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(2009)

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6/10
How could anyone who's seen more than 4 movies in their life find this creative?
benjamin-heckendorn20 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Let me preface this by saying I am a huge James Cameron fan. I think "Terminator" is a masterpiece of sci-fi and the single best edited film of all time, "Aliens" is easily the best sequel not from the original director and I personally like it a lot more than the original. "Abyss" created an interesting world and was racked with tension, "Terminator 2" is an action tour-de-force and has what I believe the best sound editing/design of all time, "True Lies" is goofy fun, more poignant than most give it credit for with a boffo ending, and finally "Titanic" was far better than anyone expected it to be and has one of the most believable romances in a movie.

So then there was the 12 year wait for "Avatar". No reviews, word of mouth, ticket price or natural disaster would keep me from the midnight IMAX 3D screening. I went with moderate expectations, which the film matched exactly. While this kept me from being disappointed it wasn't a good thing.

Movie fans were on edge because if "Avatar" flops, it'll mean the death of creativity in a remake-happy Hollywood. That's a valid concern but the problem is nothing in "Avatar" is creative whatsoever. It is literally "Dances with Wolves" in space, right down to having a "Wind in his Hair" character as a foil to the "new guy".

As the movie progressed it caused the worst of all bad reactions for me as a viewer - I started thinking about other things. Then I kept thinking "well the end battle is supposed to be awesome".

SPOILER WARNING! (if for some reason you can't guess how this movie ends) End battle comes and the movie switches from being "Dances with Wolves" to Disney's "Atlantis" (but that's unfair since both of those movies contained far, FAR better musical scores) Gunship windows that were impervious to arrows a few scenes ago (to show Na'vi desperation) suddenly become brittle and break easily (to show Na'vi heroism). The battle isn't nearly as long as you'd expect, and nowhere near as epic / engaging as the finale of Return of the King. Finally there's a Robo-suit vs Navi fight and it is admittedly pretty good. Unlike 95% of directors these days Cameron knows enough to pull the camera back and let us SEE the fight. However it's an odd choice to spend millions on 10 foot tall "creatures" and then rarely even have them in the same frame as humans.

And of course there's the obligatory scene where characters are dying in slow motion as Middle Eastern vocal music plays (see Gladiator or Munich) Wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't said to my friend on the way there "How much you wanna bet there's a part where characters die in slow motion over Middle Eastern music?"

As with most movies these days "Avatar" is far too long, glossing over important details (why is Earth dying, what does Unobtainium do, etc) and instead spending time on flight scenes, mystic ceremonies, spirit trees and nature bonding.

Ultimately I just did not care. Since the dawn of cinema Hollywood recycles old ideas every few decades and slaps on a bigger budget / new stars / better effects so you won't notice. I can see re-doing "Ben Hur" with color and sound, but why do we need "Dances with Wolves" with 20 times the budget and blue Native Americans? No amount of impressive visuals, robo-suits, gunship battles, perfect character CGI or Sigorney Weaver can change the fact that I've seen this movie 100 times before. I could even accept the weak story if there were any characters to give a rat's ass about. This film is also dreadfully humorless, a stark contrast to "Titanic" where humor was one of its many surprises.

Regarding 3D... I've seen many films in it now and honestly you don't even notice after the few minutes. It doesn't make the money any better or worse, just more expensive.

Citizen Kane, The Robe, Sound of Music, Jaws, Star Wars, Batman, Toy Story, The Matrix... these movies changed movies. We can say that looking back now. "Avatar" saying it would ahead of time is pure hubris, "unsinkable Titanic"-like poppycock.

But if expensive motion-capture being used to cover up a weak, generic story is the future of cinema then count me out, I'll stick with my PS3.
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1/10
People are weak minded.
Stephane Gregory Dan25 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First I didn't want to go watch Avatar because when I heard Cameron took 3 weeks to write the plot I said to myself there is no hope for cinema anymore. And somehow people are showing me that I was right. I went to watch this piece of .... because I have been told it s unbelievable.

Storywise, there is no story at all. It's the typical good vs bad scenario shaped out of cowboys against indians in space mixing it with a yogi everything connects us to the world impression plus a goddamn planet called Pandora and looks like f...in' paradise. Lot's of shiny colours and huge monsters who eat flesh are your best friends. Come on. You gotta be kidding me.

Maybe I might be the only one here, cause all reviews I've seen got great score, but that is not what a movie is supposed to be. I was very unimpressed by the CGI and the artistic development because I might be used to computer games such as Final Fantasy series which has been the shaper of such incredible stories, only that these games have a very strong story to tell and and you feel totally involved.

It impresses me that people give this such a high rating because of it's visuals. I mean it was clear that sooner or later a movie would appear with such incredible CGI. If it wouldn't have been Avatar another would have been the winner.

I am sad that nowadays cinema is ail centered only about violence, good looks and a huge lack of brain.

3 out of ten only for the cgi which I thought is not the center of a movie otherwise I would have rated it beneath 0.
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1/10
Actually insulting to avid film lovers
CraneFist8 April 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I heard that this film was going to be the benchmark in modern film making. I heard this film was to be the largest grossing film of all time, and perhaps even the most captivating. As a film lover I could not miss it, and to make sure I didn't miss out on everything James Cameron had to offer me, I saw it in the largest iMax cinema in England, in 3d.

Keep in mind, I am now writing this review a week or so after seeing it so as to let my initial reactions subside and compose and sensible, rational and correct report on what I experienced, and yet my first words are still WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!

Let me try and address this in an ordered fashion.

Plot: Terrible, shameful and embarrassing. Not only to mention that it was almost an exact copy of Pocahontas (literally), it just wasn't at all interesting. You knew from the outset exactly how the film was going to end, it was cliché, boring and hamfisted from beginning to end. Anyone who can honestly say that the plot was captivating must be drunk, an idiot, or joking.

Also, I know people go on about this, but seriously, UNOBTANIUM??? I understand trying to make a commentary on our endeavours as mankind, but calling the object unobtanium reduces the intellectual level to Sesame Street.

Also, the fact that the Na'vi who could speak English went from relatively stunted English to perfect English and back again through out the film bothered me more than a little.

And when the natives win that one battle, the humans, who desperately want this 'unobtanium' as it will make them all mindboggingly rich, and can afford to pay for whole armies to try and get it, give up? They just aren't going to come back? That's ridiculous, they'd nuke the place.

Characters / Characterisation: Uni-dimensional to the end. No depth whatsoever. Prime example of this is the military captain who is, in all senses, a cartoon stereotype military captain, there was no reason or rhyme behind his actions apart from the fact that he is a military captain. The self-interested capitalist, who in the end was nothing more than a self-interested capitalist? No! Surely not! And the hero, who, from beginning to end, portrays no real traits that give him away to be anything other than a complete hero. Wow. I'm so impressed.

Acting: No one captivated me. No one stood out. Even Sigourney Weaver, an actress who I usually hold in quite high esteem, was pretty poor. I blame Cameron.

Special Effects: Yes. They were impressive. This is where my 1 star comes from. But, forgive me for being a bit of a traditionalist, but I think in any film no more than 1 star should ever be entirely devoted to special effects. That being said, they were impressive, they weren't biblical. It's not like I walked out of the cinema unable to speak from awe. Furthermore, aside from the technical quality of the special effects, the world itself was not that inventive, intelligently designed or beautiful. They were essentially in a jungle with a few animals that just looked like mutated versions of Earth animals. And some odd jellyfish type things. If you want truly beautiful films watch something like "Pan's Labyrinth" or "House of Flying Daggers", I'd say both of these have more impressive scenery than Avatar does.

Directing:

Uninventive. Nothing really new there. Impressive shots of scenery perhaps, but pretty much normal camera-work throughout. A very cheesy montage to show the hero and his woman getting closer and closer. A standard battle scene. No James Cameron, not impressive.

The bottom line is this, I know and you know that if it wasn't for its 3D effects, and the fact that it had James Cameron's name attached to it, Avatar would probably have been straight to DVD. Some people have said that people don't like it because they don't understand Sci Fi. That's ridiculous. I love Sci Fi, it's my favourite genre. But compared with classics like Alien, or 2001, this was an affront.

So shame on you James Cameron, for insulting our intelligence by thinking that nothing more than pretty lights are needed to make a good film. Though, in the end, I guess you were right, as most people seem to be inexplicably raving about it. Maybe all people want in a film are just pretty lights, and that's pretty sad to see.

Poor, poor show.
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6/10
Visually stunning, but ultimately unimaginative
Florent21 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
First of all, let me get it out of the way: yes, Avatar is visually stunning. With better scenario and dialogs, it could have been a very good movie; alas, it was completely predictable, and fancy special effects alone do not make a good movie.

Let's start with the picture. As I said before, the special effects and computer animation are really good; the textures feel very real, and the degrees of liberty that CGI animation allows in terms of camera angles and movement is well used for dramatic effects. The luxurious vegetation of the forest and the CGI-animated wild animals are a treat to the eyes. In terms of artwork, there is a definite influence from Nausicaa (the forest-world, the spores) and Starcraft (the vessels, the goliaths). I saw the movie in an IMAX movie with 3D glasses, but I am not convinced that they used the full potential of it - quite honestly, the Haribo commercial before the movie made a better use of it. I find it more strenuous to watch a movie with the 3D-glasses - some details are blurry, and it feels likewise when the camera makes swift lateral movements.

Now, the scenario - the movie disappoints in that area. The plot is very Manichean, and it feels like a remake of Pocahontas, interspersed with elements from / tributes to Star Wars (Pandora and the Na'vi look like Endor and the Ewoks respectively), Nausicaa (the forest as an entity, the destructive impact of civilization on nature, the spores in the forest), Starcraft (Colonel Quarritch and Dr Augustine bear some resemblance with Arcturus Mensk and Sarah Kerrigan), Matrix (the concept of controlling another image of self), and maybe even Independence Day (the pilot fighter suicide) and the Lion King (the father's death, "go, and never come back!", ... am I going to far here?). But I can honestly say that I haven't been surprised at any point in the movie. You know from the beginning that he will be accepted by the Na'vi, that he will fall in love, that he will defect, that he will ultimately prevail after suffering some heavy casualties, and that he will find a way to permanently transfer his mind into the body of his avatar.

It would have been interesting if the movie had dealt in more depth with the issues related to transferring one's mind into another body for instance, maybe a la Twelve Monkeys Army, where the "hero" is clearly deeply affected by experiences that the mind is not used to deal with (time travel in that case, but it is not that different from what we have here). Likewise, the love interest of our hero seems very indifferent to the fact that he really is a human remotely controlling a human - Na'vi bastard. I was expecting someone (him, her, or even one of the other humans in the scientific group) to show at least some kind of surprise / doubt when these feelings emerge. I was expecting more complexity in the social interactions of the characters, and their personality.

I also take issues with some big stereotypes: corporations and the white men are greedy, indigenous people are pure, brave, and connected to the earth, but dumb - thankfully there is a human to teach them how to fight those who come from the sky. To some extent, the movie feels like a remake of the colonization of the Americas; just replace the Na'vis by native Americans, the aircrafts by ships, and modern weapons by muskets, and you have it. Except of course the colonization of the Americas did not have such a happy ending for the native tribes.

On the whole, the movie is beautiful, but it feels like the main goal was to showcase fancy special effects. The movie would have benefited from more detailed characters, and a less linear and predictable plot. My rating is 6/10.
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8/10
After a decade, Cameron sets the avatar of our new generation
Misagh13 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I had the rather intense privilege to view James Cameron's much anticipated $400 million budget return to the directing scene, Avatar, at the Empire Leicester Square in London.

Where to begin! The visuals in this pieces was groundbreaking. He did it with the Terminator series and then Titanic, so one would expect Cameron to deliver... and HE DID! The visual are by far some of the sharpest CGI I have seen. You could almost say that there is a disquiet that follows Cameron's soul, as there is no other possibility of this strong and intensified quality. Its production design and visual effects are both noteworthy and it will get its praise upon official release.

What it was lacking that really should have shaped the movie is its character/story. I was expecting a complex and believable plot, but was left with a movie with mostly strong visuals. What most sci-fi lovers desire is mind-bending philosophies, fantasy and exploration and limitations of our or outer species. If it was not for this factor, I would give this a 9.5 vote.

Avatar will be a success, not only because of Cameron's legacy, but by very intelligent and viral marketing. Avatar have had a powerful marketing technique that assembles other successful blockbusters, such as The Blair Witch project (you all remember it), The Dark Knight (Joker invades the world) and also, the current production The Artifice (the-artifice.com) that is intelligently targeting the market.

Kudos to Cameron, Avatar is one of the (if not The) movie of the year. I could get in trouble for sharing this with you guys so early, so please click Yes on "Was the above comment useful to you?" as a thank you. ;)
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1/10
The Most Unoriginal Film of the Decade
mlbstellar5 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
At the risk of repeating what countless others have said, this movie is blatant plagiarism. If a film student submitted the Avatar screenplay to an instructor, he/she would have been given an F. Colleges expel students for less obvious ripoffs than this. If you've watched Pocahontas or Dances With Wolves, you know the drill. The only difference is the ending, which has the pretty blue humanoids escorting humans to their Earth-bound ships at gunpoint, which I freely admit is a rather neat sight since my ancestors were American Indian, Irish, and Scot. As a result, I am perhaps overly sensitive to the plight of a civilization driven from their homeland and/or oppressed by a conquering nation - er, planet.

However, originality is not James Cameron's strong suit, so my disappointment is directed more at WETA. Yes, my beloved WETA, who impressed me throughout the years but completely stole my heart after the masterful rendering of all things Tolkien in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I had two reasons for seeing this film. One was a 13-year-old boy, the other was my anticipation over what wonders WETA would lay at my feet.

Now, had the budget not been nearly half a billion dollars, I'd have understood the cartoonish creations, but as it stands there's no good reason for the results. Viewers are praising this film as revolutionary. I call "horsesh!t". This was nowhere near the caliber of WETA's LOTR work, their King Kong work, or their X-Men work. In fact, it wasn't even up to snuff with their Narnia production. The quantity of work was greater, not the quality.

I've never reviewed a film in my life. I actually registered here for the sole purpose of expressing my resentment at having wasted $20 bucks and 3 hours on such nonsense. Booooooo.
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1/10
Extremely predictable and very unoriginal!!
tomskaal21 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I have never been so close to leave the movie theater, as i was when seeing Avatar. Sure, it's very beautiful to look at, but, if you've seen the trailer, then you've seen the movie! It's basically every movie clichés put together in one horrible and so unoriginal movie. it's a mix of the "last samurai" meets "Pocahontas" meets "Atlantis"! it's by far the most horrible storyline since Ed Woods' "plan 9 from outer space".

Not once are you surprised by the turn of events in this movie, and there's so many bad movie clichés in it, and so many things that just doesn't make any sense at all (even in their universe). for example, the last fight scene with the giant robot and the Avatar. It really doesn't make any sense at all, that the robot is carrying a 8-foot-1 hunting knife, just in case he loses his gun (which could easily have been attach to the robot!), and that the robot tells the avatar, what he's about to do, instead of just doing it (A good example of a bad cliché).

If you want to see this movie, i recommend you either see the trailer ( as that is enough for you, to litterily, call every scene in the movie) or you go out and buy Atlantis and just Imagine it with smurfs instead of underwater people.
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Technically outstanding. Originality: oh well....
elchocobollo11 December 2009
Well, I just saw Avatar this morning, one of the press premieres which are running on these days. My opinion: you've seen this story a hundred times, but never like this. Finally 3D is what it's supposed to be, an instrument at the service of the movie. You'll enjoy the visual experience, no doubt.

As for the story, some of the "inspirations" are so huge and so obvious that mentioning two or three of them would REALLY ruin the movie for you, and I'm not willing to do that. Lots of mysticism and ecology, if you like that stuff. If you're 15 or so, you'll have a great time thinking that it's the first time somebody makes something like this. If you're an experienced movie watcher, better leave your skepticism at the door, bring lots of pop corn and enjoy with the usual action-flick-with-moral-and-loads-of-clichés.

I liked it, however: "the movie that re-invents movies"??? No way.
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1/10
OK, I get it...
MACarter2147 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Ok, I get it." That's a phrase I found myself saying an awful lot during this 2 1/2 hour computer game that was as painful to the brain as it was to the eyes.

First, let's get the obvious out of the way. This film was expensive, in that it cost so much money to make you could solve at least one state's budget crisis with it. So why did it look like it was nearly all conceived on a computer? Not since the "Star Wars" prequels has the "fourth wall" ever been so demolished. Never once did I care about the characters or believe anything the actors tried to do because I knew it was completely artificial. Hell, people still complain about "Waterworld" being overpriced but at least people actually got off their duffs and did some real film shooting! This whole project stinks of imported bottled water and soy lattes. This film is the pinnacle of Hollywood overkill. An overblown, overpriced, overindulgent eyesore of a movie with a "message." Oh yes, the message. Underneath watching the latest in nerd fantasy-fulfillment with its CGI, is a liberal-minded jackhammer drilling into your psyche about the evil of American corporatism, military culture, and rich white men's greed. The noble intent of getting its audience to care about the environment is done in the LSD-esquire rainbow cornucopia of every Native American and African stereotype imaginable, all set to an "oweyo oweyo" New Age chorus that makes one actually pine for the sweet sound of the Jonas Brothers. I say this as a die-hard independent who has as much to say about environmental awareness as anyone with a college education, but the caricatures painted here border on MSNBC-levels of leftist philosophy. The bad guys are the Republican racist military and corporate oppressors, who refer to our heroes as "tree huggers" and the alien Navi as "savages," and see their violence against them as "fighting terror with terror." I'm not kidding, they actually use soundbites from the last decade as part of the script. One character actually refers to the military attacks as "shock and awe." If you don't want to heave from the vertigo-inducing sweep of the completely sterile computer-created world of Pandora, the dialog will surely get you to bending over the toilet cursing the day you ever thought this was worth even half its price tag.

See, there was a movie made very recently that dealt with valid socio-political issues that was full of interesting characters and top-notch CGI at a fraction of "Avatar's" cost. It was called "District 9" and if you haven't seen it, do so and then come tell me what you thought of "Avatar." Because the former film was able to show the evils of racism without painting its characters as one-dimensional caricatures. It showed that greed knew no color boundaries, and that you can combine action with a message and not be beaten over the head with it.

I would advise people to avoid this film, however I know that is next to impossible. This has become the new "Titanic," where seeing it is not only an option, but a requirement with some groups of people. I like to refer to those people as "STUPID."
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1/10
This movie made me feel blue
Bart_Mancuso22 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I realize I am probably going to get flames galore for this comment, and you all have the right to your opinion about my opinion, but hey, I'm entitled to my opinion too. Avatar is grade A crap. That's right, it's crap. I say this for one simple reason: Without the special effects this movie would never, ever captivate and take a hold of audiences like it has in the past week. Ask yourself this one question: If it didn't have the effects, the Navi plugging their hair into the trees like it's a damn broadband jack, mech suits(just like the ones in Matrix Revolutions) and barely futuristic ospreys, would you care about this movie at all? It's a truism when they say this movie is nothing more than Dances with Wolves in space. Some people may argue back that Star Wars borrowed from Hidden fortress, but at least it had enough compelling plot points to make it look different, such as I don't know... the force? The Death Star? Outer space? A location that has NOTHING at all to do with Earth? This important set of points clearly differentiates Star Wars and Hidden Fortress. But The difference between Avatar and Dances with wolves is... CGI. This CGI may be pretty but it cannot ever substitute for story and plot development. Speaking of, the characters save but a few are either very bland or stereotypes. The worst part is the story and the movie gives us no reason to care about the characters. You know what? I'll go one step further and say that the only difference between Avatar and a Star Wars prequel is this: Avatar has an environmental story that we can relate to. That's it. True, the action scenes in Avatar are well done, but hell, the action scenes in the Star Wars prequels were also arguably well-done. Still, there's that nagging lack of story development. Avatar is a huge let-down and doesn't belong on the best-of list of anybody with common sense.
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