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Movie Reviews: Avatar

James Hinshaw - Saturday, January 02, 2010

This is probably one of the most heavily promoted movies in the last couple of years.  As you may have heard, it involves a group of Marines who go to a far-away planet called Pandora, where there is a race of aliens (Na'vi) who are against us destroying their living areas for some very valuable minerals.  Sounds familiar, so very Hollywood, the big corporation versus the common folks, that sort of thing.  The Marines have figured out a way to put their minds into alien bodies, hence the name Avatar.  We watch this come alive in the movie Avatar, starring Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation, The Debt), Sigourney Weaver (Baby Mama, The Village), Michelle Rodriguez (The Fast and the Furious, S.W.A.T.) and Zoe Sladana (Star Trek, The Terminal).  Actually Zoe is not shown as a human, she is the alien lead, Neytiri.  The girlfriend, so to speak.

So here we go, Sam has been hurt in combat, paralyzed, and so he likes the idea of using an alien body to run around in.  They grow these ten foot tall aliens in a pod, then fix up a mind meld with a couple of machines.  End result, when Sam wants to be the alien, he lays down in a pod sort of thing, goes to sleep, wakes up as an alien.  Same with Sigourney, she is the researcher heading up the project.  She is trying to discover more about them aliens, Sam has been sent in to infiltrate the group to learn how to get them to move from a pile of precious minerals.  Michelle is a pilot who runs a nifty helicopter into the alien land filled with the Avatars, to go exploring, find out more about the Na'vi.  The big corporation group is run by Giovani Ribisi, they are trying to mine this mineral called (are you ready?) Unobtainium.  Yup, they even said it with a straight face.  If they are able to score a huge crop, it will save the planet earth from a cold, energy-less planet.   

So this is one of the most expensive movies ever, $245 million to produce.  Director James Cameron (Titanic) has been working on it for a decade, and in fact, helped invent the "new" 3D process that you should see it in.  Really nifty, and really expensive.  an extra $2.50 per person in our theater.  But worth it in my humble opinion.  The scenes are fantastic, lots of flying around on the backs of dragons, really neat visuals.   

The movie takes an unexpected turn into the spiritual realm, yet it is done well, sort of central to the movie theme.  No scene spoiler here, just some facts.  The movie starts out a little slow, but when the action takes off in the second half, it is spectacular.  Lots of things get blown up, some cool new space ships, weapons and planes, along with the good ole predictable Daisy Cutter, a nasty bomb system that takes everything down to the level of a daisy.  Used in Iraq with devastating results.

So it is kind of a love story, kind of a corporate hate story, lots of themes here, all welded together on a sci-fi frame.  Sort of like Dances With Wolves in space.  With Ripley from the alien series as backup.  One warning, it is sort of intense, your 7 or 8 year old will probably be a little uneasy with it, it is PG-13.  We liked it, give it 4 out of 5 Vulcan Mind Melds (out of respect to Spock).     

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