Written by

Directed by James Cameron

 Stephen Lang, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana






When James Cameron stood up at the Oscars ceremony and shouted “I’m the King of the World,” by Hollywood standards he really was.  Now his new film “Avatar,” something he’s been working on for decades, including four years of production, is out in 3-D, and although it channels the elements of “Dances With Wolves,” “Apocalypse Now,” and about a dozen other features, it’s well worth seeing; it’s exciting, has good people who simply want to be left alone fighting bad armies – in this case the U.S. Marines – and unlike most American features the good people win the war.  What more could we ask for?


There’s a moon, Pandora, which has unlimited quantities of, dare I say it, unobtainium, and why did Cameron, who gets sole screenwriting and directing credit, have to use that name, I’ll never know, along with wonderful 10-foot-tall creatures that are all blue, with tails that have a chemical bond with the trees, and lots of flying creatures in their jungles. Plus the most beautiful flying seeds that look somewhat like floating jellyfish only more gorgeous.  Meanwhile the Earth is dying, and unobtainium will restore life there if only they mine enough unobtainium and bring it back.  Unfortunately the big deposit sits under a sacred tree, and you can see how the people are unwilling to give up their tree.


The Marines are led by Col. Miles  Quaritch (Stephen Lang), while a lowly jarhead Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is assigned to become an avatar of his body and mind, in hopes of helping the Na’Vi people to move away from their tree.  Helped by Sigourney Weaver and a few others, he finds love with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and together she teaches him all about Na’Vi life and love, just in time to repel the attack of Col. Quaritch and his crushing ships.


There’s a lot more; Jake has lost the use of his legs in a prior U.S. war, and the Colonel. keeps telling him that as soon as he’s done here he’ll get the use of them restored back on earth.  But as an avatar he can fly and leap with all his appendages, which is much better than going back paralyzed.  The way Cameron has photographed the smooth and scary beauties of the Avatars’ travel through the jungle is spectactular, even moving to us earth-bound creatures.

”Avatar” is compelling and fascinating from beginning to end, though I found myself keeping an emotional distance from the action instead of being swept up by people who seemed more cardboard figures than flesh-and-blood, well, Avatars.  But I think this is due to Cameron’s clunky writing of each character – never his strong suit – but without a doubt this is a film not to be missed; in a sense it is 2009’s great film event.  The images I saw will stay with me for a long time.