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If I had simply read the script for James Cameron's most recent epic, I would have given it a very average review. The story about a man falling in love with the natives and ultimately warring against the ethnicity/race/people is a story most of us know very well from childhood since Disney made Pocahontas back in '95. Avatar is more or less the same exact movie that Disney made almost 25 years ago so in terms of story it was predictable and simple. But the more important question is did I care?
Absolutely not. The reason why I predictable script and known character archetype had little effect on my overall opinion of the movie is because of the truly majestic way the story is told. The Pace/Cameron technology that Cameron basically creates for the film is absolutely astounding. When Jake Sully, the main character of the film, flies through the skies of Pandora you really feel that you are flying with him especially if you are able to stand through the hour long lines to watch the film the way it was intended to be viewed--Imax 3d.
Now I will admit that it took quite a while for my eyes to adjust to the 3d display, it was worth enduring the pain to really see and feel the entire world that James Cameron creates, and it really is a breathtaking world. Moreover, when you put on those 3-d glasses for the first time and the plant life of Pandora is shown to you for the first time you'll instantly see why this film is the most expensive film to date. From the unique foliage to the terrifying new creatures that we see throughout the film, Cameron and crew have created a truly beautiful world all the way down to the way the trees light up when Jake and Neytiri, the female lead played by the lovely Zoe Saldana, step on them as they make their way through the forest on Pandora. But without a doubt the world of Pandora was worth every penny.
However, this world must be grounded in the story. Cameron could create the most amazing new world but if the story and character development resembled that of a poorly thought out action flick then the film would fall apart. Even though I do believe the story is extremely predictable to the aware audience, it didn't really matter to me at all. Sam Worthington plays a truly engaging and curious Jake Sully (or John Smith if you want to carry the Pocahontas analogy) while Zoe Saldana is the beautiful Neytiri (or Pocahontas) and her performance was amazing. Not for a second did I realize Uthura was playing the native princess of Pandora until the credits finally rolled. But the supporting cast is very strong as well Sigourney Weaver returns for another Cameron flick as Doctor Grace Augustine who tries to fight for the indigenous people of Pandora while Stephen Lang plays the hard as nails Colonel who wants money and destruction and nothing less. But the most noteworthy performace comes from Parker Selfridge, played by Giovanni Ribisi, who is the person funding both Weaver and Lang's endeavors. Ribisi really brings the subtly hints of regret and remorse into the film, but at the same time, the way he delivers his monologues make me forget that he was Phoebe's crazy brother in Friends and made me understand that the character of Parker wasn't a bad or a good guy but simply a guy trying to make a living.
Avatar isn't a perfect film. The story is predictable, but in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter one bit. The characters are intriguing and fleshed out from beginning to end. The world, language, creatures, plants, and people of Pandora are awe inspiring, and together, these elements merge together to form a fantastic product. And even though the story has been told thousands of time, in a time where war is running rampant, and countries are invading other countries, it is important that we retell stories like Avatar to remind the audience that one person's freedom fighter is another person's villain and only through a removal of ignorance and a revival of acceptance can we, as a world, begin to understand one another.