Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Directed by James Cameron.
2009. Rated PG-13, 162 minutes.
Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldana
Sigourney Weaver
Stephen Lang
Joel Moore
CCH Pounder
Michelle Rodriguez
Giovanni Ribisi
Laz Alonso

Plot: Jake Sully (Worthington), a former Marine who has become a paraplegic is recruited to replace his deceased twin brother in the research department of a mining colony from Earth on the moon Pandora.

The Good: It’s a great looking movie. In Pandora, director James Cameron gives us a plush world filled with wonders. Each creature is a magnificent beast and the blue-hued Na’vi people are beautifully rendered. Then there are things like floating mountains and gigantic trees that also take our breath away. Like all of the physical aspects of this movie, the action scenes are a sight to behold. In fact, nearly every frame contains something amazing for us to marvel. As the most fully realized native character, Zoe Saldana is excellent as Neytiri. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell how much is actually her and how much is technology. Finally, instead of being difficult to ascertain, it gives us easily understandable metaphors for the recent/current wars America involves itself in (the precious resource here is heavy-handedly named ‘unobtainium’) and for saving our own planet.

The Bad: The story is a complete cut-and-paste job. Beneath all it’s visual splendor, it’s a rather predictable love story. Each point on the arc of the relationship of the highlighted couple can be spotted pretty far in advance. Meanwhile, other situations that hold no surprises play out between the military and research branches of the human camp. This unfortunately gives it something in common with the worst of the Star Wars movies. It often feels like all techno-wizardry dragged along by trite dialogue.

The Ugly: Man, can Colonel Quaritch (Lang) hold his breath a long time while performing physically demanding feats.

Recommendation: If you’re into big special fx flicks, you absolutely cannot miss this movie. That said, it’s a hard movie to grade because it’s so visually spectacular but so narratively blah. It’s not a terrible blah, but blah, nonetheless. Because of what it might mean to the advancement of technology in movie-making, it’s possibly the most important movie of the last few years. However, when you step away from it for a moment you realize it’s beautiful, exciting and ultimately cute, but not great.

The Opposite View: Scott Tobias, The Onion (A.V. Club)

What the Internet Says: 8.4/10 on imdb.com (#101 all time as of 6/22/10), 82% on rottentomatoes.com, 84/100 on metacritic.com

MY SCORE: 7/10

1 comment:

  1. I agree. It looks beautiful, but when you take that away, you only have a so-so film.