Sunday, January 3, 2010

Avatar - An Epic of a New Kind

Avatar has hit the cinema screens like a meteor, it seems.

Since the movie was released here on 17 Dec, I have had everyone around me raving about it. Unlike other movies, I have yet to come across a disappointed viewer. I knew I had to check it out first hand.

I just did.

This sci-fi movie is a $237 million production by James Cameron. He is the very same filmmaker for the 'Titanic' movie which leaves Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" still haunting me till today.

The storyline of Avatar is simple. However, with a little imagination, you can extend it to cover some hidden political, sexual, environmental and racial messages. (See "Is blue the new black? Why some people think Avatar is racist" by BBC).

Very briefly, Avatar is about an ex-marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who finds himself on another planet, known as Pandora. The story is set in 2154 and the planet is 4.4 light years away from earth.

Pandora is inhibited by the Na'vi, the indigenous natives of the planet with blue glow-in-the-dark skin. The atmosphere on the planet is too toxic for human to hang around for long. So, human scientists have created human-Na’vi hybrids called avatars. These avatars are controlled by designated human operators in what seems to me like a very advanced way of playing video games.

Jake is sent to Pandora to learn more about the Na'vi natives. His mission is to help relocate them so that human can take over their land to mine a precious metal known as unobtanium.

During his stay there, he grows close to Neytiri, a female Na'vi. In some way, the story is a little like 'Pocahontas'. (You don't think so? Read this ) .

The 160-minute movie did not make my face turn blue. In fact, at some point, I felt my face turning red as the characters stir up emotions.

Avatar is indeed a visual extravaganza. The Na'vi people are created entirely out of computer graphics and the special effects are simply awesome. The computer-generated images are so tactile as if they are played by real human. I have chosen to watch it in 3D and that further enhanced my viewing experience.

For 2 hours and 40 minutes, I basked myself in eye-popping stunning visual and momentarily felt that I was in Pandora. For those who plan to watch the movie later on computer or TV screens, you are making a big mistake. This modern epic has almost nothing else to offer except spectacular visual treats on big screens.

James Cameron had wanted to make this film right after 'Titanic' (1997). However, the technology then was unable to achieve the level of sophistication demanded by his creative imagination. I am glad that he had waited for the technology to catch up.

Two sequels to the film have been planned. Looking at the success of this movie, I believe I can expect Avatar II and III to follow suit.

You might want to check out its official website or watch the official trailer.

Verdict: Stunning visual with a juvenile storyline. Go watch it and watch it in 3D.

Caution: I have read that some people experienced motion sickness and had difficulties sitting through the 3D version.

"Animation is not the art of drawings that move
but the art of movements that are drawn.
~Norman McLaren~

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