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Written by Peter Johnston   
Tuesday, 29 December 2009 02:56

Eye of Jake Sully

I'm about to head to bed after a night out with Carolyn to the IMAX in Glasgow to see Avatar in 3D on their hugely immersive screen. Wow, it was a fantastic experience. Not so much were you watching a film as you were a witness to the events depicted, so effective was the film-making. That this was taking place in a world, Pandora, where the indigenous people are 10 feet tall, blue and sporting rather fetching tails and where the flora and fauna would make David Attenborough speechless in their fantastic realisation is all the more impressive.

The film has been criticised by some for a weak or derivative plot and the failures of the script, and for sure the plot has a similar trajectory of redemption for the lead character that we have seen in other films, but then it is also a story we hanker for ourselves - that despite all the weaknesses and failures that we suffer from, we too can make good. [There's more...]

In the case of Avatar it is Jake Sully, the paraplegic Marine called in to replace his deceased twin brother who has to overcome his human limitations in taking on his avatar in order to navigate the Na'vis, becoming one of them, and in so doing finding himself. 

A simple story on many levels, and yet the film also synthesises elements from a hundred and one other stories and films, from modern politics and global concerns (from the environment to the war on terror), and inevitable gaian symbolism with the deity Eywa which connects all life together on the planet, in order to create an all-encompassing mythic story in the best traditions of Hollywood film-making. For me as a child the mythic Hollywood story was Star Wars, a generation later it was arguably The Matrix, perhaps Avatar is the mythic Hollywood story for this generation, alongside the more timeless The Lord of the Rings. This is no mean achievement.

On the way home Carolyn and I were commenting that this is the kind of film 'event' that has to be seen on the biggest screen possible. When it comes out on Blu-ray, however good the format is, it will never do justice to what we experienced tonight. Call me a sucker, but I want to see it again at the IMAX.

It has been twelve years since James Cameron's last feature film, Titanic, and for me as a fan of his work - which includes a wry chuckle at some of the more cheesy elements of scriptwriting usually found in his films, for example the battle between the humans and Na'vi stems from the human strip mining for, get this, unobtanium (groan) - it has been well worth the wait. 

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