Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Movie Review of Avatar, Special Edition

I confess that I never had seen Avatar when it first released almost a year ago in theaters. I also confess that I never saw it when it released on DVD about two or three months ago. The reason I hadn’t seen it on DVD: I was waiting for it to make a comeback to the big screen so I could see it in that form first. In which it did, and better yet, one of its theaters that it has been showing in has been the IMAX theaters. However, it came back as a special edition, and so a director’s cut, which I didn’t mind so much (although I go more for original release editions).

The movie has been the best in science fiction since the first Star Wars movie back in 1977. Speaking about that, the movie is Star Wars, Star Trek, The Matrix, and even the 1980s’ Enemy Mine in one. The defense for the Na’vi people of the moon Pandora allied with the environmentally concerned Earthlings is reminiscent to the battle on Endor in 1984’s Return of the Jedi. Yet, the movie's plot had it’s own uniqueness. A parellized marine from Earth goes to Pandora on an assignment and befriends the very natives who’s land he has been ordered to help relocate the Navi from for an Earth mining corporation's exploitation. The way he makes contact with the Navi is by having his mind transferred into an artificially produced Navi body called an avatar. His befriending causes him to question whether he is doing the right thing in his assignment. Also there are themes such as native spiritual belief versus Earth secular/colonial-based belief, particularly wholistic philosophy (which says everything in nature is connected by one underlying and ultimate energy) versus Western-based dichotomic philosophy.

The characterization is well developed. For the protagonists that is. The antagonists/villains, although developed to where you love to hate them, were too stalk and therefore pulpish. The CEO of the mining company, Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) was as greedily and spitefully talking, not to mention as culturally insensitive, as you would expect such a character to be in an escape fiction movie. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), A.K.A. "Papa Dragon," is much the same way except on a military level, of course. However, he does show a bit of remorse in his facial expression in one scene as he looks down closing his eyes after looking on the destruction of a piece of land on Pandora. But that one tiny gesture does not add sufficiently enough to the realism of his character. That would be like saying setting a vase holding a pretty flower on the site of a house recently burnt to the ground makes up for the loss of the house!

The protagonists's characters were developed beautifully. The main hero, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is both tough talking, unintelligent in certain scenes such as the one where he misuses his avatar when he is first transferred into it, as well as culturally sensitive and loyal to the natives and their land. Also he shows loyalty to his deceased twin brother. Sigourney Weaver's character, Dr. Grace Augustine, while very professional and emotionally self-controlled, is also very loving in her interaction with the Navi. The Navi princess, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), while open to Sully's and the other Earthling environmental advocates' points of views, she is also shown to be very irritable and, in some cases, unforgiving. Yet, she is consistently determined to save her people's land. These characters, more or less, grow their way out of their major flaws at a realistic rate considering the length of the film.

Needless to say, the visual effects were astounding and were definitely made for the big screen, while the plot and character development make up for the loss of the big screen's vastness if the movie is viewed on DVD.

What are the scenes that are so special about this special edition? There are not very many of them, actually. One of these few added scenes are of the native creatures. So the special edition may had just been a method to merely get the film back on the big screen. A method that works for those, such as myself, who missed the original release!