Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Avatar (2009) Review

James Cameron's Avatar is a science fiction film of epic proportion. The truly awe-inspiring production design and setting of the film more than compensates for shaky plot and almost 'knew that was going to happen' scenes. In fact the 3D and digital world that was created for Avatar was so spectacular even the worst plot and dialogue would still become secondary to those who can appreciate the work and dedication that went into making Avatar something visually astounding.

One could base the premise on this film that it is almost Anti American and relates to the Afghanistan War. "To this fusion of science fiction and environmental parable Cameron adds a contemporary spin by lacing his script with War On Terror allusions." (Sandhu:2009) People have speculated that the Afghanistan War did not occur merely as the means to remove the Taliban regime but to financially benefit the Americans by obtaining minerals from crude oil rich Afghanistan. Whether this notion has any backbone is arguable but the way in which the marines are perceived in Avatar demonstrates America as an all powerful country whom take resources from other lands with a disregard for the natives.

The essentially dull plot of marine Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) falling in love with the native Avatar, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) is merely a modern day Pocahontas. It appears in the movie world, originality can often be lacking. Consider Jake Sulley's journey of self discovery, whereby the soldier finds himself falling in love with the civilisation he should be fighting against leading him to switch sides. This plot is awfully resonant of 'The Last Samurai' which itself unoriginally followed the same plot as 'Dances with Wolves'. Avatar sets itself apart from these however by the sheer scale of the film and groundbreaking CGI "Its both wildly original and hauntingly familiar."(Pond:2010) Although the sentiment is there, the morality of the film is almost shoved down the audience's throat and at times the predictability of Avatar mars the moral message it is trying to convey.

Aside from the plot, visually the film is flawless. The imagination that went into this film is truly inspiring and the scenery is breathtaking throughout the entire 162 minutes. From Pandora's jungle to the floating  Hallelujah Mountains, everything is larger than life. The exaggerated colours of the plants, glowing in pinks and greens almost make the film appealing in the same manner as a fireworks display. The stunning scenes draw the viewer into this world that seems so real. So real in fact there is almost a sense of disappointment when following the film, with the realisation that people are not blue and 12ft tall. "The digitally created world meshes pretty much seamlessly with ordinary reality in an undoubtedly impressive way." (Bradshaw:2009)

List of Illustrations

Fig 1. Jake Sulley's Avatar
Fig 2. Neytiri
Fig 3. Sulley and Neytiri in the Pandora Jungle


Sandhu. S of The Daily Telegraph (published 17 December 2009) (accessed on 16 November 2011)

Pond. N of American Profile (published January 19 2010) (accessed on 16 November 2011)

Bradshaw. P of The Guardian (published 17 December 2009) (accessed on 16 November 2011)


  1. Hey Ollie - I like the way you tackle the weaknesses of this film - and its strengths. It is unfair absolutely to dismiss Avatar - nobody does action like Cameron - and I actually found it more interesting this time around because of the qualmishness of the view of the American 'footprint' in the world of another. I like the new format of your blog too Ollie - the bigger images, the colour palette. You're changing gears, and it's not going unnoticed.

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