Avatar Movie Review
An exotic exultation of existential exaltation…
Avatar is a multi-layered, memorable, matchless and magnificent movie made on a mammoth scale. The film is conceived splendidly, crafted with pearly splendour and executed on a colossal canvas. It is a folk tale with sci-fi dimensions and takes place in the future.
Avatar explores the relationship between man and nature, man and machine, man and society, man and woman and finally man and man when each of them belongs to different race and colour.
The time-frame of the story is 2154 AD. Humans from planet Earth make a settlement on planet Pandora and indulge in mining operations and exploiting the natural resources.
Planet Pandora exists in a different galaxy, the Alpha Centauri-A, and has no oxygen and so the Humans stay in oxygen filled cocoon shells. The natives of Pandora belong to the tribe of Na’vi and the people have blue coloured skin.Their faith is that every living creation, including flora and fauna, is
connected and Nature has its own unique system of restoring balance, something akin to “Dharmo Rakshathi Rakshithaha”.
The center of life on Pandora is a Holy Tree which is the storehouse of Na’vi tribal memories and the wisdom of their ancestors. Since the humans want to destroy the place where the Holy Tree stands, the Na’vi object to the exploitation of Nature and so the mining operations by humans of Earth on Pondora are not a smooth affair.
Interestingly, the Na’vi call humans as “Aliens” and the humans refer to them as “hostiles” and “blue monkeys”.
Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) spearheads the war against the Na’vi through fortified armoured vehicles and heli-fortresses. The war also
employs remotely controlled humanoid robots or Avatars. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a disabled ex-Marine, volunteers to become an Avatar. He has a friend in fellow Avatar Grace (Sigourney Weaver) who is a scientist and strives for peaceful co-existence of Humans and the Na’vi.
Jake the Avatar freely wanders around planet Pandora and Col. Miles uses him as a spy . He meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who teaches him the native language and the rules of living in harmony with Nature. He even falls in love with her. Once Jake comprehends the Na’vi way of life, he fights the human exploiters and saves the planet Pandora.
Sam Worthington is brilliant as the Avatar. Stephen Lang is evil personified. Sigourney Weaver appears like the true avatar of a pacifist scientist. Zoe Saldana is lovable, wise and ebullient. Michelle Rodriguez and Giovanni Ribisi are adorable. Joel David Moore and CCH Pounder are convincing. Wes Studi and Laz Alonso are more than adequate. All others fit their roles and perform well.
James Cameron filmed Avatar in photo-realistic, “stereoscopic 3D,” which mixed live-action and CGI imagery in a seamless blend.
Avatar is 60% CGI imagery, with a majority of the CG character animation
filmed with revolutionary new motion-capture techniques using live actors. The other 40% of film is live-action imagery, with more traditional visual F/X. The live action sequences were shot using the same Fusion 3-D camera system that Cameron pioneered to shoot his IMAX feature Ghost of the Abyss.
To bring the CG characters to life in the most realistic sense, Cameron has redefined the way motion capture or “performance capture” sequences are filmed. The actors wore special bodysuits and head rigs equipped with a standard definition camera that takes constant images of their faces. That data is then transmitted to another camera creating a real-time image of the live actor “wearing” their CGI costume.
Cameron employed “Facial Performance Replacement” (FPR) which allows the director to digitally re-work an actor’s facial movements. Lines of dialogue that get changed after principal photography on a scene can still be seamlessly implemented into the finished scene, without the actors having to re-don their body suits and head rigs for another take.
To further blur the line between live-action imagery and CGI imagery, Camaron has come up with a revolutionary new camera called “Simulcam” to superimpose CGI images, over live images being filmed in real-time.
The world of cinema has so far not seen a technically brilliant film like Avatar.
Avatar is not just a movie, it is a cinematic epic. It is an enthralling viewing experience. Do not miss to see it, for Nature’s sake. See it preferably in 3D,
though the 2D version is equally breathtaking.
The Cast and Crew
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, Laz Alonso and others
Executive producers: Colin Wilson, Laeta Kalogridis
Director of photography: Mauro Fiore
Production designers: Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg
Music: James Horner
Senior visual effects supervisor: Joe Letteri
Costume designers: Mayes C. Rubeo, Deborah L. Scott
Editors: Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua, James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron. Jon Landau
Production companies: 20th Century Fox in association with Dune Entertainment and Ingenious Film Partners
Director/screenwriter: James Cameron
5 out of 5
Review by Deen Kumar