James Cameron has done it again and his sci-fi spectacular, Avatar, has totally exceeded my expectations.
I was a bit dubious like a lot of people after I'd seen the CGI laden trailers filled to the rafters with blue-skinned aliens, but he totally blew me away and worked his 'Titanic' magic again.
The movie is doing record breaking box office and I can only assume he's leveraging the audiences fondness for and his track record with blockbusters like Titanic, Terminator 2 and Aliens, to get the masses to come out and see a full blown original sci-fi extravaganza.
I kid you not the audience I saw it with at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood wasn't your typical sci-fi genre fan base, but entire families both young and old, all there to see what the hype was about and see it in glorious 3D.
I think that sometimes people don't like sci-fi because it's not believable enough for them, especially when done on a low budget, so what's brilliant about Avatar is that the special effects technology and production values can credibly transport you to this other world and it also has an engaging story that transcends the sci-fi genre which is action-packed and has heart too.
For a sci-fi geeks like me, the movie is also full of great sci-fi concepts like the Pandora's worldwide neural net that all life feeds into, truly alien looking creatures and flora that you wonder how they walk, grow, breathe and fly, and the 'Avatar' concept itself which is a nice bit of futuristic bioscience.
The indigenous Na'vi race look alien and the breathtaking landscapes they exist within are seamless. It should be no surprise really when Cameron has pioneered CGI effects since Abyss which begat T2 and so on.
Ultimately it's not a complex story, which is fine as you can see the creative minds, imagination and passion that went into the movie and it's well worth the wait to see Cameron's futuristic vision on the big screen.
What does keep you enthralled are the stunning visuals, from the alien creature designs themselves and how they interact with the live action human elements, to the beauty and complexity of the bioluminescent nightscapes, the alien vistas, colourful creatures and more.
Sam Worthington was the best thing about Terminator: Salvation and his 'Jake Sully' makes for a likable hero here, plus Zoe Saldana's plucky native love interest, 'Neytiri', have a great chemistry even though they are giant blue aliens frolicking in the jungle.
One thing that does make me smile about their relationship is that during the jungle scenes with Jake and Neytiri I couldn't help being reminded of 'Simba' and 'Nala' from The Lion King and the whole 'Circle of life' philosophy.
Sigourney Weaver is always fantastic and I loved her channeling both a bit of ballsy Ellen Ripley and Dian Fossey as the head scientist and inventor of the Avatar program, 'Dr. Grace Augustine', stationed on the moon of Pandora. It was also amazing how her Avatar's face looked so much like her too.
As you can see I enjoyed the movie. I realise now I shall also have to update my favourite films of 2009 as Avatar truly qualifies as best action and best sci-fi and gets five fabulous ***** stars.
Don't forget to check out all the costumes and props from Avatar on display at the Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.
Tonight I'm off to see my third consecutive movie at the cinema in as many days, after Sherlock Holmes and Avatar, it's off to see if the musical Nine can enchant me as much as mystery and sci-fi has entertained me...