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Movie lore tells us that James Cameron devoted years to his latest project, the box-office sensation Avatar.  I sincerely hope Cameron used most of that time perfecting the special effects, because it’s apparent he didn’t spend more than 15 minutes on the film’s story, dialogue, or acting.

I give Avatar an above-average rating because the 3-D technology really is captivating, at least at times.  For an action spectacular, it’s ironic that the illusion is most effective in quieter moments:  Drifting sparks from a flame, floating jellyfish, dangling vines, and a simple pane of glass are uncannily realistic.  The ballyhooed flying and battle scenes, conversely, are so loud and busy that the 3-D effect is lost in all the jumble.

Avatar is like an amusement-park ride — a lot of fun at the time, but something you don’t much think about an hour later.  Speaking of time … Cameron seems inordinately fond of his “blue people’s” bare butt cheeks; I only wish he was more considerate of mine, which during an interminable two hours and 42 minutes were alternately aching or falling asleep.

As for the alleged politics of this film, I think it’s much ado about nothing.  Avatar’s plot and characters are much too cartoonish to be taken seriously.       Grade:  B-

 

Director:  James Cameron  Cast:  Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez  Release:  2009

 

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