Pretend for a second that James Cameron isn't the James Cameron we all know. Pretend for a second that the filmmaker that created Avatar from a vision in his head is a newcomer to the movie-making scene and has no previous work to make a basis for prejudgement or comparison against. Now, maybe, without all the chatter, you're ready to experience Avatar in it's purest form... not knowing what to expect, and opening your eyes for the first time on a completely new and exciting world.
In a society filled with entertainment media competing for your attention at every turn, marketing strategies and the people behind the campaigns desperately try to create a sense of hype with each new product they sell. I mean, every single Hollywood studio paraded their 2009 film stars around at Comic-con last summer, just to get a little juice. And while every film gets a little hype going for it during the beginning stages of production, we as movie-goers are still left with a year that produced such over-exposed, over-hyped, over-bloated crapfests like Transformers 2, Terminator Salvation and Wolverine. Ugh.
What does this do to us movie fans? It leaves us jaded and it leaves us skeptical, and more importantly, it leaves us bored with what Hollywood calls good filmmaking.
Enter James Cameron's Avatar. The one and only single movie in my eyes that has met, and far exceeded the hype in the last 5 years.
Avatar not only transports you to another world, it involves you. The movie creates a world where everything is connected, and by the end of the film, so are your emotions connected to everything in it. I think it's important to note that the stunning visuals don't drive this film as you'd expect. Rather, they illustrate a beautiful alien world, and highlight the intense emotions of the characters as they face each new challenge in the film. Of course the brilliance behind the technology is mind-boggling, and the bar has undeniably been raised for any film that touts itself as being 3D or CGI-enhanced, but those facts aside...this movie is absolutely gorgeous to look at. The seductive nature of the deep contrasts in colors, and the use of the camera in general, in 3D, make you feel like you're absolutely part of the world of Pandora as it unfolds onscreen.
As far as the story goes, it's the timeless tale of love and the fight for survival against a tyrannical force set to destroy a particular way of life. This time set on a faraway planet, 150 years in the future. Of course this plotline is nothing new in any form, and fighting for the right to live will always make for good storytelling, but the difference in Avatar is the way Cameron has masterfully invoked the feeling of being there, and harnessing a strong enough emotional investment in the planet and it's creatures, you won't want to leave. And at 2 hours and 42 minutes, I'd say that's quite a feat. Only wanting more when it was over, only lends more credence to the fact that Cameron is still one of the most creative, fresh and innovative minds working in Hollywood today.
As I walked out of Avatar, I was reminded why I fell in loves with movies in the first place. To be excited about something new. And Avatar, you have me. I think that's the biggest testament any film can get in my book.
Don't take my word for it. Go see it for yourself. Experience it in IMAX 3D the way the filmmaker's intended for you to see it!