Last Sunday, my stepson put Avatar (2009) on the TV. He is eight years old. His attention soon moved to other things and I spent the next two and a half hours watching the Theatrical Cut of the film. I have also recently completed the Avatar collection, a strange term for just ONE film, but I have bought the 3D Edition but have yet to watch it.
The problem here is that upon each viewing since that night in the cinema back in December 2009, my opinion of the movie drops. I first rated the film 8/10 in its 3D form, a test which the film has yet to be put through again, but that dropped to 7/10 by the time I composed my more comprehensive review last December.
But after yesterday, I would now rate it at just 6/10 and feel that if I watch it again, it will only drop off even further! This is crazy for a mainstream Sci-Fi movie, nominated for Best Picture and made by the innovator behind such classics as the Terminator franchise (1984 & 1991), Aliens (1986), True Lies (1994) and Titanic (1997).
But here we are. Dubbed “Smurfahontas” and “Dances With Smurfs” by the BBC, this is a derivative piece of cinema, but so is Star Wars (1977) and Harry Potter (2001 – 2011), but when all is said and done, there’s little substance being the CGI gloss and three-dimensional façade. The characters are either dull, with Sam Worthington’s lead standing out as such, or clichéd with Steven Lang both proving the point whilst being the most entertaining character.
The bottom line is, that once you’ve experienced Pandora, there is little to be gained by going back. As an imaginary world, it’s fully formed, developed and realised, rendered beautifully and given life in some very admirable and innovative ways, but even the effects are beginning to date now, just four years on, something which the equally as innovative Jurassic Park (1993) can boast did not happen to it so soon.
In the end, I’m dreading the planned sequels to this, because I simply can’t see who it would work. There’s no real story to draw from in terms of the first film, as it’s just a bioluminescent incarnation of earth’s rainforests, with nice and thoughtful tribes-people who pack a punch. Are these in fact blue Ewoks? Is that the point? Has James Cameron actually drawn inspiration from the weakest part of the original Star Wars trilogy?
But after we establish that the world is a giant brain, with trees and the Na’vi all interconnected through a complex system of bio-circuitry, is there much left to do? Even the title may become defunct because part of the original plot revolved around the fact the Jake Sully (Worthington) was human and that his tenuous link his Na’vi body was at the mercy of the humans and he could be taken out of the Avatar at any time.
Now that he has become permanently embodied in his Avatar, he is just as mortal as any other Na’vi. Were can they go with this for one, let alone for TWO more movies? It seems to me that Avatar is all gloss and little substance, playing with well trodden Science Fiction concepts, often used in Star Trek for example and packaging them as something spectacular. Motion-Capture has been propelled light years by this film and so has 3D technology but once you get past these technical developments of having living actors movements translated into a CGI characters or the hit and miss concept of 3D, what else does this film actually have to offer?
In 2015, give or take, we’ll see what we get…