Forgive me, I'm going to jump from professional to fan boy for a while here. I haven't had the jitters after a film the way I've had for Avatar in quite sometime. James Cameron's Avatar is the most entertaining and enthralling cinematic experiences of my life. It is incredible, simply put. What Cameron has done here is the most passionate film project put out since Steven Spielberg released Schindler's List. His attention to detail and his zeal for pushing the envelope is so admirable to any filmmaker or actor who will ever do another film from this point on.
Avatar is the story of Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine, who replaces his brother on a secret mission to infiltrate the Na' vi, the colony of beings that sit on the planet of Pandora, where there is a precious ore, that sells at a ridiculous amount. When Jake learns the ways of the Na' vi, his feelings and learnings will put him and the people he trusts in dangerous jeopardy.
The performances here, in the sense of reacting, becoming, and understanding what Cameron has written are astounding. Not to be confused with a sensational bravura performance from some of the centuries best such as Marion Brando, Tom Hanks, or Diane Keaton; these actors along with the director inhabit these visual transformations with special effects as if they are have lived these beings all their lives. This is all based on character movements and reactions. Sam Worthington, as Jake Sully, is an actor who's on his way to becoming a star. Though he has problems with his Aussie accent often enough in the film, he gets the job done. Zoe Saldana, who plays Neytiri, a Na' vi huntress, is thrilling and electrifying. Stephen Lang, as the rock hard Colonel Miles, takes on a villainous turn to a new level in science fiction. He offers actual emotion and emotes evil to the audience and gains our hatred easily. Sigourney Weaver as the beautiful Dr. Grace, is sufficient enough to have on screen again teamed with Cameron. She lives inside her role with effortless ease, but suffers from some of the typical James Cameron cheesy lines.
Narratively the film works perfectly on the cinematic level. The first forty minutes or so require patience and hope as it is the weakest part of the film and offers some dreariness, but when the second act takes off, it's sky high with no limits for James Cameron. Avatar delivers the best action sequences put on film of all time. That is the boldest statement I have ever made in all my years of criticism. I sat on this for two days before charging it out, but I mean it. It is the best visual experience of my life, period.
Other than those visuals, the film pops with all the other technical aspects thrown into one. Art Direction is killer as the two worlds blend in perfectly for an acceptable time. The Film Editing is the crowning achievement of the film as it also offers the perfect blend of the two worlds, enticing the viewer and shifting us around. Mauro Fiore is the threat for a Cinematography Oscar this year. It was if the viewer sat down in a chair, put on glasses, and was literally placed on Pandora, spaceships, and floating mountains. The viewer can feel so engulfed by the imagery, you feel like you can smell the leaves from the trees. Avatar is utterly hypnotizing. James Horner's score is some of the best work done in his career. It offers a variable of devastation that moves the viewer to near tears. It goes back to his work on Titanic, where the musical instruments lifted the material immensely. The entire sound team is also locked and loaded for Oscar recognition as the feeling of animals, machines, and arrows buzzing by your head leave you imprisoned in Cameron's exquisite film.
James Cameron has come back home ladies and gentlemen Cameron is back, bigger, badder, and mature in his crowning work of his career. Terminator 2: Judgment Day and Titanic do not even compare anymore. This is the film that can blend the fans of those two films together and lock Cameron into your heart. He's a definite spoiler for a directing bid for the Academy Awards. You have admire the raw, natural talent the man has. How could you ever conceive such an experience and put that much effort and work into it and have it pay off? The box office success will surely keep him in the minds of voters for various critics' awards. His screenplay, leaps and bounds better than 1997's Best Picture Winner, is primed, developed and ripe for the taking. Though, you do acquire the tacky and atypical dialogue you expect from a science fiction director of this caliber, you can appreciate the effort and the honesty of it all. James Cameron is everything Michael Bay wishes he was, to put it bluntly.
Avatar will bring also great actors putting their best foot forward such as Giovanni Ribisi, who is as underrated as they come. Michelle Rodriguez who exudes sexy like any woman starring in a sci-fi epic. Joel Moore, showing his range outside of his comedic work in Dodgeball: An Underdog Story. And the classy veteran actors, CCH Pounder and Wes Studi, who just simply don't work enough.
Avatar is one of the best films of the year. The most exciting, thrilling, and superb work you'll feast your eyes on in any theater this century. Cinema, forever, will remember the benchmark that James Cameron placed not only for himself, but for any man, daring to change the game, the way Cameron did. Avatar is a movie experience to be remembered, and please experience in a movie theater first.