Movie Review – Avatar

If you haven’t heard of the hype around the latest James Cameron flick, Avatar – you must be living in a cave and cut off from the world and media. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to about this film has either seen it, watched it more than once or really wants to go see it. Although it seems that movie tickets are hard to get still.

Much hype about this movie is the known fact that James Cameron had wanted to make this movie 2 years after Titanic. Because the technology was not up to his standards at that time, he has put off the project. It took him 15 years and invention of a new filming technology, but his dreams came true when the movie opened on December 17th, 2009 worldwide.

I believe that once should NOT read the synopsis of the movie beforehand. You should just go watch the show and it should be able to tell the story to you. I believe this way, you also won’t have any expectations on the movie, enjoy it to the fullest and make your own judgement if the movie was any good.

However, due to all the media and publicity frenzy surrounding this movie, it’s hard to avoid. I have only probably glimpsed on the trailer once. The only thing I know about this movie before watching it is the story behind James Cameron’s efforts into making this movie. And that there are blue aliens in it. I thought it was one of those fantasy flicks, to be honest.

Which was good because I was almost a clean slate entering the cinema with m 3D glasses in hand.

Without spoiling the plot to those of you who have not seen the movie, the storyline is essentially nothing spectacular. It’s a story set in 2154, of an ex-army man stepping into a government project to “drive” an Avatar, which is a genetically engineered species of human cum Na’vi (the planet’s inhabitants) to interact with the local natives. The rest of the plot is basically a cross of Pocahontas and Dances with Wolves. He got to learn about the locals, fell in love with a Na’vi and ends up saving the locals against the humans. That sort of thing.

What’s most amazing about this movie is the visual effects. I remember walking out of the cinema and asking my husband, “Were some of those scenes shot with make-up and prosthetics? Because the facial expressions were so realistic.” He chuckled and told me about the clip he saw on the making of the film on TV a few days ago. About this new technology that James Cameron used by sticking up electrodes on the actors’ body and face and filming them acting the scenes. The effects guys captured all these and translated them into CG graphics and animations. Everything on the planet with the Na’vi is produced by CG graphics. Only 30% of the movie, where the actors were human in the lab and stuff were real.

I was in absolute awe. The animation truly look so realistic that I thought it was make-up at some point.

The planet of Pandora is beautiful. Absolutely stunning. The cinematography, the effects, the creation of the Na’vi language (that James Cameron worked with a Professor in Linguistic), the creatures of Pandora – everything was just so thoroughly planned.

The movie costs USD$300 million to produce, $150 million to market and an extra $50 million for miscellaneous. I like that $50 million for miscellaneous – like it’s lose change! In summary a movie that costs USD$500 million made USD$77 million in US alone on the opening weekend. That is nowhere near the cost of the film, of course.

I remember reading Perez Hilton stating that the movie was an expensive flop! I so strongly disagree with his statement because I think the movie did awesome. He justified it by stating that New Moon (yeah, that stupid teeny bopper vampire movie) made USD$72.7 million on the FIRST DAY of release. I would believe that since the teenagers are probably watching New Moon again and again just to drool at Robert Pattinson or whatever his name is.

Avatar didn’t do too bad worldwide though, raking in a whopping USD$232 million on opening weekend, the ninth largest opening weekend gross of all time, and the largest non-franchise, non-sequel and original film. That is not disappointing at all. It’s been more than a week now that the movie is up and I am still hearing friends tell me that it’s not easy getting tickets for the movie. So I am guessing they’re still bringing in the dough.

UPDATE : Mashable reported that Avatar made USD$ 1.02 billion in 3 weeks since opening. Amaze-balls!

Because so many of my friends have watched it more than once (including myself who’s planning to watch it again tomorrow), I am quite confident Avatar will make a great mark in cinematic history. For a 2 hours and 41 minutes long movie, it is awesome and worth every second and penny spent. We shall see when the movie is off the screens, how much it actually raked in.

Check out the new extended trailer on HD here from YouTube >>

Also, hop on over for great podcast reviews from my dear friends, here.

In conclusion, is Avatar the movie of 2009? I think it’s a very close fight. Forget about the Transformers, Terminator, etc. I think District 9 was a great movie. Especially with such a small budget. But Avatar can definitely be a clear contender here. If you have seen it, what do you think?

PS. Apparently, there could be an extended version of the movie (like 2 hours 41 mins is not long enough, right?) or a Director’s Cut of the movie where they might actually show the “mating scene”. What I want to know if how they mated. Shouldn’t they just joined their ponytails?

PPS. Everyone was so amazed by this new filming technology that James Cameron has created that people are already talking about which next movie will be using this new technology. Then, there is this rumour that there’s a talk about doing the next sequel of Jackass with this new technology. Yeah… like we wanna see Steve-O’s balls in 3D coming right at your face!

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