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James Cameron’s Avatar

Avatar Poster, courtesy of Wikipedia
Avatar Poster, courtesy of Wikipedia

This is the movie I’ve been waiting since the first time I heard about it. And this is the very movie I actually had a real expectation of the entertainment experience. Why? I have at least six reasons:

  1. It is created by James Cameron—a truck driver who became a movie maker after watching George Lucas’ Star Wars.
  2. It takes 15 years for James Cameron to make and release the movie from the moment he wrote the script.
  3. US$ 237 387 million was spent to make and market, which makes it one of the most expensive movie ever made.
  4. It’s the first James Cameron’s movie in 12 years, the last being Titanic—which currently holds the all-time worldwide box office record making more than US$1.8 billion and won 11 Oscars including best picture and best director.
  5. The release was intentionally delayed to allow the movie-making technology to evolve good enough to satisfy James Cameron’s expectation and to give more time for theaters to install 3D screens.
  6. The movie was made in collaboration with Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital and George Lucas’ Industrial Light & Magic. So if you think The Lords of the Rings, Star Wars, or Transformers are visually stunning, you have to think twice after watching Avatar.

So last night, I watched the movie—which I had bought the ticket a week earlier—at the premiere show to see whether it can live up to my expectations.

Since Avatar was created specially in 3D, I decided to watch the 3D version. Here in Singapore, although you can find 3D theaters easily, unfortunately there are no decent 3D theaters, despite the higher ticket price. Golden Village 3D theaters are so small. The Cathay 3D cinemas look bigger but unfortunately there are no suitable show times for me. So I chose the Shaw cinema that offered a big screen and well-timed. The Shaw’s cinema also has the supposedly more advanced 3D technology from RealD. When I got there, however, I was disappointed. The building looked very old. The acoustic wasn’t so nice. The seating arrangement was not ideal since the elevation between rows was too subtle. Well, I still hoped the movie wouldn’t disappoint like the theater did.

So this is my verdict on Avatar:

  1. Story

    Actually, this is the one single element that I didn’t have high expectation on. Well, Avatar was written by James Cameron, not Dan Brown or J.K. Rowling. Its story was not taken from a best-selling novel. So I was ready for a Transformers-class story.

    It’s quite surprising though, the story was quite deep. Cameron managed to create the beautiful planet, Pandora, complete with detail pictures of the inhabitants and the environment. Cameron even went as far as The Lord of the Rings and Star Trek, with the help of Paul Frommer, creating a whole new language and culture for the Na’vi, the native race inhabiting Pandora. Did I mention that the language comes with a unique accent, too? Soon this language may be as popular as The Lord of the Rings’ Elven language or Star Trek’s Klingon. It seems that Cameron is ready for Avatar’s sequels or even saga.

    Still, the story was lacking of unpredictable plots and twists.

    Score: 7

  2. Cast

    Sigourney Weaver again joins Cameron’s crew after Aliens in 1986. Rising star, Sam Worthington, plays the lead role. Zoë Saldaña also plays a central character as a Na’vi. You will find Michelle Rodriguez a familiar face if you often watch action movies.

    The cast is okay, but nothing spectacular. I personally think Zoë Saldaña deserves a special attention. Despite the fact that we won’t get the chance to see her real face—since only the computer-generated images of her will be displayed—but the expressiveness of her character and voice in the movie are dominating.

    Score: 7

  3. Sound and Music

    James Horner is together again with Cameron after his Oscar-winning work in Titanic. The music scores sound natural and blend well with the Na’vi culture. I also enjoyed the theme song, “I See You”, which is performed by Leona Lewis.

    The sound effects and mixing were not disappointing. It’s so unfortunate that the cinema where I watched the movie, the sound system was below average. It’s ironic considering with only 1/3 of the ticket price, Indonesia’s theaters can provide a decent and even THX-certified sound.

    Score: 8

  4. Visual Effect

    Two words: amazingly stunning.

    Seriously, this movie makes even Transformers like child’s play. The rendition of the planet, animals, inhabitants are so realistic, and you get to see them in the 3D goodness. Each element is beautifully designed and drawn. The mixing between the live-action actors and computer-generated elements are blended seamlessly. Although I don’t really like the form and visualization of the Na’vi, but I have to admit how realistic they are. Don’t just take what I say, go see it for yourself. Or just check the HD trailer.

    Score: 10

In conclusion, I highly recommend this movie to every movie lovers. This James Cameron’s piece may change the future of movies.