December 29, 2009
Well, the hype is true. You really should see this movie, and you should see it in 3D as the director intended. It is a visceral, visual feast that should not be missed.
James Cameron has made his reputation on movies that overwhelm visually. He knows how he wants his scenes to look, and if the technology doesn’t exist to give him exactly what he wants, he invents it. He owns patents from technology he created each time in order to make “The Abyss,” “Terminator,” “Titanic,” and now “Avatar.”
The one caveat I have is the same complaint I had for “Titanic:” Cameron really needs to let someone else do the writing. In the disaster flick, I found young Rose an irritating shrew and the romance a side plot to the real story. I can say, though, that I agree with a critic’s assertion that Cameron’s greatest achievement in “Titanic” was making us sorry to see Leo DiCaprio die.
“Terminator” appeared to be his greatest writing achievement until a lawsuit revealed that Cameron borrowed heavily from Harlan Ellison’s writing on episodes of “Outer Limits.” In “Avatar,” my husband said he recognized plot elements from C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series. Even though I haven’t read them, the plot remains predictable. There are no surprises in the story line; but like in all the movies mentioned, it’s a forgivable weakness that is compensated by visual splendor. Cameron’s ability to make real the images of his mind’s eye combined with another writer’s fine, complex characterization and plot would make the masterpiece he has yet to create.