Monday, December 21, 2009

Avatar - The Experience

Finally we have a movie which is able to surpass the pre-release hype that it has created. The pre-release hype was expected. This was the first James Cameron directed film in 12 years. And with his last one being Titanic the expectations were bound to be high. Once the movie opened the reviews were uniformly fabulous. Haven’t actually read a bad review or met anyone who hasn’t been impressed by the film.
I saw it in 3D (my first such experience) and have to say, the reviews were not wrong. They said that you don’t watch Avatar but actually experience it. And the experience was simply mind blowing. You have to see to believe the world that James Cameron has created in Avatar. The film is a sort of mix of “Matrix” with “Lord of the Rings” and then something more.
The story at its heart is simple. Humans have found that a planet called “Pandora” has an energy giving mineral “unobtanium”. To be able to mine it they go ahead and destroy the planet’s residents the Na’vi, a peace loving community who believe that the entire planet with all its life forms is interconnected in a network they call Ey’wa (sounds similar to the Gaia concept of Earth). Humans being humans try to forcefully grab the mineral destroying the homes of Na’vi who then fight back aided in their fight by some humans.
Overall the story is basic and quite predictable but it’s the presentation and the packaging which is awesome. The seemingly magical world of Pandora comes alive from the director’s imagination. And that’s the highlight of the film. However the story also touches just the right emotions.
The humans’ assault on Pandora has a real parallel with the US invasion of Iraq & Afghanistan. One of the characters actually uses the term “Shock and Awe”. Also shows that human greed is the biggest threat to any eco-system (parallel with the Copenhagen Climate Summit).
The aliens are shown to be different from humans but in a beautiful way unlike most film depictions which are disgusting (e.g. District 9). And for a change the audience actually has its sympathies for the aliens rather than humans in this war. Actually in Avatar it’s the humans who are the aliens to Pandora.
And finally for the film’s presentation which is the real highlight. The world of Pandora comes alive with its people, plants & animals. Avatar uses technology unlike any seen before. The use of CGI & live action gets so merged that after some time you forget which one you have watched. And backing up all this wizardry is a simple emotional story.
Overall, I’ll say it again. Avatar is not meant to be watched, it’s meant to be experienced.

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