Review: Avatar World Premiere

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14 Dec 09

Avatar: The World Premiere

On a Thursday evening, thanks to the ever lovely people at Sky Movies HD, i had the great opportunity to attend the World Premiere of James Cameron’s Avatar! I arrived quite early, and watched the technical teams setting up the ‘red carpet’ (which in this case was blue, for reasons which are apparent if you’ve seen the trailer of the film!) The event took over half of Leicester Square using both the Odeon and Empire cinemas. After picking up my tickets (thanks again Emma! :)), I started wandering though crowds and taking footage of the build up to the stars arrival. Unfortunately i didn’t get a chance to capture much before it was time to take my seat inside the Odeon (For more blue carpet stuff, hop over and see Dave from heyuguys.co.uk great footage of the stars outside.)

Once inside, we were treated to a personal introduction by the cast, led by director James Cameron (see youtube clip above), who did a few ‘thank you’s and talked a bit about the film, before inviting us to enjoy our journey to Avatar’s planet, Pandora. And with that, the movie started to roll…

Review of James Cameron’s Avatar

The Plot (Spoiler-free!)

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Neytiri and Jake's Avatar

The main protagonist of the story is Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a wheelchair bound ex-marine, who is asked by a mining consortium to take over his dead twin brother’s role as an Avatar operator on the planet Pandora.

The Avatars are genetically engineered bodies created by mixing the DNA of humans and Pandora’s giant blue native population, the Na’vi. The Avatar is then controlled via ‘Psionic Link’ by it’s human operator, to enable the humans to wander around Pandora’s ‘toxic to humans’ atmosphere. Jake gets offered the job as his DNA is a close enough match for him to take over his brother’s avatar (rather than the corporation having to go to the massive expense of creating a new one from scratch.. it’s all about the bottom line with these people). However, unlike his  brother, a scientist trained in Avatar use and the Na’vi culture, Jake is a combat veteran with no real knowlege of Avatars or Na’vi.

Pandora is rich in unobtainium, a very profitable mineral which is being mined to use as a solution to Earth energy crisis. Unfortunately, the largest deposit of unobtainium is right underneath the Na’vi’s main settlement, and corporation head Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) wants it, either by diplomacy or – Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) preferred option – by force…

After a crash course from lead scientist Grace (Sigourney Weaver), Jake and a team are sent to attempt to find a diplomatic solution, but Jake gets separated from the group only to be rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), princess of a local Na’vi tribe, and from there, things change for Jake forever…

The Review

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Colonel Quaritch and Jake Sully

Avatar is a movie that has taken some bashing pre-release in the press, and at 15yrs in the making, and a budget of $300 million, you’d expect something spectacular. Back in August I’d seen about 15 mins of footage of the movie in 3D at a cinema, and even though it was visually impressive, you got no real sense of the story from it, so I was still unsure as to what to expect. As you may have read in some other reviews on the web, the plot structure isn’t massively original. It’s got all the predicable beats you’d expect to see in a big action film that you’ve seen before. However, that doesn’t really matter. Even though from very early on you can see where the story is leading, i found myself wanting to see how Cameron was going to get us there. With Avatar, he’s creates a environment so rich and stunning, it’s hard not to get sucked into the culture of the Na’vi, and feel immersed in the world of Pandora.

Avatar is by far one of the most visually impressive movies ever made. Cameron is the first director to actually understand how to use 3D technology. A lot of directors seem to slap the 3D over the top as an afterthought. Cameron uses it in the same way he uses lighting, colour, or any other tools in the film makers toolbox. After the first few mins, the 3D just becomes comfortable, and helps provide a depth to the imagery, without trying to smack you round the face with a ‘THIS MOVIE IS IN 3D!’ placard.

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Company boss Selfridge and lead scientist Grace

A massive ‘hats off’ to the guys over a Weta Digital for the truly incredible work they’ve done on the modelling and environments. Not only making the Na’vi as believable as their human counterparts, but the breath and detail they’ve managed to create in the of the world of Pandora. There is so much life and depth to the environments, from the creatures to the plant life, it felt like it could be a real alien planet. I’m very tempted to go back and see Avatar on an IMAX, just so I can have closer look at the environment for things I missed the first time around.

The cast also did a great job in bringing the Na’vi to life. Although you technically don’t see Zoe Saldana on screen her performance comes through to the point you’d swear Neytiri was Zoe under heavy prosthetics. Sam Worthington and Sigoutney Weaver also did superb jobs in both the performances of their human characters and their Avatar counterparts. Giovanni Ribisi comes across well, despite the somewhat one dimensional evilness of company boss Selfridge (seriously… if he’d had a large mustache he could twirl, while going ‘bwahahahaha’ it wouldn’t have seemed out of character). But in truly my favourite role, Stephen Lang does a rather marvelous scenery chewing job as Colonel Quaritch, baddest of bass-ass military.

Conclusion

If your reading this review to decide whether you should go see Avatar, my answer would be a resounding yes! So, the story isn’t quite as strong as it maybe could have been, but it’s perfectly serviceable. Once you land on the world of Pandora with Jake, and get caught up in the culture of the Na’vi, you forget that you know where the story is going, and just really want to see how you get there. Avatar is not a movie to wait for on DVD, i’d really urge you to go see it in 3D, in a cinema or even better, an IMAX.

AVATAR is released in cinemas UK wide on the 18th December 2009.

8/10

Get Avatar the Game on PS3 – £17.99 from Play!