Avatar ★★★★

At this moment, Avatar is the most James Cameron movie ever made. Chock full of his tech fetichism and hammy humanism, but like the masterclass in action filmmaking that are Aliens and Terminator 2, he finds unexpected beauty in the little moments between the people covered under the effects hood. Pandora is of course, a spellbinding rendering of a world far outside human reach that’s  dripping with color and exuberant wildlife, but a scene of two lovers from completely different species finally touching each other in their natural skin and yet still finding acceptance, is what really sticks in the mind.

For all his arrogance and pomp, Cameron is a big old softie at heart and a consummate entertainer in the best sense. Very few engineers of visual spectacle have such a sure hold on the geography and tension of a thundering action scene among entirely CG images with enough depth for a hundred Marvel movies. Him and his crew just GET how to frame a satisfying money-shot and make dog-fights between high-tech air carriers and giant winged raptor beasties so tightly wound in their excitement. It just oozes confidence and panache. Avatar maybe keeps it’s characters and story developments in a state that is just a bit too simple, but it works to introduce the audience to a universe beyond their wildest dreams. The archetypal characters make the Navi and their traditions palpable to digest when put in a scenario that is familiar.

At the end of the day, it’s the work of a visionary mad-man using 250 million dollars of a major studio’s money to create a film pumped up with all of his dorky interests in the cloak of blockbuster grandeur (he worked with people to create an entire language for chrissake!) This might’ve been the last time the average Joe actually felt wonderment gazing up at the IMAX screen, but Cameron is coming back to do it all over again. Because lets be real….no one is missing out on a big screen showing of Avatar: Way of Water.

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