In three hours James Cameron has restored what the last five years have taken away from my childhood. I’m not even sure where to begin. In fact, I’ve started and stopped this review several times.

There’s nothing clever about the story Cameron tells. He’s not hiding behind plot devices. He’s not even hiding behind the special effects. His story is simple, straight forward. It’s a story you’ve heard a million times, but guess what, so is every story. Who cares.  So all I can do is be as honest as he was…even down to the stock romantic song that starts the credits at the end of the film. This story is James Cameron.

This review is me.

There’s a point growing up, when squirming your way into adulthood can really weigh upon you; it’s agonizing and exhausting. Really makes you feel like there aren’t many options out there to follow anymore. You hold onto those last fibers of magic and force them to the front like a dying candle, hoping to see anything that will lead you out of it all. It can get really dark. You force yourself through. Even the good times are marred with questions and doubts.

I close off. Shut down. Instead of exploring. Instead of living. I set everything up, consider all the options, play them out in my head. Instead of grabbing what’s in front of me, I hesitate to make sure I’m doing the right thing. And when you start to hesitate too much. You see things disappear. But those things don’t disappear. You just can’t see them. So in actuality, a little bit of hope dies a little bit at a time.

I watched Avatar with my jaw open. The first hour I watched through teary eyes. I lived another life watching this film. But I’m not an idiot. I’ve seen these things. Final Fantasy X had glowing forests. Aliens had robots that fought. The novel A Voyage to Arcturus had landscapes no human could imagine (and now with this technology can be properly brought to life), the John Carter of Mars had blue creatures and dangerous aliens (top this film Andrew Stanton.)

That’s the thing though, the world in Avatar…Pandora…pulsates with danger and beauty, with a majesty that stuns beyond any of those one things. And it’s not because of the 3-D effects, it’s because the filmmaker believes in it. Avatar isn’t here just to make a buck. You don’t spend 15 years creating a technology for a story you want to tell just so you can make money.  Yes, I witnessed the future of not only cinema tonight, but of all forms of entertainment, and from there, life as we know it will shift. There’s a 3-D blue ray player coming out. In a year you’ll be able to play 3-D games on the PS-3, in three years good 3-D games on the PS-3, the weather channel in 3-D. Talking to your relatives, Doctors in training performing surgeries…my mind can’t even fathom where this new technology will go – explore the ocean in 3-D in your living room…ironically the technology will probably go to the military. But none of this would have mattered if James Cameron didn’t believe 100% in the film, in the world he created. If you show one crack of disbelief in your work, a work like this, it all comes crashing down.

Cameron doesn’t misstep.

Reviewers that wave their hand in the air at the supposed “thin story” or the “heavy handed allegory” and praise only the special effects, don’t have their heads screwed on straight. Who needs clever when you have the depth of magic and sense of wonder and belief in something more than a petty existence, that you see in this film. There’s power in this film. Pure straight forward admiration for life and love that has rejuvenated me.

Thank you Mr. Cameron not only for recapturing my childhood in a three hour film, but for showing us that dedication and passion can pay off, and it can be seen in the work you do. Merry Christmas to you as well, sir.

For my more detailed breakdown of elements of the film: Avatar: The Journey

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4 Responses to “Avatar”

  1. Jeff Doten Says:

    Green martians, not blue. 15 feet tall with 4 arms. And it’s Andrew Stanton, not Lassiter. AND it’s the original story that Cameron’s riffing of of.

    Referencing my post to yours below…I looked at your website and I was wrong, you’re a bit more of a geek than I am. 🙂 Be proud. I’m simply knowledgeable enough to know when I need to google to find the references I’ve forgotten. I am on book 4 of the Carter series. And I will say, the story to save the Princess continues from book to book and so does the magic. To level it down to merely the first is doing a disservice to the entire series.

  2. Phillip Says:

    Thank you Jeff for being more of a geek than me. Or maybe not.
    Cameron’s riffing off far more than John Carter. He’s riffing off of “A Voyage to Arcturus” and even more so than Carter he’s riffing off Ender and the second book in the series “Speaker for the Dead”, in which the aliens come in little pig shape forms and are supposedly just as nasty as the Taliban.
    The detail I will correct is Andrew Stanton, something I just overlooked at 3am. But I’m sure you’ll agree with me, he suddenly has a lot more to live up to!

  3. Avatar: The Journey « Phil-zine! Says:

    […] Phil-zine! Melding art, entertainment and my life in an attempt to find a question to answer. « Avatar […]

  4. Jeff Doten Says:

    My Burroughs geekery is all over me, it is true.

    I think I read that Stanton loved and was rather terrified by Avatar. Back to work !

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