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Reviews Comments: James Cameron's Joe Letteri's Avatar Avatar film/book review by Darkmane

Let's get one thing straight right off the bat - that's the movie's actual title. You've probably heard by now that Cameron waited ten years for "the technology to catch up with his vision"; in other words: He knew his story was a crapola Cliche Storm, and he needed some sparkle to sell it. Ten years later, 3-time Academy Award winner (now winner of a fourth for Avatar) Joe Letteri (Lo TR, King Kong, I Robot) delivered, and how.

It's ridiculous to think that this movie was made by the same director who has given us some of the best movies - both action and artsy - of the last two decades, such as Terminator, True Lies and Titanic. The cliched nature of the story has already been explored in detail, so I'm not going to go into that. Let's just say that it was an Excuse Plot to get those Visual Effects Of Awesome out there and leave it at that. Weta Digital, under the expert guidance of Letteri, creates an amazing, beautiful world that you can immerse yourself into, so realistically believable, and yet so exotic and fantastic at the same time, that you can't help wishing you could reach out and walk into it right through the screen, without giving a crap that you wouldn't last ten seconds in there before you end up dead. One can ALMOST understand the "Na'vikin" Fan Dumb.

Everything else is a complete turn-off. The so-called "hero" is a moron bordering on total Jerk Ass. At no point do we see him do something 'cause it's right - his every action is selfishly motivated. We're supposed to sympathize with this guy? The rest of the human characters are divided by Black and White morality to the point of ridiculousness. The Na'vi are more diverse and realistic, intentionally made of so much vanilla to make sure the audience will sympathize/relate with them more. It's a blatant spoonfeeding of the Humans Are Bastards Aesop that can leave a bad taste in your mouth. Which, hilariously, gets broken into a million pieces when it's the HUMAN who conquers the inconquerable Toruk, unites the warring clans, leads them to battle, and is "chosen" by the Goddess.

Oh, and a Special mention to Zoe Saldana for her sheer horribleness. A performance so bad, so much over-the-top and Chewing The Scenery that it reaches right through the mo-cap and makes you want to slap Neytiri in the face.

Worth watching, just remember: Joe Letteri's Avatar.


  • iwintheinternets?
  • 5th Jun 10
this review earns +100 internets from my personal collection
  • Darkmane
  • 15th Jan 11
One thing I want to add: I recently caught the Extended Edition in Blu Ray, with 16 minutes of additional scenes, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. Jake's character actually had some depth, the flow of the story was much better, and a lot of things made sense. Zaldana's performance was still horrible, but overall it was a much, MUCH better film than the theatrical cut. In hindsight it seems like it was bad editing that ruined the movie.

I still can't figure out why Cameron filmed this in 1.85 Aspect Ratio, though. I thought a widescreen edition was going to be released at a later date, but obviously not. Pity; it would've been awesome to watch the effects in 2.35.
  • victorinox243
  • 16th Jan 11
You have a bit of a mistake there. James Cameron directed Avatar, not Joe Letteri.
  • Anaheyla
  • 3rd Mar 11
I agree that Jake is totally selfish. What a bastard, wanting to save the Na'Vi from a Jerk Ass General Ripper who wants to kill them all because they are such assholes for refusing to uproot their entire society in exchange for a few shiny baubles so the humans can tear down their forest and dig up a bunch of shit in order to make their lives easier.

I also agree with Jake being a moron, after all, it's not like he figured out a way to beat the Toruk that the Na'Vi hadn't thought of due to their focus on meeting an opponent one on one. And he didn't even unite the Na'Vi with other Pandoran tribes to help fight off Quaritch's invasion. And since he's not a trained soldier, he can't fight or anything like that. Clearly he's completely devoid of even the slighest bit of intelligence.

Also, you're wrong. Avatar doesn't do All Humans Are Bastards. It does Some Humans Are Bastards. Humans like Quaritch. Not Humans like Grace.

This review, like many reviews dedicated to bashing Avatar, relies entirely on exaggerating or outright making up character flaws and downplaying the parts that are good.

And the worst part in the entire review is, inconquerable isn't a word. (Okay, maybe not the WORST part.)
  • comodapoltrona
  • 3rd Mar 11
The second time I saw Avatar, I gave up and just declared Quaritch the hero.
  • liliafax
  • 15th Jun 11

The point > >0

(What I'm trying to say is you missed the point. The point is that the thing that is constantly praised consistently on this movie is the special effects, which were made by Joe Letteri. The title is a tongue-in-cheek way to say that).
  • namod65
  • 10th Jul 11
James Cameron developed the 3d Fusion Camera that revolutionized 3d filming, not Joe Letteri.

James Cameron was the mind behind the "simulcam" that was used with the reference cameras in the 3d volume where the entire film was shot, not Joe Letteri.

These two aspects are what makes the effects of Avatar so unique and revolutionary in film making.

The film was also shot in, and presented in not 1.85, but 1.78 (16:9) resolution which is the native ratio for 720p and 1080p. This actual produces more picture than the 2.35 ratio does. For example, 720p blu-rays shown in 2.35 typically have a resolution of 1280 x 544. One for a 1.78 will have 1280 x 720. Both have the max width, but 1.85 has more height. So basically 16:9 is as good as it gets for HD resolution.

Watch some interviews and behind the scenes videos with Cameron on not just Avatar, but any of his movies and you will see that he is kind of a control freak. He writes, directs, and produces his movies, and is always dipping his hand into every step of the movie making process and giving his two cents. His work is written all over every movie that he makes.

So in my opinion, you need to do a little more research before criticizing one of film's most influential film makers.
  • dArhengel
  • 29th Aug 11
If one applies the logic of this review to, let's say, the Sistien Chapel, then Michelangelo shouldn't be credited for it. I mean the bastard only had the idea and the vision of how it should look like. That pales in comparison to say, doing the actual painting. The credit should go to his apprentices. I mean, they held the brushes and were suspended from the celling. They did the most important part of the work. Who gives a shit that without Michelangelo they wouldn't have had any idea what to paint?

And no. I'm NOT comparing James Cameron to Michelangelo. I'm just comparing two visual works that needed more then one man to complete. Instead of the Sistine Chapel I could have used any famous fresco (movie, massive sculpture), I just went with the most well-known.
  • Frankiefoster
  • 1st Sep 11
The EXTENSIVE marketing made me draw away from the film already, but then Fridge Brilliance hit me: this story seems lifted from somewhere. And then I saw Pocahontas. The story is almost entirely lifted;(dark-skinned female from other culture has to teach white doofus about their land and culture, fight some evil land-stealer and his gang of mooks, then the white guy walks away with something he learned) except the characters are far more unlikeable and annoying and there's no tree named Grandmother Willow.

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