In the Eye of the Beholder

avatarWhile the appreciation of art in any form is certainly subjective, it would be difficult to make the case that Avatar, the latest mega-movie from James Cameron, is the best movie ever (to be fair, it would be difficult to make that argument about any movie. See: subjective). That said, Avatar is certainly art. More precisely, it is a wonderous melding of science and art, in which Cameron uses the technology available today to tell a very old story.

Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine who is sent to the planet Pandora to help with a mission to gain control over its resources. He is part of two teams: one led by Sigourney Weaver as the scientist Dr. Grace Augustine, and the other by Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who takes a more militant approach to dealing with the natives of the planet. Grace’s approach is softer and more genial: through the use of avatars, she and her team hope to convince the Na’vi to trust the human aliens.

The storyline is predictable: Sam, in his avatar form, falls in love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), the daughter of the tribe’s leader, and under her guidance, learns the way of the Na’vi. As an avatar, Sam is also freed of the confines of his disability and soon finds himself spending more and more time as his avatar. This does not please the Colonel, who has made a side deal with Sam — regeneration of his useless legs in exchange for convincing the Na’vi to give up a valuable piece of land, and soon, he and Sam lock horns over how to handle the Na’vi, which leads to an epic battle between the humans and the Na’vi.

While the story is simple (and thus, predictable), the visual accomplishments of Avatar are breathtaking and worthy of acclaim. The film takes full advantage of 3D technology, and while I was not able to view it on IMAX (the film is regularly sold out, some 3 weeks after its release), the film is beautiful to look at nonetheless.

In 1997, James Cameron’s epic Titanic became the highest grossing movie of all time. Avatar looks to be on track to surpass the former film. While complaints about the simplicity of the storylines of both films are valid, there is no denying that Cameron has a knack for making huge, breathtaking, culturally important movies.

That alone makes it worth seeing. But it’s the beauty of the film that makes it art.


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