Hello everyone, and welcome to 111 Archer Avenue. What started as a film review blog has become my online judgment forum. I will review the occasional movie or DVD, post an interesting trailer, critique a newly-read book, talk about sports, and share my thoughts and opinions on random issues. You can also follow me on Twitter (@OlieCoen) or check out my work on DVDTalk.com. Thank you and enjoy!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Movie Review - Avatar

Director: James Cameron
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Year: 2009

Reduce, reuse, and recycle; the environmentalist motto. Director James Cameron (Terminator, Titanic) proved his critics right when they called his newest movie overtly environmental by following this motto to a tee. Instead of creating an original work, Avatar was constructed by recycling old props from old projects, reusing plots from mediocre movies, and reducing the level of acting talent and writing imagination needed to create a Hollywood film.

The story centers around Worthington, a wheelchair-bound Marine who travels to Pandora, a planet rich in natural resources but peopled by a savage race, the Na'vi. Transferring their minds into avatar Na'vi bodies, the humans mingle with the natives in order to convince them to let them harvest the natural resources of the planet (unobtanium), warning the natives that resistance will only give the human army a reason to destroy them. When Worthington falls for the Na'vi princess, Saldana (Crossroads, Star Trek), and begins to enjoy his life as a native, the situation reaches a boiling point.

If you think that you have heard this storyline before, you have. It was called FernGully. Complete with an ancient tree that the natives will die to protect, Avatar takes it's plot almost scene for scene from this 1992 animated film. In order to cover this theft up, Cameron adds in a dash of a few other movies as well, including the emotions of Dancing With Wolves, the soundtracks of Glory and Enemy at the Gates, and the set pieces of Aliens. Sigourney Weaver herself is no more than a glorified set piece, while Giovanni Ribisi and Michelle Rodriguez take their characters directly from Paul Reiser and Jenette Goldstein in Aliens. Cameron shows no originality in this film. From the characters to the music, the spacecrafts to the plot, everything is recycled.

The only positive that can be said about Avatar is that it is a great 3-D experience. Very special care has been given to making every scene beautiful, every moment epic, every shot visually stunning. If only the acting, plot, music, basically the film, could have been half as good as the movie, then perhaps Avatar could have been great. However, as much as I enjoyed the visual effects and the experience, the more I think about this movie the more I don't like it.

My rating: ✰ ✰


  1. Perhaps expectations play a more critical role in one’s ability to enjoy and appreciate a movie than they are given credit for. I went into this film expecting an entertainment experience that both a young person and techie could enjoy with a strong story. The “child” in me was thrilled with the presentation of the characters and their environment and the idea that you could be something other than yourself. The techie in me enjoyed the way the computer graphics handled all aspects of the film. True, a “deeper” story could have raised this to a superior film level. However, being able to realize a pleasurable experience for 2 out of 3 made this an enjoyable, artful, movie experience. I would have to give this a strong
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  2. Animation Brat: You make an excellent point about the role that expectations play in one's enjoyment of a movie. If one expects great things, then even a slightly underwhelming film can seem quite bad. And the opposite is true as well; if one expects a horrible film then any positive aspects can seem excellent, even if they are not. The only way, perhaps, to truly judge a film would be to watch it with no biases whatsoever. This may be impossible, but even attempting to do this could lead to a more accurate review of a film. Very interesting viewpoint; keep reading and please keep commenting! Thank you - Olie