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Disabled marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) takes his dead twin brother's place on a specialised mission which involves him taking control of a giant blue 'avatar' body in order to negotiate with the indigenous population of the planet Pandora for mining access on behalf of a big and typically evil corporation. Soon Jake is torn between his loyalty to his military superiors and the corporation, and his growing respect for the Na'avi culture and love for the chieftan's daughter, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Stephen Lang and Michelle Rodriguez play stock supporting characters to mediocre effect.

I don't know if Avatar is the most expensive film ever made but it's almost certainly the most expensive film in terms of how much it cost me to see it. The extra price for D is a rip-off, imo. I try not to let that influence my opinion of the film, though. The d itself has its pros and cons. Some parts of it look absolutely stunning, while at other points I got a headache from my eyes not focussing on the right part of the screen quickly enough. I have to wonder how well this film will work on the small screen, or whether it's all spectacle and no substance (*cough*Titanic*cough*). Oh, and they decided the best use of the D technology is to make Michelle Rodriguez's cleavage D. Sort of shows you what sort of level this film is on.

It looks thoroughly brilliant. It's just breathtaking in places. I did get swept up in the story, especially the first half. The Na'avi don't look like cgi. I won't say they look real, because they're giant blue aliens, but they look effective. The special effects in this are top quality (unless you subscribe to the view that cgi doesn't count as special effects in which case, the cgi is top quality). It looks like James Cameron kicking Peter Jackson's arse in the effects department (Na'avi 1 Hopelessly unrealistic dinosaurs on skull island 0).

I watched this film with Mr. Next who said afterwards he was enjoying it up until the alien sex. The alien sex didn't bother me. The lack of chemistry or interest in the romance did. I don't know whether that was down to the cgi or the dialogue. I didn't like the too-obvious eco-friendly anti-war love-the-earth-and-respect-the-native-people message; it was neither subtle nor clever nor particularly new. More Ferngully than Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, sadly. Where were the interesting moral grey areas, the conflicted loyalties, the difficult choices of a grown up film? It seemed to promise some of these but never quite delivered.

Overall, Avatar is a bum-numbing 2 and a half hour-plus disappointment. And I'm not even talking about all the hype, or the fact that it's really really not the new Star Wars or the new Aliens after all. The worst thing about this film is that it doesn't live up to itself. The first bit, with the disabled soldier arriving on another world after the death of his twin where he can control an avatar body - it's a brilliant set up. The way Jake has to deal with increasingly conflicted loyalties is good. But by the end we've got sledge-hammer subtle goodie vs. baddie in hand-to-hand combat and
WARNING: "Avatar" spoilers below
everything saved by a magic tree
. The ending was unforgivable, really
WARNING: "Avatar" spoilers below
they set up this really rather good irreconcilable situation where he has a happier life in his avatar body but it can never be real, setting everything up for tragedy even in victory and then... oh yeah, a magic tree saves the day
. It's childish. I wanted a more grown-up film. Maybe that's my problem, maybe that's just not what this film is but it was still woefully unsubtle and... well, kind of lame. Still, it looked great and I enjoyed half of it so I'll give it half marks.

(Parts of this review previously posted on the Avatar review thread)