Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Avatar Review

Scene from Avatar
Avatar is one of those films that lives up to its hype. You are taken on a fantastic journey to an alien world filled with everything from the dizzying delights of floating island mountains and flourescent jungle plants to the nightmarish horrors of marauding packs of viperwolves and the destructive fury unleashed by the military mind. Like her namesake box the planet Pandora is full of surprises.

The visuals are stunning and bear more than a passing resemblance to the surreal landscapes portrayed in the "Myst" series of computer games from Cyan Software which were first released in 1993. In particular the forest island in "Riven" and the giant tree in the Edanna Age from "Myst - Exile" share many similarities to the wonders in Avatar. Jim Cameron has lifted their surreal landscapes to a new level of immersive realism with the techologies now available today.

Issues of global conservation, concepts of the Earth Mother (or Gaia) and the inter-connectedenes of all living things are touched on. On a deeper level is the question of what constitutes reality and the sense of self or the "soul". What is that Michaelangelo "spark" that powers a "piece of meat" to life?

There are parallels here with the main theme in "The Matrix" except here the idea of leaving one body and entering another for good is raised. Would this "new" life be any more real than the one you left? At least Jake ends up with a great set of legs!

Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang)
The one scene that jarred with me was seeing the Colonel standing next to his pilot in the cockpit of his shuttle on the way to the Hometree - drinking a cup of coffee. I mean - where did he keep the cappucino machine or kettle? What happened to the cup of coffee when everything eventually hits the fan (literally!) ? A moot point I know but coffee is surely for the war room *before* a sortie. My other minor gripe was the Banshees (birdlike flying reptiles) grabbing the gun ships and flinging them like rag dolls into the cliffs of the floating islands. Surely a flying machine weighing several tens of tonnes would need something a bit more massive than a Banshee weighing several hundred kilos to toss it about so nimbly - particulary while flying with no fulcrum point. It may have had something to do with being in the vortex field (?). They haven't perfected displaying the physics of mass accurately with the CGI yet. Those little details broke the spell momentarily for me but I was drawn back into the magic in no time at all.

Definitely a "must see again" film.

(image credits; newfilmdimension.com & movies.spoilertv.com)

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