That’s what I thought during my screening of James Cameron’s “Avatar”. The film is absolutely beautiful to look at and very immersive especially in 3D. However, the narrative that follows along with the visuals is lacking, almost as if the technology needed the story as a supplement.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is an ex-marine that has taken a job with a corporation on the planet Pandora. The business division of the corporation is concerned with only mining an ore that sells for very high amounts back on earth. The science division, however, is more interested in learning the biology of the planet and how it connects with the native, Na’vi. Due to his twin brother being murdered, Sully is chosen to take control of the project his brother was working on. This project involves the neural linking to a Na’vi which gives the user full control of the body. What ensues is a classic story of love, deception, arrogance and redemption.


Many have commented about how closely the story resembles other stories such as “Dances with Wolves”. In my opinion, classic storytelling is classic storytelling and parallels can be drawn between almost all films. My concern for this story is the boring, stiff screenplay that creates no interest or connection to the characters. From the very beginning of the film, there is nothing that draws me into the story. It’s almost as if I am on a theme-park attraction just going for the cool visuals and the fun ride, and the story is simply used to facilitate an A to B transition. Those that feel there are major undertones having to do with huge corporations and the political climate don’t have much to stand on in this film. A much better film that is more tightly written about the “oppression” of huge corporations is “Speed Racer” (not to mention it is much more engaging from a narrative stand point). As far as politics go, I understand the ways in which someone can draw conclusions from this film and match them to the Iraq War. But I don’t believe Cameron is trying to make a commentary with this film. He was able to use real life elements and adapt them for use in this film.


As I said earlier, the visuals are absolutely stunning and the CGI work is incredible. Finally, I am seeing true emotion and texture to CGI characters that I really haven’t seen in the past. Considering that this film was shot entirely in a studio further helps to exemplify the amazing work done in creating the world of Pandora, all the way down to the smallest of details. Character performances are so-so with Zoë Saldana being the shining star. In my opinion this is probably because Cameron was more concerned with the look of the project than the actual story; which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but helps to explain the lack of immersion and attachment to the characters, ironically. Horner’s score has a couple nice moments but for the most part is forgettable. I would be amiss if I lauded the visual look and didn’t speak to the wonderful job Mauro Fiore does in filming this movie.


In closing, I think it is interesting that I felt fully immersed in the visuals of this film, but completely detached from the story of the characters. In fact, had this been a silent film or non-dialogue film, I may have had much more interest. I’ve never walked out of a movie and never will, but had it not been for the visual style, the temptation would have been much greater than it was. I believe that this is a great step for 3D, but is nothing more. This film will be forgotten over the next few years and be nothing more than a flash in the pan. The lasting reminder for this film will be the amount of money it is making as it has crossed $1 billion worldwide. See this film for the epic visual style if you are into that sort of thing. If not, than don’t waste the time or money as there are plenty of better stories to engage you.