Wendy Nugent: ‘Avatar’ is a great flick to see in the theater

Wendy Nugent

On Monday night, two of my sons and I saw “Avatar.” Wow. Most movies don’t blow me away, but this one did.

For one thing, this was the first movie I’d ever seen in 3-D, and it was awesome.

One of my co-workers said she’s seen movies in 3-D, but this movie’s 3-D was better.

We sat in the front row, which I think added to the 3-D experience. I felt like I could grab the things that seemed to float near me, and once or twice I felt like ducking. It even felt like the bugs in the movie were buzzing around me. The entire movie, which lasted about three hours, was worth the $8 admission I paid. I learned admission to 3-D movies does cost a little more, probably because you get to use the glasses, and I’m guessing there’s more expense to making a 3-D movie.

I’ve heard “Avatar” cost $500 million ($300 million production, $200 million advertising) to make, so I feel like I contributed to the making of the movie in a small way.

The film involves a wheelchair-bound soldier, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), whose twin brother, Tom, a scientist, has died. On the lush, colorful moon Pandora, which is light years away from Earth, Tom is to be part of a highest-level program supervised by corporate and military strategists. Since Jake and his twin are genetic matches, this presents Jake with a unique opportunity to take over his brother’s contract with the military-corporate entity on Pandora.

“Humans are unable to breathe Pandora's air, but the Avatar Program enables people to link with their own Avatar, a genetically bred human-Na’vi hybrid,” as stated on imdb.com. “Through his Avatar body, Jake will be able to walk again. While Jake says his Avatar ‘looks like Tom,’ Norm (a scientist there) replies that the being ‘looks like you.’”

Jake is linked to his Avatar and goes to the moon’s surface for the first time with scientists linked to their Avatars, one of whom is Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver). Throughout the movie, Jake is torn between his bonds with the moon’s native people, the Na’vi, and what the corporate-military program wants him to do — get a Na’vi clan to move so a valuable mineral can be mined.

He befriends a native female, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who trains him to become a warrior and teaches Jake her people’s ways. I won’t spoil it by telling you which side he chooses.

“Avatar” probably is the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen, and I missed some of the dialogue because I was so enthralled with the action and 3-D-ness of everything. When I get visual, I don’t always hear what’s going on, but this gives me an excuse to go back (like I need one).

The action scenes are awesome in 3-D. They’d be awesome not in 3-D, but the 3-D definitely helped. The computer graphics, in which most of the movie was done, were great with the motion-capture work. Even a close-up of Avatar Jake made him look almost real with pores on his skin showing. The computerized creatures on the moon, such as the viperwolves and flying banshees, are done really well.

I’ve heard people say the plot isn’t that great, but I liked it. Since the movie has so much going on visually, I think a more complicated plot would’ve been too much — like eating really rich truffles for three hours.

The movie was written and directed by James Cameron (“Titanic,” “Terminator 2”). I found it interesting he made the Na’vi with human and animal characteristics, like he did with some characters in his TV series “Dark Angel.” It didn’t really seem to work on the TV show, but it did in “Avatar.”

I also like the way Cameron uses strong female characters in his movies and TV show, like Ripley in “Aliens,” Rose in “Titanic” and now Neytiri in “Avatar.” I enjoyed the way Neytiri hissed, rode banshees and protected her boyfriend. She rocks.

I recommend you see “Avatar” in 3-D in the movie theater. That experience cannot be duplicated at home on a little TV screen.

Wendy Nugent is an editor at The Newton Kansan, and she loves movies.