I’d like to think of Avatar as a necessary love story
It goes beyond the skin and soul, but it is not your typical love story. Hell it’s not even your typical war or sci-fi movie. I implore you to watch this with an empty cup (enough with the cup analogies already!) and you’ll be able to ‘fill’ much more than if you had weighted in preconceptions of the story as you walked into the theatre. Dances with what? Terminawhat? Matrixwhat? Pocahonwhat? Forget everything you’ve ever seen, because this is nothing like what you’ve ever seen — indeed it is nothin like what I’ve ever seen.
If you’re looking for an Avatar movie walkthrough, this is not it.
What it is though are my thoughts, my opinions, my interpretations or ‘Zahelu’ with Avatar. ‘Zahelu’, based on the movie, is Na’vi speak for connection or the bond that a Na’vi has with Pandora’s living, breathing beings. A Na’vi is the local alien/people of Pandora, one of the moons revolving around a giant planet about 6 light years away from earth. And I’m assuming that the spaceship our hero travelled on was moving at light speed, since we’re in the 22nd century already, or the year 2154 to be exact.
It seems that 2012 didn’t kill off our planet eh? Anyway…
A word of warning: Go to the toilet, then come back, switch off your handphones and lock your room. Don’t let anything distract you, as you indulge in this horrensdously and astoundingly yet unnecessarily long and eloquent movie review. Long only because it evoked a host of emotions, not just from me, but from the man who was watching in front of me, the lady sitting beside me, and for that matter the occupants of the theatre, where we witnessed a story like never before. No, sorry. The word ‘story’ didn’t felt quite right, as when compared to… an experience.
Indeed, Avatar is an experience, not just a story — so to all the ‘negative reviewers’ who nitpicked on the story as their main discontent before giving it a 2 out of 5 stars (Yeah just 2 stars. Pfft. What about the visuals? The score? The romance? The sorrow? The intricately choreographed battle sequences? You know~). Well they’re probably half right. Maybe there’s no story, because it has evolved into a rewarding and rich experience of visuals and emotions. It’s like sex, except you’re fully clothed and in a movie theatre with hundreds others, but before I digress, back to the movie review…
Watching Avatar is an experience that floats benignly as it steadily reels you into its immersive 3D world.
No doubt it’s a world that’s all made in the computer labs of New Zealand based Weta Digital (and also ILM too), and directed in the manifestation of James Cameron’s vision, but take nothing away from the realness, the lushness and the vigour of the visual orgy. This may just be the catalyst for directors and producers to begin 3D Camwhoring, I suppose, and about time too. The technology isn’t really ground-breaking, it’s been around for a long while, but needed a stimulus, and thanks to Avatar’s exploits, I suspect that it’ll be the norm these days. No longer do we need to secretly bring along our kids as an excuse to get into iMax theatres just to feel the rush of the leaves rustling in our face, catch the waves splashing carelessly or feel the image crashing down upon our seats.
The best part about Avatar’s visuals and storyline (yes yes yes, okay there is a storyline. Bite me.) is that it gently ambles along with you, instead of the shock and awe tactics employed by most CGI heavy films of recent years, where they throw everything into the first 20minutes just to impress you and then you’re left wanting as the rest of the effect either didn’t matched its entree. Thankfully, Avatar deviated from that and instead it eases you bit by bit, hooking you deeper and deeper and then unknowingly you’re begging for more.
Firstly and subtly entering the clouds, revealing a little bit of the world.
Then the pace picks up across the purple dirt and luminous green, blue and purple plants, before teasing you within the canopies and branches of Pandora. Along the way it smacks your mind numb with the visually playful plants and critters, awesomely rolling mountains and sea, and perilously provocative animals and landscape. The first viewing of the inviting floating mountains and its evaporating waterfalls with vibrant giant grasses bowing in the misty wind, I’m sure that most of us were left gaping in awe (I know I did) while we marvelled at the very spectacle laid nonchalantly in front of our eyes. In the words of Trudy (one of the good guys in this story and the Pilot for Dr Grace’s team) “you should have seen your faces” would succinctly describe it. This is truly what 3D was made for.
The trees’ bark looked like it’ll obligingly give you splinters and broken bones if you dared climb them. The glowing flowers and luminescant vines and forest floor keeps you company where night falls, along with the exquisitely designed creatures of the forest, both big and small, everything is delicately and intricately detailed. Every little detail is crafted to perform in sync. heightening your sense of the world. You wonder if this is really made up or a secret, guarded location that lies somewhere between New Zealand and Hawaii.
The walking, breathing creatures definitely impresses, like the giant cats and their giant cubs and the spiralling ‘glowfly-lizard’. And then tehre is the Toruk (Na’vi calls them Toruk, which means Last Shadow), probably the biggest Banshee (dragon+lizard+bird???) in the sky. Banshees have tight, glossy skin-like textures that is so supreme, that it’ll put the Pradas’ and the Coaches’ leather based products to cower from their shelves in shame. Their eyes glint and dart about, just as lively as the eyes of the indigenous Na’vi people, and like Jake’s Avatar too.
An Avatar, is an alien body that’s remotely controlled via the concious minds of a driver.
They are grown from DNAs of the Na’vi people, mixed with human’s. These blue, athletic, elongated bodies of the Navi poeple with cat-like facial features live harmoniously and appreciatively with everything else (except with the aliens of their land, known as skypeople or should I say humans?). I won’t go deep into the plot, as there are plenty of spoilers already but I acknowledge that I simply can’t remember the last time that CG expressions felt this real and this evoking. Sure there were a couple of scense when the eyes’ expressions appeared jaded, but for most part of the movie, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they’re real life actors, which you’re seeing falling in love, getting torn apart before reverting back to the gravity of romance. The love story that develops between Jake and Neytiri is compelling, heartfelt, tragic, triumphant and most importantly of all, it felt real.
Motion capture may blur and bring about deliberations about what defines acting and actors, but to watch a show like Avatar, you’re not there to witness an Oscar winning performance for best actor/actresses, and we leave that for certain reviewers who feel such requirements should be instilled within every movie made, for it to be considered a good movie. Oh these skxwangs. Avatar is not even close to being a good movie. It’s a great movie. It’s an epic experience. Gunfires and explosions, checked. Betrayal and zealotry, checked. Romance and sadness, checked. Stunning photorealistic landscape and a cool, hip new alien language that you can actually learn, checked. Characters and dialogues serves their purpose that is to allow the movie to progress and they’re not at all bad. Some may consider it cliche and trite, but how else would one say it in a movie that’s grand and epic? I sure wouldn’t want to hear any of them speak street, or would you?
The connection, that is the Hometree.
Appropriately, a strong, firm-yet-heavy voice narrates (supposedly of Jake’s in his final video log for this project) and carry us deeper into the story as well as getting us connected with the Na’vi people’s religion and their ‘zahelu’ (connection/bond) with Eywa. There is a sense of purity, contentment and boundless love that the Na’vi people have for their land. Who needs beastly walking machines, or expensive lab stuffs when bows and arrows suffice? There are clans and tribes among the Na’vi people and the Omaticaya clan just happened to be sitting, sleeping and playing atop the mining corporations’ biggest spoil of Unobtainium. Yep, let’s not go there, Unobtanium, heh.
There’s definitely a distinct alien culture instilled within the 3D space of the silver screen and James Cameron have done enough convincing that Pandora is a living, breathing world. If you’re still not yet convinced as we approach the climax of the movie, the unbelievably beautifully choreographed battle scenes, and you did not felt anything when the Na’vi people’s loss accumulated to the point of hopelessness and utmost desperation, then I suppose this movie is certainly not for you. Make no mistake, this is a movie that’s the master of all Jacks of all trades. Yeah, woah.
Men in mechs yet again?
Though my first gripe, as the movie ended, is that there could have been more scenes to satisfy my lust for the Na’vi culture, but ultimately there’s enough to fulfil and satisfy for the experience, and thankfully an acceptable reel time to sit through. Though the movie is a whopping 2.5 hours of unorthodox bladder control, it certainly never felt long. Like the raindrops bouncing off the leaves, weariness bounced off as well. Pandora managed to immerse itself completely and is sensory and emotively overpowering.
Indeed I couldn’t recall any scenes that were particularly draggy or lines that didn’t deserve to be said. Every new moment, every new location and every piece of action is refreshing and in turns leads us to the next chapter. Where cause and consequences happen logically (in the context of this movie), it makes it all the more believable. Respite and breathing rooms for the mind to ease off the continuous action scenes are decently enough, as the pace slows down a notch for us to soak in all the experience, allowing us to contemplate what comes next, but only before it bursts forward into a gear, higher than before.
The battle scene is gripping, intense and might even hurt you.
The battle scene, it’s just.. wow. I’ll save you the adrenalin rush, and instead implore you to experience it for yourself, and if there’s one battle scene moment where my empathy peaked, it was when Neytiri courted death with her bow and arrow, against men and machines, and at that point in time, just as Jake desperately begged her to retreat (which she didn’t, like would you if someone comes into your home and destroyed everything that you’ve ever loved?), my subconscious mind was crying for her to stand down too. But in the end… well… I think I better not divulge any further. Cue invitation for this one heck of an experience. Arguably the best CGI battle scene I’ve ever been through.
Really, I could go on forever on its details and every aspect of the movie, and I’m sure I’ve left a few stones untouched (like Colonel Miles, Pilot Trudy, Scientist Norm, the Chief, his wife and so on) but that’s where other reviewers will do their vocation justice. They get paid to do it, I don’t. so here’s my review, bon apetite.
As I summarise my take on Avatar, there’s one thing that I am sure of, and that which is regardless of what kind of review you’re reading, you are so going to watch it for yourselves anyway. I hesitate to give Avatar an overly biased rating, simply because it’s still lingering flawlessly perfect in my head. You’ve really got to experience it for yourself to judge it, and whatever your belief may be, and as mentioned earlier, empty your mind and preconceptions and get ready for one hell-of-a pompous, oppulent, succulent, incredible and ‘extremely-rich-experience-like-never-before’ ride. And I bet you’ll never look back.
I see you; Ohe menari negeng.
And if Avatar doesn’t snag the best picture at the upcoming Oscars, then a sci-fi, effects laden film will probably never will. Oh, just perhaps an Avatar 2 might… just might.
Wow what a review. I’ve never reviewed anything like this before, but this is a movie not like anything I’ve ever watched experienced before. Anyway, thanks to the internet, these pictures became possible. Credits to whomever these pictures belong to. Sorry, I forgot your names, but thanks!