Review by Vives Anunciacion
Inquirer Libre, December 18, 2009
Directed by James Cameron
MINE eyes have seen the glory of James Cameron’s second coming, twelve years after
Titanic. It seems he’s still king of the world.
Avatar is a game changer, a gorgeous rewriting of the rulebook on how 3D can be approached similar to the way Lord of the Rings redefined “epic” eight years ago and made people take fantasy seriously. This is not Beowulf or Polar Express. Not by a lightyear.
But first the story. In the year 2154, the US Armed Forces leads a corporate-sponsored human mission to explore a planet-sized moon called Pandora and extract from it a very important mineral.
A race of giant cat-like, blueskinned humanoids called the Na’vi populate Pandora. The indigenous Na’vi are generally against the human “incursion” (who isn’t?), and for some time the humans have been looking for ways to convince the Na’vi to leave their domains.
Pandora’s forest-like environment is biologically hostile and its air is toxic to humans. Using genetically engineered human-slash-Na’vi hybrids called Avatars wired up into the researchers’ minds, humans are able to explore the planet unharmed.
Paraplegic Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a former Marine hired as one of the researchers in Dr. Grace Augustine’s (Sigourney Weaver) Avatar laboratory, except
Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang), head of the military security, thinks that Jake’s military background can be better used to gather intel and gain Na’vi trust.
To cut the long 2 1/2 hour-story short, Jake Sully learns how to be earth-friendly and falls for a nice, giant lady called Neytiri (Zoë Saldana.) Goodbye, corporate greedy
(Avatar’s) story is far from Cameron’s creepy, brooding Aliens and is child-friendlier, like a Pocahontas mixed with Narnia mixed with, I dunno, Saving Private Ryan.
There’s no question about Avatar’s pro-nature message, but these days, everything says they’re green.
At one point the invading army of humans call the Na’vi natives “blue monkeys.” Remember what the Yanks called Filipino natives at the turn of the 20th Century?
Cameron seems to be apologising for all the West’s imperialist transgressions.
But that’s stretching it.
My friends and I were afraid Avatar would resort to 3D gimmicks like things flying across the screen. Nothing like that at all. The point here is that the experience
of seeing Avatar never lets you pull away and say which scenes are in 3D and which aren’t. You’re just there, alive and existing inside Pandora. There’s camerawork
here that my filmmaker friend and I kept gushing about.
Many years into the future when watching a movie involves a bio-interactive holographic deck, people are going to remember Avatar for being at the cusp of the
movements that started “immersive multidimensional cinema.” The next revolution is just about to start.
This is a purely cinematic experience, one that cannot be replicated by the best Blu-Ray Disc player on a 100-inch LED screen. Worse, you might end up not liking the
movie at all and wonder what the fuss was about if you see it in 2D first.
Am I over-hyping it? Not really. The story is a little silly and Disney-esque, but I’m willing to forgive everything for the sheer splendor of it. Think 1977. The movie
was called Star Wars, Episode 4: A New Hope.
Believe me when I say I have seen the future of cinema. And it is glorious, glorious, hallelujah.