“The picture is stunning, the effects come to life, and the sound is amazing. This is how James Cameron’s masterpiece should be seen” We review the new re-issue of the classic movie Avatar.
It’s time for me to make a shocking confession. I saw ‘Avatar’ on its initial release back in 2009. I saw it with my family in 3D in a theater that now, I realize, wasn’t equipped to handle it. Nevertheless, my family adored it. They found it was a terrific science fiction film that they simply loved. However, while I thought it was good and very entertaining, I really couldn’t see what all the fuss was about. To me, it was a fine movie but wasn’t the game-changer everyone claimed it was. Now, thirteen years after it was first released, the film is back in theaters for a limited two-week engagement.
I saw it again in London on a really big screen, with the perfect sound that could handle the film properly. Is this re-release, remastered in 4K good? No, it isn’t. Is this reissue brilliant? No, it’s not. What it is can only be described as a fantastic, moving, and stunning masterpiece. After thirteen years, I have seen ‘Avatar’ as it was meant to be seen. And it completely blew me away. The picture is stunning, the effects come to life, and the sound is amazing. This is how James Cameron‘s masterpiece should be seen. On the biggest screen imaginable, in comfort and with a sense of pure wonder at what unfolds.
It is set in the mid-22nd century when humans are colonizing Pandora, a lush habitable moon of a gas giant in the Alpha Centauri star system, to mine the valuable mineral unobtanium. The expansion of the mining colony threatens the continued existence of a local tribe of Na’vi – a humanoid species indigenous to Pandora. The film’s title refers to a genetically engineered Na’vi body operated from the brain of a remotely located human that is used to interact with the natives of Pandora.
You really don’t need me to tell you about the film. But what I can tell you is that the film looks absolutely incredible. The colors are more vibrant than ever, the sound effects are crystal clear, and the film as a whole has really come to life. The updated sound makes the theater seats rumble on occasion, giving us that authentic feeling of actually being in the movie.
The HDR does occasionally jar the film a bit but it isn’t that noticeable in actuality. But the 4K upgrade to the film makes it all the more amazing. Every color pops and dazzles us, every image is completely clear and it feels as if we have had our eyes polished and are seeing the film for the very first time.
The sequences that we noticed back in 2009 in 3D are now stunning like never before. We marvel as various things drift out from the screen and present themselves before our eyes. The backgrounds are more visually delightful than we are used to, bringing the planet of Pandora to life as if we are actually on the planet ourselves. Never before have we experienced the film like this.
And believe me, it has to be experienced like this. On the biggest screen you can find, dynamic sound and comfortable seats. Oh and in 3D or IMAX. That is a must. Forget about a smaller theatre that hasn’t had a decent upgrade in decades, the film deserves to be seen in a top-of-the-range theater for maximum effect.
Of course, the cast all play their parts. Sam Worthington is quite the likable lead as Jake Sully. We follow his journey from the start of the film through to the final frame. And he makes for quite the hero when called upon. Zoe Saldana as Neytiri is delightful. We root for her and enjoy every second in her company. From the open hostility she first displays to the loving Na’vi she becomes by the film’s end, we root for her in every way possible.
Laz Alonso (yes, Mother’s Milk in The Boys himself) is wonderfully cast as Tsu’tey, the finest warrior of the Omaticaya clan. Again, we see him in his hostile and hateful stage but by the climax, we have taken him to our hearts. We hope that he survives the climactic battle and becomes Jake’s lifelong friend.
Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine brings a terrific performance to proceedings. When we first meet her, Grace is all bluster. She feels like she is a force of nature. Strong-willed, fierce, demeaning, and someone we wouldn’t like if we met them outside, she soon grows on us. She becomes an integral part of proceedings, bringing a logical mind to all the chaos that’s occurring on the planet. Her relationship with the Na’vi throughout her screen time is wonderful.
We feel for Grace as she tries to step through the minefield of human/ Na’vi relations. All the while, she is being undermined at every turn. Ms. Weaver encompasses the role from the first time we see her. And as such, we find ourselves rooting for her from around a third into the film.
MICHELLE RODRIGUEZ AND GIOVANNI RIBISI
Michelle Rodriguez doesn’t have that much to do in her role as Trudy. And that is a pity. She appears, disappears, re-appears, and then is gone. Hers is a token role, one that is put into the film for a purpose but is ill-served all the same. Giovanni Ribisi fares better as Parker Selfridge, the corporate administrator for the mining company. When we first meet him, we are unsure whether he will turn out to be good, bad, or indifferent. But as always, Ribisi brings a certain charm to his character, meaning we feel conflicted as to our feelings for him.
But no one even comes close to Stephen Lang. His character of Colonel Miles Quaritch has been perfectly cast. Lang comes across as grizzled, nasty, hateful, and completely despicable by the climax. And he steals the film out from under everybody. Lang is perfectly cast as the single-minded colonel. He has that certain charm, swagger, and prowess to burn himself into the minds of the audience and stay there.
This is actually quite comical as Lang himself is a really nice, amiable man off-screen. But when he straps on his villainous pants, we know we are in for a ride through the evilness of humans. Which is what the film is all about in essence. The destructive nature of mankind and his arrogance towards things he doesn’t understand or care about. And Lang personifies this to perfection.
The film has been remastered and reissued ahead of the December release of the second film, ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water.’ In case you missed it, take a look at the trailer for the sequel:
What more is there to say? The film looks incredible. And is worth the price of admission to see it in this newly remastered version. While we wait for the sequel to hit us at Christmas, it is the perfect time to catch up on events before we all flock to the theater for our second visit to Pandora. The visuals are stunning as never before, the entire film feels familiar but different and is served by a fantastic score by the late James Horner. Every aspect of the film is better than it has ever been. And deserves to be revisited on the big screen.
The nighttime sequences really pop, the flying sequences continue to take our breath away, and it all adds up to a fantastic movie that enthralls and inspires us. If you asked me thirteen years ago if the film was a masterpiece of filmmaking, one that would stand the test of time, I’d have said no. Ask me today the same question, the answer would be a resounding yes. See it again, feel it again, and enjoy it again. But this time, experience it for the very first time.
“Avatar” will be released into theaters for a two-week limited engagement from Friday, September 23rd.
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Carl Roberts is the News Editor of The Future of the Force. Aside from being our horror genre aficionado, he is also passionate about Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and the Indiana Jones movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force frequently!