AMZ Main

News, Reviews, & More





Science of Avatar

3D Tech

Avatar Game

In this section, we highlighted reviews along with awards won and nominations for Avatar

AMZ POLL (closed):

"Rate Avatar the Movie on a scale of
1 (worst) to 10 (best)"

Total Votes: 1,635







The remaining 1.4% rated it 6 or less.

Go to's Avatar page

T-Meter Critics:
Avg. Rating:
Reviews Counted:


Ten Scale Conversion For Critic's Reviews




Sun (Roger Ebert)



















AMZ's Blue Crystal Award

AMZ's Blue Crystal Award
AMZ Visitors give Avatar an online award

AMZ conducted a poll from February to March 2010 asking AMZ visitors to vote for their favorite Avatar Scene. It was a tight race between four key scenes, but the one that edged out . . .


From the launch of the poll, this scene and 'The Gathering of the Clans' took turns in the lead. Also, 'Neytiri holding Jake's human body' and 'Jake and Neytiri's romantic flight' remained closely behind throughout the voting process.

Of course this is just an online award and there is no presentation of the award in place, but nevertheless, AMZ visitors got to have their say in selecting Avatar's Favorite Scene.

Poll Results: (1,870 total votes)

Scene - Votes


Gathering of the Na'vi clans - 124

Neytiri holding Jake's human body - 123

Jake and Neytiri's romantic flight - 119

The Destruction of Home Tree - 96

Jake/Toruk's arrival at Na'vi village - 78

Neytiri drinking from a leaf - 68

Final battle between Jake and Quaritch - 61

Eywa's land/air creatures join battle - 54

Neyitiri/Thanator vs. Quaritch/AMP suit - 51

Jake and the seeds of the sacred tree - 49

Thanator chases Jake - 46

Jake's first flight - 45

Jake's attack on Quaritch's Dragon ship - 45

Tsu'tey takes on soldiers in shuttle - 44

Navi/military armada air battle - 43

Jake's first minutes in his avatar - 43

Neytiri's rage over Jake's confession - 41

Neytiri reacting to her father's death - 37

End scene at Tree of Souls - 37

The escape from Toruk - 32

Jake/Norm see Floating Mountains - 31

You're not in Kansas anymore speech - 31

Quaritch jettisons from flaming ship - 29

Na'vi reaction to the fall of the Hometree - 29

Neytiri and Jake first meet - 29

Fan Lizards light the jungle night - 27

Jake's last video log - 27

Tree of Souls ritual, trying to save Grace - 27

Jake's request to Eywa - 27

Neytiri reacting to
sacred tree destruction - 26

The burning Direhorse - 25

Mo'at's plea to Jake for help - 22

Neytiri takes on the viperwolves - 20

Other scenes received 16 votes or less for the remaining 155 votes.

Top Ten Movies of 2009
Avatar ranked #6

It may have been impossible for James Cameron’s massively expensive epic to live up to the ridiculous hype, but it came pretty close. Featuring some of the best CG work in cinema to date and an incredible 3D experience, Avatar manages to be greatly entertaining for its 2.5 hour runtime.

Now let’s just hope the sequel doesn’t take another 12 years. Click on the source link for their complete top ten list.'s
Top Ten Movies of 2009
A tie for number one: Avatar and District 9
By Gabe | Excerpt:

1) District 9 and Avatar: In my opinion, 2009 was the year of science fiction. Whereas 2008 was the rise of superhero films, i.e. Iron Man, The Dark Knight, and The Incredible Hulk, this year saw a revival of science fiction. This year's trifecta is Avatar, District 9, and Star Trek.

Avatar and District 9 represent two distinct and important sides of movies. District 9 is a unique look at aliens on Earth, and Avatar is James Cameron's beautiful realization of the planet Pandora. One is the little movie that could (District 9), and the other is a man's vision fully realized and committed to film (Avatar). In writing this list, I could not pick a clear victor.

I loved both movies and gave them perfect reviews. Both films have pushed the medium that much more and have set the bar exceptionally high for not only science fiction, but movies in general. Click on the source link for their complete top ten list.

Top Ten Movies of 2009
Avatar: "More than anyone ever believed it would be"
By Tony Daniel | Excerpt:

Newnan's Tony Daniel, a movie enthusiast and actor who has appeared in performances with Newnan Community Theatre Company, shares his Top Ten Movies of 2009. "There is no way to put these in any numerical order, from the greatest to the near great. These are offered, therefore, as the ten I would stash away as the perfect examples of filmmaking to show the distinctive force behind this year's box office totals," Daniel said.

There is going to be a day when I finally stop questioning James Cameron's ability. Every time I see one of his films, I think to myself, "Well, that's the top of the mark. He'll never top that." And every time, I am wrong. Much has been made of the idea that Avatar's plot is a spin on every Western that dared to suggest that the "Indians" might have had a legitimate gripe with the "white man." I cannot deny that fact.

But, with a story like that, woven into imagery of this magnitude, it becomes more than anyone ever believed it would be. When CGI is questioned as an 'easy way out' for some purists, Avatar shows that it is far from easy to create a masterpiece, whether it is in stone, oils, watercolors, or pixels on a computer monitor. Click on the source link for their complete list.

Flixster Users Pick 'Avatar' as 2009's Best
Audiences are responding in a big way
to the 20th Century Fox release
By BoxOffice Staff | Excerpt:

James Cameron's sci-fi extravaganza boasts an incredible 92 percent approval rating on Flixster, which puts it slightly ahead of Star Trek's 91 percent. The Web site tallied over 55 million user ratings for 2009 releases. “It may be true that you can’t please everybody, but Avatar comes about as close as you can get,” says Steve Polsky, president and COO of Flixster.

The top 10 list:

1. Avatar (92% positive)
2. Star Trek (91%)
3. The Blind Side (90%)
4. Up in the Air (88%)
5. Inglourious Basterds (87%)
6. The Hangover (87%)
7. Zombieland (87%)
8. UP (86%)
9. Michael Jackson’s This Is It (85%)
10. Taken and Tyler Perry's I Can Do Bad All By Myself (tie, 83%)

MTV's Top Nine Movie Moments Of 2009
An Avatar movie moment makes their list. Which one?
By Josh Wigler | Excerpt:

Even as moviegoers look ahead towards 2010, it cannot be denied that 2009 was a banner year for blockbuster cinema. Hot off the heels of the domestic box office's single most lucrative weekend ever, there is no question that both Hollywood and the indie scene alike had their best game-faces on this year, resulting in a science-fiction renaissance through the likes of "District 9" as well as more intimate (though no less dangerous) affairs as seen in "The Hurt Locker."

While a movie is only as good as the sum of its parts, it's clear that the films of 2009 had some very, very good parts. From intergalactic space battles to an intense conversational showdown over a glass of milk, these are our nine favorite movie moments of 2009, in no particular order. There are some minor spoilers ahead, so proceed with caution.


Director James Cameron's return to feature filmmaking wasn't always an easy road, thanks to a seemingly insurmountable amount of pre-release hype, but the first time injured Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) linked up to his artificial avatar proved the movie's skeptics wrong. Jake's free sprint from the medical lab to the open fields of Pandora wasn't just his cathartic return to upward mobility — it was also Cameron's way of telling the naysayers, "I told you so."

The remaining nine Best Movie Moments of 2009 are from the following movies: District 9, Drag Me To Hell, The Hurt Locker, Inglourious Basterds, Star Trek, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Up, and Watchmen. Click on the source link for the descriptions of these best movie moments.


Award category
Recipients and nominees

Academy Awards

Best PictureJames Cameron, Jon LandauNominated
Best DirectorJames CameronNominated
Best Art DirectionRick Carter and Robert Stromberg.; Kim Sinclair.Won
Best Achievement in CinematographyMauro FioreWon
Best Film Editing Stephen Rivkin, John Refoua, James CameronNominated
Best Original ScoreJames HornerNominated
Best Sound EditingChristopher Boyes and Gwendolyn Yates WhittleNominated
Best SoundChristopher Boyes, Gary Summers, Andy Nelson and Tony JohnsonNominated
Best Visual Effects Joe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, R. Baneham and A. JonesWon

Academy of Science Fiction Fantasy & Horror Saturn Awards

Best Fantasy FilmJames Cameron, Jon LandauWon
Best DirectorJames CameronWon
Best WritingJames CameronWon
Best ActorSam WorthingtonWon
Best ActressZoe SaldanaWon
Best Supporting ActorStephen LangWon
Best Supporting ActressSigourney WeaverWon
Best MusicJames HornerWon
Best Special EffectsJoe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, R. Baneham, A. JonesWon
Best Production DesignRick Carter, Robert Stromberg Won

American Cinema Editors - Eddie Award

Best Edited FilmJames Cameron, John Refua and Stephen RivkinNominated

American Society of Cinematographers

Outstanding AchievementMauro FioreNominated

Art Directors Guild

Production DesignRick Carter and Robert StrombergWon

Austin Film Critics Association

Top 10 FilmsJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon

Broadcast Film Critics Critic's Choice Awards

Best Action FilmJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon
Best Art DirectionRick Carter and Robert StrombergWon
Best CinematographyMauro FioreWon
Best DirectorJames CameronNominated
Best EditingJames Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen E. RivkinWon
Best FilmJames Cameron and Jon LandauNominated
Best MakeupAvatarNominated
Best SoundC. Boyes, G. Summers, A. Nelson, T. Johnson and A. TeagueWon
Best Visual EffectsJoe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, R. Baneham and A. JonesWon

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Best FilmJames Cameron, Jon LandauNominated
DirectorJames CameronNominated
MusicJames HornerNominated
CinematographyMauro FioreNominated
EditingStephen Rivkin, John Refoua, James CameronNominated
Production DesignRick Carter, Robert Stromberg, Kim SinclairWon
SoundC. Boyes, G. Summers, A. Nelson, T. Johnson, A. TeagueNominated
Special Visual EffectsJoe Letteri, Stephen Rosenbaum, Richard Baneham, A. JonesWon

Black Reel Awards

Best Supporting ActressZoe SaldanaNominated

Chicago Film Critics Association

Best CinematographyMauro FioreNominated
Best Original ScoreJames HornerNominated

Cinema Audio Society Awards

Outstanding Achievement in Sound MixingTony Johnson, Chris Boyes, Gary Summers and Andy NelsonNominated

Costume Designers Guild Awards

Excellence in FantasyMayes C. Rubeo and Deborah Lynn ScottNominated

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association

Top 10 FilmsJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon

Directors Guild of America

Outstanding DirectingJames CameronNominated

Florida Film Critics Circle

Best CinematographyMauro FioreWon

Golden Globe Awards

Best DirectorJames CameronWon
Best Film – DramaWon
Best Original ScoreJames HornerNominated
Best Original SongSimon Franglen, Kuk Harrell and James HornerNominated

Golden Reel Awards - Best Sound Editing

MusicJim Henrikson, Dick Bernstein, Michael BauerWon
Dialogue and ADRG. Whittle, K. Foscato, C. Nardi, M. Winn, P. Bach & othersNominated
Effects and FoleyA. Teague, C. Boyes, L. Glelmuda, J. Likowski & othersWon

Houston Film Critics Society

Best PictureJames Cameron and Jon LandauNominated
Best DirectorJames CameronNominated
Best CinematographyMauro Fiore and Vince PaceNominated
Best Original ScoreJames HornerNominated

Hugo Awards

Best Dramatic PresentationJames CameronNominated

Las Vegas Film Critics Society - Sierra Award

Best Art DirectionRick Carter and Robert StrombergWon

London Film Critics' Circle

Director of the YearJames CameronNominated
Film of the YearJames Cameron and Jon LandauNominated

MTV Movie Awards

Best MovieAvatarNominated
Best Male PerformanceSam WorthingtonNominated
Best Female PerformanceZoe SaldanaNominated
Best VillainStephen LangNominated
Best FightSam Worthington vs. Stephen LangNominated
Best KissZoe Saldana and Sam WorthingtonNominated

NAACP Image Awards

Best Supporting ActressZoe SaldanaNominated

National Society of Film Critics

Best Production DesignRick Carter and Robert StrombergNominated

New York Online Film Critics

Best FilmJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon
Top 11 FilmsJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon

Oklahoma Film Critics Circle

Best Ten FilmsJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon

Online Film Critics Society

Best CinematographyMauro FioreNominated
Best DirectorJames CameronNominated
Best EditingJames Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen E. RivkinNominated

PETA's Proggy award

Outstanding Feature FilmJames CameronWon

Phoenix Film Critics Society

Best CinematographyMauro FioreWon
Best Film EditingJames Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen E. RivkinWon
Best Production DesignRick Carter and Robert StrombergWon
Best Visual EffectsJoe Letteri, S. Rosenbaum, R. Baneham and A. JonesWon

Producers Guild of America

Producer of the YearJames Cameron and Jon LandauNominated

San Diego Film Critics Society

Best DirectorJames CameronNominated
Best Production DesignRick Carter and Robert StrombergNominated

Santa Barbara International Film Festival

Modern Master AwardJames CameronWon
Best Visual EffectsJoe Letteri, S. Rosenbaum, R. Baneham and A. JonesWon
Most Creative FilmJames Cameron and Jon LandauWon

Visual Effects Society Awards

Best Visual EffectsRichard Baneham, Joyce Cox, Joe Letteri, & Eileen MoranWon
Best Single Visual Effect - Quaritch's EscapeJill Brooks, John Knoll, Frank L. Petterson, & T.MercerNominated
Best Single Visual Effect - Neytiri DrinkingThelvin Cabezas, Joyce Cox, Joe Letteri, & Eileen MoranWon
Best Animated CharacterAndrew R. Jones, Joe Letteri, Zoe Saldana, & Jeff UnayWon
Best Matte PaintingsJ. Azzis, P. Baustaedter, B. Cottman, & Y. MuindeWon
Best Models and MiniaturesS. Cheung, P. Jenness, J. Stevenson-Galvin, & R. ZoettlWon
Best Created Environment - Floating MountainsDan Lemmon, VKeith F. Miller, & Cameron SmithNominated
Best Created Environment - Jungle / BiolumeS. Almassizadeh, J. Cowley, D. Cox, Rademeyer, & SaindonWon
Best Created Environment - Willow GladeThelvin Cabezas, Miae Kang, Daniel Macarin, & Guy WilliamsNominated
Best CompositingE. Eder, R. Hollander, G. Tagliavini, & E. WinquistNominated
Best Compositing - End BattleJay Cooper, Beth D'Amato, Eddie Pasquarello, & Todd VaziriNominated
Lifetime AchievementJames CameronWon

Writers Guild of America

Best Original ScreenplayJames CameronNominated


Empire Rates Avatar 5 out of 5 Stars
By Chris Hewitt | Excerpt:

Avatar is unequivocally, completely, 100% the film that has been percolating in James Cameron’s head for the last fourteen years. It is not, in all probability, the film that you had in yours when you first heard that the man who directed Aliens and The Terminator was returning to sci-fi with a movie so ambitious that he had to build the technology to make it happen.

If you can let go of your version and embrace Cameron’s – if you’re not, in other words, one of those splenetic internet fanboy types who’ve apparently made their minds up about Avatar before seeing it – then Avatar is a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful and exciting in the way that only comes from seeing a master artist at work.

Let’s address the Big Question first: to use the key phrase so often used in connection with the movie, is it a game-changer? Yes, and no would be the cop-out answer, but it’s also the truth. Avatar employs technology necessary to render its largely computer-generated, 3D world that will give directors, including but not limited to Cameron, one heck of a sandbox to play in over the next few years. That’s how the game has changed off screen.

On it, it may not be a game-changer, but no director to date has built a world of this scale, ambition and complexity before, and Avatar – much as the arrival of Raymond van Barneveld forced Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor to up his game – will have rival directors scrambling to keep up with Cameron. Avatar is an astonishing feast for the eyes and ears, with shots and sequences that boggle the mind, from the epic – a floating mountain range in the sky, waterfalls cascading into nothingness – to the tiny details, such as a paraplegic sinking his new, blue and fully operational toes into the sand. The level of detail here is simply amazing.

And Cameron plunges you straight in, not even giving you time to don water wings. In a dizzyingly fast, almost impressionistic opening ten minutes, we’re introduced, in no short order, to everything you need to know for the next 150: about Pandora’s climate and largely deadly population, about Jake Sully’s situation, about the Avatar programme and the ruthless plans of the human invaders (led by Stephen Lang’s Col.

Quaritch and Giovanni Ribisi’s Selfridge, a clear nod to Aliens’ Carter Burke, one of several touches reminiscent of Cameron’s earlier masterpiece). And then we’re off and running, literally, into an action sequence where Jake-Avatar barely survives encounters with unfriendly local wildlife that would make Ray Mears cream his shorts.

And it’s here where Cameron begins the detour from the all-out actionfest that many might have expected, choosing instead to slow things down over a three-month time period in which Jake – hair and beard markedly growing in the live-action sequences – immerses himself in the Na’vi culture, and gradually finds himself losing his heart to their ways and practices, and, in particular, Zoe Saldana’s fierce warrioress, Neytiri.

The lack of a ticking clock plot device here may deprive Avatar of momentum or drive through its middle-section, but it’s also part of Cameron’s agenda. After all, he’s also the guy who directed Titanic, and Avatar isn’t just about stupendous action, but a love story. We need hardly be surprised by this – every Cameron film, even True Lies, has a love story at its core – but the surprise here is how effective Avatar’s central coupling is, the emotion between Jake and Neytiri earthed by Weta’s astonishing digital effects.

You can safely stow away all that spurious crap about videogame-style effects, or blue Jar Jars: this is truly next-level stuff, which doesn't smother Worthington and Saldana under a pile of pixels, but rather teases out and enhances the emotion in their excellent performances.

The Na’vi, each of whom has clearly distinct features (no small feat for a clan of some several hundred creatures) may not always seem photo-real, but they do seem – and this is crucial – alive and extremely expressive, helped by the fact that the dead-eye problem, which has plagued mo-cap movies since their inception, has been well and truly solved. Click on the source link for the complete review. Rates Avatar 9 out of 10!
By Scott Chitwood | Excerpt:

Amazing creatures, cool environments, impressive 3-D effects, and awesome action scenes make "Avatar" the must-see movie of the 2009 holiday season. While the story is quite familiar, there's more than enough visual spectacle to make up for it.

What Worked:

First and foremost, the world of Pandora is absolutely amazing. Every plant, animal, and environment is incredibly imaginative. James Cameron takes the familiar and puts a new spin on it to create an incredible, yet entirely realistic feeling world.

It's quite apparent that his deep-sea explorations over the last few years had a huge influence on the world of Pandora. Plants look and act like coral, creatures float through the air like jellyfish, and everything is bioluminescent like deepwater creatures. It's visually stunning and it makes you think what could possibly be out there in space waiting to be discovered on another planet.

A lot of people complain about the overuse of CGI, but this is a case where it is done right. You become so totally immersed in the world that you forget it is all digital. Every drop of water, every blade of grass, every beam of light, and everything on the screen was completely CGI. When you start thinking about the technological feats it took to get all that imagery up on the screen, it absolutely boggles the mind.

Entirely CGI characters are very risky business. They can either fail horribly (Jar Jar Binks) or work perfectly (Gollum). This is a case where they're working perfectly. Despite being 9 ft tall and blue, you quickly forget you're watching a highly detailed cartoon. They capture the facial expressions of the actors and actresses perfectly. This is especially the case with Zoe Saldana as Neytiri. When she's angry or agitated, they exactly capture her performance. They're amazingly expressive. I was also amazed at how much Sigourney Weaver's avatar looked like her. Overall, this is great character animation.

On the live-action side, the cast is excellent across the board. Sam Worthington really gets to shine as Jake Sully. He has the right mix of naiveté, toughness, and cockiness. You believe his transition from a marine obeying orders to a man literally 'gone native.' While Zoe Saldana is entirely CGI as Neytiri, she's no less impressive in her performance as previously mentioned. She's passionate and she manages to deliver the imaginary Na'vi language in a convincing manner. Sigourney Weaver is always a favorite of mine and it's cool to see her here as Grace.

When she's in the lab, she's a tough old broad. But when she's in her avatar in the Pandora environment, she really comes alive. It's a nice touch for her character. The other real standout among the cast is Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. This guy is someone you don't want to mess with. Cameron goes out of his way to make this guy tough. In one scene he barrels out a door without an oxygen mask just to try and take potshots at escaping prisoners. In another scene he's literally on fire and he doesn't stop what he's doing. Combine him with one of the armored AMP suits and you have someone that could tussle with both the Terminator and the Alien queen combined.

James Cameron is known for his action scenes and he certainly delivers here. We get some great scenes of Jake's avatar being pursued by an attacking panther-like beast. We get some absolutely thrilling scenes of Jake learning to fly his banshee creature. Then when everything hits the fan in the grand finale, we get a spectacular aerial battle between the helicopter gunships and the Na'vi riding the banshees. It's pretty spectacular and any sci-fi fan worth his lightsaber or pointy ears will get goosebumps seeing Jake's avatar in warpaint firing a gun at a spaceship while flying what's essentially a big dragon. This is the kind of stuff geeks live for.

If it's at all possible, see this in 3-D. "Avatar" is a cool movie without it, but this will add the icing on the cake. When Jake and Neytiri climb trees and run across branches hundreds of feet in the air, you get a real sense of height. When Jake walks through the Pandora forest, every leaf, branch, and flying creature pops off the screen. And needless to say the flying battle in the finale looks amazing. You'll thank yourself for going out of your way to see it in 3-D.

What Didn't Work:

As far as what didn't work goes, an easy thing to point at is the overall story. This is, essentially, "Dances with Wolves" set on an alien planet. But you know what? This is a story that has been told many, many times. Look at anything from "A Man Called Horse" to the biblical story of Moses. The story of men identifying with another people and aiding them in a fight for survival is thousands of years old. If you're going to have a familiar story, it's not a bad one to have. The only down side is that it is a bit predictable. If anything, that's what "Avatar" suffers from.

Along those lines, I almost wish I had gone into "Avatar" knowing absolutely nothing in advance. Having seen the trailers and commercials, it took away from some of the wonder of discovering the world of Pandora. The ads not only showed almost all of the environments and creatures, but it laid out the entire plot. Considering how much money Fox has invested in "Avatar," you can't expect them to not show anything, but it did steal some thunder from the film. Click on the source link for the complete review. Avatar Review
'Avatar is Truly Indistinguishable from Magic'
By Brandon Lee Tenney | Excerpt:

"They don't make movies like this anymore." A friend of mine said that to me before the lights dimmed, before the reason we were all there in that theatre began. After Avatar arrives in theaters, quotes like the one above take on new significance.

No longer can those words be said for the sole sake of irony. Or in jest. They may not make movies like this, like Avatar, often enough, but because of James Cameron — because of the ten or so years he built Avatar with, because of his many, many years of experience he used as its foundation — they do, indeed, make movies like this. And its title is Avatar.

A film whose vision was so grand upon conception, an undertaking so massive, that to wait was the only option. A film that pioneered technology while inventing techniques that will be used by other filmmakers for years to come. A film that was supposed to change the landscape of filmmaking as we know it.

The Technical:

Avatar is unlike anything I've ever seen. And when I say that, make no mistake, I've purposefully left off any qualifier. It's not just unlike anything I've ever seen in theatres or in comic books or in my own imagination; Avatar is unlike anything I've ever seen, period. Technically — and by that, I mean the film's sheer technological accomplishments — it's a marvel. Every second of the hundreds of people's hard work in the motion capture studio or behind a camera or in front of a computer is felt. It's crisp, it's colorful, it's spectacular. The 3D pops unlike any that's come before it.

Cameron uses it to enhance each and every scene in a way that makes it feel irreplaceable (something that will be sorely felt when this movie is only available in two measly dimensions for home viewing). The 3D serves an even greater importance, though. It's used to cement your brain on Pandora, with the Na'vi, in the year 2154; and it's unequivocally successful. Actual particles of dust — they, themselves, CG — float around a totally CG environment in 3D. When you're looking at the screen, you are on Pandora. Every single frame of this film is reality; at least it feels that way.

Every species of plant and animal is so fully realized, each designed and created with purpose, each so believable that they're so easily accepted it's as if I've known of these creatures from text books all my life; it's just that only now I'm laying my own eyes on them for the first time. It's the Na'vi, the blue, ten-feet tall bipedal indigenous race that's the toughest hurdle to clear. The film itself rests upon the audience's ability to not only suspend their disbelief of the Na'vi, but to actively, intellectually and emotionally believe in the Na'vi.

Simply, can you look at that blue face, into those yellow eyes and see a complex, thinking, feeling, loving, dynamic creature and not a bunch of 1s and 0s? Without question — and without hesitation — I could. The motion capture translation from human actor to CG-rendered Na'vi is as close as I've ever seen it come to one-to-one. Those performances are Sam Worthington's and Zoe Saldana's. It is Sigourney Weaver in there, too, as faithfully as if she was only wearing a mask. And there's life in those Na'vi's eyes. It's been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

The Performances:

Avatar's is a cast whose performances are ones you'd never want to cover up or bastardize. Avatar's is a story that demands the output of one hundred percent of its emotion. And Avatar is a film that relies heavily on technology to make sure both of these things happen. That technology: motion capture. Well, technology prevails. These are honest, thoughtful, well played performances in Avatar. During the considerable amount of time the actors are not donning their avatars, their performances are top notch.

Sigourney Weaver, especially, gives an award-worthy portrayal of Grace, lead scientist on Pandora. It helps that her character is written so damned well, but I can't imagine anyone else playing that role. Sam Worthington, when in his human form, is subtle and reserved. He captures a quiet intensity that's necessary to sell his, at times, sinister choices and even more so his insurmountable passion.

Personifying everything wrong with America today (and still in 2154), Giovanni Ribisi plays what is ostensibly Paul Reiser's character in Aliens but does so with enough arrogance and ignorance that no matter how similar he feels — hell, because he's so similar — you hate him and whatever corporation he answers to. And then there's Stephen Lang: the ultimate badass. A no-nonsense colonel who you'd want on your side any day of the week if there's a tussle. Lang takes what is, essentially, a one-note villain and shapes him into a memorable, simply awesome roughneck.

The End:

There's so much to be said about the thoughtfulness of the the design (from the way the human technology looks plausible and functional, worn and broken in, spacecraft that is utterly believable and industrial military vehicles that look like they do what they're meant to and damned well to the computer systems to the ecosystem of Pandora itself, which is incredibly rich and vibrant). There's so much to analyze about the films intents, its themes and messages of peace, of harmony with the environment and of good triumphing over evil.

There's such an intriguing amount to be described about Sam Worthington's character Jake Sully; his movement from lost soul to company man to enlightened individual to Pandora-rattling leader. The sheer power of his mind, able to overcome the shortcomings of his war torn, paralyzed body. And there's so much to delve into about war in general. And of course there's the little things, the moments of awe and enrapturing excitement. As perfect a blend of the technological future of filmmaking with the age-old storytelling techniques of a master storyteller. Click on the source link for the complete review.

Rolling Stone Avatar Review:
3.5 out of 4 Stars
By Peter Travers | Excerpt:

Oscar can relax. The epic crowd-pleaser the Academy lusted for is here, the one to show that the geezer voters are hip to what the kids want (3-D IMAX) and what the industry needs (the kind of wowser you'll pay to see on a big screen).

James Cameron's tone-deaf but thunderously exciting Avatar, costing a record $300 million, is just the thing to pump box-office blood into Oscar's idiotically expanded Best Picture category (10 nominees instead of the usual five). Nevermind my preference for the life-sized likes of Precious, The Hurt Locker, Up in the Air and An Education. They look puny next to the computerized giants at play in the fields of Lord Cameron.

Unlike hack-of-the-decade Michael Bay, who can transform anything into instant stupid, Cameron knows how to harness technology to storytelling. He's been cooking up the plot of Avatar since childhood. The basics? Humans are bad. It's 2154, and the Earth is dying. To survive we need a mineral called Unobtainium (a joke term popularized by engineers). To get it we travel to the alien moon of Pandora and abuse its natives. They are the blue-skinned, yellow-eyed, 10-foot tall Na'vi, who hug trees but hate on intrusive humans.

The Na'vi are good, in similar ways to the indigenous people that America has historically exploited. The computerized creation that is Pandora overflows with beauty and terror (those banshees are a wonder) that dwarves the mundane stuff where the villains, military (Stephen Lang) and corporate (Giovanni Ribisi), bluster with predictable results. The last third of the movie, a battle between the Na'vi and their human destroyers, is a groundbreaking blend of digital and live-action.

OK, it's unnerving that a movie preaching peace hits its visual peak with scenes of mass destruction. But Avatar is no Hollywood wankfest. It extends the possibilities of what movies can do. Cameron's talent may just be as big as his dreams. Click on the source link for the complete review.

Roger Ebert Rates Avatar 4 out of 4!
By Roger Ebert | Excerpt:

Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his "Titanic" was.

Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.

"Avatar" is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings.

It invents a new language, Na'vi, as "Lord of the Rings" did, although mercifully I doubt this one can be spoken by humans, even teenage humans. It creates new movie stars. It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.

Like "Star Wars" and "LOTR," "Avatar" employs a new generation of special effects. Cameron said it would, and many doubted him. It does. Pandora is bevy largely CGI. The Na'vi are embodied through motion capture techniques, convincingly. They look like specific, persuasive individuals, yet sidestep the eerie Uncanny Valley effect. And Cameron and his artists succeed at the difficult challenge of making Neytiri a green-skinned giantess with golden eyes and a long, supple tail, and yet--I'll be damned. Sexy.

At 163 minutes, the film doesn't feel too long. It contains so much. The human stories. The Na'vi stories, for the Na'vi are also developed as individuals. The complexity of the planet, which harbors a global secret. The ultimate warfare, with Jake joining the resistance against his former comrades. Small graceful details like a floating creature that looks like a cross between a blowing dandelion seed and a drifting jellyfish, and embodies goodness. Or astonishing floating cloud-islands.

I've complained that many recent films abandon story telling in their third acts and go for wall-to-wall action. Cameron essentially does that here, but has invested well in establishing his characters so that it matters what they do in battle and how they do it. There are issues at stake greater than simply which side wins.

Cameron promised he'd unveil the next generation of 3-D in "Avatar." I'm a notorious skeptic about this process, a needless distraction from the perfect realism of movies in 2-D. Cameron's iteration is the best I've seen -- and more importantly, one of the most carefully-employed. The film never uses 3-D simply because it has it, and doesn't promiscuously violate the fourth wall. He also seems quite aware of 3-D's weakness for dimming the picture, and even with a film set largely in interiors and a rain forest, there's sufficient light. I saw the film in 3-D on a good screen at the AMC River East and was impressed. It might be awesome in True IMAX. Good luck in getting a ticket before February.

It takes a hell of a lot of nerve for a man to stand up at the Oscarcast and proclaim himself King of the World. James Cameron just got re-elected. Click on the source link for the complete review.

THR Avatar Review
Bottom Line: A titanic entertainment
-- movie magic is back!
By Kirk Honeycutt | Excerpt:

A dozen years later, James Cameron has proven his point: He is king of the world. As commander-in-chief of an army of visual-effects technicians, creature designers, motion-capture mavens, stunt performers, dancers, actors and music and sound magicians, he brings science-fiction movies into the 21st century with the jaw-dropping wonder that is "Avatar." And he did it almost from scratch.

After writing this story many years ago, he discovered that the technology he needed to make it happen did not exist. So, he went out and created it in collaboration with the best effects minds in the business. This is motion capture brought to a new high where every detail of the actors' performances gets preserved in the final CG character as they appear on the screen. Yes, those eyes are no longer dead holes but big and expressive, almost dominating the wide and long alien faces.

The movie is 161 minutes and flies by in a rush. Repeat business? You bet. "Titanic"-level business? That level may never be reached again, but Fox will see more than enough grosses worldwide to cover its bet on Cameron. What a glory Cameron has created for Jake to romp in, all in a crisp 3D realism. It's every fairy tale about flying dragons, magic plants, weirdly hypnotic creepy-crawlies and feral dogs rolled up into a rain forest with a highly advanced spiritual design.

It seems -- although the scientists led by Sigourney Weaver's top doc have barely scratched the surface -- a flow of energy ripples through the roots of trees and the spores of the plants, which the Na'vi know how to tap into. The battle for Pandora occupies much of the final third of the film. The planet's animal life -- the creatures of the ground and air -- give battle along with the Na'vi, but they come up against projectiles, bombs and armor that seemingly will be their ruin. As with everything in "Avatar," Cameron has coolly thought things through.

With every visual tool he can muster, he takes viewers through the battle like a master tactician, demonstrating how every turn in the fight, every valiant death or cowardly act, changes its course. The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-'em-ups you care to mention (watch the "Avatar" video game trailer here). In years of development and four years of production no detail in the pic is unimportant. Cameron's collaborators excel beginning with the actors.

Whether in human shape or as natives, they all bring terrific vitality to their roles. Mauro Fiore's cinematography is dazzling as it melts all the visual elements into a science-fiction whole. You believe in Pandora. Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg's design brings Cameron's screenplay to life with disarming ease. James Horner's score never intrudes but subtlety eggs the action on while the editing attributed to Cameron, Stephen Rivkin and John Refoua maintains a breathless pace that exhilarates rather than fatigues. Not a minute is wasted; there is no down time. The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this? Click on the source link for the complete review.

Corliss Appraises Avatar:
Cameron's World of Wonder
By Richard Corliss | Excerpt:

The planet Pandora that Cameron and his army of artist-technicians have created — at a budget believed to be in excess of $300 million — is a wonder world of flora and fauna: a rainforest (where it never rains) of gigantic trees and phosphorescent plants.

Living among these creatures is Pandora's humanish tribe, the Na'vi: a lean, 10-ft.-tall, blue-striped people with green eyes, or what mankind might have been if it had evolved in harmony with, not opposition to, the edenic environment that gave rise to its birth. For me to say that Avatar is better than Titanic is not the highest possible praise. I was no ardent fan of Cameron's grafting of a poor-boy/rich-girl love story tacked onto the true saga of that doomed ship which set sail from Southampton back in 1912.

But it became a night to remember with enough moviegoers to become the all-time top-grossing film with a take of just over $1.8 billion (though it ranks sixth in real dollars, after Gone With the Wind, Star Wars, The Sound of Music, E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial and the 1956 version of The Ten Commandments). What Cameron earned from Titanic's enormous success was the cachet (11 Oscars) and cash, to actually make Avatar, which has been called the most expensive picture ever made (though, again in real dollars, that record is probably held by 1963s Cleopatra). That shouldn't matter to viewers.

The democratizing principles of the box office is that moviegoers pay the same amount to see Avatar, in its 2-D form, as they did for Paranormal Activity with its $11,000 budget. The only question they need have is: Is the movie worth it? I say yes; for Avatar is a state-of-the-art experience that, for years to come, will define what movies can achieve, not in duplicating our existence but in confecting new ones.

Some of the dialogue in Avatar's opening sequences may be on the starchy side — Cameron was never a great director of actors nor sympathetic to their sensitive needs — but objections shrink to quibbles, and then simply disappear, in the face of the picture's unprecedented visual flourishes. Once again Cameron has devised a romance similar to Titanic's — an American grunt falls in love with a Na'vi princess — but this time with far more emotive power. Instead of embracing on a ship's prow, they ride their banshee steeds in ecstatic communion across the Pandoran sky.

Think of them as the prince and princess of the world. Worthington, an Australian actor who had the second lead in the recent Terminator movie, has little of Leonardo DiCaprio's star power; but the resolve and good nature he radiates make Jake one of those ordinary heroes who rise to extraordinary heights. Saldana, though encased in CGI blue throughout the movie, manages to be the movie's driving force: yet again in a Cameron film, we find a strong woman seeking a man whose strength she can tap. But unlike the tryst between DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, this love affair has consequences.

It is not a footnote to history; it makes history, as two species merge to save a planet. And by a planet, Cameron clearly means our planet. Among his activities in the dozen years since Titanic, the director made two underwater documentaries (Ghosts of the Abyss and Aliens of the Deep) that marked him as both an explorer and a conservationist. Avatar brings his social concerns to the surface. The rooting interest in Avatar is for the Na'vi, and against the American ex-soldiers whose job it is to police the planet.

When some of them die, in the battle that consumes the final third of this 2hr.42min. extravaganza, you're meant to cheer. And you will. That climactic face-off is stage-managed for maximum thrills, as the creatures we met in the first part of the film join the Na'vi in opposing the rotten humans. But the supreme joy of Avatar is in its long central portion: a safari through the luscious landscape of Pandora.

After all those years on the water (with Titanic) and underwater (with The Abyss and his two documentaries), Cameron has surfaced to put his vision of Pandora on screen. It's an impossible but completely plausible and seductive world that invites your total immersion. Don't resist it; sink in and fly with it. All Cameron asks is that you open your eyes. Click on the source link for the complete review.

Review from Variety
By Todd McCarthy | Excerpt:

The King of the World sets his sights on creating another world entirely in "Avatar," and it's very much a place worth visiting.

The most expensive and technically ambitious film ever made, James Cameron's long-gestating epic pitting Earthly despoilers against a forest-dwelling alien race delivers breathtaking sights, narrative excitement and an overarching anti-imperialist, back-to-nature theme that will play very well around the world, and yet is rather ironic coming from such a technology-driven picture.

Twelve years after "Titanic," which still stands as the all-time B.O. champ, Cameron delivers again with a film of universal appeal that just about everyone who ever goes to the movies will need to see. Cameron reportedly wrote the story, if not the full script, for "Avatar" at least 15 years ago but decided he had to wait until visual effects capabilities advanced sufficiently to credibly render his imagined world and its inhabitants.

On this fundamental level, the picture is a triumph; it's all of a piece, in no way looking like a vague mish-mash of live-action, CGI backdrops, animation, performance capture and post-production effects. On top of that, the 3D is agreeably unemphatic, drawing the viewer into the action without calling attention to itself. The third dimension functions as an enhancement, not a raison d'etre, so the film will look perfectly fine without it. (When it opens domestically on Dec. 15, approximately 2100 screens will feature 3D, with another 1200 in 2D.) Then there's the appearance of the indigenous Na'vi clan.

In the wake of the still photographs, trailers and 15-minute appetizer offered up by Fox in recent months, a certain wait-and-see reaction could be felt that raised mild doubts about how physically appealing the protagonists would be. But once they're introduced in the context of the picture, these blue-skinned, yellow-eyed creatures quickly become captivating, even sexy, with their rangy height, slim and elongated bodies and skimpy wardrobe, and the grace and dexterity with which they move.

Early glimpses of the intergalactic spaceship, weightless crew members and Avatars floating in liquid-filled cylinders are mere teasers for the wonders awaiting on Pandora itself. Unlike most sci-fi and action films, which seem compelled by formula to kick off with a slam-bang opening and then punctuate things with more mayhem every 20 minutes or so, "Avatar" more gently escorts the viewer into its new world while utilizing a classical three-act structure.

Cameron's extensive experience on deep-water ocean dives, which resulted in a couple of Imax 3D documentaries, no doubt influenced the glowing, luminous nature of some of the plant life and floating seeds that waft through the environment's atmosphere, while the grander landscapes offer staggering vistas of places that are perhaps most reminiscent of South America, just as the Na'vi most strongly call to mind the natives of the Americas in their customs and tribal manners. For their language, which is extensively spoken with subtitled translation, Cameron had a professor, Paul Frommer, invent a tongue of more than 1,000 words from scratch, although Neytiri, among others, has previously learned pretty good English from Grace.

Thematically, the film also plays too simplistically into stereotypical evil-white-empire/virtuous-native cliches, especially since the invaders are presumably on an environmental rescue mission on behalf of the entire world, not just the U.S. Script is rooted very much in a contemporary eco-green mindset, which makes its positions and the sympathies it encourages entirely predictable and unchallenging.

On an experiential level, however, "Avatar" is all-enveloping and transporting, with Cameron & Co.'s years of R&D paying off with a film that, as his work has done before, raises the technical bar and throws down a challenge for the many other filmmakers toiling in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. The lead team from Weta in New Zealand as well as the numerous other visual-effects and animation firms involved have done marvelous and exacting work, a compliment that extends to every other craft and technical contribution on view.

Playing a grunt in a crewcut before his transformation, Worthington is tough, gruff and assertive as the genetic pioneer turned insurrectionist, while Saldana proves her mettle as yet another kickass Cameron heroine. Lang, already seen to great advantage this year in "Public Enemies," is a relentless militarist par excellence, while Weaver, looking great wearing a Stanford T-shirt, no doubt a personal touch by the alum, is wonderfully authoritative as a scientist so unimpeachable that she can get away with smoking on board an intergalactic spaceship. Click on the source link for the complete review.

All of the articles on this page are excerpts, click on the source link for the complete article

AMZ Main

News, Reviews, & More





Science of Avatar

3D Tech

Avatar Game

Site Info | Site design by SFMZone. Copyright 2010 All Rights Reserved. | TOP^