King of the jungle? Early reviews of ‘Avatar’ are strong

Dec. 11, 2009 | 11:15 p.m.


The imminent release of James Cameron’s “Avatar” has worked fans into a lather. Now it’s starting to do the same for critics. Before you read some of their comments, here’s a refresher:

At the Hollywood Reporter, Kirk Honeycutt’s review expressed the ecstasy one might feel if one, say, saw the original “Star Wars” a week before its release — with George Lucas and Harrison Ford in the room.

“Movie magic is back!” proclaimed the usually even-keeled critic, before going on to explain why. “As with everything in ‘Avatar,’ Cameron has coolly thought things through. … The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-’em-ups you care to mention. … Not a minute is wasted; there is no down time. The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this?”

At Variety, chief critic Todd McCarthy was almost equally enthusiastic, calling out the picture’s “unique spectacle,” “breathtaking sights” and “narrative excitement,” though he offered a few qualifiers as well,  noting, for example, “foggy” politics.

At The Independent, Anna Keir offered that while the movie can be “overwhelming,” it was “highly entertaining, ” and she touted the picture as “rich in action” and “beautiful to watch.”

The most lukewarm take came from the Associated Press, which drew a distinction between the movie’s visual elements and its narrative ones. Reviewer Jake Coyle called Cameron’s effort “a movie whose effects are clearly revolutionary [and] a spectacle that millions will find adventure in. But it nevertheless feels unsatisfying and somehow lacks the pulse of a truly alive film.”

The mood in the room at the Los Angeles theater where the film screened for media and tastemakers Thursday night was strong — though, perhaps given the presence of so many jaded types (many were people who see four or five movies per week) — not Comic-Con electric. The length may also have something to do with that — though, surprisingly, given the 2-hour, 40-minute running time, the movie flies by faster than, well, a banshee.

— Steven Zeitchik


Sigourney Weaver as queen of sci-fi: ‘Outer space has been good to me’

Michelle Rodriguez says “Avatar” was like making “Star Wars”

Jon Landau on wild budget reports: “They’re all false” 

“Avatar” as innovator: “We were in new territory … there was no road there” 

Jim Cameron, cinema prophet? “Moving a mountain is nothing” 

Sam Worthington looks for “Avatar’s” humanity: “I don’t want to be a cartoon”

Giovanni Ribisi pretty much loves Jim Cameron

James Cameron on “Avatar”: Like “Matrix,” it opens doorways

“Avatar” star Zoe Saldana says the movie will match the hype: “This is big”

VIDEO: “Avatar” interviews with Sigourney Weaver and Jon Landau

Peter Jackson: Movie fans are ‘fed up with the lack of original ideas’

More in: Uncategorized, Avatar


5 Responses to King of the jungle? Early reviews of ‘Avatar’ are strong

  1. Cheddman says:

    Too… much… CG. Regardless of reviews, it looks like a bad cartoon.
    Why can't filmmakers use CG like Abrams used it in Star Trek? As a visual storytelling tool, it's a side dish, not the meat.

  2. Dave says:

    Cheddman, go see the movie before forming an opinion. Thanks.

  3. Kristal says:

    I'm so excited for this!! It's been getting amazing review scores on sites like Rotten Tomatoes and Movie Review Intelligence:

  4. Mark says:

    Cheddman, Cameron's resume is full of movies that do precisely what you criticize Avatar of not doing. I agree you should actually see the film before declaring that the CGI does not serve the story, and make yourself familiar with Cameron's body of work as well. You'll thank me.

  5. paul says:

    this is a great article about the avatar!

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