Mr. Movie

'Avatar': Same ol' never been so impressive

Through tantalizing trailers, movie posters, a positive buzz and a heavy marketing campaign, writer/director James Cameron has made Avatar the must-not-miss movie event of the year.

This is the first feature effort from the ice-water-veined Cameron since his multi-million dollar gamble Titanic made zillions.

-- Local show times, theaters, trailer.

Jake Sully (Terminator Salvation’s Sam Worthington) is a war veteran in a wheelchair. He travels to Pandora to inhabit the body of a native of the planet. This avatar is designed to help mining officials pacify the planet’s hostile natives.

The plot is more complicated than that but you get the gist. While in the avatar’s body, Sully falls in love with one of the 10-foot tall beauties and with the planet.

Avatar is a major disappointment. Not the effects or the multi-dimensions. Cameron’s Pandora and the creatures inhabiting his creation stun the senses. He has invented a world comparable to George Lucas’ galaxy of long ago, far, far away and as original as what Peter Jackson did with J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth.

The transition scenes from real-life to CGI are seamless. One blends perfectly with another. You are literally transported into a world where the inhabitants are 10-feet tall and a beautiful blue. Cleverly conceived creatures dot scenery filled with colors and hues of fauna and flora that boggle the mind. Panoramic mountains float high in the atmosphere and massive waterfalls cascade down their sides emptying into a magnificent sky.

Cameron the creator is one with his universe but not with his plot. His corporations are evil-themed, and the always dependable putting-profit-ahead-of-the-interconnectedness-of-all-life forms is preachy. Both have been done to death.

Add 162 minutes, and in spite of the film’s beauty, it’s a mess. Along with the popcorn and soda, you’ll need a box of NoDoz or a pre-movie pot of coffee to stay awake. And don’t worry if all that liquid sends you on several trips to the restroom. You won’t miss a thing.

I’m a big Cameron fan. I admit that in the last decade I have not wanted to like a movie as much as this one. This is where the review gets tricky. Avatar’s story may be recycled and boring, but as a visual feast, Cameron’s movie gets a high recommendation.

Do see it just for the experience and spend the extra couple of bucks and do the 3-D version. Plot flaws aside, Avatar is a spectacular piece of production and well worth the price of a ticket.

Mr. Movie rating: 4 stars

Rated PG-13 for mature themes, violence. It opens Friday, Dec. 18 at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild Cinemas 12.

5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen

4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie.

3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.

2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.

0 stars: Speaks for itself.