Avatar ★★★

Before I start this review, I need to say this regarding Avatar. This is my first time watching this movie. It may sound surprising, but this is the first time I've watched Avatar. I never saw it in theaters back in 2009, I never got it on DVD/Bluray, and I didn't see the film when it was re-released in theaters a couple of months ago. It's safe to say that I have pretty much no attachment to Avatar. I was aware of the film's status as the highest-grossing movie of all time at the box office and how revolutionary it was when it came to its visuals and use of 3D, but I was also aware of a lot of the criticisms surrounding the film. Mainly how the story was a ripoff of other movies like Pocahontas or Ferngully: The Last Rainforest. For years, I just never cared enough to give the film a watch, and constantly hearing about the film's lackluster story, didn't motivate me to sit through it. Now, with my interest in film growing and the sequel finally hitting theaters this holiday season, I knew I had to watch this film. Speaking of which, I will see Avatar: The Way of Water at some point, but it probably won't be for a couple of days. Anyway, I tried to set aside everything that I'd heard about this movie and just tried to go into it with an open mind hoping that I would enjoy it in the way that so many other people do.

So, now that I finally watched it, what do I think of James Cameron's 2009 science fiction epic Avatar? Honestly, it's just ok. Yeah, I'm sure that my rating will disappoint some people, but for me, I just couldn't get into this movie all that much. Before I get into why that is, let me get into what works about this movie because there is a lot to enjoy in here despite some aspects of the movie lacking. First off, the cast is very good. For the most part, the actors do a great job in their roles and with the material that they are given. Sam Worthington is great, Zoe Saldana is wonderful, Stephen Lang is very entertaining, and the rest of the actors like Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, CCH Pounder, Wes Studi, and Laz Alonso all do a solid job in their parts. Second, the film is insanely ambitious. Between James Cameron's directing and the world of Pandora itself, I can't say that this film is unambitious. Cameron not only directs the film well, but he was also able to create a world that is as interesting as it is beautiful to explore. This leads to another great aspect of this film and that is the visuals. As everyone has been saying, Avatar is visually stunning to look at. From the fantastic cinematography, the shots of Pandora that make it look so epic and big, the different creatures that we see in the place, and the worldbuilding, it all looks so gorgeous. I can only imagine how good this film would look on a big 3D screen, but even watching it on a small screen, I could still say that this movie is beautiful to look at. I haven't even mentioned the action scenes, in which they use a lot of effects and CGI, but it all looks great and the action itself is engaging to watch mainly thanks to how visually stunning the film is. The movie is also good when it comes to its musical score, editing, and CGI. Like I said before, the film relies a lot on CGI, but it all looks creative, imaginative, and pretty convincing and since this is a James Cameron film, it's an automatic guarantee that he will try as hard as he can to make what can easily look fake look real. It's a testament to Cameron's strength with visuals and effects, though Avatar is probably his best when it comes to the world that he has created and the imagination that was put into it. However, despite Avatar being amazing when it comes to its cinematography, ambition, worldbuilding, action, effects, and visuals, I can't say the same thing when it comes to its story. You already know what I'm going to say, but sadly Avatar suffers from a story that is both unoriginal and predictable. Thankfully, the visuals and techincal aspects keep the film from being bad, but the lackluster story sticks out like a sore thumb. I'm sorry but it's pretty much a carbon copy of Pocahontas and it even has the same messages as that film amongst many others. Also, even though most of the actors are very good, there is one who I just couldn't stand. That is Giovanni Ribisi who is one of the main villains. No disrespect to him as an actor, but his role in this movie is just so bland and unoriginal. He is just there to be the bad guy who shouldn't mess with nature but does so for money. Yeah, the film establishes that Earth and its resources have been used up and that humans need unobtanium which is on Pandora, but not once did I ever get a feeling that Ribisi's character cared about Earth or the human race. I just got the impression that he was a greedy bad guy who is only doing this for his benefit and no one else's. I need to also say that the film isn't very funny. For me, the attempts at humor just never worked all that well and it doesn't help either that the characters delivering the comedy aren't that good. Rather it is Giovanni Ribisi or even Joel David Moore's character who didn't leave that much of an impression either, the humor they deliver just isn't funny. Speaking of characters, the film is also a mixed bag when it comes to them. Some like Sam Worthington's Jake Sully, Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine, or the characters in the Na'vi tribe like Zoe Saldana's Neytiri are good and the most interesting. It's just the villains and most of the side characters that I could care less about and they don't leave that much of an impact. The movie also suffers from a screenplay and dialogue that I can't exactly call bad, but just like the story, it is pretty standard and nothing all that memorable. Lastly, I was starting to feel the film's length in the last third. Even if I was with the movie for a lot of it and the pacing was pretty solid, I was starting to get tired in the last 40 minutes during the last big action sequence. Maybe it's just me, but that whole sequence felt much longer than it should've been.

Ok, I think I am finished here. So, with all of this being said about Avatar, I think it is safe to say that I am not the biggest fan of the movie. I can't say that I hated it, but I also can't say that I loved it. It sucks because honestly, I wished I could've loved this film and that the visuals/worldbuilding would be so good that I can pretty much forget about the fact that the story is not very original. Sadly, even if the film is a techincal marvel, the problems with the story and some of the other aspects do stand out and it's something that I just can't look past despite how much I would like to. Also, just remember that I never got to experience this film the way that James Cameron intended for us to experience it. I'm sure that if I saw this film in a theater rather it be in 3D or IMAX 3D, my rating would be higher, but because of that as well as having no previous attachment to the film, the problems stick out more and even though this film still looks fantastic on a small screen, I can already tell that it would be 1,000 times better in a movie theater than on a small computer screen. Overall, Avatar is an alright movie that deserves all the praise it gets for its visuals, worldbuilding, and ambition, but doesn't deserve that praise when it comes to its predictable story. I know some people will be disappointed that I didn't love this film, but in the end, this is just how I feel about it and I know I'm not the only one. I'll say that I would still recommend watching this film because the achievements it made with its visuals should not go unseen, but I would probably advise you to watch this film with tempered expectations. Don't go in expecting the greatest thing ever, even if it's coming from a master like James Cameron. Now, I can only hope that things will go up from here with the long-awaited sequel Avatar: The Way of Water. Hopefully, I will see that film on the biggest screen possible in my area, and maybe I will have the experience with that film that so many people had with the first one way back in 2009. I could be wrong, but if there's something that everyone should learn, that is to never underestimate what James Cameron is capable of as a filmmaker because that man has pulled off things that at one point you would consider impossible. Here's hoping he improved with the sequel!

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