For the third time in his impressive career, Canadian filmmaker James Cameron has made “the most expensive movie ever,” reaffirming once again that showmanship never goes out of style. More than ten years in the making, “Avatar” marked Cameron’s return to feature directing since helming 1997s magnum opus “Titanic”, which was the highest grossing film of all time and winner of eleven Oscars including Best Picture.
Even though “Avatar” stands proud at the box office with a worldwide gross of more than $2.7 Billion, it wasn’t very popular at the 2010 Oscars. The film had a total of nine nominations, out of which it only won three.
The film is set in 2154. The world is dying; its energy resources are almost spent. Its inhabitants, represented by the US military, have travelled to a distant planet called Pandora where they hope to extract a valuable mineral called Unobtanium that will save the earth. In their way stand the Na’vi, fierce, proud and very blue-skinned tribespeople who are determined to resist the rape and plunder of their precious eco-system. The story revolves around an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on the alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people.
The film might be more impressive on a technical level than as a piece of storytelling, but it surely reinstates James Cameron’s singular gift for imaginative, absorbing filmmaking. The fact that someone could envision this environment and then deliver such a visually stunning experience is remarkable.
The film is an epochal visual treat, a landmark fantasy film on par with “2001: A Space Odyssey,” “Star Wars” and “The Lord of the Rings.” Like those movies, “Avatar” successfully stretches the bounds of the cinematic imagination, and shows us something we’ve never seen before: an entire alien world, a new and complex ecosystem with dazzling fluidity and detail.
I was a huge skeptic until I actually saw the film. I mean, come on…Blue people? Papyrus font? Whatever happened to dinosaurs and light sabers and killer robots from the future? Did we really use all the cool stuff up? But about 30 minutes in to the film, you realize that the marketing has undersold the movie. In an era when every great moment of a film makes its way to a trailer, “Avatar” surprised me with an endless amount of unparalleled optical overload. Every single shot is just so full of detail that you literally open your eyes wider to take as much in as you can before each cut. It truly redefines the possibilities of cinema, the work whose trickle-down effects on other artists will be felt for decades to come.
Such a pity Pakistan doesn’t have 3D cinemas. Still, the film is a visual treat and Cameron has crafted an impressive world more real than anyone before him. The soundtrack is also appropriate with sounds and songs all working wonderfully with the visuals.