Are you ready to go back to James Cameron?

Are you ready to go back to James Cameron? December 18, 2009

My review of Avatar is published at Image journal.

In a few days, I’ll post an expanded version of the review.

I also recommend Steven Greydanus’s review at Decent Films.


Browse Our Archives

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment

4 responses to “Are you ready to go back to James Cameron?”

  1. Someone asked me why the movie is called Avatar (besides the obvious). Something about hindu gods? Something about virtual reality? That question made me realize how it is really The Stories of Stories shining through. An indigenous people in a paradise-like creation are prone to venerate plants and animals. Other-worldy powers battle over their lives propelled by greed and violence. A savior is needed who is other-worldly but takes on a this-worldly life (the avatar). And only one power brings victory and peace: love. Now revisit some of the details in the story. Dragons? Praying in a garden just before the final act? The crippled walk? Call it far-fetched, argue it wasn’t intentional, but after a second screening the story at least appears rich enough to allow for such a Christian interpretation…

  2. Saw Avatar this weekend in IMAX 3D and found it to be an awesome piece of entertainment. As you said, the visuals are astonishing and I thought Pandora was beautifully realized and well thought-out. The story is derivative, yes, but it’s derivative not just of other movies but of human history, so it didn’t hurt my enjoyment of the movie. I found the best sequences were not the 40 minutes of war at the end but the quiet interludes between Jake and Neyteri on Pandora, particularly at night.

    And while Avatar is supreme entertainment, at the end of the day it simply left me as just entertainment. It’s fun. It’s exciting. It’s awesome. But it’s not deep and the characters don’t really resonate or stick with you (part of that may be Cameron’s trademark lame and cliche dialogue…I am sick of characters in wheelchairs saying “I’m sick of doctors telling me what I can’t do.”) And while it has more intelligence and heart than a Michael Bay movie (although I once made a video of my dog rolling around in the grass that probably has more intelligence and heart than a Michael Bay movie), it’s not necessarilly deep or profound or new–although I’d be willing to be Cameron wanted it that way so as not to alienate audiences.

    The effects are definitely groundbreaking and it’s the best use of 3D and motion capture that I’ve seen. Oddly enough, though, I still think the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy has the best overall use of special effects I’ve seen…there’s something about the tacticle nature of using models, puppets, costumes, real settings AND CGI in that movie that makes it much more immersive and impressive. But I will admit that I gasped when I saw the Sigourney Weaver Avatar…it was uncanny how accurate it was.

  3. Excellent review, Jeffrey. So’s Steven’s. (SIGH) Avatar is just as I thought it would be, I guess. Just another Cameron movie; all his pluses & minuses in tact. Can it be said that he’s grown as a filmmaker since Terminator? That film had characters we can remember & that were meaningful, at least within the film’s genre if not in all cinema. But Titanic didn’t achieve much (for me, anyway) beyond diversion. Until I read Steven’s review this morning, I didn’t really realize the sinking ship stood for Rose’s emancipation from a life she didn’t want to live. Frankly, the film didn’t make me care about that. I think it wanted me to care about spectacle at the expense of character. So, too, goes Avatar. (SIGH) It could have been so very much more.

    Oh, well . . . at least I have John Carter of Mars to look forward to in a couple years! I’m sure Mr Stanton will imbue heart & soul into that film where Cameron can only bring sermonizing & finger-wagging. I’m going to see Avatar, probably in IMAX, & I’m sure I’ll enjoy it for the popcorn-driven movie it is. But I’ll be wishing it were what it could have been. I know Stanton will pick up Cameron’s fumble & take it to the end zone. (Sorry, I’m still jazzed about the Colts win last night. LOL.) Here’s the the changing of the cinematic guard.