The StoryAvatar is set in a future in which we're able to travel to distant planets and interact (read exploit) the natives. A huge corporation, backed by military forces to keep the peace, needs to mine a rare substance from the planet Pandora. Pandora's populated with humanoid creatures known as the Na'vi. The Na'vi have blue skin, yellow eyes, elf ears, are incredibly athletic, and tall. They're peaceful but can be fierce in battle, shooting arrows dipped in a toxin which kills almost instantaneously. In addition to the Na'vi, the planet is full of exotic-looking, dinosaurish creatures, humongous birds which can be ridden in battle, and phosphorescent plants.
The substance the corporation is on Pandora to mine is located at the base of a giant tree, which is also the spiritual center of the Na'vi. The corporation is using a two-pronged attack to get to the substance. They've got the military out making excursions into hostile territory to try to get to the material. There's also a scientific research arm of the company that's working on making inroads with the natives through the use of avatars.
Into this already touchy situation comes ex-Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington). Jake's lost the use of his legs and is recruited into the avatar program with the promise he'll be approved for the costly surgery that will let him walk again. Because his now-deceased twin brother was a scientist whose DNA was used to create an avatar, Jake can slip right into the program without any real training.
Jake's first outing in avatar form is quite an awakening. In his Na'vi form, Jake can run and is in complete control of all of his motor functions. He doesn't need a wheelchair, and the experience is exhilaratingly freeing. It's also fraught with danger, which he ignores in order to explore Pandora.
On his first trip outside the company's base, Jake winds up being attacked and is cut off from the rest of the research unit. Forced to spend the night in an alien environment he knows nothing about, Jake only survives because he's rescued by Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a powerful Na'vi who decides not to kill him only after the interference of spirits that look like tiny jellyfish.
As the ultimate showdown approaches, Jake's forced to take sides. The battle over the tree and the fight for the survival of the Na'vis' way of life dominates the last 40 minutes or so of Avatar, with James Cameron orchestrating a collision of the two races that's epic in scope.
The Bottom LineWhat Cameron's done is deliver on every single promise he made regarding this passion project of his that's been a dozen years in the making. Avatar will change the way films are made and the way we watch movies forever. I don't care how he did it, what was involved in the process, or how much money he spent (although I believe every dollar of his budget is up on that screen). Don't tell me the mechanics behind it. I don't want to spoil the magical time I had sitting through 2 hours and 40 minutes of mind-blowing, visually striking effects, which made for a completely transcendental movie-going experience, by taking a peek behind the curtain.
Avatar will blow your mind. I don't use sentences like that; it sounds like I've been time-warped to the '60s. But Avatar is guaranteed to knock your socks off. The acting is superb, the graphics are extraordinary, and the story - although a form of it's been done hundreds of times before - was compelling enough to make you forget you're watching completely made up creatures on a planet that doesn't exist.
Please James Cameron, visit Pandora again sometime soon. Don't wait another 10 years between movies. I want a return trip to this beautiful alien planet as quickly as possible. I plan on seeing Avatar again, in digital 3-D, and trust me, when you watch movies for a living it's very seldom you ever want to see a film twice in theaters.
Avatar is the event film of 2009. In a year where nearly every major release didn't live up to its hype, James Cameron's Avatar exceeded every expectation. I didn't expect to ever say this but...here it comes...Avatar is my favorite movie of 2009.
Avatar is rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.
Theatrical Release: December 18, 2009