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Issue 65 February 2010

Review by Robi Chowdhury

Following a hugely successful release of Titanic in 1997, James Cameron had his heart set on developing Avatar as his next project. However the level of special effects that he wanted for the film had a projected budget figure of up to $400 million. It was obvious that none of the studios would take him on, and so his big project was put on ice for nearly ten years until technology breakthroughs could make it affordable.

There is an underlying tale in Avatar that has been echoed across a huge number of films from the previous decades; the story of the rich corporate figurehead, conquering land belonging to the hard working citizens of a thriving community.

The year is 2154, and the human race is running out of fuel. Lead by an industrial-military authority, the humans have decided to begin mining operations on a distant moon named Pandora.

The world is populated by a blue-skinned telepathic species called the Na’vi. These aliens live as natives within the tropical jungles of their home world.

Pandora is a vibrant flora and fauna filled world, brimming with bioluminescent plant life. There is an endless array of exotic creatures that have been brought to life using state of the art CGI.

After the death of his brother, paraplegic ex-marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is enlisted to join the operations and replace his brother who was set to enroll on a science program lead by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver).


The program sees Jake mesh his DNA with a genetically engineered Na’vi body called an Avatar. By linking his mind into the body of an Avatar, they are able to breathe and move freely through the highly noxious air of the planet.

The objectives of the science team were to integrate with the Na’vi communities and find terms for relocation whilst the mining took place. The military arm lead by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has other ideas. Jake is ordered to infiltrate the alien community and get a strategic foothold on the insurgents defending their forest.

Jake Sully is welcomed into the tribe and begins to fall in love with a native girl named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) a fierce Na’vi princess who teaches him the ways of her people.

A battle ensues, leaving Jake and the rest of the small science team asking themselves which side to join; the oppressive military arm lead by their own people, or the newfound friends who are fighting for Pandora?

Cameron doesn’t shy away from the fact that there are obvious parallels in the story to many wars that we have witnessed throughout history, with a strong resemblance to the conflicts in Iraq and Vietnam running all over the film.

Avatar also has a plethora of suggestive connotations, from imperial greed and mass genocide, to ecological plights like deforestation and saving the environment.

James Cameron has already mentioned that he has ideas set for two more films if this one manages to raise enough for a deserving budget. We doubt that he’ll be disappointed as the film raked in over $1 billion across the globe, making it one of the highest grossing films of all time (alongside Titanic).

The immersive 3D elements of this film are subtle and work well at making the viewer feel like they are actually in Pandora. With ground breaking cinematography and an amazing score delivered by James Horner to match, Avatar promises to set the ball rolling for the way films will look in the next decade.

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