Esteban Gonzalez’s review published on Letterboxd:
¨They`ve sent us a message...that they can take whatever they want. Well we will send them a message. That this...this is our land¨
James Cameron`s Avatar is a film that took 15 years in the making. It was a project that was really close to Cameron and he waited for the right time to be able to release this movie. He payed close attention to every detail and perfected the way we see movies in 3D. The effort was not cheap as this film is reported to be the most expensive movie ever made. Avatar will mark a before and after in film history for special effects and 3D. All the critics agree that this film is visually stunning and there is no doubt it will win several awards for special effects and art direction. I don´t think it will win as much awards as Titanic (Cameron´s last film) did or even match it´s record breaking box office, but it will be remembered for all the technical and visual breakthroughs. One thing is for sure, it will not win any acting awards. James Cameron has proved in Hollywood that he is a great director and that he is on par with Spielberg when it comes to special effects. He has directed several blockbuster movies such as Aliens, Terminator, Titanic, and now Avatar is becoming a hit worldwide. Visually speaking this movie deserves ten stars, but the story is not up to par with the visuals. Moviegoers who enjoy great special effects and visuals will be blown away by this movie, but fans who enjoy good storytelling and writing will leave unimpressed by Cameron`s effort. I am more into the storytelling so for me this movie dragged for long periods of times and the plot was very predictable. I felt like I was at an art museum looking at all these famous masterpieces, but I wasn´t entertained throughout the two and a half hours. I felt good about the visuals and they were truely remarcable, but I didn´t walk out of the theater impressed. I remember when Speilberg´s Jurrasic Park came out and that experience was much more breathtaking than this one. I guess I wasn´t blown away by Avatar and I would find it dificult to sit through two and a half hours to watch this movie again.
As far as the story goes, Avatar takes place in the future (2154 to be exact) in a planet named Pandora. Pandora has a rich and extensive fauna and the natives that inhabit it (known as the Na`vis) are very connected to this nature and even worship the mother tree as their god. Humans have set a military base in the planet because it is rich in a new type of mineral or chemical element, a grey rock which happens to sell for 200 million a kilo. This mineral happens to be under the surface where the Na`vis live so a group of scientists have tried to fit in with the natives by creating avatars which are alien bodies controlled through human minds (an approach we have seen before similar to The Matrix or Surrogates). These avatars are controlled by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver who has already worked with Cameron in Aliens), Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, the Australian actor who starred in this year`s Terminator film), and Norm Spellman (Joel Moore who is known for his comedic role in Dodgeball). Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex marine, is accepted by the tribe and begins to learn from their culture thanks in most part to the beautiful Neytiri (Zoe Saldana who had a role in this year´s Star Trek) the tribe chief`s daughter who teaches him how to connect with the environment and all he needs to know in order to survive in the jungle`s of Pandora. Jake begins to have mixed feelings towards the natives and towards his commanders, Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang, Public Enemies) who has promised to give him the money for the spinal surgery for the exchange of information, and Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) the greedy corporate boss in charge of the mission. From this point on one cannot help but compare the plot to Pocahontas. It is just an alien version of the New World. Avatar becomes very predictable and we know what is going to happen, but fans are not into this for the plot, the audience is here for the visual spectacle.
The film might be disapointing plotwise, but the special effects make up for it. As I said before, those film buffs that are into movies for the storytelling will probably be a little unhappy with Avatar like I was, but those who are into the visuals and special effects will leave this film with a huge smile on their faces. There is no doubt James Cameron has spent the money wisely and created an entire new world with a beautiful scenary and some cool creatures. The first hour and a half dragged a little, but once we get to the last hour with the battle scenes the movie really picks up. The final battle is one of the greatest action sequences in film on par with the Star Wars saga, or The Lord of The Ring franchise, or even the Matrix trilogy. However, Avatar took a little too long to get to this point as it had to introduce us to this new planet. Don`t get me wrong, Avatar is a good movie, but I think there are other films that are much better than this one to be considered in my top 10 list of 2009. I was a little dissapointed because all of the hype this movie was receiving.