Friday, September 23, 2022


James Cameron's Avatar hit theaters a week before Christmas of 2009 and quickly claimed a spot on my list of best films of that year. With the first of its long-overdue sequels finally making its way to theaters this winter, Avatar returns to theaters in hopes of rekindling the magic movie goers discovered more than a dozen years ago. While it wasn't the best film that year, it's one of the most watchable, and I've returned to Avatar multiple times over the years always being entertained.

Taking the simple story of a a soldier siding with the natives over his own people, a well-trod piece of movie plotting taken to the stars, Avatar provides a singular cinematic experience diving into the alien world of Pandora with a tremendous amount of both heart and movie magic specifically designed for IMAX 3D in a way no film since has been able to replicate. 

Sam Worthington stars as paraplegic Marine Jake Sully who earns a spot to the alien world after his twin brother's sudden death. While not a scientist like his brother, Jake's DNA is what is needed for the corporate interests of the Resources Development Administration to see some return in their investment of a Navi body designed for his brother. And although the world doesn't get another scientist, it gets a warrior whose eyes will be opened to the mysteries of Pandora through his living Avatar.

The core cast is rounded out by Zoe Saldana as the native princess Neytiri, Sigourney Weaver and Joel David Moore as scientists in the Avatar program, and Stephen Lang as your typical military asshole. We also get Michelle Rodriguez as a fighter pilot with a conscience and Giovanni Ribisi as a greedy corporate dickhead. As he falls in love with the planet, the tribe, and Neytiri, Jake's motivation evolve from helping the RAD get around the obstacle of the Na'vi to mine an incredibly rare substance to instead choose to help the Na'vi make a stand against the superior military might of the humans.

Pulling on themes from his own films and several others, including both classic sci-fi and fantasy, Cameron designs a a complete world to explore in Pandora. Sully turns out to be the perfect stand-in for the audience to learn about about Na'vi and slowly get a better understanding as the writer/director touches on themes of anti-imperialism, anti-militarism, love transcending cultural expectations or race, environmental conservation and living in harmony with nature. While many of its themes it wears on its sleeve, Avatar never beats the audience of the head with its message, instead allowing Sully to stumbling his way to a broader understanding once be begins living among the Na'vi. The film works perfectly well on home video, but if you've never seen it on IMAX 3D it would be worth a trip to the theater to see Avatar again.

Watch the trailer
  • Title: Avatar
  • IMDb: link

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