← Back to Reviews
Avatar (That Guy, Last Year [2009])

Avatar is a very good movie. Of course, it could have been even better than a very good movie if "That Guy" had spent as much time on his back story and his one-and-a-half-dimensional villains as he did on creating a beautiful new world, an impressive gimmick involving the avatars themselves and some incredible new technology to make movies seem fully-enjoyable, especially in 3-D. Avatar's claim to fame may well become the fact that it's got so many beautiful and thrilling flying scenes. I can already see a major amusement park opening up a thrill ride involving 3-D flying using the same technology and maybe even many of the same scenes.

Since our MoFos are just so damned smart and well-versed in movie lore, it's obvious that Avatar borrows from Aliens, The Emerald Forest, Dances With Wolves, Iron Man and a half-a-dozen lesser films, but what makes the flick a blast is not what we've seen before but what we've never seen before. I could get into a couple of flicks which may have inspired the avatar set-up and scenes, but this film takes it so much further down the line that it's not really worth it. I have to give That Guy credit for this plot point unless you want to rub my nose into something blatantly obvious. Also, Pandora is the most fully-established alien planet ever depicted in the history of film. Yep, it's even more spectacular and eye-popping than Dune or any of the Star Wars planets. This is because although That Guy went out of his way to wow you, he also took his time to build his story slowly and not try to swamp you with overkill right off the bat. (Every That Guy flick is similar in this respect: slow buildup to whatever the Wow moments are.)

The bad guys may be on autopilot, but at least Stephen Lang got to be almost as athletic as Sam Worthington, and he was actually more interesting than Jeff Bridges in Iron Man. At least, we always knew what was going on with Lang so he was never a Two-Face. As far as Worthington goes, I thought he was excellent, and That Guy really did a good job of using the fact that he was a paraplegic who was more athletic than anyone else while using his avatar. Worthington and Zoe Saldana are a match made in heaven and probably deserve special nominations for best acting by someone controlling a CGI ("Motion Capture") character. As I mentioned earlier though, the sensation of flying has never quite been captured so spectacularly as it is in this flick, so it's a given this will win Best Special F/X.

Now, based on what I've been saying, you may wonder why I didn't give this a higher rating? I believe that 160 minutes is just too long. 125 minutes seems more realistic to me, with the middle to just past the middle section being the one which could have used some chopping. Also, the finale has lots of action, but once again goes on too long, so I think my basic opinion is that I'd keep the first 90 minutes and then cut about half of the last hour out, at least as well as I could without taking away too many key moments. But even so, look at that:
. I guess what I'm trying to say is that if I had final cut, I'd probably give it
or maybe a
. After all, who am I to say since my name isn't "That Guy", I couldn't easily screw up this surefire winner by tweaking it too much?

And just to give Holden some credit, this is what I said in the theatre when I saw this scene: "The Force is strong with this one..."