Rewind Review: Avatar

Avatar is probably the most amazing piece of eye candy that moviegoers have been allowed to unwrap in quite some time. It includes fantastic vistas, wonderful conceptions, phosphorescent and vibrant images that are always intriguing and some are downright awe-inspiring. As just a film to look at it may be the most amazing film this critic has ever beheld.

The effects are truly tremendous in every way. The creature-work done in this film is unparalleled. There is a very unique and enthralling ecosphere created on the fictional planet of Pandora which is just incredible. All the creatures are fascinating, effective and memorable which cannot be said for all sci-fi films.

The sound design was also fantastic in helping to create the world’s animals but also in making the battle scenes hit harder. There is creativity in conception and excellence in the edit.

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As any good sci-fi tale does it comments on our society, our world, through the subterfuge of a far off place. Sometimes the commentary is subtle or nearly non-existent. What was surprising about Avatar was how very present the commentary was.

There is an aspect of colonialism to the way humans displaced from earth now occupy this planet in a very uneasy equilibrium. The people from earth are after a precious mineral and looking to get the Na’vi, the natives of the planet, to abandon their land so it can be excavated.

In the mineral lies the only issue of the film’s construction and plot. Firstly, the mineral is called Unobtainium. Really? This is a film that from what we can tell created a people and a bestiary but this is the best name they could think of for the rock? The other issue is that we never find out what purpose it serves except that it’s valuable. Is it just precious like gold or can it be harnessed as a fuel – what is the attraction?

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That all being said the hunt for the Unobtainium brings other things to light. Giovanni Ribisi’s character, although it is never made clear, appears to make an unspoken comment on the Military-Industrial Complex. He seems to be there just urging the army to obtain it by any means necessary and is never addressed as a dignitary so it seems his power is inferred and not one of rank.

Some have commented that this is a Pocahontas type tale and while the parallel can be drawn from the Native-outsider relation in this film there is a very distinct difference. In relationships between Native Americans and Europeans it was the native who would leave with the other, here it is the outsider who literally becomes a member of the tribe. The tribal commentary seems very general and shouldn’t be interpreted wrongly whether you read it as an African or Native American tribe the point is this: the people belong to the land and vice versa, they treat it with respect and they care for it due to the abundance it gives them and that ought not be taken lightly, and certainly not destroyed, by so-called civilized peoples.

Minor vague points aside this film is an incredibly enthralling experience that does build slowly but it uses that added half-hour of running time to its advantage. The battle scenes at the end are also very well-executed.

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This is one of the top 15 films of the year based on its technical merit, advancement and engaging story-line alone. There are some head-shaking flaws that just make you wonder but it does not taint the overall experience.

9/10

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