Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience

Rated PG-13 170 min. 2009

I’ve been wondering whether any movie could possibly justify the eight gazillion dollars rumored to have been lavished on Avatar, but damn if every single penny isn’t up there on the screen. And I don’t mean just the visual effects, though they are beyond stunning.

This is a real world, so fully realized that surely geologists and biologists and cognitive scientists and other conceptual specialists had to have been onboard. The many creatures who populate this lush world clearly evolved and fill their ecological niches beautifully. And the mind-blowing physical aspects of the planet — the impossibly tall trees, the gravitational anomalies — are the result of the solidly realistic facts of Pandora: its gravity is lower than ours.

That might sound like unnecessary detail to have been heaped on, but even to minds of nonscientific bent, it lends it all a plausibility that, you’d think, couldn’t be faked. Our brains just know when things feel right, even if we don’t always understand why we feel that way. Pandora feels real. It’s all so awesome that I, at least, found it easy to forgive the fact that the story, also by Cameron, takes few risks: it’s a straightforward narrative the likes of which we’ve seen many times before, though it is pulled off extremely well, with just a few moments that are cheesy or obvious. It’s Dances With Wolves, basically — and I don’t mean that as an insult.

Film Credits

Official Site: www.avatarmovie.com

Director: James Cameron

Writer: James Cameron

Producer: James Cameron and Jon Landau

Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, CCH Pounder, Joel Moore, Laz Alonso and Wes Studi

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Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience

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