By Brian Nelson
Released December 18, “Avatar” continues to top the weekly box office. The film has cashed in $551,741,499 and is creeping closer to top the profits of “Titanic” in 1997. The two films are anything but similar, with one taking place in a historic past and one in a fictional future. Both films, however, have a common thread. Both films are products of James Cameron.
In summary, “Avatar” is different. Viewers are thrust into an unknown 3-D world where Americans are alien on a planet dubbed Pandora. A blue-skinned humanoid species, the Na’vi, inhabits the planet and tries to protect their homeland as humans destroy the forests in search of valuable stone. Humans have been released as the evils in this foreign world, similar to how the opening of Pandora’s Box, in Greek mythology, released all the evils on Earth. And it is up to one man to save the day.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a former Marine, bound in a wheelchair, in search of having the ability to walk again. He does walk, but as an “avatar,” in the body of the Na’vi. During a scientific study on the planet in his blue-skinned body, Jake is separated and lost in the wilderness of an unfamiliar planet. While avoiding dinner invitations by the colorful beasts lurking in the night, he is found by Neytiri (voice of Zoe Saldana), a Na’vi chief’s daughter. With first intentions to kill Jake, she instead saves his life, and takes him to her village. To her disgust, she is forced to teach the “dream walker,” Jake, the ways of the Na’vi. From there the plot unfolds.
While the special effects stand as an outstanding milestone on the big screen, the plot is simple and follows a traditional mythological hero’s quest told in a new way. In summary: walk in someone else’s shoes, fall in love and try to save the planet. Warnings of environmental destructions are addressed and the hints of historical ethnic wrongs are also present.
The villain, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), proves to be uncomplicated. He is pure evil. His history is unknown, and his motivation does not rest in acquiring the valuable stone on the planet, but in conquering the native Na’vi. Viewers are left with utmost hatred toward the character as he crushes anything in his path. He is backed by fellow humans who are portrayed to be heartless. Yet, there are those who stand and fight for what is right.
Comparisons of the storyline have been made to the 1992 animation “FernGully: The Last Rainforest,” only with the fairies replaced by a blue alien spices. The overall presentation of the film, however, allows it to stand on its own as something new and original.
Most importantly, the amount of time put into “Avatar” should be acknowledged. James Cameron started working on the project shortly after finishing “Titanic” in 1997. A new language was crafted for the film, the tongue of the Na’vi, along with an entire culture and history of another planet.
While the effects prove to be amazing, they do not overshadow the messages found within the film. If the same effort was put into all film production, the Golden Years of film would surly return.
“Avatar” is still showing in theaters.
Brian Nelson is a senior majoring in English. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.