With a budget reported to be around $400 million dollars and a four year production cycle, “Avatar” by James Cameron is poised to usher in a new age in digital fx and 3d.
The film is set in 2154 and involves a disabled vet named Jake (Sam Worthington), who is sent to the distant moon of Pandora following the death of his brother.
It is learned that Pandora possesses a highly valuable resource that sells on the resource ravaged earth for $200 million a kilo and, which naturally sets off a frenzy of mining on the moon.
With the cultivation of the resource at a premium a facility has been established to ensure a constant mining operation and protect those on the base from the hostile wildlife that is everywhere.
While the wildlife on Pandora is a big issue, it pales in comparison to the issues poised by the native Na’vi who are a blue-skinned race who live in the forests of the moon and are in harmony with the nature of the planet which have caused them to hamper the mining efforts of the humans.
Anxious to keep the mining operations going, and limit the use of brute force to avoid any p.r. issues, a program known as “Avatar” is put into motion which allows select individuals to pilot a surrogate made from Na’vi and human D.N.A. in an effort to get the Na’vi to move and end their opposition to the mining.
It is hoped that the pilots will in time find a way to force the cooperation of the Na’vi after spending time amongst them.
Jake is thrilled with the program as once his remote link is established, he is free to run and jump again and in time finds himself absorbed by the Na’vi who wish to show him their ways as a test of his worthiness after he is separated from his fellow humans.
At this point Jake leads a double life as his surrogate learns what it is to be Na’vi and when the surrogate is asleep, Jake unhooks himself from his control bed, and is back on the base with his fellow humans. Jake is approached by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who tasks the Marine to obtain tactical data on the Na’vi should his forces be called into action to force their cooperation. Jake is promised a costly procedure in return which would allow him to regain the use of his legs and live a life outside of his wheelchair.
As time passes, Jake grows closer to his Na’vi mentor Neytire (Zoe Saldana), who aside from being the daughter of the chief is a skilled hunter for her people. At this point Jake begins to question the motives and methods of his people and sees the exploitation and possible massacre of the Na’vi as something he can no longer accept. Jake puts a plan in motion to protect his human and Na’vi friends and what follows is an epic confrontation that is awash in visual splendor and action as James Cameron once again pushes the boundaries of technology.
Some may cite the story as resembling “Dances with Wolves’; and other films that deal with the exploitation of the native races, but the true magic of the film is that it is not limited to the lavish visuals but is instead powered by the compelling characters.
The 3d fx shine as Cameron has created another world with a thriving ecosystem that is as much a character in the film as the flesh and blood and digital creations that power the story.
The film has good supporting work from Sigourney Weaver, and Michelle Rodriquez as well as the fine ensemble cast. The amazing blend of story, digital splendor, and characters all combine to make “Avatar” a truly amazing visual film with a strong message of love, hope, and unity. James Cameron has once again proved that he is one of the true masters of cinema and has crafted a magical experience that enchants and informs.