I sometimes wondered what my childhood fantasy world would look like if it ever came to life. Avatar has brought it out in full spectrum, from a jungle filled with giant fluorescent plant life to colorful flying dragonesque creatures. What would be the elfin fairytale beings are the giant, catlike, blue Na’vi, an indigenous race in this world called Pandora.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, Terminator: Salvation) plays a wheelchair bound vet brought on to take over his twin brother’s mission: to persuade the Na’vi to evacuate an area rich in a highly profitable mineral. He is initiated into driving his avatar, an alien-human hybrid, through virtual mind and body control. He clumsily stumbles into his virtual form and soon masters it to become one of the Na’vi tribe with the help of Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek), daughter of the head honcho.
The stunning visual scenes during Jake’s metamorphosis into this new life is well worth the 3D experience, although it might be more of an impact if seen in an IMAX theater. As beautiful as it is, with the vibrant colors and fantasy environment, complete with six-legged horse and dog like creatures, it could’ve been written with better dialogue and drama. The 3D experience seemed to clash with 2-dimensional characters such as the over-the-top aggressive Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and corporate head puppet Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi). As an avatar driver herself, Dr. Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) heads the scientific team, and you’re not sure whether or not to sympathize with her cause until the team goes rogue.
The action sequences are epic, its storyline okay, yet Avatar’s overall message is earth-friendly or, in this case, Pandora-friendly. Save the plants, animals, and most of all, the trees – specifically, the largest one on the planet. The Na’vi are drawn to it for spiritual guidance and for its metaphysical properties. When the military finally exercises its power, Pandora’s box is opened and nature unleashes its subdued fury. It gets perplexing at this point since, with all that power, there isn’t an apocalyptic event but more of an organized skirmish.
In any case, this film is a visual feast for the eyes (with 3D glasses), and I will likely see it again. I imagine that awards are forthcoming for this film’s artistic cinematic achievements. Romance in a fantasy jungle as a slick blue cat, with Jake as the warrior who saves the day – even a bad script doesn’t overwhelm that completely. In fact, you may have an urge to grow your hair into a long braid and find a flying dragon to bond with afterwards – unless, of course, you’re sane.