‘Avatar’ is this generation’s ‘Star Wars’
Think back. Remember that first time you saw “Star Wars” and how it filled you with awe, joy and the feeling that the good guys will come out on top? Although I wasn’t able to experience “Star Wars” in theaters when it was fresh and new (only later when it was remastered), James Cameron’s “Avatar” filled me with a sense of exhilaration that’s hard to come by these days. In fact, I’d be willing to go as far as to say that “Avatar” is the “Star Wars” of this generation. This epic that establishes a world and then pits good against evil is everything George Lucas should have done with Episodes 1, 2, 3 of his saga.
(Note: Although I can’t guarantee a spoiler-free post, I will try to refrain from giving major plot points of the movie away.)
Think about it.
James Cameron has created a world that is graspable yet foreign to us. Although not quite in a galaxy far, far away, the planet Pandora is pretty distant. It takes humans five years to travel there, and all the while they are put in a cryogenic stasis. Pandora is filled with enough eye candy that it becomes a character in itself. From the moment you see the planet you’ll be wowed to the nth degree. I found myself gobbling up any tidbits about the world and its people’s culture, called the Na’vi, very similar in the way I always enjoyed the tidbits about the Jedi.
In fact, “Avatar’s” main character, Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington), is a Jedi of sorts in Cameron’s movie. Like Luke Skywalker, he’s provided with the background and tools – in this case an alien body in the form of an avatar – to grow into. Skywalker was born from Jedi lineage, Sully was given his avatar. Throughout the movie, we witness Sully grow from just someone exploring his new form to someone embracing it and utilizing its strengths. And eventually Sully joins sides with the natives of Pandora to defend the planet from the “evil” Colonel Miles Quartich (played by Stephen Lang) and his determination to tame the planet. Quartich entices Sully to join the Dark Side as it were by enticing him with a promise to walk again, the crutch that Sully must cope with in his human body.
Quartich and the military feel a lot like the Empire from “Star Wars.” They are overbearing and even have technology that will remind you immediately of the Empire if it was re-envisioned with today’s technology. Watch out for the Imperial Walkers! And the Na’vi most definitely have a rebel force feel to themselves with a touch of Ewok mixed in. They are one with Pandora and eventually dive into saving their planet at all cost.
Being one with Pandora actually reminded me of the Force. Much like the Jedi tap into a power that can’t be seen, so do the Na’vi. And if you remember, in “Episode 1,” we find out that this connection to the force is measurable through Midi-chlorians. In “Avatar,” Grace Augustine (played by Sigourney Weaver) points out that the scientists on the planet have discovered a connectedness within the planet’s large amounts of vegetation.
The story of good vs. evil and oppression might be immediately recognizable, but “Avatar” instantly draws you in with its visual dazzle and then hooks you with dynamic characters that you’ll truly root for throughout the movie. Don’t let the predictable story be the reason you don’t see this movie.
Of course there are a ton of differences and tweaks to the storyline that make “Avatar” truly original as well. For example, Sully’s mentor, Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana), didn’t remind me of Yoda at all. Instead she serves as the Na’vi liaison for Sully and eventually more. Also, don’t expect Quartich to reach out to Sully and confess that he’s his father. There also isn’t quite a comradery between the characters of “Avatar” that one feels when watching Episodes 4, 5 and 6.
The biggest difference between “Avatar” and “Star Wars” is that hopefully this will be the only one that we see from Cameron. Although I’d certainly go see the sequel if one was ever created, I’m not sure that at this point I feel one is necessary. The movie as it stands now feels complete to me, and I fear that a followup effort could taint what has been created.
Finally, I wanted to point out that this movie was my first in 3-D. At first I was skeptical that it would come across feeling cheap and artificial. I was surprised that I came out thinking the exact opposite. The 3-D aspect gave depth to Pandora that wouldn’t have been attainable otherwise. It’s almost as if you’re thrown into your own avatar so that you can experience the world as Sully does. So I say shell out the few extra bucks and go the extra mile to see this in 3-D. You won’t be disappointed.
For anyone that hasn’t seen the massive amount of advertising for this movie, here’s the trailer for “Avatar”:
Have you seen the movie? What did you think of it? Share your comments on the movie and/or my analysis.
Even if my lines of comparison shouldn’t be drawn, one has to consider what “Avatar” is doing to the movie landscape. In 1977, “Star Wars” did changed the movie experience in terms of special effects and creating a galaxy and culture worth exploring. Like “Star Wars,” I believe that “Avatar” has successfully achieved this while creating a believable and enjoyable story to go along with it.
Even Roger Eberts seems to agree with me on some level when he says, “Extraordinary. I felt the same as when I saw ‘Star Wars.'”