AVATAR poster James Cameron Zoe Saldana

Rating: 3 of 5 ★★★☆☆ 

Avatar is visually stunning. You just can’t escape it. I saw it in IMAX 3D. Now, I can’t compare it to regular 3D but what I saw was revolutionary.

The depth of field was incredible. It wasn’t just what I imagine 3D would be, where certain elements stand out from others or seem to leap out of the screen. The entire world has depth and dimension and more than once I thought, “I can’t imagine seeing a movie any other way again.”

Beyond the 3D aspect, James Cameron has created these humanoids and made them so lifelike you forget their not real. It isn’t the action sequences that were so amazing for me, it was the close-ups of their eyes, the way you could see their emotions move across their face. Thinking back it feels a little like an animated movie, where somehow even the live action bits were animated. But I think that’s just because it’s so seamless, the line between the live action and the fantasy. and also partly because my brain isn’t used to processing visual images with depth like that so the whole thing sort of feels animated. But it didn’t at the time. Watching the movie, none of it felt animated.

All of that is why I rated it so high. If you’re going to see Avatar you need to see it in the theater. You need to see it in 3D and if you can you need to see it in IMAX 3D.

The story is one we’ve all heard before. Humans show up on an alien planet, find something of value, want to rule the world; native population and the sanctity of life on that world be damned save for the few loan voices crying out for peace.

It wasn’t hollow but the story didn’t match the grandeur of the films visual aesthetic. It’s a one dimensional story in a 3D film with no depth or significance. When horrible things happen they didn’t hurt the way they should have. There was no elation in victory, no buoyancy in the humor, no rapture in love. Cameron needed to make the world so complete, so revolutionary that you could see the story in the characters eyes. And he did that, but he didn’t write a story poignant enough to make it meaningful.

Does it deserve to be the second highest grossing movie of all time, possibly number 1? maybe. The story isn’t bad even though it isn’t great. But Avatar will change everything about how movies are made and how we see movies in the next 10 years, maybe less.

ETA: No, it does not deserve to be the highest grossing movie of all time.


January 9, 2009 | Review , , | this post contains affiliate links