Avatar: Retrospective Review


This is my 6th time watching the film, and I still somehow think it’s great. It can’t just be hype on its own that makes me still a fairly big fan though, has to be something more as well. What could it all be?

Well, I was inspired to rewatch this because given the whole virus-related circumstances everyone’s going through, we are all the same in that sense and can arguably be being considered asking ourselves again who we are, socially and culturally? So it’s cool to rewatch a big movie that embraces who as an alternative species (the Navi, on an alien planet Pandora) we could have been say, pre-Industrial Revolution.

Now the 2nd highest-grossing film of all time (first position now goes to Avengers: Endgame!), Avatar focuses on Jake Sully, played seriously and relatively playfully who as an ex-marine finds himself on Pandora. He’s then forced into circumstances that require him to mix with the Navi, and eventually he falls in love with one of them (Neytiri, where despite being covered in performance capture-delivered CGI, Zoe Saldana sure gives a graceful star performance).

I know what you’re thinking, it sounds like and it is a very archetypal story. This has been a chief criticism of Avatar since its 2009 release, although I’d argue it also feels fun to criticise something that was once hugely popular. At the same time stuff usually gets more objectively reviewed given time, so I think we’re all just very curious to see what might happen next.

Alongside the story, once you put aside the film’s really impressive world-building, there’s been charges of shallow character depth. On the whole the characters are too essentially archetypal, but it took me a couple of watches admittedly to get past the visuals (that you 100% get to appreciate as pioneering in 3D), and see the character there is. For example, Stephen Lang as Quaritch per being the main antagonist feels totally built as a military-guy scene stealer. In-between the melodramatic moments he kinda gets more human touches as well though, so to speak. It’d take a longer review to completely elaborate on it all but I’ll say there’s two characters by now I’m let down by.

One’s Matt Gerald as Lyle Wainfleet, a secondary military character that’s also villany. He mainly feels as if he’s there to give machoey lines. Then Dileep Rao as Max Patel, a side scientist, although acting quite well doesn’t set himself apart brilliantly from the others. It’s a good ensemble though.

I think when it comes to it too Avatar may not be perfect but as an entertaining, visceral experience in my book, 3D or no 3D it delivers enough. Here’s to seeing what Number 2’s like eh?? (It really is coming out this time, Coronavirus-pending it’ll be the December after next!!)

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