Brandon's Word: Avatar is Truly Indistinguishable from Magic

December 11, 2009

Avatar Review

This review does NOT contain spoilers. "They don't make movies like this anymore." A friend of mine said that to me before the lights dimmed, before the reason we were all there in that theatre began. After Avatar arrives in theaters, quotes like the one above take on new significance. No longer can those words be said for the sole sake of irony. Or in jest. They may not make movies like this, like Avatar, often enough, but because of James Cameron -- because of the ten or so years he built Avatar with, because of his many, many years of experience he used as its foundation -- they do, indeed, make movies like this. And its title is Avatar.

Yet, sitting in the theatre beforehand, I wasn't excited. Rather, I wasn't as excited as some or as excited as I would have liked to be. Since Avatar's first teaser and even after attending Avatar Day in August, I've been wary of the whole thing. The film's story appeared bland and tired, its visuals miraculous, but marred by my own issues with the way Cameron wants the audience to experience them (a fully CG world inhabited by fully CG characters, in IMAX, in 3D). Too many variables and too steep a mountain to climb all with the hope that I'll be able to connect to what I'm seeing on screen. So, sitting there, what I was most excited for was just to get it over with. To finally end the speculation. To be able to definitively say one way or the other and to be rid of this guesswork.

All of that overshadowed my excitement for the film itself. It obscured the fact that James Cameron is returning to cinemas, the director of some of my favorite films of all time. One of the greatest directors working. One of the greatest directors to have ever lived. It obscured that this is a film that's been more than ten years in the making. A film whose vision was so grand upon conception, an undertaking so massive, that to wait was the only option. A film that pioneered technology while inventing techniques that will be used by other filmmakers for years to come. A film that was supposed to change the landscape of filmmaking as we know it. The endless speculation and my doubt obscured all that.

Having now experienced Avatar, I'm not sure why.

The Technical:

Avatar is unlike anything I've ever seen. And when I say that, make no mistake, I've purposefully left off any qualifier. It's not just unlike anything I've ever seen in theatres or in comic books or in my own imagination; Avatar is unlike anything I've ever seen, period. And, for that matter, as I said above, it's not enough to use the word seen. Because the film is an experience.

Technically -- and by that, I mean the film's sheer technological accomplishments -- it's a marvel. Every minute of those ten years is visible on screen. Every second of the hundreds of people's hard work in the motion capture studio or behind a camera or in front of a computer is felt. And, as if there was ever a question, Cameron is right: Avatar is meant to be experienced in 3D, on the biggest screen you can find, with the best sound and cleanest projection possible. I did not see it in IMAX, but I will. I can only imagine the even more heightened immersion.

It's that right there that's most impressive, above all else, in Avatar: the audience's level of immersion. I've never acclimated to the use of 3D quicker than in this film. My worries of motion blur and ghosting, a queasy stomach and the loss of overall focus, and the degradation of the film's vibrancy all turned to ash and blew away within the first seconds of the film. It's crisp, it's colorful, it's spectacular. And you, I, the audience is fully in it. The 3D pops unlike any that's come before it. Cameron uses it to enhance each and every scene in a way that makes it feel irreplaceable (something that will be sorely felt when this movie is only available in two measly dimensions for home viewing).

The 3D serves an even greater importance, though. It's used to cement your brain on Pandora, with the Na'vi, in the year 2154; and it's unequivocally successful. Actual particles of dust -- they, themselves, CG -- float around a totally CG environment in 3D. On the forest floor of Pandora, tiny alien gnats flit around the characters, all CG, in 3D. When you're looking at the screen, you are on Pandora. There was never a question in my mind. Every single frame of this film is reality; at least it feels that way. And after being there, I'm at a loss to explain how this movie didn't take three times as long to make.

And then you have to factor in the unimaginable undertaking of creating an entire, realized world. The world of Pandora. Thinking back, it doesn't feel like I've only seen Pandora in a movie -- it feels like I've been there. I know the wildlife. I know the flora. I know its food chain and its habitats. I know its physics. I've experienced it all. And I know the Na'vi.

Every species of plant and animal is so fully realized, each designed and created with purpose, each so believable that they're so easily accepted it's as if I've known of these creatures from text books all my life; it's just that only now I'm laying my own eyes on them for the first time. It's the Na'vi, the blue, ten-feet tall bipedal indigenous race that's the toughest hurdle to clear. The film itself rests upon the audience's ability to not only suspend their disbelief of the Na'vi, but to actively, intellectually and emotionally believe in the Na'vi. Simply, can you look at that blue face, into those yellow eyes and see a complex, thinking, feeling, loving, dynamic creature and not a bunch of 1s and 0s? Without question -- and without hesitation -- I could.

The motion capture translation from human actor to CG-rendered Na'vi is as close as I've ever seen it come to one-to-one. Those performances are Sam Worthington's and Zoe Saldana's. It is Sigourney Weaver in there, too, as faithfully as if she was only wearing a mask. And their eyes. The Na'vi's eyes. There's life in those eyes. They're brimming with it, and it's expressive. It's been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Well, Avatar is magic. What James Cameron has done is magical.

The Story:

What of the skeleton that so much muscle and skin is relying upon? Well, my fears proved inconsequential. The film's story, its emotion, is pure and sublime. Each beat is hit with precision and fervor and, best of all, novelty. Avatar's is a story you've heard before told in a manner you've never imagined. Make no mistake, at times Cameron's writing does lack subtlety. And yes, it is reminiscent of what the European conquistadors did to the Native Americans of North America, what the US is doing right now in the Middle East, or what the world at large is doing to Earth. But it's all of these, an amalgam of each approached, for the most part, with grounded emotion and a light touch.

It's this story, though, that allows Avatar to succeed so readily. As a fan of science fiction and fantasy, of great leaps into others' imaginations and able to suspend my disbelief without difficulty, the world of Pandora and the stories contained within it come more easily to me. To those, however, who may not find it so simple to believe that in the year 2154 we humans are exploring other worlds and have found one that is inhabited by sentient, evolved, intelligent beings, a story as familiar at its core as Avatar's is a large, welcoming gateway into what may have looked like an uninhabitable place. Realizing this is what makes Cameron such a great storyteller.

I've promised you no spoilers and, to be honest, experiencing the valleys and peaks that Cameron creates, the set-ups and pay-offs, the villains and heroes and the raw emotion of it all for yourself is the only way to go into the theatre. Seek as little out as you can stand. I will say this though, there are characters in Avatar who will forever be remembered; there is an action film that will find itself amid some wonderful company, perhaps even in the company of some of Cameron's earlier work; and there's a love story that is as beautiful, as honest, and as affecting as any I've seen. The emotions are gargantuan, they hit hard and unmercifully, no matter if their born of the most selfish action or of the sweetest kiss. The writing is phenomenal -- every character, no matter how small, is living and breathing with a beating heart. The way each storyline weaves between the others and how the story builds upon your expectations while still providing such vigorous uniqueness is awesome. More often than not, it's breathtaking.

There are action scenes that will blow your 3D glasses clean off. There's tension that'll have you squirming and cathartic releases that'll make you collapse into goo. There are harrowing images and epic vistas and heart-melting displays of love that are always firmly rooted in Avatar's story. Like I said, magic.

The Performances:

Avatar's is a cast whose performances are ones you'd never want to cover up or bastardize. Avatar's is a story that demands the output of one hundred percent of its emotion. And Avatar is a film that relies heavily on technology to make sure both of these things happen. That technology: motion capture.

Well, technology prevails. These are honest, thoughtful, well played performances in Avatar. During the considerable amount of time the actors are not donning their avatars, their performances are top notch. Sigourney Weaver, especially, gives an award-worthy portrayal of Grace, lead scientist on Pandora. It helps that her character is written so damned well, but I can't imagine anyone else playing that role. Sam Worthington, when in his human form, is subtle and reserved. He captures a quiet intensity that's necessary to sell his, at times, sinister choices and even more so his insurmountable passion. Personifying everything wrong with America today (and still in 2154), Giovanni Ribisi plays what is ostensibly Paul Reiser's character in Aliens but does so with enough arrogance and ignorance that no matter how similar he feels -- hell, because he's so similar -- you hate him and whatever corporation he answers to. And then there's Stephen Lang: the ultimate badass. A no-nonsense colonel who you'd want on your side any day of the week if there's a tussle. Too bad he's not on your side. That can only mean bad fucking news for you. Lang takes what is, essentially, a one-note villain and shapes him into a memorable, simply awesome roughneck.

There are actors, though, who are never seen in their human form. Zoe Saldana plays Neytiri, a Na'vi tribeswoman, and gives a spectacular performance. It's really something to behold. She so easily inhabits the body of this creature, using its mannerisms and language and body language, it's as if she'd been to Pandora conducting research for months beforehand. The same goes for all of the Na'vi present on screen. They're all individuals, each one unique. Personality seeps through their blue skin. Whether its Sigourney Weaver's--where you're able to compare to her human form to her Na'vi avatar--or Wes Studi or Laz Alonso who you never see beside as an indigenous Na'vi, the transference of the actor's depiction to the digital representation is nearly one hundred percent. And however many percentage points it is off, they're barely noticeable. There's too much else going on, not to mention that story I was talking about that'll have you wrapped around its finger from the start.

The End:

I could continue, even after these two thousand words, for another few thousand I'm sure. There's so much to be said about the thoughtfulness of the the design (from the way the human technology looks plausible and functional, worn and broken in, spacecraft that is utterly believable and industrial military vehicles that look like they do what they're meant to and damned well to the computer systems to the ecosystem of Pandora itself, which is incredibly rich and vibrant). There's so much to analyze about the films intents, its themes and messages of peace, of harmony with the environment and of good triumphing over evil. There's such an intriguing amount to be described about Sam Worthington's character Jake Sully; his movement from lost soul to company man to enlightened individual to Pandora-rattling leader. The sheer power of his mind, able to overcome the shortcomings of his war torn, paralyzed body. And there's so much to delve into about war in general. And of course there's the little things, the moments of awe and enrapturing excitement.

There's just so much. And when it comes down to it, that's what Avatar is; it's a lot. And nearly every bit of it is unlike anything I've ever experienced. As perfect a blend of the technological future of filmmaking with the age-old storytelling techniques of a master storyteller. Has Avatar revolutionized filmmaking as we know it? Is December 18th soon to be a landmark day in the history of the craft? Only time can answer those questions. All I know is that James Cameron has made an incredible, transportive, magical, visually stunning, emotionally satisfying film, and I feel privileged to be in the presence of such art.

I don't think my jaw ever left my chest for the entirety of Avatar's two and a half hour runtime. Watching it made me feel like a child, like anything and everything is possible. Like it's all just one nudge of the imagination away. It feels great to be so amazed. But Avatar isn't just amazing - it's magic.

Find more posts: Opinions, Review



wow. ok . u gave me hope for avatar NEXT WEEK 17TH OF DEC IN THE UK.

Pinksushi on Dec 11, 2009


Holy crap I'm so excited right now!!!!

Eldivo23 on Dec 11, 2009


Your last paragraph is the most powerful, and sums up all my hopes and excitement for the film. Sheer excitement and respect, not for its technical marvels, but to be in the presence of the awesome output of art and magic of film storytelling. A stunning review. Simply stunning. Thank you very much.

Andrew on Dec 11, 2009


I'm still on the fence. Until I see it myself, I'll have the lingering hope and fear that it could go towards Cameron Sci-Fi storytelling at it's best or big money marketing at work as usual. Time will tell.

Johnny Neat on Dec 11, 2009


WOW! That made me wet all over....ive got plans next week but now at least 50% of my gift list is canceled soory, im saving that money for this movie i get the feeling im spending alot of time at my local week to go....

Azzuri2010 on Dec 11, 2009


thanks brandon for finally taking away the bad taste that avatar teaser left in mouth and making me miserably eager for 18th to show up

abhishek arora on Dec 11, 2009


PLANT! In all seriousness, what an abursdly gushing review. "And then you have to factor in the unimaginable undertaking of creating an entire, realized world. The world of Pandora. Thinking back, it doesn't feel like I've only seen Pandora in a movie — it feels like I've been there. I know the wildlife. I know the flora. I know its food chain and its habitats. I know its physics. I've experienced it all. And I know the Na'vi." Give me a fucking break, dude.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


Time to buy tickets!

JakeTheSnake on Dec 11, 2009



indyjack86 on Dec 11, 2009


If this was Alex, I would be critical, but it's from someone else and I am now a little more excited to see it. I still think it won't make as much as expected, but we'll see.

branden on Dec 11, 2009


Beautiful. Thank you for that inspiring review. When I first heard about James Cameron making this movie, and all of the time and effort it required, I had a feeling it was going to be one of the greatest movies of all time- if not the greatest. I am so excited for his return. He is one of the greatest directors of all time...only two others are in his league (you can probably guess their names). Avatar is the perfect concept for his return. And Avatar, I believe, will truly be the closest to magic most of us will ever come.

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


#7 - Come on man... Seriously? I saw this yesterday as well and I completely agree with EVERY last word Brandon wrote. It's the farthest from a plant possible. Avatar is an absolutely amazing movie and I hope you can come to appreciate it once you see it as well.

Alex Billington on Dec 11, 2009


Just reading this article brought a tear to my eye and I've never been so excited for something in my entire life (I'm about to have a daughter in March and I can't get Cameron out of my mind). Thank you Brandon for giving me an article without any spoilers, this was perfectly written.

peloquin on Dec 11, 2009


I must see this in IMAX!

Dan W on Dec 11, 2009


Hey, I admitted I was joking about the "PLANT" crack. I'm no troll. But if he wants me to take a review seriously, he has to stop channeling Harry Knowles. "Indistinguishable from magic." Really? Come on now. We all now that such suffocating hyperbole does nothing but handicap the moviegoing experience. A little more restraint would be appreciated.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


Must. Order. Tickets. Now. Cameron returning, a new fresh concept (not a sequel), groundbreaking SFX.....are you kidding? So eager for December 18th. Cameron is one of the greatest directors of all time...only two or three others even in his league. I believe it's going to be extraordinary. Avatar will be the closest we have ever been to magic.

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


Brandon lee Turney i did Enjoy your Review of Avitar But towards the middle you were woffeling on about the same bits of the film over and over again ? you enjoy it, it blew your mind away, great, myself i cannot wait to see the film but there is a ? you left out of your review is oscar wining film and will cameron be up for best Director/ VFX. 😀

Cineprog on Dec 11, 2009


Jim is the man.

tir na nog on Dec 11, 2009


Btw, if you're still reading this Alex, I want your job!

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


C'mon, really? It's like reading a pre-teen girls review of twilight. It's embarrassing.

name on Dec 11, 2009


Great review Brandon.

Film-Book dot Com on Dec 11, 2009


#19 - EXACTLY MY POINT. Well played.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


I have to agree 100% with one of the last statements: "Watching it made me feel like a child, like anything and everything is possible." This pretty much sums up exactly how I felt while watching only 14 minutes of the film back in August. I can't wait much longer to delve back into that world. IMAX here I come.

Alex T. on Dec 11, 2009


#7 get out of here. if you don't agree with don't comment. go be armond white.

WO0t on Dec 11, 2009


I'm glad you enjoyed the film. We'll see how it measures up. Admittedly, you did seem to enjoy every bit writing this review and let your little fanboy out with absolutely no restraint. If anything you were waiting for the time to unleash. However, if it is what you say, then it will be a nice refreshing take on film. I'm still a bit bitter with the whole 3D nonsense. And I don't care how anyone slices their opinion, it's still nonsense.

Dan the Fan on Dec 11, 2009


I'm sorry, #22, I didn't realize we were in Nazi Germany. I'm not allowed to have a differing opinion? The movie may very well be great, that's not even my issue. I just think this review does the writer and the movie a disservice by laying on the praise way too thick.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


This movie will suck. Mark my words. Cameron failed. CGI is fail.

iBONE_ on Dec 11, 2009


I'll admit to having an increasingly bad 'gut feeling' about Avatar, but now the reviews are trickling in I'm a lot better with it and am now looking forward to seeing it. Snatching victory from the jaws of an assumed defeat? Go, Jim!

Sleepykid on Dec 11, 2009


#22/#25 Excuse me? What is exactly your point? I said I wanted Alex Billington's job. So what?

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


@ 25 WTF does that even mean? STFU you moron troll.

Jamey on Dec 11, 2009


#25 is the other side of the coin. Rabid Fanboy VS Knuckle Dragging Troll.

name on Dec 11, 2009


ALEX, I also commented on your review "Will Fanboys Strike Back".

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


So he's not allowed to express his feelings about the movie, can't express the joy and love he had while watching it? You're right Jules, I didn't know we were in Nazi Germany.

Itri on Dec 11, 2009


The people running this site are biased towards pop-culture films. A.le.. x used to trash this film way before its release because it was going to be in 3D. Now he likes it like, someone said earlier, a pre-teen beating off to twilight pictures of that Patterson dude. They loved Watchmen, which was very disappointing and the A-man himself said he liked Transformers 2. wow haha. People who comment on this site too say that they are just trying to hype films up. Especially ones that dont deserve it. As much as this sounds good, dont get your pants wet till you see it for yourself.

GP Productions on Dec 11, 2009


#32 Well said

Cici on Dec 11, 2009


Please, tell me they explain how those rocks float in the air!

S on Dec 11, 2009


S: They sure do. GP Productions: I didn't like Watchmen or Transformers 2. Alex and I often have differing opinions. But on Avatar, it's hard for me to imagine anyone not walking out of their theatre impressed. Jules: Of course you're allowed your opinion; you're no troll. But I implore you to see it and report back after you do. Yes, I gush in this review, but hopefully I've succeeded in supporting this praise. The film is really something special. And I'm confident enough that this praise, this hype, will be completely met come Dec. 18th.

Brandon Lee Tenney on Dec 11, 2009


With you #30. Movie still just looks like another 'America/ white people bad' movie with some flashy graphics.

Antioch on Dec 11, 2009


So, did you like it?

Sanka on Dec 11, 2009


#13 .... Let me know what seat you were in so I won't sit in your cum ... Get a life LOL

Sam on Dec 11, 2009


Jules stop acting like a twat. The guy obviously loves the movie and respects it, so that makes him a planet? Get over yourself.

Peter on Dec 11, 2009


I am so totally and completely excited!!!

Ambient on Dec 11, 2009


#15 - This isn't Brandon trying to be Harry Knowles, it's a quote from one of Arthur C. Clarke's Three Laws that was brought up in Richard Kelly's film, The Box. And it fits Avatar, perfectly. "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Please think before you write.

Fuelbot on Dec 11, 2009


#35 I was thinking the same thing ... She's having a baby in March and she can't get James Cameron out of her mind? ... #13 You sound like one very sick chick, get help before your kid is born.

Freddie on Dec 11, 2009


Peter stop acting like a peter. I never said anything about the reviewer's weight! Sorry, Fuelbot, I didn't recognize one of Arthur Clarke's Three Laws, nor have I memorized the dialogue from Richard Kelly's latest masterpiece. But the fact that the quote seems both relevant and appropriate doesn't mean the review doesn't smack of fanboy gushing. Fine, great, I'm glad the guy loved the movie. But I'd prefer to read actual criticism than nonstop exclamations of greatness. I'll just have to remember to lump firstshowing in with Ain't It Cool and take it all with a grain of salt.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


Jules - Uh I really don't think Brandon's choice of words for the title "handicaps the moviegoing experience." They're just words man! Like I said, just go see it on your own and come back with your own review, let us know what you think once you've seen it too.

Alex Billington on Dec 11, 2009


@ 44... I'm guessing your referencing me there even though you pointed to the wrong numbered post. I'm actually a 25 year old guy who's in the visual effects industry and I'm naming my daughter Coraline Cameron Peloquin. I'm extremely excited for both the birth of my child and the birth of a new wave of cinema. I don't see why that means I need help or in any way incapacitates me to be a loving father. I can't wait to share my obsession for film with my daughter. Please don't be so quick to judge a person in the future.

peloquin on Dec 11, 2009


Here Jules, lump this in with your grain of salt:

Film Fan on Dec 11, 2009


Thanks, Film Fan, but - and I'm bracing for insults! - I think Rotten Tomatoes culls from far too many flimsy sources to be entirely credible. Reviews are skewed far to high OR far too low because they pull from too many fanboy blogs. That said, the site I prefer - metacritic - pulls from a bevy of established papers, magazines and sites, and there reviews are solid so far as well, though far less populated. I don't know why I have to say this again: I don't have anything against the movie, I just don't think such gushing serves much of a purpose. People that buy into it often end up with insurmountable expectations, and people that don't start a backlash. In a perfect world, movies would not be reviewed until they've been seen twice, and thus stripped of the prelimary reaction that is so colored by advance hype and press.

Jules on Dec 11, 2009


Wow, I'm 50! Stayed away from the Hype...and I'm glad I did...Seeing it.

Xerxex on Dec 11, 2009


Haha, hyperbole to the max! Still, I hope it's a good movie.

Syphous on Dec 11, 2009


(entering the room, exhausted) Sorry, I'm late. Heard you were talking about Nazi Germany again? Well, the best regards from Hamburg. Anything I can help you with?

Felix on Dec 11, 2009


yeah Felix can you get me some candles?

Xerxex on Dec 11, 2009


Incredible review, expertly written. Really appreciate the fact that it is spoiler free, as many of the other reviews are going into deep plot details. You single-handedly, because of how highly I regard your opinion, mixed with the fact that I knew you had doubts, raised my excitement 273%. It hurts that I can't see it until next Saturday.

David on Dec 11, 2009


You gave Inglorious Basterds a 10/10...That's why i can't fully believe this review...

pipo on Dec 11, 2009


I'm having a hard time wrapping my brain around the idea that this is coming out next week and not years from now. Seems like we've been waiting for this movie for far too long. Can't wait to have my eyeballs gauged out by Cameron's fertile imagination.And People who don't wanna believe that Avatar is good can go to hell because now lot of people are going to watch it no matter what online haters whatever have to you say nothing will now matter .James Cameron has done it and people who don't like it shut up your ass now don't need your comment now.A lot people disliked Titanic but it is still highest grossing film of all time because people who went to theater liked it a lot like me and same will happen with these not in box office but sure I am guranteed will be a hit. James Cameron live on forever.

nick on Dec 11, 2009


I knew it the movement James Cameron got back he had something great to show .I fell happy for James Cameron because he is being my favourite director of all time and happy to see good reviews are coming out.I have been waiting for long 12 years for Cameron movie and happy that he is back. Would like to see BATTLE ANGEL as his next movie.

prasad on Dec 11, 2009


"it is reminiscent of what the European conquistadors did to the Native Americans of North America, what the US is doing right now in the Middle East, or what the world at large is doing to Earth." This is exactly what I thought, and probably one of the reasons I will not go see this film. This is the kind of moral relativism that is so dangerous to those living in North America and elsewhere that triumph the values of democracy, peace, and tolerance. Why would I want to go see another movie that simply throws at my face the same old narrative of the "oppressor" going in and destroying the native peoples. This is such a stupid stereotypical point of view, that completely ignores the intentions and mindset of the group that is entering a foreign land. This makes for a bad movie because instead of realistic characters with nuance of emotions and opinions, we instead get a pastiche of racist, offfensive, and evil humans who simply want to go in and "conquer" the natives. Besides the character of sam worthington, I hope that this cameron at the very least gave the humans quite a bit of nuance and actually gave them a reasonable depiction, instead of a bunch of xenophobic killers. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on the story details, but I'd like to see a movie for once take a fair and logical stance on this kind of issue.

jb_moskow on Dec 11, 2009


I guess this gives me hope for it, but I'm not really excited for it to be honest. It will be interesting to see, but in no way seeing the trailers did I go "OMG MUST WATCH NOW" like I have done with movies before. You may hate on me for that, but it's true. The visuals perked my interest but nothing else really.

Sabes on Dec 11, 2009


oh GOOD! Cant wait!

Aimee on Dec 11, 2009


jb_moskow: You're wrong. Yes, this is a story you've seen before (in film and in history), but Cameron does justify the humans's actions. Of course, Cameron leads you down the path of emotions he wishes you to feel, but there are a lot of morally grey moments. POSSIBLE SPOILER: The humans are on Pandora to save Earth. They're ravaging this environment in order to, conceivably, do good. It's a means to an end. But, ultimately, it was the humans's failings that led them to the point we see them on Pandora. It's all very interesting. Cameron twists this familiar tale in a way only he can.

Brandon Lee Tenney on Dec 11, 2009


i'm with you moskow

Antioch on Dec 11, 2009


Wow, the image you posted with this review is the most realistic i've seen of the Na'vi. Next Friday can't come any sooner....

The One on Dec 11, 2009


@ jb_moskow "This is such a stupid stereotypical point of view, that completely ignores the intentions and mindset of the group that is entering a foreign land." Oh, how WRONG you are.

sean on Dec 11, 2009


Um, Pipo, a lot of people gave "Inglorious Basterds" a 10/10. I thought it was 2009's best film.

Film Fan on Dec 11, 2009


If AVATAR beats the weekend box office of Dark Knight and beats the 1 day box office of New Moon...Then the movie will have merit...still if this movie makes no huge loads of money and gets no Oscar landslide will still be 3hrs of failure for 13 years of hard work. I'll pray for you Cameron...the bad taste of Titanic box office is still in my mouth. Until Iron Man 2 beats you, your crown as box office king might be where you left it...

Lazarus from Sparta...DETHKLOK RULES!!!!! on Dec 11, 2009


@ 58, Stop crying like a b*tch, it's not fair, it's not fair.... no one's making you see this movie if you don't want to... and you know what, haven't you ever heard that life's not fair.... already judging a movie before you even see it.... If you think that you can make a better movie, I don't see you doing anything about it.

The One on Dec 11, 2009


@58 - You absolute wanker.

usonnychiba1 on Dec 11, 2009


Ughh!!!! After reading this review, i honestly want to go see this movie in IMAX to get the full experience. But i can't. No ride. But still, i would love to go see this movie now. And this is coming from a guy who had basically no interest in Avatar. It is amazing what a well written review can do.

Efrain on Dec 11, 2009


Got tickets for it on the iMAX 4 days ago. cant wait. all the non-believers will be believers..

chad on Dec 11, 2009


Oh no #58 are you an oppressed white male? Oh how sad... Life has been so rough for you hasn't it. What with all the racial profiling, slavery of your ancestors, having to drink from a different fountain, your lack of the right to vote, the inability to own land, etc.... Wow. Cameron has sure done you wrong in this movie huh? You are right, as you are obviously eluding to in your post, the Native Americas deserved what they got. No one said you had to watch the movie, or if you do, agree with any of it. But you felt the need to come here and cry about how the "liberal Hollywood elites" are poisoning our minds with evils like, tolerance, peace, ones right to defend their homeland against an invading (possibly white *gasp*) force. Yeah, you are right maybe we should have just let the Nazis have Africa...what right did they have to defend their land anyways. Go post on the Fox news forums with your drivel. Fucking asshole.

Ryan on Dec 11, 2009


Loved this: "And yes, it is reminiscent of what the European conquistadors did to the Native Americans of North America, what the US is doing right now in the Middle East, or what the world at large is doing to Earth."

FlaWiio on Dec 11, 2009


Brandon, did they show a trailer for IM2 before this screening?

jake the snake on Dec 11, 2009


lol troll... I didn't even write anything remotely offensive and already people are jumping down my throat. you guys haven't seen the film yet: 29, 30, and 31. Try to keep an open mind? I laugh because this just goes to show how narrow minded people can be. You are the reason Transformers exists. "OOoOooo.... LOOK! SHINY LIGHTS!"

Dan the Fan on Dec 11, 2009


I thank you for the review but yeah I got the feeling u may want to marry Jim. I obviously Love the cinima and I am very anxious to see this, but as I read this I got a little angry, and I think it was simply because it was too much. But message recieved, movie is mind-blowing.

Topher on Dec 11, 2009


Jake the Snake: Unfortunately, at advanced press screenings, there are no trailers. But I'm pretty sure IM2 will be premiering its first teaser on the front of Sherlock Holmes, Dec. 25th.

Brandon Lee Tenney on Dec 11, 2009


I got my IMAX tickets this afternoon.

EJP on Dec 11, 2009


It looks like box office receipts are going to take a hit. The word is out that Cameron's movie is more lefty unhinged liberal tripe. It's going to take a lot of tickets sold to earn back the money it took to make this hate America hit job. People arent going to buy tickets for loony lefty political crap. Check out the link.

Cajun_Mike on Dec 11, 2009


I've trusted Alex and Brandon's word before and i only disagreed a couple of times, but i will go see this movie. If this movie sucks, then i will let you know! Oh yes, I WILL LET YOU KNOW!

Ray on Dec 11, 2009


avatar = A three-hour lecture on US imperialism starring Smurfs. Meh, no thanks. I have ZERO desire to see this crap. I hope it fails at the Box Office.

Jamey on Dec 11, 2009


why does everybody see political bullshit in EVERYTHING? I mean I know some films go the extra mile in saying their party is better ad I get why people bicker about it...Dem's, Rep's, and Lib's annoy me, so do Indy's even though I technically classified as one, I go to a movie for the story and usually come out smiling after the screen goes black and the credits start to role, I stayed away from the hype machine and I'm seeing this just for a funsies Friday night flick.

Xerxex on Dec 11, 2009


God Xerxex is an all knowing being isn't he! HA see I can laugh at my own pointless comment, but I did write something didn't I? Didn't I? See I second guessing myself.

Xerxex on Dec 11, 2009


"it is reminiscent of what the European conquistadors did to the Native Americans of North America, what the US is doing right now in the Middle East, or what the world at large is doing to Earth." ....what the US is doing now in the middle east...of course. Of course. I'll just paraphrase what i said on another site: Just the kind of liberal BS that I'd love to AVOID while trying to enjoy a good film. Unfortunately, nowadays, it's almost impossible (see saw 6). If you see a film reviewer (when reviewing a film with a liberal message) say something like "...what the US is doing right now in the Middle East, or what the world at large is doing to Earth", expect to see some heavy handed liberal tripe mixed in with the flick your trying to enjoy. Expect to see cliché after cliché, HEAVY HANDED not-so-subtle references to the Bush administration ("a pre-emptive attack to fight terror with terror", "shock and awe", etc) & a general disdain for American power. If you're into that kinda nonsense futuristic revisionist history...knock yourself out. Lots of ppl luv that kinda stuff. Some of us are just getting tired of it. Even when it's just a throw away line or two. But when its a big part of the plot...ehh. "...its themes and messages of peace, of harmony with the environment...". Oh boy, I can almost see the "O" logo rising like the sun, over the distant red & white hills.

Felix on Dec 11, 2009


The people running this site are biased towards pop-culture films. A.le.. x used to trash this film way before its release because it was going to be in 3D. Now he likes it like, someone said earlier, a pre-teen beating off to twilight pictures of that Patterson dude. They loved Watchmen, which was very disappointing and the A-man himself said he liked Transformers 2. wow haha. People who comment on this site too say that they are just trying to hype films up. Especially ones that dont deserve it. As much as this sounds good, dont get your pants wet till you see it for yourself.

Moviewatcher on Dec 12, 2009


Looks like fuckin' Delgo: ...aka, Shit.

Jesus on Dec 12, 2009


The comments on that Hot Air site are hilarious, they'd see a left-wing socialist in just about everything. Wasn't the story written 15 years ago? I think it's just a generalisation of the way that groups of human beings behave, we haven't really changed since our 'evolution'. I'm actually quite looking forward to seeing this film even though I've slated it for the last year, either way it's going to be visually a feast.

Crapola on Dec 12, 2009


85 Jesus...Yeah right...AHHAHAHAH!

Ambient on Dec 12, 2009


my best advise to this great website is: please close comment part for AVATAR movie. there is only bullshit talking about movie,everybody in here is a film and vfx critic and professor! they are unable to make a frame of a short movie. most of the bullshit comments in here is about stub movie, BUT THEY WILL BE BULLSHIT after great box office for AVATAR movie. WAIT AND SEE!

skywalker on Dec 12, 2009


FOR FUCKING FREAK CALLED HIM SELF : "Jamey" i smell bullshit bolshevism from your dirty comment about AVATAR! there is no place for stupid political dont have to watching AVATAR movie, because your fucking "1 Kbyte" brain is not conformed to watching and understanding AVATAR! you can enjoy stupid asian movies or cartoons! IRON JIM is KING OF THE WORLD in 2010 again.

skywalker on Dec 12, 2009


Well, fuck me...I was out of this site for few days, keeping track of ALL THESE FUCKING AWESOME AVATAR REVIEWS OUT THERE...and what do I see here? BUNCH OF FUCKING SO CALLED ''HATERS''... Delgo.. bla... Dancing with smurfs... bla... Avatards... bla... THIS. IS. OLD. THIS. IS. BEYOND. TROLL. And yes, I wan't waste my time on first showing, cause this is just like AICN, no respect. And I'm truly sorry for Brandon's GREAT REVIEW, every word is on the spot, but some of the people here are just plain old stupid. ''Look into my eye...I will not come here again...ever.''

m4st4 on Dec 12, 2009


This is my first visit to First Showing since August. I was so appalled by the morons here that posted inanities like Avatar sucks, Dances with Smurfs, District 9 blows Avatar away, the graphics suck, the graphics are no better than X, Y or Z, blah blah blah, that I deleted the site's bookmark. It was obvious to anyone with even the tiniest brain that Avatar is beyond exceptional and is without a doubt this year's best picture Oscar winner. I just thought I'd pop back to say I told you so.

RandyG on Dec 12, 2009


The effects were great, but there sure as heck wasn't a speck of originality plotwise. I don't mean I didn't like it, but besides the revolutionary directing of James Cameron, this movie was an absolute CLICHE-A-THON!!!

GoodSir on Dec 12, 2009


ill see you avatar next friday in desert imax.

judas on Dec 12, 2009


Wow...this thread took quite a political turn near the end. I'm a pretty old school conservative/white republican. Still, I don't see any harm in Mr. Cameron reminding THE WORLD of their not so proudest moments with some well executed Pulp Sci-fi. The idea of "you've got what I need or want - give it to me or I'll take it" is as old as time. Every nation is guilty of it at some point in their history. I would hope we Americans can take an honest look at the past and learn from it. I haven't seen it yet, and I've heard that there may be a less than subtle inference to George Bush in the movie. Still, if I got upset and decided to boycott every movie that contradicted my personal views, I wouldn't be visiting a theater very often. I am an unapologetically huge sci-fi/Cameron fan and I love the "experience" of seeing his movies...and then watching them over and over. The real world melts away for a couple hours and I can be a kid again. My advice...stop analyzing and critiquing (especially if you haven't seen the movie), and just enjoy the ride. The vast majority of critics praising Avatar did that and refound their joy of going to the movies!

SomeDude on Dec 12, 2009


People like #7 sadly represent the 12 year olds who'll bash movies before they come out and when they're proven wrong, instead of admitting it they go ahead and bash anyone who liked the film. Anyways, nice review. I seriously cannot wait for the 18th.

SkaOreo on Dec 12, 2009


i think this part of is going to be a big "pain in ass" for movies and fans! i think there is no need to having a place like this, for bullshit talking about movies. please give an end point to comments sector,dear webmaster. every time i visited this web site's comments.i came out poisoned and nervous."also my friends". fans of "GREAT JAMES CAMERON" are ready for watching AVATAR. "AVATAR=a new horizon in cinema,a visual storm". JAMES,YOU ARE KING OF THE WORLD! year 2010 is your's.

Babak on Dec 12, 2009


I've never heard of this movie. What's avatar? Will it be good?

3Up on Dec 12, 2009


Next week 7:30pm on 16th December... in Hong Kong. but I'll be seeing it on the 17th when the first IMAX shows starts...

Cindy Wan on Dec 13, 2009


I have not read one negeative review yet. And the reviews I read not only echo Brandon's review, they marvel at a "great" story along with the sheer amazing quality of the visuals. The naysayers will be put to rest next Friday.

JimD on Dec 13, 2009


I couldn't take this "review" seriously.

"David Webb" on Dec 13, 2009


(@99 - Try JoBlo's reviews for more realistic reviews and criticism.)

"David Webb" on Dec 13, 2009


I LIKE JAMES C. Because he does make my two favourite films of all time ( T1 & T2 ) ( Aliens was a master peace aswell ) but to be honest i dont think this film is going to be that great at all unless your 8 years old ~ 14 years old. i doubt i will be a patch on the terminator films & alien films for the fans who like them. And another thing, i think either James or his son, daugter or wife lol was playing Halo on the xbox and james took sum ideas of it ( in planet, planes and alien design ) and yes i do know that he has been making this movie for years but then again Halo has been out for years now. MABY ITS JUST ME THINKING THIS I DONT KNOW. All we can do is wait and see i supose MERRY XMAS TO ALL

billy on Dec 13, 2009


@ #100 - it's true. I keep trying to like these reviews. I really do. But they're so over the top and self-indulgent. When will the constant cries for editing EVER be listened to?

Alexis on Dec 13, 2009


I agree with you completly #102

sMITHY on Dec 13, 2009


Last year was the year for superhero movies. This year science fiction will rule.

Meatcarnage on Dec 14, 2009


@105 - This year is almost over...

"David Webb" on Dec 14, 2009


still not better than The Dark Knight.

ethermay on Dec 14, 2009



ethermay on Dec 14, 2009


Aliens was NOT a masterpiece.... Alien WAS however....

ethermay on Dec 14, 2009


If you want to see a REAL review, check this out!

gdot on Dec 14, 2009


Everyone stop bitching. Last I knew we were all free to voice our opinions on here. Give Jules a break she's entitled to her opinion just as Brandon is his and everyone else on this site. I personally don't know what to make of this movie. I've read reviews and I've seen trailers and it has not really grabbed my interest. I will go see this movie, (willingly) cause it's James Cameron and I want to have my own opinion. However, I feel this movie is not gonna do anything close to expected. Allot of cowokers which are all male of the roughneck type as Mr Lang is said to be in this movie, have no interest in seeing this movie. My nieces and nephews who's ages range from 8-21 years old have not the slightest interest in this movie nor do their friends. There is something missing from this film, I don't know what it is, but I do have a feeling it is gonna fail when it comes to the younger generation which we all know is kind of the life line of where the box office makes its money. Kids begging their parents to take them to see a movie, teens hanging out at the theater eating their Coldstone Ice cream (I live in Southern Cali, so yes, kids are outside eating coldstone in mid Dec) I just don't see them flocking to this movie wanting to see this, begging their parents to take them to see this movie like I did when I begged my mom and dad to go see "Raiders of the Lost Ark" after I had already seen it 2 times, remember movies were rereleased allot back in the 80's. I would love, love to see this movie break that Twilight single day box office record, I just don't think it's gonna happen, or even come close. I hope I'm wrong, cause I try to get my nieces and nephews to go see good movies, try to be individuals instead of following the crowd, but I think that's where the advertising for this movie failed. It just never grabbed the interest, they never pushed it to be a must see for those who don't know who James Cameron is, and what he's done for the industry. Before you guys have a heart attack, yes, kids don't know who James Cameron is still, or know very little about him, there are other things in life besides movies that kids/teens like to do or even care about. But I will be there Friday, watching it at my nearest IMAX, hoping for something special. We shall see.

clippers350 on Dec 14, 2009


I will be the first to admit my skepticism of Avatar. However, this review has not only changed my mind about seeing the film- it has created a sense of urgency to witness the Avatar experience. This is what movie reviews are truly meant for. Thank You Brandon for exciting the child inside of me.

Candice B. on Dec 15, 2009


I just saw the movie in 3D, and have to agree with your review for 100%. Avatar is the end of scifi movies as we know them, the start of something greater. Thank you Mr. Cameron.

Peter T'Sas on Dec 17, 2009


Brandon and I just came back from the midnight showing. I waited until after I saw it to read this review. Couldn't agree more... Best movie I've ever seen.

Nick Pettit on Dec 18, 2009


So can we sum up the movie by saying that the theme is that bad, climate-destroying, indigenous people enslaving white Americans get taught a lesson by mystical, tree-hugging natives? Really, that what this shit looks like to me. Oh, and with an anti-war parable thrown in for good measure.

Dave on Dec 18, 2009


I saw Avatar last night. For me, it was one of those rare magical films that had me walking out of the cinema afterwards lost in silent thought, in awe of the incredible effects, moralistic storyline, fine acting, and the immersive world of Pandora that Cameron has created. I saw the 2D version, but will be visiting Pandora again in the cinemas to see it in 3D. I've never wished more to be able to fly on the back of a winged creature than when watching the first flight scene in the film, and for the critics who compare the film to Dances with Wolves on an alien planet, there is so much more to the film than simply drawing comparisons to other movies. Avatar is in a league of its own, miles ahead of the competition in the sci-fi/fantasy/action genres.

David on Dec 18, 2009


It appears to me that a lot of the people that are in love with this movie probably get most of their news and political views from the entertainment industry.

Bryan on Dec 19, 2009


i love this movie

affilrev on Dec 19, 2009


What's really hilarious is that Brandon thinks Sigourney Weaver is "captured as faithfully as if she were wearing a mask" in the movie. She's live action, for Christs sake. She's playing herself. Talk about misled by hype.

Brr on Dec 19, 2009


Oh, and all that "high tech" 3-D? It's stereoscopic camera work. People around here act as if 3-D photography didn't exist before they were born (in the mid-90s no doubt).

Brr on Dec 19, 2009


Just seen it in 3D at Imax..want to go again asap.....has blown my mind...keep on thinking about it everyday....want to live the experience over and over again.....amen

the gimp on Dec 22, 2009


It was a solid, entertaining film. The CGI was truly groundbreaking in my opinion (The facial expressions and look in general felt as close to real as I've seen in film to date). The 3D was a fun addition. I didn't feel it added to the experience, but I did think it was "neat". But the story itself wasn't anything original. Sure, there were aliens versus humans. But what it really felt like was a creative retelling of "Dances With Wolves". I also felt that the performances were a bit overdirected. I've felt like this in Cameron's films before. It's almost as if the emotional creativity was lost in the desire to portray a specific tone. However, it was mostly CGI (Even if it was motion capture), so I can't fault the film for having the ocassional plastic performance feel. What I did enjoy about the film is the small scale intersecting storylines between the scientists, the corporation, the military, and the main character's desire to try to appeal to everyone on some level. In the end, he appeals to his heart. Really, this film was solid. I truly enjoyed it, and I will see it again. I just didn't feel like I saw something that was altogether groundbreaking. It was very enjoyable, just not jaw dropping. 3 out of 4 stars.

Quanah on Dec 22, 2009


I just saw it. Awesome of course. Sam Worthington though, really, what's the big deal? What is that accent? How on earth did he get cast in this?

Sam I Am Not on Dec 23, 2009


Back now from the Imax. One of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Special effects are something out of this world. Incredible. Loved it!!!

Ambient on Dec 23, 2009


I loved it too, but Worthingtons acting was truly indistinguishable from crapola. Interesting once he/they went Na'Vi though.

Jeff the ref on Dec 23, 2009


just watched the film. agree entirely, it is a beautiful work of cinema

sanjay on Dec 23, 2009


i would have to guess 99% of the people who are gushing over this are 25 years old or younger. now that i've seen it - avatar is good........but other than the visuals it's not anything special. BLT really over-sells this movie with his unrealistic review.

beavis on Dec 24, 2009


127 - Says the guy whose name is Beavis. What are you, 10? I'm 33 and loved it immensely. Just because his review doesn't line up with yours doesn'tmake it unrealistic. Did it ever occur to you that perhaps your opinion is unrealistic? I doubt it...that would take some humility on your behalf and the fact that you accused the people of liking it as being kids that tells me you're incapable of that.

Geoff on Dec 26, 2009


Have to agree with some above posts. Worthington is a crap actor. I would have loved this with someone like Tom Hardy, Hugh Jackman, Steve Innes or even Eric Bana. Not because they are Aussies or Brits, and not because I can't think of a single really good American or Canadian actor just now, as all these have become tired stereotypes of each other. As embarrassingly bad as Worthington is I just can't think of another actor who could have done that role, and they must have seen tested hundreds. Just what was Cameron smoking?

Harry The Spammer on Dec 29, 2009


#128's comment about #127 is priceless as for avatar...not just a experience

elyk on Dec 31, 2009


Avatar brought me into a whole new experience, I Though it was the most creative and original movies since I saw The lord of the rings series. The special effects and visuals were jaw drooping and like nothing i ever could have imagined. I though the storyline and plot was really good, but thought the dial ague was vague and not written so well. I like how the movie went in depth with the main characters thoughts and feelings about being an avatar opposed to being his real self. The film explains his confusion and difficulties well, with his process in adapting from one body to another. Avatar is one in a million and revolutionized what a real movie experience is about. It was an instant classic, and a movie I can see over and over again.

Dave on Jan 1, 2010


Thank you, Brandon! Best review I've read yet, I especially appreciate that you've given no spoilers. Thank you for capturing perfectly the awe, the emotions, the excitement, the magic of Avatar. I'm glad I was too busy to read anything prior to going. After seeing it (in 2D) I can't wait to see it again. Bravo, James Cameron! And by the way, 'It's been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." The person who first said that is Arthur C. Clarke, no newcomer to science fiction! Read more:

SHEN mage on Jan 2, 2010


Brandon ,a good review !! that is the best movie after LOTR ...., thanks james cameron.

wowhlg on Jan 15, 2010


no 40 funny as fuck i saw the trailer didnt really fancy going to see it might get it on dvd proberbly fall asleep long film

michael on Feb 17, 2010


Worthington is truly overrated. Leonard Molton on the NBC Today film review said pretty much the same thing and preview screenings of Titans and something he did right before Avatar (no, not T4) got laughed off the screen here in Glendale, where a lot of test screenings are held.

Jim on Feb 18, 2010


The Na'vi's eyes. There's life in those eyes. They're brimming with it, and it's expressive. It's been said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. Well, Avatar is magic. What James Cameron has done is magical. Magically said, this movie was simply awesome. To be honest, i loved it very much and I will definitely buy a DVD. All the best, Mike, the losing belly dude.

MikeBelly on Apr 20, 2010


Simply one of the, if not THE best movie ever. Not only was the graphics, picture, sound, color and effects amazing, the very thought of creating such a place with imagination is what completely had me in aw! My thoughts... Simply amazing!! Thanks! burn fat gain muscle

daveb on Jun 26, 2010


I loved it too, animated movies amaze me. And how about Cameron's career.... from actor, to Titanic and now Avatar? I wish Spielberg was my friend too. Cheers, Jim, the Get Thin Fast web Guy!

Jim on Aug 18, 2010


I really liked Avatar. The 3D glasses they had in the local Cinema were a bit crappy. The storyline was super predictable. The characters were stereotyped. But all up, it was a good effort. 4 stars from me. Anthony.

Anthony Wakefield on Aug 19, 2010


i loved avatar. the whole experience was really cool and was my first 3-d experience.

stubborn belly fat on Oct 1, 2010


I love Avatar...i was so moved by the movie, actually cried in some of the scenes...this movie is exceptional....James Cameron gave us an unsurpassable and unique way of film watching...I wonder whats next from him..can't wait!

marie on Oct 25, 2010


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Jack on Nov 8, 2010


I loved Avatar - I watched it at least 3 times this year and I usually don't watch the same movie again and again... Moving, brilliant and great acting. But then that's what Cameron delivers each and every time! I enjoy watching his movies. Cris C. Latest Blog Post : Revitol Stretch Mark Cream

revitol girl on Dec 3, 2010


Avatar - best movie of 2010. Tom @ the lose stomach fat

Tom on Dec 9, 2010


It was a woderful magical movie I enjoyed sitting at to see it again and again this exceptional one.It appears that you have put lots of effort and hard work into it and I require much more of these on the net in recent times.I have referred it to my business partners and friends.

backlinks on Jan 4, 2011


Avatar is my favorite! I love the way the characters portray their role. And the love story involved is truly mesmerizing!

mole removal on Feb 12, 2011


Can I just say what a relief to find someone who actually knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know how to bring an issue to light and make it important. More people need to read this and understand this side of the story.

skin tags on Feb 20, 2011


Great. I now this sounds stupid but what is Avatar?

Maqui Berry on Apr 2, 2011


James Cameron is one heck of a film maker and comes with his best everytime he puts something out. Love all his movies!! Take care

penny on Apr 7, 2011


This film is really awasome. I been petrified when i saw it for the first time. bajar de peso abdomen Tips para Enamorar

Mar on May 14, 2011


me neither

Mapquest Google Directions on Jun 6, 2011

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