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December 30, 2009

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It's been 12 years since we've all seen Titanic blow up the box office and now James Cameron is back with the highly anticipated Avatar. A film that has been in the makings for almost two decades, Cameron pulls out all the stops. As far back as the 80's, Cameron has been itching to create a film that combines almost "every science fiction book" he's ever read into the ultimate cinematic experience and boy does he do it here.

Avatar begins with handicapped Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) who signs on for duty on a far-off planet called Pandora. With this assignment, he is taking the place of his twin brother who was killed and already slated to be involved in the "Avatar" operation. To keep this simple, the Avatar program headed by Dr. Grace Augustine, (Sigourney Weaver) combines the human and the alien DNA into an interactive being that looks like the planet's native Na 'Vi. But the Na'Vi that is really human is controlled by the host or Dr. Augustine's team. Jake also discovers that by going to Pandora as a Na'Vi, he has full use of his legs.

At first Jake is only involved in the security capacity as Augustine and her scientists explore the magic and danger of Pandora. But after a moment of carelessness, Jake finds himself on the planet alone and fending for himself. And as a result of this, he is rescued and taken in by the chief's daughter Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). The Na'Vi tribe are impressed to finally meet a warrior of Jake's caliber and he is soon enlisted to learn more under Neytiri's supervision. But Jake soon realizes that the "humans" are there for a different reason on Pandora. It's this distant world that is the source of a highly sought after, expensive mineral that lays beneath the main location the Na'Vi tribe. Enter Colonel Miles Qauritch (Stephen Lang) the head of the mission to invade Pandora. He asks Jake to spy for him and find out as much as he can so they can better execute the mission to get to the main source they are looking for. But as you can probably guess, this poses a problem as he begins to feel torn between his human self and the Na'Vi Avatar that has been created for him. Jake starts seeing a different side to the Na'Vi and truly how beautiful their world is, especially Neytiri who he becomes very close to.

Avatar is truly an amazing masterpiece with all of the qualities we look for in a film. I found myself at least 10 times saying "wow" out loud as the special effects seem effortless. The world of Pandora is magnificent as we find ourselves immersed in the visuals that are realistic and the expressions on the Na'Vi's faces are so real that it's hard to believe they don't really exist.

The performances in this film are all outstanding and particularly Saldana (Star Trek), as she brings an animated extraterrestrial character to life, someone you care about and root for, something that is not easy but she does so beautifully. Worthington is also fantastic, he plays the conflicted soldier who wants to do the right thing, but realizes how hard that can be. And for someone that hasn't been in every action hero movie out there, it's refreshing to see a new face that not only can act but is not bad to look at either.

It's been years since I have been blow away by a movie in every sense of the word; music, story line, characters, special effects and much more. But this movie brings them all to the table. Although its two hours and forty five minutes long you'll be so enthralled that it flies by. Cameron may have been working on this for years but he puts everything in to this movie and it shows. This is a movie that you'll be thinking about long after it's over, and if you're like me, going back for a second time.

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