The word on everyone s lips (apart from those cynics of you out there) at the moment is Avatar, James Cameron s first feature film in a very long time (aside from numerous documentaries) since that little number about a boat, which most people haven t heard of. Cameron claims to have started work on Avatar as early as 1994, and instills that cinematic technology had not begun to synchronize with his epic visions until recently with breakthroughs in the capabilities of C.G.I. This film is entirely indebted to computer generated imagery, although it is not its sole achievement, it is by no means a one trick pony in that the performances, the craftsmanship, the direction, the story, the music, in fact almost every aspect of this true modern masterpiece is so meticulously and beautifully fashioned that is impossible to be without awe of such creative production.  Cameron has obviously more than proved himself in the past as up there in the elite club of Kubrick, Scott, Lucas and Spielberg with the likes of Terminator, Aliens, The Abyss & Judgment Day to name but a few.

The blue man group world of Pandora sets the stage for the latest slice of Cameron s imagination, where we follow Aussie newcomer Sam Worthington

(from Terminator: Salvation) as Corporal Jake Sully, a disabled marine who upon his brother s death enters the Avatar program, which allows a human being to be physically and mentally transformed into a synthetic version of the native Na vi tribe. The film is set in a completely fictional world of 2154 in which humans are desperately attempting to conquer other worlds and find a new home. The Na vi represent a problem for the expeditions necessary to human resources and so conflict becomes inevitable; the Avatar program is designed to set about diplomatically negotiating a solution. However, as we learn things aren t what they seem, and Cameron takes us on a wonderful journey of exploration that is quite unique in both its inception and deliverance.

Support comes from Cameron s Aliens muse Sigourney Weaver, The Fast and the Furious Michelle Rodriguez and the terrifying Men Who Stare at Goats star Stephen Lang as the principle antagonist. All of which, offer solid performances that although over-shadowed by the sheer aesthetics of Pandora, still ground the story with a much needed display of humanity in a very alien situation. Avatar has now officially beaten Cameron s previous 1997 Titanic which was the world s most successful film ever made. No other film-maker in the history of the medium has ever been more bankable than James Cameron, to have two films that together finance the surplus for the industry alone is unheard of and yet has happened, and yet completely and deservingly so. It is all too easy to be cynical and jealous of such extreme success, however, it is conjured and embodied in such an audacious mix of fun and sheer amazement that people cannot help but be cast by its spell, as the number of bums on seats and made evident.

To try and dissect Avatar or even really review it, is quite a hard task in itself as so much of its charm lies in the subjective experience of what you see. It is unlike any other film, in that it is the visual experience that is most exciting and yet it has enough gravity in emotion and philosophy that it creates a perfect equilibrium and social dichotomy. It can be seen as an American critique of imperialism and as a comment on global warming. It can be put in a historical perspective and be seen as a look at both America s bloody genocidal past and that of any other Empire. It is reminiscent of Mel Gibson s Brave heart in parts in that it invites the audience to advocate the underdog and play upon the other side of the story, the persecuted.  However, it is never too judgmental and preachy, in that it is first and foremost a science-fiction film, an adventure, of course subject to a metaphorical nature but at its heart just a grown mans computer game.

Avatar is up for numerous Oscars as well as already having received various awards internationally, it seems it s a commercial studio film of the most mammoth kind that is digestible for both critics and audiences alike. There has been little criticism, and if any usually of a very infantile nature as there isn t really any fruit in negativity towards this remarkable expedition in what film making is capable of. Film is first and foremost a medium invented to expand our horizons and possibilities of suspension of disbelief, that instinctual necessity to require a story, from the raconteurs of cave-men around a fire to the studios of C.G.I multi-billion dollar Hollywood, at the end of the day we just want a damn good story, lots of highs and lows, lots of oos and ahhs, characters to believe in, people to champion, heroes to emerge, we want to cry and laugh, we want to be impressed and ultimately we want escapism. Cameron is now the master of escapism, the single reason the cinema has survived if not profited from the recession and will continue to prosper.

Avatar is quite simply brilliant, if you have no time for science fiction, blue people or any kind of computer trickery, than you are pretty much on your own out there, there is so much to this film, the whole family can gain something from such an experience, it is heart-warmingly funny and will ignite that childish charm and excitement by making the hairs on your arms stand to attention.   It has some of the finest action sequences,   cinematographically crafted, using truly the latest technological achievements to their fullest abilities, a world away from the likes of Godzilla. It has a career changing performance from Sam Worthington; it is revolutionary in its transition from 2D to 3D film viewing, and its creation in a new realm of C.G.I acting. It has a solid and compelling story which everyone can relate to, it sustains enough emotional investment for it be multi-layered rather than an elaborate computer outing and yet there is something totally unique and amazing about the fact that they pulled it off and that is has the effect is has. If at first you are skeptical, just watch it and keep quiet, as for those 162 minutes you will become Avatar.

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