Monday, December 21
In my ignorance, at first I thought Avatar was an adaptation of the cartoon series of the same name (Avatar: The Last Airbender). Yeah, laugh away like Reza did. I don't watch the cartoon, but I've read sometime ago they're planning to make a live-action motion picture out of it. So I thought, kay, this should be interesting. I couldn't be more wrong. Avatar is a masterpiece, a culmination of genius and experience of the talented director James Cameron. You know, the guy who sank the Titanic, with the famous phrases of "Draw me wearing this, Jack. Wearing only this." and "I'll never let go, Jack. I'll never let go." So, he's been quiet for so many years. If I'd made half as much as he did with Titanic, I would be too. So, in a nutshell, without spoiling the movie for anyone who hasn't seen it, Avatar is a story set several hundred years into the future (2154 AD to be exact). A rich deposit of a valuable ore has been discovered underneath the surface of Pandora, a moon of a large gaseous planet within the Alpha Centauri A system. Thing is, the moon is not barren like ours. In fact, its biological system is lusher and more complicated than the Amazon. And a humanoid race called the Na'vi populate the moon. Humans have tried to mine on the moon, but have been met with resistance from the Na'vi. Dr Grace Augustine (played by Sigourney Weaver) created the Avatar program, where DNA of the Na'vi and of a specific human are mixed to create an avatar, a Na'vi vessel to be mind-linked with its human controller. Think creating and controlling a character in a role-playing game. In rolls Jake Sully, an ex-Marine who's paralyzed from the waist down. His twin brother, Tommy, was a scientist scheduled to do his research on the Na'vi, but he was killed before the trip. Being identical twins, Jake shares the same genetic makeup as Tommy, therefore he is able to control Tommy's avatar. Hold on. This sounds like a recap of the movie. Sorry. Anyway, Pandora is a wild rain forest, rich with beautiful and dangerous life, breathtaking in every sense. When Jake's avatar gets separated from his crew, he meets Neytiri, a Na'vi princess. And so his story begins. Treehuggers around the world will hold this movie as a beacon of hope, just as Brokeback Mountain is for gay and lesbian folks. Actually, to liken Avatar with the movie would be doing Avatar injustice, as this monster is in a league of its own. The premise of this movie is about the human race, greedy and arrogant in its self-proclaimed superiority, look at this alien race as inferior, less than human, no better than monkeys, just because they lack the same technological advancement. They think, by offering education, better food and technology, the Na'vi would be indebted to them. They think that because the Na'vi are a backward people, human explorers have the right to mine the ore as they see fit, destroying everything in doing so. They think that the Mother Goddess Ewya, the spirit trees, the bond the Na'vi has with the land are just superstitious crap. Sounds familiar? Dances With Wolves and Pocahontas, among other stories, have the same premise. While the storyline is not original (is there an original storyline anymore?), the storytelling is. This movie is a seamless blend of fantasy, science fiction and love story. The Na'vi are a mixture of native South American and African tribes. James Cameron did not preach with his storytelling; he is a Master storyteller. Other than the beautiful storytelling, I also noticed the beauty of Jake Sully's character arc. He starts of as a cripple with nothing to live for, nothing to hold on to. When he becomes a Na'vi avatar, he is not the strongest, he is not the brightest. In fact, Dr Augustine sees him as in inconvenience. James Cameron could have made him an exemplary Na'vi, but he wisely didn't. Jake has many flaws. He is loud and brash, he cannot ride the native horse -- the pa'li -- well, but he is persistent, and he perseveres. He also proves to be a natural ikran (a pterodactyl-like creature) rider. When he falls in love with the new world he experiences, he is torn between two worlds. His achievements do not come easy, but with a heavy price. As a lover of beautiful things, of amazing visual effects and of haunting, otherworldly music, I fell in love with Avatar. As a fantasy fan, I was fulfilled more than I was with LotR. As a writer, I am inspired to write stories of this exemplary class. I am happy that this USD300 million movie has made USD73 million in the US in its opening weekend, and an estimated USD 232 million worldwide*. I have watched this movie twice (I still prefer the 3D version), and I'm planning to watch it again soon. To James Cameron, I take off my hat for his Masterclass storytelling, his vision, his genius. I am inspired, and I hope to one day be half as good as him. To James Horner, I salute for composing and choreographing such beautiful music to accompany the movie. And I congratulate the actors for taking part in this monumental mark in history. To those who haven't watched this movie, I suggest going to the cinema to do so. Watching this movie on the computer or the TV screen will not do this movie justice. Avatar is meant to be watched on the big screen. *Taken from Wikipedia.