To use a sports analogy there are two ways of over-hyping something: the LeBron James route or the Michael Vick route.
There hasn’t been a more hyped up movie all year. This was billed as a game changer, as the future of cinema, and the biggest gamble of the year. That last part is certainly true, as the film cost somewhere in the neighborhood of 300 million dollars.
Obviously when something is given this much hype, critics and net nerds look at every frame and immediately declare that the film is overrated and will fail. They prefer to do this because it is easier to take the cynical approach than to believe that a movie is really that extraordinary.
This could not ring more true in the case of “Avatar,” the latest film by James Cameron who gave us the classics “Aliens”, “Terminators 1 &2″, and the highest grossing movie of all time “Titanic.”
This movie has been called “Dances with Smurfs” by “South Park”, and an epic fail on a ton of message boards upon seeing just sixteen minutes of footage in theaters and at ComicCon months before its release. I am happy to report that not only was I absolutely stunned by this film but I feel it totally went the LeBron route and matched its level of hype.
In case you don’t get the “Dances with Smurfs” joke, it makes fun of the film’s plot, which is that Private Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington (“Terminator: Salvation”, the upcoming “Clash of the Titans remake”), goes to the moon Pandora to take part in the Avatar program in place of his dead brother. Pandora is coveted by humans because of its rich deposits of the element Unobtanium (yes, pun intended).
The richest area of Unobtanium lies under the tree village of the native Na’vi who do not wish to leave their home just so the humans (or skypeople as they are called) can bulldoze their land. Sully is asked by Col. Miles Quartich, played by Stephen Lang (“Public Enemies”) to use his avatar to infiltrate the Na’vi, learn their culture and ultimately get them to leave. Sully agrees because he is offered a chance to walk again.
Upon agreeing to this, he meets Neytiri played by Zoe Saldana (“Star Trek”) the daughter of the tribal leader and she teaches him the Na’vi way. In case this sounds familiar, it’s kind of like “Dances with Wolves,” except that it’s far more enjoyable and does not have Kevin Costner, which is a huge plus.
The reason this movie is billed as a game changer is the new 3D technology that is implemented and the performance capture used for the Avatars and the Na’vi. The visuals in this film are absolutely breathtaking; this is the first time I’ve seen an alien world developed with this much detail. The wildlife and plant life are unique and incredibly colorful, and the sequences at night will make you wish to live there instead of Earth. This was the first time in a long time I’ve been this dazzled by the visuals in a movie. If you see this, I implore you to see it in 3D and you’ll agree that James Cameron, who spent $14 million developing the software, outdid himself. His technologies have always been innovative, whether it was the underwater cameras from “The Abyss”, the liquid metal of the T-1000 from “Terminator 2″, or the Titanic in “Titanic,” Cameron never fails to deliver jaw-dropping visuals.
The story is not totally unique, but it is well done despite some moments of cheesy dialogue. Also, it’s nominated for six Golden Globes including Best Picture and is poised to become a contender at the Oscars as well.
If this is not the type of film for you, then by all means check out the romantic comedy “Did You Hear About the Morgans?” Check local showtimes.
Thank you for reading and stay tuned as I attempt to unlock the mystery of “Sherlock Holmes.”