A Short Treatise on James Cameron’s newest film
-By contributing writer Eric Brooks-
James Cameron’s new film Avatar is largely about trees. Lots of trees. Big trees. Really, really big trees. Trees that house lots of large blue people living in them. Trees that have little glowing hairs that can move one’s brain data like a USB cable between computers. The film is fundamentally about the these trees and the beings, called Na’vi, that live in and around them. It is a story about the local Davids having to fight off invading Goliaths only interested in a mineral the locals do not even know about. Avatar is probably unpopular among the mining set and empire builders. It is a story that, while generally well told, is pretty familiar. It is Ferngully in space, Dances with Wolves in a rain forest, Pocahontas with a 10 foot blue heroine. Sam Worthington as Sully, the marine turned Na’vi warrior, is quite credible as is Zoe Saldana as the big blue heroine. Sigourney Weaver turns in her usual excellent performance as the scientist fighting the military/industrial complex. Stephen Lang is a bad as can be as the hardcore marine commander sowing destruction wherever he goes. Joel Moore (Fisher of Bones fame) gives a good showing as the science tech and advisor to Sully.
Neither the plot nor the cast is the real star of Avatar however. This film goes from good to simply unbelievable on its effects and visuals. James Cameron redefined the state of the art in moviemaking in this film. The effects are so good, the real and the digital cannot be distinguished. None of the creatures or aliens looks at all fake or created. Cameron generate some of the most amazing landscapes this writer has ever seen (flying mountains? Seriously?). Cameron also redefines color in this film using more than this writer has ever seen. Everything glows, luminesces, or fluoresces in some way. Crayola must be extremely envious. Cameron also takes 3D to a whole new level. There were times I actually got vertigo as Sully and his companions ran through trees, along cliffs, and between flying mountains. I have always been a huge fan of The Wizard of Oz. It was a watershed film in that it truly established the power of color in film. I now feel that I have some idea what people felt in 1939 when Dorothy exited her house into Munchkinland. Avatar is in many ways Oz for the new millennium. It sets a new standard for amazement by a film. Take the journey to Pandora and lose yourself in its jaw dropping scenery for a few hours!