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You have read the press and if you haven’t seen it, believe the hype- James Cameron’s Avatar is truly a landmark film. From its wildly imaginative conception 14 years ago, until its remarkable execution in vivid 3-D, it is a cinematic experience that cannot be ignored. It is a piece of work that has raised the bar for not just the fantasy film genre but blockbuster releases in the future.

The 3-D experience is unlike any other movie-going adventure, however there are plenty of fans who claim that the regular version loses nothing in comparison. This may be true as the 3-D effects do not detract from the story or the film itself, such as similar efforts that may use this type of technology gratuitously. Instead, the effects become part of the story and add to the realism of what is already a hyper-real journey for the audience who have already suspended their belief of the known.

The film does reach into familiar territory at times, tapping into post-colonial themes such as Dances With Wolves or Apocalypto yet it avoids the obvious clichés and sympathises with the potentially hostile indigenous cause. It isn’t just a story about the natives versus the human and predominately American invaders though, the narrative addresses strong issues regarding the environment, spiritualty and overcoming personal obstacles both physical and emotional. The force that binds the Na’vi people isn’t dissimilar to the one that the George Lucas’ Jedi believe in, but these comparisons are perhaps a little unfair as Avatar is still a work that stands alone.

Australia’s Sam Worthington delivers an understated yet powerful performance as the hero which guarantees further work for this emerging star on a global stage. He is believable in his role and Cameron’s special effects team ensure that his ‘avatar’ continues his intensity. Matriarchal icon Sigourney Weaver is also perfectly cast in her role as the clinical, cold scientist with a heart of gold, recalling her roles of feminine strength in the Alien franchise.

While box office records will disagree, Cameron’s previous chart-topper Titanic is pure drivel compared to this epic. It will, and already has, reached a far wider audience and will continue to do so. This is easily this masterful director’s best film and witnessing it on the big screen will leave you breathless. 

4 ½ stars.    

By Toby McCarthy






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