Avatar (2009)

Avatar: The Way of Water comes out next weekend. Before it hit theaters, I wanted to make sure that I had a chance to rewatch the original James Cameron film from 2009. The first time I watched Avatar at home on DVD, I do not think that I made it all the way through. I was never invested in the film, but with the sequel coming, I wanted to give it another shot. This time, of course, it would be on Disney +.

I found Avatar way more interesting and exhilarating today than I did back then.

Are there still flaws to it. Absolutely. Is it just the movies Ferngully and Dances with Wolves redone? Yes. Are there narrative structure issues, such as a white savior? Yes. Were there problems with some clunky dialogue? I would agree with that as well.

However, the story gripped me immediately, unlike the first time. I connected with the characters much better than I did with the first viewing and I saw the positives in the film that made it into the highest grossing film of all time.

The special effects are stunning. They do hold up, although there were some times when you could see, in comparison to today’s CGI, where there were some spots lacking. In particular, the facial features of the Na’vi had some moments where they felt like the CGI used in She-Hulk. Of course, this was 23 years ago so this was ground breaking special effects at the time. I actually expect the sequel to have flawless special effects.

Sam Worthington was solid as Jake Sully, the paraplegic ex-Marine who was sent into Pandora to collect information on the Na’vi, via the use of an avatar. Sigourney Weaver was great as she always is as Dr. Grace Augustine, the scientist involved with the avatar program. Zoë Saldaña is in full motion capture as Neytiri, who becomes Jake’s teacher, trainer and eventual love.

Stephen Lang is a total bad ass as Colonel Miles Quaritch, the head of the mining operation to gain the natural resources of Pandora, Unobtainium (a silly name, still). Lang is a fantastic villain and the third act battle between him and Jake and Neytiri was satisfying.

Speaking of that third act, I want to call out those people who complain about comic book movies having an overstuffed CGI battle-fest in the third act. Those that bitch about that making a film not cinema must not watch the third act of this movie, because there is absolutely a comic book-style third act CGI battle in Avatar. Perhaps since this is Mr. James Cameron, they look at that final part of the film in a different light, which is one of, but not the only, hypocrisies of these movie snobs.

Watching this movie has helped create more of a buzz for the upcoming sequel for me than I had before. I found it much more compelling than I did when I first saw it and enjoyed the film despite the flaws that are here.

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