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Thursday, December 17, 2009

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Featured Reviewer: Luke Y. Thompson , E! Online

Starring:
Sam Worthington ... Jake Sully

Zoe Saldana ... Neytiri

Sigourney Weaver ... Dr. Grace Augustine

Stephen Lang ... Colonel Miles Quaritch

Michelle Rodriguez ... Trudy Chacon

Giovanni Ribisi ... Parker Selfridge

Joel Moore ... Norm Spellman (as Joel David Moore)

CCH Pounder ... Moat

Wes Studi ... Eytukan

Laz Alonso ... Tsu'tey

Dileep Rao ... Dr. Max Patel

Matt Gerald ... Corporal Lyle Wainfleet

Sean Anthony Moran ... Private Fike

Jason Whyte ... Cryo Vault Med Tech

Scott Lawrence ... Venture Star Crew Chief


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Synopsis: The story's protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a former Marine who was wounded in combat on Earth and paralyzed from the waist down. He is selected to participate in the Avatar program, which will enable him to walk again. Jake travels to Pandora, a lush jungle-covered extraterrestrial moon filled with incredible life forms, some beautiful, many terrifying. Pandora is also home to the Navi, a sentient humanoid race that is physically stronger than humans, although considered primitive. Standing three meters tall, with tails and sparkling blue skin, the Navi live in harmony with their unspoiled world. As humans encroach deeper into Pandora's forests in search of valuable minerals, the Navi unleash formidable warrior abilities to defend their threatened existence. Jake has unwittingly been recruited to become part of this experiment. Since humans are unable to breathe the air on Pandora, they have created genetically-bred human-Navi hybrids known as "Avatars" . The Avatars are living, breathing bodies that are controlled by a human "driver" through a technology that links the driver's mind to the Avatar body. On Pandora, through his Avatar body, Jake can walk . He is sent deep into Pandora's jungles as a scout for the soldiers who will follow, and encounters many of Pandora's beauties and dangers. He also meets a young Navi female, Neytiri, whose beauty is matched only by her ferocity in battle. Over time, Jake integrates himself into Neytiri's clan, and begins to fall in love with her. As a result, Jake finds himself caught between the military-industrial forces of Earth, and the Navi, forcing him to choose sides in an epic battle that will decide the fate of an entire world. [ jshelleh196 ]





Review: by Luke Y. Thompson , E! Online

Believe the hype. James Cameron's decade-in-the-making sci-fi dream project—it doesn't open until Friday but landed four Golden Globe nominations today—is an immersive epic unlike any other.

Yes, the story's pretty simple, but with so much else to take in, anything more complicated might have been tough to follow.

The Bigger Picture: Never count Cameron out. He may not be the actual king of the world, but in the realm of sci-fi action, he doesn't just rule, he reigns.

One-upping the kind of otherworldly landscapes George Lucas created for the Star Wars prequels, Avatar takes us to Pandora, a jungle-covered moon orbiting a gas giant, where human corporate interests seek out the rather stupidly named mineral "unobtainium." Hazards are plenty—the atmosphere isn't breathable by humans, all manner of six-legged beasts roam the forests and skies and the local humanoids, nine-foot-tall blue cat people called the Na'vi, are none too happy about their territory being encroached upon.

To that end, the Avatar program creates hybrid human-Na'vi bodies that people can download their consciousness into and better interact with the planet and its locals. But when one of the scientists trained for the program is murdered by a petty criminal, his less intellectual, battle-scarred twin brother Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), being the only DNA match for the expensive Avatar body, takes his place.

Though the science team, led by cigarette-puffing Dr. Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), have issues with Jake's general recklessness in his new skin, the Na'vi are impressed to finally meet a warrior, even one who's not quite of their caliber. Under the supervision of the chief's daughter Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), he learns their ways more intimately than any previous human—and gets particularly intimate with Neytiri herself.

This poses a dilemma, however, since Jake's actual assignment from the beginning has been to spy on the tribe on behalf of the Marines assigned to the mining project. With his loyalties torn between love and duty...well, you can guess the rest, and probably already have from the trailers.

Now, forget what you think you've seen via online videos or even theatrical 2D trailers—the visuals are realistic, fantastic and not remotely like Delgo, as early armchair pundits have been claiming (trust us, we actually sat through Delgo). Practically every Cameron sci-fi film has pushed the envelope of visual effects, and Avatar does so more than ever, from the vertiginous platform-game-style leaps across floating islands to a psychedelic night jungle that lights up underfoot like the sidewalk beneath Michael Jackson in "Billie Jean."


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But it would be (mostly) for naught if the actors didn't compel, and thankfully, they do. As usual, Cameron casts based on the characters, not star power.

Worthington, whose next-big-thing status was starting to feel scarily undeserved after Terminator Salvation, delivers on the promise, believably segueing back and forth between crippled human and newly skilled jungle cat. Saldana, last seen romancing Spock in Star Trek, dons her own pointy ears and alien skin with aplomb, all sensuality and strength (it should be noted, parents, that the MPAA is apparently just fine with female nudity as long as it's on a computer-enhanced blue person).

Stephen Lang and Giovanni Ribisi are ironically more cartoonish than the Na'vi in the villain roles, but Joel David Moore and Michelle Rodriguez give good support, and Weaver is effortlessly charming.

As for the 3D—after the first hour or so, you almost forget it's there on an overt level, feeling instead a kind of subconscious immersion in the world. And what a world.

If you're not silently saying "holy crap!" to yourself at least 10 times during the movie, you might not be human.

 

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