Movie Review: Avatar (2009)

With Star Trek, Gene Rodenberry sought to “seek out new worlds and to boldly go where no man has gone before.” With the $300,000,000 bombshell that is Avatar, James Cameron can proudly stand with Peter Jackson (remember his little Lord of the Rings trilogy?) and proclaim he too has gone where none have gone before.

The planet of Pandora as conceived from the mind of Cameron and constructed with super-computers fit for the military is beyond fascinating to gaze upon. Lush forests with phosphorous vegetation house mammoth trees spiraling hundreds of feet into the air. Above the canopy, jagged floating mountains dot the sky. This is no serene setting. Oh no. Jackal-like creatures hunt their prey in packs. Panther-esque creatures barrel through the vegetation in search of food. Great winged creatures dive bomb for meals from the sky. Coexisting with these animals are the Na’vi.

And they live upon what we, the humans, want — unobtainium.

Pushing evil capitalism to its extremes, a mining corporation hires marines to raze the land of the Na’vi, so they can plunder the valuable mineral deposits on their lands. In a diplomatic endeavor, a scientist Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) creates an Avatar program that genetically engineers humans with the body of a Na’vi, so humans can communicate with the natives and come to a nonconfrontational solution. If you’re confused, think The Matrix, but with people morphing into tall, graceful blue skinned people instead of manifestations of themselves. One of the chosen few for the program is a crippled Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) — the perfect candidate as a new Avatar is not needed for him since he can use his deceased twin brother’s, and from a military standpoint great for relaying key information to Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) on the Na’vi’s strengths and weaknesses.

As Avatar progresses, Cameron’s liberal, eco-friendly stance becomes more and more abundantly clear. Scully begins to empathize with the Na’vi — falling in love with a warrior princess Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and seeking oneness with Pandora’s mythical mother. The natives are one with the land, an integral part of the circle of life — never killing without need; never destroying without cause. The humans, Scully begins to realize, are murderous monsters that need to be stopped at all costs. He sides with his alien counterparts.

As a man conflicted, Worthington is quite good. His gradual descent into choosing whether or not to abandon his own race is well acted. Saldana, sadly, is only seen in Avatar CGI form but her voice talents capture the plight of her inner struggle and that of her people’s. The award, however, goes to Lang as the omnipotent military overlord of the operation. This guy is just plain nasty — any man willing to fight to the very end for a cause he could give a damn about is a man you don’t want to meet in a dark alleyway.

Visual 3D orgasm aside, in the end, Avatar is a supped up version of Dances with Wolves. The white man is still the plunderer. The Na’vi are the American Indians. Scully is Dunbar. That doesn’t mean the film isn’t very well told — it most certainly is. The point is Avatar deftly uses stunning visuals and computer horsepower to mask the fact you’ve seen this story in another form already (if you haven’t, do so). It is done so damn well, actually, that I nearly missed it myself. Costner’s flick is a must see and so is this.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
5 Star Rating: Fantastic


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The Critical Movie Critics

I'm an old, miserable fart set in his ways. Some of the things that bring a smile to my face are (in no particular order): Teenage back acne, the rain on my face, long walks on the beach and redneck women named Francis. Oh yeah, I like to watch and criticize movies.

'Movie Review: Avatar (2009)' have 24 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 21, 2009 @ 7:17 pm Ricky Bellidorn

    If you want an incredible cinema experience then you have to see Avatar in IMAX!!

    I’ve never had so much fun watching a three hour movie! :)

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 22, 2009 @ 3:22 am Aaron Barr

    It’s a sci-fi movie that can thrill and captivate audiences. A futuristic breathtaking movie that everybody will surely love to watch.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 23, 2009 @ 4:55 pm Avalon

    Avatar is definitely a movie that should only be seen in 3D. The visual effects are amazing. The storyline is nothing new but the visuals in 3D definitely make up for it.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 24, 2009 @ 11:54 am Seth

    “liberal, eco-friendly stance”?

    Maybe you need to step away from the hardline conservative stance you’ve got there. Cameron stresses the relationship between the Na’vi and their world but he isn’t politicizing it. You are.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      December 25, 2009 @ 2:01 pm General Disdain

      I’m not politicizing anything. Cameron spends a great deal of time making the “corporation” look bad while beating the drum of land preservation. I just took note of it.

  5. The Critical Movie Critics

    December 31, 2009 @ 12:04 am nintendo dsi r4

    Though certainly not the pioneering experience it’s been touted as, Avatar is an exciting, visually arresting, and occasionally powerful slab of Hollywood filmmaking driven by one of the industry’s most committed, passionate, stand-alone creative forces.

  6. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 14, 2010 @ 2:43 am Julie Simpson

    Dances With The Wolves does come into mind yea. Avatar’s storyline is just that though…predictable but it’s a story that has been proved to work again and again in a number of other movies. I can’t complain.

    In fact, I LOVE this movie. I’ve watched it 3 times already because I want to experience the 3D on big screen as much as I can while I can. The visuals are just amazing especially starting from the fluorescent night scene where Worthington interacts with Saldana for the first time. I think I had my mouth half open for a good portion of the movie the first time I watched it. You come out of the theaters relaxed and wanting to get back to the really good ‘dream’ you just had.

    A must watch while it’s still playing. No IMAX where I’m at but I might take a trip to where there is one just to watch Avatar again. IMAX is keeping the movie up until March 2010 before Alice in Wonderland.

  7. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 18, 2010 @ 11:42 pm David Dee

    Good critics don’t let their personal prejudices get in the way of relating to their readers whether or not a movie is entertaining, whether or not a film has a great tech credits, an inventive storyline, whether or not it is evident throughout the viewing of the finished oeuvre that the Director has marshalled all the resources at his/her disposal to tremendous effect.

    Good critics in reviewing a film, merely enlighten prospective readers as to whether or not a film is likely to move or entertain them.

    It ought to be evident to any “good” critic that James Cameron has indeed achieved what scant few filmmakers have (or likely ever will). He’s created a masterwork that, unlike most auteurs, fosters such strong response from viewers that they are willing to part with the big bucks it takes to pay to see a 3D showing (at least in Canada, where I reside) of Avatar 2,3 or even 4 times.
    Perhaps Disdain, you might remind us when last a film attracted such repeat attendance at Cinemas (especially in this day and age of cheap pirate copies of films flooding the online portals and thereby making it even less attractive to the cheap moviegoer to attend a film multiple times in a Cinema) ….
    Perhaps you will say “Titanic”, maybe “The Dark Knight”.

    You have rated Avatar a 1, thereby stating in no uncertain measure that this film is not worth seeing and won’t provide a film-goer great entertainment. How utterly untrue! So it is with the greatest of respect I say that you are certainly not a good critic and don’t merit our attention on any other Reviews, barring a great transformation.

  8. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 18, 2010 @ 11:46 pm David Dee

    Wait a moment, I retract my statement, as I’ve just noticed your very backwards rating method. A 1 actually means you recommend we “See It”. My Apologies.

    • The Critical Movie Critics

      January 19, 2010 @ 6:56 am General Disdain

      Apology accepted David. The story may be rehashed but Cameron made a technological wonder out of it.

  9. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 20, 2010 @ 2:36 pm Van Lines

    films are a visual medium and avatar takes fully advantage of it. although the plot is very derivative, the visual splendor is worth the price of admission

  10. The Critical Movie Critics

    February 2, 2010 @ 9:07 am oakley

    A good movie not worth all the hype as I did not see anything new or unusual except the floating mountains, would it help to be on magic mushrooms the next time I see this over rated film?

  11. The Critical Movie Critics

    April 7, 2010 @ 5:44 am Mhunter

    I watched Avatar this afternoon, it is visually stunning! I was in awe of the catlike creatures …. the message seemed to be about an evil corporation using the USA military to exploit the natural resources of a foriegn planet..sound familiar? The 3D was revolutionary and amazing. Avatar is a masterpiece!

  12. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 13, 2010 @ 7:22 am Gephardt

    Avatar was a nice science-fiction movie but it was creepy how some people reacted to it. You must have heard of people wanting to live in the Avtar’s world, where everything is peaceful and quiet. It’s just a movie. We shouldn’t center our lives around it.

  13. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 6, 2010 @ 3:35 pm Kids Games

    Amazin Avatar is a movie I like when Jake WOTHINGTON PLAY FOR SAM () becomes an avatar in PANDORA. Avatar is a film IY AMAZING TO SEE IN can be boring bigining. If you keep watching the movie gets better They should MUST BE PATIENT INT bigining IT GETS somewhere but confusing battle scenes are the best part. They have huge arrows to kill and I totally give this MOVIE a star of five. The last part was sad but I loved what DID NEYTIRI is so cool. JAKE AND FISH jelly even cooler NEYTIRI THIS MOVIE BECOMES great lovers can be as GI JOE, BUT NO BLUE Thers PEOPLE THIS MAY BE THE BEST FILM 162 minutes of your life you should spend money on this film

  14. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 12, 2010 @ 2:19 pm jay merry

    Yes, some people suffered from “post Avatar depression” as can be expected,many people want an escape, whether it be physical or mental. Overall it was a cool movie with a great concept and focus on respecting your environment.

  15. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 20, 2010 @ 12:38 pm Valador

    This is not a bad movie. Excellent special effects, epic story. I really enjoyed it. Of course, I am afraid that will remove the second part, and this will spoil everything!

  16. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 22, 2010 @ 7:02 am abbmp3

    Well, I just saw Avatar this morning, one of the press premieres which are running on these days. My opinion: you’ve seen this story a hundred times, but never like this. Finally 3D is what it’s supposed to be, an instrument at the service of the movie. You’ll enjoy the visual experience, no doubt.

  17. The Critical Movie Critics

    September 22, 2010 @ 6:45 am anime

    Avatar: I was seven when I saw my first movie of this kind, ‘King Kong “in 1932. Eighty-four years of healthy life is great and small blessings for which I am grateful. I’ll put “Avatar” between those blessings. Who could have imagined that the creation of movies could have traveled a technical distance only eighty years! What an amazing feat, “Avatar” is! I am not ashamed to confess that I’m glad I lived to see this latest film by Marvel.

  18. The Critical Movie Critics

    September 28, 2010 @ 6:26 am wow

    A fully believable, flesh-and-blood (albeit not human flesh and blood) romance is the beating heart of “Avatar.” Cameron has never made a movie just to show off visual pyrotechnics: Every bit of technology in “Avatar” serves the greater purpose of a deeply felt love story.

  19. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 9, 2010 @ 5:21 am John

    Avatar is a joyous celebration of story craft and the visual possibilities of cinema. Cameron had set his sights on taking the technology of film where no one had gone before. And he delivers. Avatar is stunning. Cameron and Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital (led by VFX master Joe Letteri) have changed the way movies are made.

  20. The Critical Movie Critics

    November 28, 2010 @ 5:37 am brucewaynebirch

    This is what I wrote to the Cinema….

    Your rating for the movie my wife and I went to see called ‘SKYLINE’ was incorrect and it ruined our first movie date in over 7 months. After spending quite a bit of time arranging to go out together we… decided to go to the movies. We saw skyline and should have walked out but we decided to stay because there may have been some hope of a good ending. The movie was shit. It had no hope at all, I was shaking and no one else was happy either and now I AM SUFFERING PANIC ATTACKS BECAUSE OF YOUR MOVIE. Your rating said M with no further category statements such as violence or graphic violence, which it was, it should have been rated at least M15+ with the comments ‘EXTREME GRAPHIC SCIFI VIOLENCE, MAY CAUSE PSYCHOLOGICAL DAMAGE’. Your ratings said nothing only ‘M’.

  21. The Critical Movie Critics

    January 10, 2011 @ 6:49 am Samantha Dermot

    Just another movie made to make invest a lot of money in special effects, more money in marketing and PR and you expect to double the money in 6-12 months. Now this is a great business.
    This is the story of Avatar movie. By now, probably everyone watched the movie, at least twice, so is too late to tell you to stay home and save your hard earned money..

  22. The Critical Movie Critics

    July 31, 2012 @ 5:50 am John

    Avatar was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director and won three, for Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects, and Best Art Direction. I like this film.

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