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The 365 Best Films of the 2000s

Heroes of the Zeroes: Avatar

The Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films from 2000 to 2009.

“Avatar”
Rated PG-13
2009

To paraphrase the Pet Shop Boys, James Cameron’s “Avatar” has the brawn, it’s got the brains and it’s still making lots of money — now the second-highest grossing film in worldwide box-office history Biggest. Film. Ever.

In terms of story, well, “Avatar” was “Dances with Aliens” — a paraplegic Marine tasked to exploit the Na’vi alien race in a body resembling theirs joins their cause. (Like the best moments of “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Avatar” examines the obligations of finding a soul in a synthetic body.)

But in terms of action and cinematic spectacle, “Avatar” represented a magnum opus for Cameron, motion-capture performance and the digital 3-D format. It’s fully immersive, majestically detailed, indelibly composed and, most importantly, infrequently disorienting with its 3D wizardry.

Plus, Zoe Saldana’s motion-capture performance as Neytiri — the Na’vi people’s warrior goddess — grabs lapels with a forceful feminism and emotion fierier than anything the technology previously provided.

An incredible character all its own is Pandora, the moon on which “Avatar” is set. It’s a living entity with phosphorescent flora, hybridized fauna, floating mountains and a biological USB port of sorts the Na’vi use to access Pandora’s spirit. When the shock-and-awe attack on Pandora commences — led by the delicious dastardliness of Stephen Lang’s Col. Quaritch — it’s more wounding than wowing.

For all the justifiable knocks on Cameron, his personal investment in any project is never in doubt. With “Avatar,” his passion for pushing the very possibilities of film as a medium pays off. Here’s hoping that we see him again before 2021.

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7 Responses to “Heroes of the Zeroes: Avatar”

  1. [...] of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford Audition Austin Powers in Goldmember Australia Auto Focus Avatar Away From Her Away We Go Bad Santa The Bank Job Batman Begins / The Dark Knight A Beautiful Mind [...]

  2. [...] Carpenter’s “The Thing,” and a score by James Horner (“Titanic” and “Avatar”), schlockmeister Roger Corman certainly got Oscar-level talent in some areas if not [...]

  3. [...] spine-tingling animation achieved awesome aerial action and artistry better than “Avatar.” There’s more detail in Toothless’s eye than in most films altogether, and the creature is a [...]

  4. Nick Rogers says:

    Johnny: Based on box-office gross, and discounting the inflation adjustment, yes, it’s the biggest film ever. That doesn’t excite me in the slightest. It just is what it is. And if I’m to have received some sort of incentive for supporting "Avatar," I’d better get James Cameron on the line. This purportedly weak, pathetic movie critic thanks you for your interest in his work.

  5. Johnny Grave says:

    Ha! Try watching Avatar now on DVD – it looks like a regular Xbox platform game. And it’s not the biggest film ever (it is to a regular american consumer such as the reviewer who wrote this). It’s the biggest showcase of how weak and pathetic the movie critics are – they know it’s cr*p but they have to support it.

  6. [...] “Avatar” is no longer the only film with blue people and floating globules to pioneer the best of what digital 3D can offer. [...]

  7. [...] House” served as the Zeroes’ only film to make the case for performance-capture cartoons. (“Avatar” used the same technology, but wasn’t an animated film per [...]