‘Avatar’ you ready for more?

By Toni Wisner

By Toni Wisner

The mega flick “Avatar” merited 9 Oscar nods at this year’s 82nd annual Academy Awards and walked away with three golden statues for art direction, cinematography and visual effects; but is the film’s success and artistic integrity only validated by the 6,000 plus Academy voters who, in large part, consisted of film studio executives, art directors, set and costume designers, and hair and make-up artists? The answer is most likely no.

With production costs estimated $300 million, promotional costs approximating $150 million, and over 15 years of dedication to its development, James Cameron’s investment and personal sacrifice supersedes his perceived ego of being the only driving force behind his taste for success.

Cameron is proof that a creative imagination, hard work ethic and a sincere commitment to excellence can turn Hollywood make-believe, into Hollywood movie magic.

Since its London premier on Dec. 10 2009, “Avatar” has broken several box office records despite initial predictions from film critics and fan communities that “Avatar” would be a significant box office flop.

“Avatar” is now the highest grossing film of all time. Totaling $2 billion in global ticket sales, James Cameron appears content. Cameron’s visual masterpiece steamed ahead of his earlier flagship film, “Titanic,” which made $1.8 billion in sales and held title for highest grossing film over the last 12 years.

Unlike “Titanic,” which is a movie based loosely on the true story of the sinking of RS Titanic, “Avatar” reaches the farthest realm of fictional fantasy.

The story of “Avatar” clashes between cultures and civilizations, taking place in the year 2154 on Pandora, a plush moon of the planet Polyphemus, in the Alpha Centauri star system.

The exotic planet is occupied by the Na’vi, which are 10-foot tall blue cat-like species of sapient humanoids who worship a mother goddess named, Eywa. The peaceful tribe is rich in culture and language, and live in harmony with nature.

Subsequently, their biosphere and valuable mineral, unobtanium, has tempted the human-run mining corporation to research and obtain the site of hometree; the location of massive deposits of the mineral and the central dwelling place for the indigenous clan. Because Pandora’s atmosphere is toxic to humans, we must wear either breathing masks or use a genetically engineered na’vi body (Avatar) to interact with the natives of Pandora.

Without giving the story completely away, the dynamic between the characters set in illustrious visuals of beauty and despair makes it a spectacular sight for 3D eyes.

The visual effects and techniques used in “Avatar” are revolutionary. Cameron pioneered a specially designed camera built into a 6 inch boom which allowed the facial expressions of the actors to be captured and digitally recorded for the animators to use later. In addition, his stereoscopic filmmaking has drawn praises as a breakthrough in cinematic technology.

With three new Oscars, numerous accolades, a prequel novel and a sequel in the making, the future for James Cameron and his “Avatar” dynasty look as bright as Pandora’s, tree of souls.