Sunday, December 20, 2009



Avatar is Pocahontas painted blue and made incredibly tall plus The Lost World set on a different plane (or is that a moon?) rolled into a three-hour film, with a little added spice of violence from your favorite war movie. After seeing it in 3D and getting mesmerized with the special effects, who would really care about Pocahontas or Steven Spielberg's dinosaurs?

More than anything else, what is really amazing about this movie is the world that the director has created for it. The landscape is breathtaking. The flora is an exaggeration of what we have here on Earth. The fauna borrowed a lot from Jurassic Park. What makes them unique though, is the fluorescence of it all. It might be just a tad too exaggerated for the human perception, but man, do they not know how to glow! This gives the audience a unique visual spectacle of colors and lights guaranteed to either pique their interest or annoy them to death. Nonetheless, it certainly catches one's attention and I think that is the whole point.

So Neytiri is Zoe Saldana all along. I thought she was Penélope Cruz in fluorescent blue, must be the way the character speaks English. It is cool how a new language got invented for this movie. So Tolkien. It also presents an interesting view on how extraterrestrials communicate, or how we think they communicate. Do they really speak? For all we know they could be telepathic. What if they do not have mouths? I guess it is hard for us to fathom anything beyond the reaches of our imagination, hence we pattern everything unknown after us, based on our collective experience as a race.

This is just another war movie but I think it offers a rather accurate summary of the history of human civilization. It is a film about the imposition of one group's standards upon another for the sole benefit of the former. Perhaps Cameron just did not want to remake Gibson's Apocalypto into a war movie. One needs not an alien civilization to tackle the issues of invasion or our illusions of being a superior race. The Navi could have easily been Filipinos or Mayans and the humans, Spanish conquistadores. But then again, who would want to watch that, huh? Cameron just knows how the movie industry works and thus, adapted his otherwise cliché storyline into something that could and would strike Box Office gold. What can I say, the man is a genius, both from a creative and capitalist point of view.

What makes the movie different from other war movies though, is that it almost blends science well into the picture. If this were a Filipino soap opera, I bet Darna or Bro would save the day. Here, a deux ex machina is definitely present but they try to justify its presence not by mere faith alone but by blasting you with scientific mumbo jumbo such as electro-biochemical roots of trees, which work like synapses similar to those found in neurons, where they could download memories, and other complicated jargon lumped together, the meaning of which you would rather not exert the effort to ask for because you entered the movie house after all to enjoy yourself and not to review nerdy stuff you used to know in high school. So spare me the headache I would have to incur just to understand what that one-liner just meant. To cut the story short, this causes you to shut up and just welcome the deux ex machina as warmly as you can. And be contented that at least, it is neither destiny nor fate that blatantly saves the day this time. Or so you thought.

I just hate the colonel and that capitalist guy played by Giovanni Ribisi. But I hate the colonel more. Sigourney Weaver is funny in a handful of scenes. It is also nice seeing Michelle Rodriguez in the movie, all the time with those aviator shades that make her look cool. But I still do not buy how her character manages to slip through all those obstacles just to show us that she has had a change of heart, one of the many questionable plot holes. You will encounter many but do not stress, just enjoy the show.

Over all, I think this is just a perfect follow-up movie for James Cameron who, after doing Titanic in '97, decided to wait for more than a decade to release yet another masterpiece. Avatar is not a perfect movie but it has all the elements needed for a smash box office hit. And it is an honest reflection of human history and civilization too, which comes as a bonus for moviegoers who see beyond special effects. Vampires and Werewolves beware, the Navi might just steal your thunder (which I think Sandra Bullock's The Blind Side already did) before 2009 ends.

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