Avatar ★★★½

Jake Sully, a paraplegic former marine, travels to the distant world of Pandora to replace his deceased identical brother. His mission is to infiltrate the alien civilization of Na'vi that inhabits the moon by transferring his consciousness to a human-Na'vi hybrid, and, if possible, persuade them to let the humans extract a valuable mineral from the sacred forest they live in.

Rarely has anyone witnessed such a technically flawless film as "Avatar". James Cameron creates a wondrous world from scratch and we aren't just simple spectators. We get immersed in it and experience first-hand the shock and awe that our hero experiences. Unlike most modern directors, the Canadian auteur always used cutting edge special effects as a tool and not a crutch. They are here to enhance the story, not replace it.
That said, the rest of the components aren't of the same extremely high quality. The script is, as Cameron himself appropriately described, "Dances With Wolves" in space. Sully is nothing special as a character and while we root for him, and his Na'vi allies, he is nowhere near as memorable as Ripley, T-800, or even Jack and Rose. The villains also don't have much depth. Ribisi's corporate executive is forgettable and Lang's veteran colonel is a fun caricature.

Sam Worthington is adequate as the protagonist but his lack of charisma is another reason why Sully doesn't resonate much with the viewers. Zoe Saldana's Neytiri is the latest in a string of strong female characters Cameron has created over the years, and the actress makes her presence felt despite the fact that she never appears in the flesh. Sigourney Weaver provides solid support in a pivotal role.

While "Avatar" is much more than simply a technical marvel, it's not nearly as good as Cameron's previous works. Nevertheless, it's a hugely entertaining flick and another unqualified success to add in his illustrious filmography.

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