Movies / Movie Reviews

Avatar 3D is Miyazaki with People


By Hervé St-Louis
December 21, 2009 - 21:36

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Crippled marine, Jake Sully replaces his late brother in an experiment where he mentally controls the cloned body of a Na'vi, the local humanoid life form on planet Pandora. Although officially part of a diplomatic and scientific team trying to establish contact with the Na'vi, Sully secretly spies on the the local inhabitants of Pandora and reports back to the human military establishment that has landed on the planet to mine a precious metal. But Sully falls in love and questions his support for the human race.

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Avatar for me was like seeing a Hayao Miyazaki film with live people and 3D constructs. Sully, as a Na'vi, as the same boyish look one would expect from a Disney movie featuring a young hero. He has the same teenaged attitude of goofing around until he matures up. Throughout the film, I felt like I was watching a Disney film with a main character that happens to like shooting moving things. The part about a Miyazaki film were the whole alien Gaea metaphor where the evil humans are out to destroy the pristine world maintained by the innocent but pure primitive people of Pandora. What’s more the theme of the young hero chosen by the spiritual forces, surprising even the primitive locals feels like the plight of many Miyazaki characters. Of course, Neytiri, the female Na'vi with whom Sully eventually falls in love with is the courageous and string headed woman that one can see in every Miyazaki film. The wonderful creatures of the world and how they behave is again similar to a Miyazaki film.

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One wonders why Cameron didn’t just produce this film as an animated movie 15 years ago, if as is stated to the background of this story, the technological means for such a feat of creating engineering did not exist back then. Perhaps the film would not have been taken seriously if it had featured cartoon characters similar to those of Titan AE. The integration of the digital world with the live one was done extremely well, of course. The matte and compositing work here, is as important as the 3D animations which are excellent throughout. One thing did bug me about the Na'vi though. Their skin did not feel as real as I would have liked. In close shots, I did not feel that they had any mild translucence with light reflecting within the flesh, as it does with regular people. It felt like the light was been sucked inside their skin instead of being projected outward. Perhaps this the effect the designers wanted to convey.

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The story itself is simple and were it not for the violence, could easily have been a Disney movie for kids. The bad guys were bad without any remorse. Several times, I  hoped  for a little dimension to their characters and saw none. I didn’t see the IMAX version. Instead I saw the 3D version with 3D glasses.  The integration was well done. I may have to sneak into a theatre again and see the IMAX version. I enjoyed myself, although the film was long and felt like a rehash of several Miyazaki films.

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Rating: 9.5 /10


Last Updated: May 19, 2020 - 12:25

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