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Avatar a wonderful ride through an alien world

Being privileged enough in a small town to see the new film Avatar on its opening weekend at our hometown theatre, the Gem, I couldn’t resist writing a review of this amazing film. What is most impressive is the use of new technology that allows director James Cameron to seamlessly move from real-life filming to animation. While the Gem didn’t have the 3D equipment for viewing the film in the intended format, even the 2D version is a wonder to watch.

Cameron created a whole world in the film – a world with jungles, unusual creatures, and diverse plant and insect species. The only time you feel you might be on a movie lot is in the humans’ zone where they have built a base for their mining production. While the plot is a typical good vs. evil storyline with romance included, Cameron made the story intriguing, and the world you explore through the eyes of the avatar keeps you fully engaged throughout the two-and-a-half hours.

Avatar is a 2009 American-British epic 3-D science fiction film written and directed by Cameron, starring Sam Worthington, Zoë Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. The film begins in 2148 and focuses on an epic conflict on Pandora, an inhabited Earth-sized moon of Polyphemus, one of three fictional gas giants orbiting Alpha Centauri A. On Pandora, human colonists and the sapient humanoid indigenous inhabitants of Pandora, the Na'vi, engage in a war over the planet's resources and the latter's continued existence. The film's title refers to the remotely controlled, genetically engineered human-Na'vi bodies used by the film's human characters to interact with the natives. (Wikipedia)

James obviously modeled the storyline on real-world events. The mining corporation is intent on accessing resources but is being blocked by the indigenous people. This mimics situations that arise in third world countries today where corporations intent on expanding their bottom line, as the head of the army contingent in the movie says, “if there’s one thing shareholders hate worse than bad press, it’s a bad quarterly report,” try diplomacy to talk indigenous people out of their assets, and then act with force if the diplomacy doesn’t work. The not so subtle comments by army folk in the movie referring to the indigenous people as “terrorists” and the mission they are about to engage in as a “shock and awe” campaign are jabs that are not missed by most.

But the not to miss part of this film is beyond a doubt the technology. The creation of an entire world that is hard to distinguish as animation is unbelievable. The only thing better than seeing this film would be to see it in 3D where the plants that light up when you touch them, or the foliage of the jungle would enclose you in a way that you can’t see in 2D. The Na’vi themselves have humanoid characteristics and they could easily be people in costume the way that the animation is done. Muscles move, eyes show intelligence, and it is easy to believe they are real. If you are hesitating – go, if only to see the wonderful world Cameron created. The film is an enjoyable ride in another world.

Avatar had been in development since 1994 by Cameron, who wrote the 114-page script for the film. Filming was supposed to take place after the completion of Titanic, and the film would have been released in 1999, but, according to Cameron, "technology needed to catch up" with his vision of the film. In early 2006, Cameron developed the final script, the language, and the culture of Pandora. He has stated that if Avatar is successful, two sequels to the film are planned. (Wikipedia)

The film was produced by Lightstorm Entertainment and distributed by 20th Century Fox. It premiered in London on December 10, 2009, and was released in the United Kingdom on December 17, 2009, one day prior to its theatrical release in the United States. (Wikipedia)

The film was released in traditional 2D and 3D formats, along with an IMAX 3D release in selected theaters. Avatar is officially budgeted at $237 million; some estimates put the cost at $280 – $310 million to produce and an estimated $150 million for marketing. The film is being touted as a breakthrough in terms of filmmaking technology, for its development of 3D viewing and stereoscopic filmmaking with cameras that were specially designed for the film's production. (Wikipedia)

Opening to critical acclaim, it grossed an estimated $27 million on its opening day and an estimated $77 million domestically its opening weekend. Worldwide, the film grossed an estimated $232,180,000 its opening weekend, the ninth largest opening-weekend gross of all time, and the largest for a non-franchise, non-sequel and original film. (Wikipedia)