I’ve been pondering this before putting proverbial pen to paper. it has some of the most ludicrously overblown and cheesy central metaphors in the history of cinema. the existance of God, The destruction of the amazonian rain forest, the overthrowing of native american indians, colonialism, interracial relationships, gene cloning and stem cell scientific potential for abuse, good versus evil, the folly of war, the unfair use of “shock and awe”…shall I go on?
And yet, and yet…
And yet this is a wonderful and deeply involving, even affecting movie. Why?
Because James Cameron has invested his heart and soul into it. That much is very obvious. And this comes across as one man’s lifetime obsession. It’s like Coppola’s Heart of Darkness (Apocalypse Now) in outer space.
It opens like a scene from one of Cameron’s great early movies (Aliens – with a set that compares) and the sight of Sigourney Weaver climbing out of a Cryogenic Sleep pod. Clearly his own little Alfred Hitchcock moment, or a wee joke for us boring buffs.
Technically this movie raises the bar like no other film since Star Wars. This is the iphone of the movie world. the 3D impact is quite simply mindblowing. No men with long poles sticking them out of the screen into your face. Not a hissing Cobra to be seen. No, this is “immersive” in that you feel you are being drawn into a layerered experience where there appears to be multiple depths of field, but all in focus. The scenes where the “Tree of Life’s” spores fall through the air enveloping characters is really quite unique and beautiful.
Then there’s the world he creates. One just wonders where he started. The military stuff takes on Star Wars but doesn’t overcomplicate. It throws in a dash of Bladerunner technology, but mostly it just bowls you over with its apparent functionality. Pandora, the other world that our characters are mining for “unobtanium” (great cod scientific name), is endless in imagination and quite simply, paradise.
The Avatars themselves, 10 foot high humanoids, are beautiful and beguiling and 100% believable.
They really could be real.
The acting is good enough. The script passable.
But the denoument, which brings it all together in a localised War of the World’s is breathtaking and so long and so absorbing that you just cannot believe this level of ingenuity would actually be possible.
But, apparently, it is.
It all hangs together in a way that makes this one of the most unforgettable trips to the cinema I have ever had. No, it’s not art house, but who cares. It is just a thing of greatness. A testament to James Cameron. I would not grudge him the Oscar against his ex wife whose own action movie could hardly be any different.
Methinks it is a straight shoot out between the two.
(Michael Haneke is unlikely to get the look in he deserves.)
A straight ten (despite the reservations).