title: AVATAR
year: 2009
cast: Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver
writer/director: James Cameron
rating: *1/2

The first twenty minutes, although we're quickly force-fed the plot of a crippled marine going to a planet called Pandora where his counterpart "Avatar", clone to the indigenous natives, will seek trust in these tall blue Na'vi (all this happening while he, in human form, lays a tanning booth and guides the creature) in order to abduct a mineral to take back to earth (symbolizing oil, of course)... isn't bad, seeming as if a young James Cameron, who directed "Aliens", "The Terminator" and "The Terminator 2" with flowing precision, is at the helm. We're on a terrific adventure and it looks pretty neat: like a Roger Dean "Yes" album cover with motion. But then something happens: Once within the forest, separated from his fellow troops, the Avatar discovers he digs the peace-loving natives more than stupid humans, falls in love with the hottest of the tall blue elf-folk, and after taming a flying dragon and bedding down the babe, he's "one of the gang" way too quickly. Most of the action of the film's first half, pitting our hero against forest-dwelling predators, is (in a visual and directorial sense) straight out of JURASSIC PARK; the thrills eventually taking a backseat to drawn-out new-age ceremonies and cheesy dialog too horrible to repeat. And when the big battle ensues... The Honest Natives Vs The Greedy Americans... the vague, undeveloped characters get lost within the expensive flash. AVATAR, filmed in 3D but with 1D everything else, in trying to blend science-fiction, fantasy, romance, and a big bright moral message, ends up mirroring Cameron's view of the American Military: overwrought, overpriced and completely brain-dead.

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