For the past 3 years we’ve been talking about and anticipating the release of James Cameron’s Avatar, and by this time next week the film will finally be available for public viewing. However, last night some extremely lucky people (media folk) were invited to see the film, and the reactions have been, lets say, ‘positive’:
Empire (5 stars):
It’s been twelve years since Titanic, but the King of the World has returned with a flawed but fantastic tour de force that, taken on its merits as a film, especially in two dimensions, warrants four stars. However, if you can wrap a pair of 3D glasses round your peepers, this becomes a transcendent, full-on five-star experience that’s the closest we’ll ever come to setting foot on a strange new world. Just don’t leave it so long next time, eh, Jim?
TotalFilm (5 stars):
Game-changing – yes. Spectacular – absolutely. Occasional dodgy dialogue and dramatic imperfections – of course. But still – wait for it… – a titanic achievement.
FilmSchoolRejects (Grade A):
I can’t imagine someone walking out of a screening of this film and not being in awe. Not necessarily of the film as a whole, but of the technical achievement. James Cameron has truly delivered something that we’ve never seen before. And this achievement isn’t that Pandora looks real or that we believe the Na’vi could exist and connect with them as much as we do the human characters. His achievement is that he’s shown us a glimpse at what filmmaking could be in this century.
The motion capture technique which Cameron pioneered with Weta Digital is extraordinary, and the expressiveness of the Na’vi, as based on full body performances by Worthington, Saldana, Weaver and others, is immensely engaging. The technique moves film leaps and bounds beyond Gollum, King Kong or anything from the Robert Zemeckis canon with the result that Avatar’s digital characters are as compelling as any humans. Most of the Pandora sections are fully animated, yet it is frankly impossible to tell exactly what is and what isn’t while watching.
ScreenRant (4 stars):
Avatar is the most visually amazing film I’ve ever seen. His boasts were valid: Nothing like this has ever been done or seen on the big screen. The incredible scope and detail is really mesmerizing – he created an entire planet with variety and detail that is unparalleled… and had to maintain it throughout a 2 1/2 hour film. It boggles the mind to think that (by my estimate) at least 80% of the film is fully CGI.
It’s epic. It is indeed the biggest film I’ve seen. The visuals, and not just some of them, but all of them, are astounding. Cameron weaves 3D and CG effortlessly throughout to build layer upon layer and give us a rich, emotionally strong and dramatic film which doesn’t lose sight of the story or the characters in amongst all that technology.
Everything else serves the story and makes it feel richer and deeper, and adds such a feeling of reality to every shot you genuinely will forget what’s CG and what’s real – and I mean that for the first time ever. Avatar is a stunning piece of work and raises the bar for cinema by such a degree I wonder if anyone will match or clear it in the coming years.