatures named 'Na'vi'. The humans are seeking a rare and valuable mineral that is found at the base of the Na'vi's Home Tree. By creating 'avatars' (hence the title of the film) Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington), Dr, Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and Norm Spellman (Joel Moore) hope to win the heart of the natives and co-operate with them and get them to move from Home Tree. Jake is taken into the tribe and falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). The human army marches on Home Tree when the co-operation efforts fail, and war rages to save their home and the Tree of Souls, the Na'vi link to the Eowa.

From the start, it is pretty obvious that this film has expansive and detailed scenery that stuns the audience. Everything about it suggests years of work and it really draws the audience into it. There are several iconic landmarks within Pandora. One of these being Home Tree, a massive tree that is a home for the Na'vi and beneath its roots lies the vaulable mineral the humans are after. The Tree of Souls is the Na'vis' direct link to Eowa and their ancestors and they rage war to protect this tree. Jake begs for help from this tree, and Eowa answers his call. When Grace is shot, the Na'vi try to help her by taking her spirit through the Tree of Souls and Eowa to transfer it into her avatar, but Grace is too weak. The final landmark is the legendary floating mountains of Pandora, where Jake has to prove his worth and bond with his Ikran.

The level of detail in the environments throughout the entire film is just mind-blowing. The colours, textures, lighting and shading bring the world to life, the characters seamlessly blend into it. Film 4 had this to say: 'It may not be crammed with soundbites, but Avatar does look good. The 3D technology is the best it has ever been, and is used to create a sense of depth - we're looking into an open window on another world, stretching out in front of us. And what a world it is. Planet Pandora is awash with colourful critters and a forest of flora straight out of a botanist's acid trip.'
An extra touch that adds life to the environment is how the world lights up under their feet and everything they touch. Even the creatures light up and add to the environment, the lizards that spin when scared, the giant rhino-like creatures with colourful frills they use as a display, the horse-like creatures the Na'vi ride. Of these attentions to detail, IMDB said: 'The wild life, the jungle, the animals, the Na'vi-s, or the dragon-like flying creatures are all so life-like, they almost pop-off the screen.'

Throughout the film, there is always a presence of the colour blue. The Na'vi themselves, the night scenery, the lighting in the labs, the war paint on the helicopter and the aura surrounding the Tree of Souls. Blue tones add to the mystery of Pandora and makes it seem as though everything is connected like it is through the trees.

The Na'vi have the 'tentacles' that sprout from their long plait, which they use to interact with the world around them. This detail has allowed the production people to shape the world of Pandora as the Na'vi use it to connect to all of the plants and animals, most importantly for them would be the Tree of Souls. This connection shaped the film, as seen in the end it is used to save the planet of Pandora.

The CG blends seamlessly with the liveaction shots, allowing the world of Pandora to become completely immersed with its characters.

The music also plays a strong part in this film, adding to the atmosphere of shots of Neytiri and Jake flying together through the floating mountains, or wide shots of her leading him through the jungle to Home Tree. Even without the music, the shots would still be stunning, but the music adds to the final effect completing the film.

This film will always be viewed for its spectacular scenery and high-action scenes, although with a slightly weak storyline at some points it will still gather large audiences.

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