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500 Five-Star: Avatar (2009)

July 19, 2011


Like a lot of people, my first experience of Avatar was in 3D on an IMAX screen.  And, like a lot of people, I was blown away by the insanely stunning production design and phenomenal special effects.  Yet again, James Cameron had insisted on taking cinema to another level, making Avatar an experience like no other.  I enjoyed it immensely, and was happy to urge everyone I knew to go out and see it as soon as they possibly could.

A few months later, Avatar came out on DVD.  On leaving the cinema, I would have bet money on the fact that I’d be buying that DVD on the day of release…however, it’s now well over a year since that day and I still don’t own it.  And after renting it for the purposes of this project, I’ve realised I will probably never buy it.  Avatar is an experience, yes, but only if you see it on that big screen.  Take it away from there, take away the 3D glasses and what you’re left with is a fun action film (albeit an exceedingly pretty one).  Avatar suffers tremendously from the same problems that plagued Cameron’s Titanic: cardboard cutout characters and an embarrassingly flimsy script.  It’s ironic that Cameron can spend so long creating the most magnificent 3D world, yet populate that world with such extraordinarily 2D characters.  On that IMAX screen, you don’t really notice, or perhaps care, that everyone is running around spouting lines like ‘I didn’t sign up for this shit’ or staring into eachother’s eyes and dreamily saying ‘I see you’ every ten minutes.  On a smaller screen, it is painfully obvious and incredibly distracting.  A lot of action films revel in their simplicity, but Cameron clearly strives for more than that, and so Avatar must be judged accordingly.  And ultimately, a memorable IMAX screening is not enough to make a film stand the test of time…cinema, thankfully, will always be about so much more than that.



Avatar may look incredible and it may be tremendous fun, but without the story and writing to back that up, it will never go down as an all-time classic.  I have to disagree with Empire…


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