I am a huge lover of sci-fi cinema, ever since Lucas opened my eyes (and ears!) and took me on a journey from the desert world of Tatooine to the majesty of Cloud City, from Hoth to the murky swamps of Dagobah! Introducing a young boy of 7 to the wonders of the wider universe. And since then, I have become an avid lover of sci-fi/ fantasy!
And in my adulthood, another virtuoso filmmaker by the name of James Cameron came along and took me on ANOTHER journey to the beautiful world of Pandora and her inhabitants! Avatar is a visually stunning piece of speculative fiction from Cameron. it is a visually stunning, awe-inspring piece of film making! His creation had my mouth watering! I was a boy again - watching in amazement, bewildered by what I was witnessing! Pandora was a world like no other I had ever seen. I was like Jake Sully - when the illuminated forest of Pandora reveals itself at night for the first time -simply awestruck and dumbfounded! And that is the primary strength of this film. It is no doubt that Avatar is a visual and sensory experience. And in that regards it is a mammoth achievment.
But there are weaknesses aswell. Chief among them being the dialogue. It isnt as nearly as bad as some of the stuff in his previous film (the 'boat' picture!) but it is still there. And every once in a while, you'll no doubt snigger at some of the dialogue! Also, the visual effects or CGI has not been mastered...just yet. There are scenes were Avatar looks very photo-real, and many scenes where it doesnt. In fact, it may feel a little jarring at times. One gets the feeling ILM would have done a better job than WETA. But thats just nit-picking. No, the main crime was having Leona Lewis do the theme song towards the end! I mean, what was JC thinking?!! To put it kindly, it was simply....abysmal!
But small cons aside, Avatar is a beautiful film. From its lush alien jungles, plant life and inhabitants, to the stunning Banshee's and the aweinspiring floating 'hallelujah' mountains! The scenery is almost dream-like. In the film Jake mentions that his life has turned upside down, that 'in here' (i.e his human self and surrrounding) was a dream, and 'out there' was the real world, i.e, when he was inside his Na'vi avatar. I myself see the avatar machine as a sort of coffin. Jake climbs inside it to 'die' albeit temporarily, and come out alive inside his avatar. That is when he feels most alive. When he is free from restraints. And of course, he can walk again. (He mentions at the start of the film of having dreams of flying).
One of my favourite shots in the film is at the begining when we glimpse the alien world of Pandora in the reflection of the space ship. The image and music expertly typifies the wonder, the fear, the excitement of entering a new world for the first time. The sight of Pandora (which is essentially a moon planet) against its giant parent planet (akin to our own Jupiter) is simply a magnificent sight to behold! It is science fiction at its best. And Cameron, like Ridley Scott before him, has the unique power to conjure up fantastic worlds. Anyone can make a sci fi film. But only a hanndful can make a film that sears itself into your consiousness and stays there. And James Cameron is one of them.
The DVD packaging is very satisfactory. A booklet, with a foreword and guide to the discs would have been a bonus. The film is chopped into two parts on disc 1 and 2. I cannot watch a film from start to finish without interruption anyway! So changing the disc midway is not a problem! Picture quality and audio is astounding! The extra's are excellent too, esp the 90 mins making of doc is excellent. All in all, a very good package at a bargain price!