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In a sentence: it's a good science fiction movie.
But really not a part of cinema history, not a masterpiece and Cameron - If further evidence were needed - confirms as an honest film maker, but nothing more.
The positive side of this movie is undoubtedly the great visual impact. In short: special effects. Everything is very big, everything is very beautiful, everything is very realistic, everything is obviously well thought out and thorough (but with great creative naivete, as we will see).
Na'Vis are beautiful (Neijtiri is VERY beautiful... but she is because the actress who plays her is VERY beautiful) and are nicely expressive, reaching the perfect credibility as "real people" in some shots. But only in certain shots... but of this I will say later.
The film has its emotional moments (but they are pretty easy, in a pure "Hollywood Style"), and the created imaginary is effective.
The show is great, and you'll go through the lenght of the movie -– which is remarkable, almost 2 hours and 45 minutes – without any problems. Avatar – in a nutshell – deserves to be seen, and this is not in discussion.
But despite the visual splendor, this movie honestly does not deserve the masterpiece title (Avatar is not even the best film of Cameron, in fact I think Abyss is better and more... "deep"); let alone if it deserves the alleged "historic" value.
The problem of Avatar is that it really lacks originality, in any field.
The plot can be written before seeing the movie by anyone with a minimum of familiarity with cinema or narrative in general, and there are ANY plot twists throughout the script; no unexpected events, nothing really surprising: the story has developed exactly as I had expected, and indeed there are several "typically blockbuster" script naivetes. A lot of the situations and ALL the meanings and messages you'll see in Avatar, have already been seen in other movies, comic books, novels and cartoons.
To cite only the titles that have come to my mind while watching the movie (in no particular order): Matrix, Dances with the Wolves, Pocahontas, Evangelion, The Lord of the Rings, Princess Mononoke, Jurassic Park, Alien, Alien 2, Abyss (Cameron is a self-quoter!), and so on.
Even visually, everything in Avatar is big and beautiful, but only a few things surprised me. The whole Pandora planet is beautiful, very beautiful ... even too much beautiful, I would say "glossy". It's a somewhat fake nature that recalls in some ways the famous Japanese Zen gardens: no chaos, no dirt, no "ugliness" or the violent and terrifying side that is part of the actual Nature (that with the capital N).
The aliens are all beautiful and righteous, their respect for the creatures of the planet is total and also the creatures of the planet have total respect for them and bla bla bla... In short, the nature of Pandora is a magazine thing, not a native tribes thing.
Also on the purely creative side, nothing shines. Pandora's florae is in short a common tropical jungle land, "enhanced" with assorted luminescences, "marine" items "marine" like anemones and coral-like beings; animals are beautiful, but for who knows a little of the actual Earth faunae like me, is not difficult to recognize existing species which the "creatives" were inspired to.
For goodness sake, they've done a great job and if we don't let us go on anatomical/ethological considerations, everything it's good and works (although – I repeat – not original).
But what in my opinion is hard to digest, are the Na'Vis themselves that are completely and unequivocally out of context in Pandora .
Beyond the choice of the humanoid form - well understandable for reasons of identification, but little justificable in evolutive terms - there are some "bad" creative naivetes in these blue aliens, who in my opinion affects the credibility of that alien world:
1 - All the visible creatures on Pandora are hexapods (ie they have 6 limbs). All except the Na'Vis... Now, on Earth all terrestrial vertebrates are tetrapods (ie they have 4 limbs), with no exceptions. Why on Pandora there's an exception to this Nature rule?
2 - All the visible creatures on Pandora have very primitive nostrils positioned on the chest. All except Na'Vis, which have a complex "cat "noses.
3 - All the visible creatures on Pandora are glabrous, they have no hair or feathers. All except Na'Vis, who have hair (A LOT of hair!) and a tuft of hair on the tip of the tail.
4 - All the visible creatures on Pandora have 4 eyes (maybe 6 eyes). All except Na'Vis, which have their two lovely feline eyes.
5 - All the visible creatures on Pandora have two "organs of connection" (who has seen the movie will understand). All except Na'Vis, who have only one.
The question arises for anyone who understands a minimum of biology: what on hell Na'Vis have evolved from?
Why don't they make 'em hexapods and with nostrils in a strange place?
Well I've listed the defects of the movie not to say that this is a bad movie: it's a very good job, as already mentioned. But... Masterpiece? Cinema History? Please, let alone.
Ultimately, Avatar is one of the most classic "Hollywood Blockbusters" as there are many; it is a beautiful and funny movie but honestly (fans of Avatar, get a hand on your heart and admit that I'm right) can not earn more than 7.5 in a report card.
Too lacking in originality in any field (screenplay, music, directing, everything) to earn more.

© Matteo Bacchin