Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Avatar: My Take on a $200M SFR Epic

Yes, you read that right.  Avatar is SFR.

There's been a lot of buzz about the recently released (James Cameron) motion picture that most refer to as a Science Fiction Adventure.  While that may be the case, Avatar is also a spectacular Science Fiction Romance, having all the required elements of speculative science, compelling love story and happy ending for the two MCs.  Here's a brief review of Avatar from a SFR fanatic.

Science:  ***** Five stars for imaginative and visually stunning science, from hypersleep transport to futuristic military logistics to indiginous emersion.  Breathtaking imagery.

Fiction:  **** Four stars.  Set on an alien "planet" (actually a moon orbiting a decidedly Jupiter-like blue gas giant), the inhabitants thrived in an environment that is non-conducive to human life.  While the fiction setting was stunning and the cinematography and/or graphics was gorgeous, some of the elements were borrowed or a melting pot of SF ideas.

Romance: **** Four stars.  A compelling romance with strong conflict and a hero that overcomes a seemingly impossible situation.

Setting: *****  Five stars.  A living world, Pandora, with its lush green jungle by day and phosphorescent paradise by night, is inhabited by strange beasts, both dangerous and docile, that seem to remind us of creatures in our own experience (horse, panther, rhino)--but not quite.  What's not to love?

Plot: ***  Three stars.  I summed it up on another blog as Dances With Wolves meets Star Wars.  The story was a little weak and predictable, but with the sensory stimuli, visual wisardry and moral message bombardment, a complex plot would probably have put me into overload.

Characters: ****  Four stars.  The villain was a bit too cast in the Snidely Whiplash mode, but I did enjoy Trudy Chacon (Michelle Rodriquez) who played a gutsy pilot who respected the environment of Pandora and was ultimately placed in a situation of choosing between duty and personal belief.  The early antagonism between Sigourney Weaver's intellectual scientist and wheelchair bound ex-marine Jake Sully was worth more than a few chuckles.

Resolution: ***  Three stars.  I always enjoy a satisfying ending, but this one left a little to be desired in the wrap-up.  The open-ended question?  What would eventually become of this world, the MCs and the inhabitants, since the conflict of indiginous culture vs. priceless resource remained for a whole new set of characters to grapple with.  Or maybe that was the whole point--a sequel.

Overall rating:  **** A MUST SEE solid four stars.  As long as you aren't expecting pure perfection, this film will entertain, delight, make you angry and make you cheer.  Several members of the audience offered enthusiastic applause after the film ended.  I haven't experienced that since long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away when Star Wars VI wrapped the first trilogy.


  1. Laurie, James Cameron is already talking sequels (yes not one but two).

    Beware the link below contains spoilers.

    Some of the talk I am hearing is that people (mostly women) that haven't liked Science Fiction before, do like "Avatar," and I have to believe this is a very good thing.

    Thanks for your review.


  2. Hi Elorie. Thanks for stopping by to leave a comment.

    I guess I'm not surprised that talk of sequel(s) is already in the works. I'll have to go check out that link.

  3. I really want to go see it but now the rest of the family are shuffling thier feet. Hopefully I'll change their minds this week
    Did you see the 3d version, laurie?

  4. Barbara, I accidently saw it in non-3D the first time, so went back and saw it in 3D last night. Don't miss the 3D version! Although it's completely amazing in "standard" format, the 3D experience pops off the screen and takes the visuals to a whole new level. Spectacular doesn't even begin to describe it.

    And this time the entire audience clapped and cheered at the conclusion. This is the first movie I've seen in a long time that was well worth the ticket price. In fact, in my case anyway, it was well worth double the ticket price.

  5. Well, I went to see it in 3d last night - oh dear oh dear. Yes, it was a reelly entertaining film but it made me so ill. Within the first few minutes I felt sick. I tried to just listen for a while and then watche again - no luck. So I took the glasses off and watched it without. A bit better but I felt terrible. Husband was fine so it was just me. I had a look on the internet afterwards and there were suggestions of motion sickness etc for some people. Guess I am one of the some. I don't know if it was the 3d bit, the actual cinema or what but I suffered for the whole of the film. Husband said I should have told me but it was good and I knew he was enjoying it. I sooo wich i could have watched it properly because the effects were amazing. It took a seven mile car journey and a sleep for me to feel okay again. IMAX does that to me too so I think I'll give the cinema a miss from now on.


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