Like my book reviews site, these are movie reviews I write for entertainment purposes only. These are just my reviews and my opinions. They are not endorsed by Blogger or any movie studios or anyone else. So there. I borrowed my scoring system from the Metacritic site, which does not imply an endorsement from them, although I think they do have a very nice website. I convert the 1-100 scores into 1-4 stars, essentially it works like this:

1 star = 25 points
2 stars = 50 points
3 stars = 75 points
4 stars = 100 points

And then if something falls about halfway between, then I'll give it an added half-star.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


I watched this in regular 2D, which might have been a mistake.  Without the 3D/IMAX gimmicks you're really left with a very vanilla sci-fi/fantasy movie.  That was in part why I wanted to watch the regular version because if it really was a good movie then I'd want to deal with the added expense and bother of 3D/IMAX.

Anyway, the movie is like nothing you've ever seen before--provided you haven't watched Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, Fern Gully, Return of the Jedi, or a host of other movies.  It starts out in the 22nd Century where The Company (which Cameron used in Aliens) is mining something called Unobtainium (a mineral that's hard to obtain--get it?) on the moon of a gas giant called Pandora.  Because the air is toxic and pretty much every animal and vegetable is reactive and deadly, the humans use versions of the native Na'Vi they make by combining human DNA with Na'Vi DNA--sort of like Jurassic Park.  Each one is specially made so that only one human can control it by computer--sort of like The Matrix.

Former Marine Jake Sully's brother was supposed to go to Pandora to drive one of the avatars, but he died.  Conveniently he was an identical twin to Jake, which allows Jake to drive the avatar.  (This convenient plot device has been used in movies such as last year's Eagle Eye.)  So Jake (Sam Worthington) spends six years in stasis (like in Aliens and a host of other sci-fi films) to travel to Pandora to pilot the avatar.  The scientist in charge (Sigourney Weaver, star of Aliens) is unhappy because Jake has no experience with Na'Vi culture.  But the corporate weasel (Giovanni Ribisi playing essentially the Paul Reiser character in Aliens) in charge says it's too expensive to waste the avatar, so they're stuck.

As a human Jake is a paraplegic, which could be cured if he had any money, but with his avatar he can walk again--and run.  He does a lot of running after his first trip into the wilds of Pandora.  He gets separated and winds up nearly being killed until he's saved by the Na'vi princess Neytiri.

The following are spoilers only if you haven't seen Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, etc.

Otherwise you know what's going to happen.  Jake is taken by Neytiri to her tribe and eventually becomes one of them and they fall in love but the humans attack to clear the Na'Vi out of the way.

Pretty much every twist and turn in this movie is so telegraphed that you'd have to be blind not to see it coming.  Like when the big red bird-thing enters the scene, it's obvious what's going to happen with it by the end of the movie.  The Na'Vi religion that everything is connected is pretty much the same as The Force in the Star Wars movies, only more tangible in this case.  The technology used by the human military isn't all that different from Aliens or Terminator, both Cameron films.

The bottom line is there's some nice world-building in terms of the landscapes and creatures of Pandora--that I'm sure looks amazing in 3D/IMAX--but there's not much beyond that.  The characters are pretty much all stock, as are the situations.  I think I've already pointed that out thoroughly.  For an "original" story there's nothing much original about it.

I'd say to gawk at this in 3D/IMAX while you can.  Don't wait to rent it on DVD, because in 2D it's pretty flat.

That is all.

My score:  62/100 (2.5 stars)

Metacritic score:  84/100 (3 stars)

No comments:

Post a Comment