Avatar – $2 Billion and counting

So, Avatar, where do we begin. This film has been reviewed by just about everyone in the world by now,  and has recently hit over $2 billion. $2 billion. $2 billion?! Is it really that good? As an affirmed sci-fi geek I felt the need to at least have a discussion around this film. At the end I’ll attach a score to the film. But I’m not really going to talk about specifics much. I presume you’ve seen it. At $2 billion, I kind of expect anyone reading an english blog will have seen it by now (Poor China).

Do I think it’s any good? Yes, for what its worth, James Cameron has taken years of incremental improvements in special effects and put it all on screen at once, creating something that is as close to seamless CGI as we’ve yet seen. Its not perfect, but it doesn’t break your sense of disbelief, which is key, and is why CGI has been 2nd place to practical effects for a long time now. Or at least until this year. Combine this with a very impressive implementation of 3D (and I am a big skeptic when it comes to 3D, I’ve never seen any that didn’t try to jab me in the eye at some point before now) and you do have a groundbreaking, game-changing film for Hollywood to look up to.

But (we all knew there was a but coming) for all the flash, for all amazing action/effects sequences, this is a film lacking a heart. Or at least lacking any sort of message that can be delivered subtly. Every single message is delivered to your face, like a small angry child showing that pickyture wot they drawn, jammed in front of your eyes so you cannot fail to miss it. Yes, it is a hollywood blockbuster, and I probably shouldn’t expect great depth or complexity, but sci-fi, out of nearly all genres has the scope for finely detailed critiques of the status quo,  complex ‘what if’ scenarios that make you consider what you have done or may do in the future. This simply tells you – machines are bad, corporations are bad, the military are bad, nature is good. Don’t be bad.  Bit simplistic, no? Coupled with average acting (although, if I was honest, the Na’vi are fantastic for being  CGI creations, but I’m not counting effects as acting yet..), some clunky lines in the script (especially the ‘baddies’ – who fall short of saying something along the lines of ‘I’m the bad guy, I must kill you!!!’, but not by much.) and perhaps a slightly overlong mid-section it lets the film down, which is a shame considering its one of the greatest worlds yet realised on screen, up there with the lord of the rings trilogy, and probably star wars for giving you a sense of place.

Ultimately though, James Cameron’s love of the planet shines through at the expense of the plot. It has its moments, and the tech is fantastic, but in the end this falls more into the manner of ‘The Abyss’ than ‘Aliens’ , nice tech, shame about the plot. My greatest fear will be the number of CGI-heavy, 3D worlds we will see on screen over the next couple of years. Few people will be able to realise them as well as Cameron has, and Hollywood gives me no confidence in being able to put together a coherent plot in a summer blockbuster (See Transformers 1/2). James Cameron has managed both, and that should be applauded.


  1. i had watched this movie 5 times and every time i loved and enjoyed watching it

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