Sci-fi Epic “Avatar” Offers a CGI Substitute for Actors
Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades
Not only is filmmaker James Cameron the King of the World (as he declared when accepting his Oscar for “Titanic”), he’s now the King of Other Worlds.
In the case of his latest on-screen magnum opus “Avatar,” he’s king of a world known as Pandora. This is a lush jungle-covered extraterrestrial moon that’s inhabited by fantastical life forms, including an indigenous race known as the Na’vi. Unfortunately, these sentient 10-deet-tall blue humanoids are sitting on valuable minerals (read: the MacGuffin). And earthlings want these minerals.
The sci-fi film “Avatar” is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.
The epic story centers around Jake (Sam Worthington), a marine who has been paralyzed from the waist down. He joins the so-named Avatar program that allows him to inhabit the body of a genetically bred human-Na’vi hybrid, a symbiote that allows him to walk again.
Jake is sent into Pandora’s jungles as an advance scout for the soldiers who will follow. However, as he infiltrates the Na’vi, he finds himself falling in love with a native named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a situation that forces him to choose between the invading earth forces and the unspoiled Na’vi.
Think of it as John Smith and Pocahontas with a different twist. A brilliant sci-fi extravaganza with mind-bending CGI animation that’s blended with live action.
If you thought James Cameron pushed the technical limits of filmmaking in “Terminator 2” or “The Abyss,” think again.
This time, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang are along for the interstellar ride.
As for Zoe Saldana, I know her original manager, Bill Civitella. Back when Zoe was just starting out as an actress in Bill’s teen flick “Dirty Deeds,” he told me she was going to be a big star. That prophecy’s proving true, following her successful turn as Uhura in the recent “Star Trek” movie, and now with her high-profile co-starring role in “Avatar.”
What is an avatar? The intellectuals among you will recognize it as the term for a Hindu deity who appears in human or animal form. However, those of you who are into role-playing computer games will know that an avatar is a moveable 3-dimensional image that can be used to represent somebody in cyberspace.
James Cameron’s avatars are 3-dimensional hybrids of human and animal forms, existing in outer space.
He has said his inspiration was “every single science fiction book I read as a kid,” particularly the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ “John Carter of Mars” series.
While Cameron’s “Avatar” missed out as Best Picture in the Oscar race to his ex-wife’s “The Hurt Locker,” it already has earned more than a billion dollars at the box office, establishing it as the most successful movie ever made.
[from Solares Hill]