After the mega-success of 1997’s “Titanic,” James Cameron dubbed himself “the king of the world” and, honestly, after it made $7 gazillion in worldwide box office and won hundreds of awards, who was going to argue with him?For the next decade or so, Cameron contented himself with directing documentaries and the occasional fictional aquatic blockbuster on TV’s “Entourage.” Things were good but this calm before the directorial storm couldn’t last forever.
And so now, as his latest, the reportedly-budgeted at $300 million “Avatar,” storms towards his own box office records, one can only wonder – what should we call Cameron if he surpasses his own king’s ransom?
Here’s a proposition: Universal Overlord James Cameron. All hail and fear his cinematic money-making power.
“Avatar” is set in the very distant future and plays like a jumbled-up version of “Return of the Jedi,” “Aliens” and “The Matrix” with some “Pocahontas” tossed in for good measure.
Humanity has set its sights on the lush tropical planet of Pandora, which is home to an extremely valuable mineral conveniently called “unobtanium.”
It is also home to a host of dazzling creatures, including huge hammerhead/rhino creatures, majestic flying lizards and the Na’vi, a strange humanoid yet cat-like race that is very (very) in tune with the natural world.
Of course, not all humans greedily want to strip mine Pandora and leave.
Some want to live with the Na’vi and study their ways. It’s this conflict that paralyzed Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) finds himself thrust into the center of.
Sully travels to Pandora to operate the avatar, a genetically engineered hybrid of the human DNA of his recently deceased twin brother and the genetics of the Na’vi.
To understand this, try thinking “Matrix” with tall blue aliens on the other end of the connection instead of leather and cool shades.
Eventually, Sully gets caught up in the world of his avatar, learning the ways of the Na’vi from the chief’s daughter (Zoe Saldana), and begins to lose his grasp on which body is really his.
“Avatar” is a visual wonder, a sight to behold created using photo-realistic CGI technology that Cameron created specifically for the film. The 3-D effects are absolutely seamless.
From a strictly visual sense, “Avatar” is a movie that you can’t miss. This is the “Toy Story” of its time. The technology pioneered here will forever change the way movies are made.
The film is also a theater operator’s dream.
Not just because it is making money hand over fist thanks to those jacked-up 3-D prices, but because no TV, no matter how expensive, no matter how plasma-y it is, can truly recreate the experience of seeing “Avatar” unfold on the big screen.
James Cameron, Universal Overlord, Maker of Moolah, the Savior of Theater Chains Everywhere.
Colin McGlinchey is a fifth-year student majoring in English with a minor in Journalism. He can be reached at CM646588@wcupa.edu.