A film with the scope of James Cameron’s Avatar was always going to be a risk both artistically and financially, especially in today’s economic climate. Whether it will pay off monetarily is a question only time can answer, but this viewer can at the very least attest to it being an artistic triumph.
Avatar brings us as close as cinema ever has to actually visiting an alien world. The beautiful environs, the exotic creatures and incredibly lifelike natives of Pandora arrest the senses, visually, aurally and emotionally. The world in Avatar is the true star of the show. The amount of detail and work that has gone into bringing this new world alive is seriously impressive, and it will be a while before we see anything that overtakes it in scope and quality. WETA Workshop and ILM have truly outdone themselves.
Relative newcomer, Aussie Sam Worthington provides a solid human heart amongst all the science-fiction/fantasy beauty and Zoe Saldana gives an impressive performance as the 8 foot tall Na’vi, Neytiri. Even though the characters they both play are blue, giant, catlike aliens, they managed to evoke a chemistry and likability that pierces through the special effects.
That’s not to say that everything is perfect. The story is basic and dare I say, clichéd and predictable. We have seen it plenty of times in all forms of media. The bad guys are cartoonishly evil, and sadly paper thin. The love story, while charming, is also clichéd despite being between man and alien. But in the face of these shortcomings, Avatar is a success because its storytelling lies in the brilliant visuals.
Avatar is a beautiful piece of film and a true event. It does exactly what cinema was always intended to – it takes us away from our problems and worries for a few hours and gives us memorable images which will undoubtedly and deservedly enter into the cultural lexicon to stay for the foreseeable future.