The most expensive film ever made leaves much to be desired. Paralyzed from the waist down, former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) voices several movies worth of tell-don't-show narration for the benefit of audiences who like being read to when they watch a movie. With no oil resources left on Earth, a battalion of outsourced military bozos have set up camp on the moon "Pandora" with a group of optimistic scientists in order to incite a tribe of native aliens called the Na'vi. They want to drive the Na'vi out of their giant tree home to extract an energy-producing mineral called Unobtainium (yes, really). Jake's lack of scientific training nevertheless allows him to rest in a coffin-like bed from which he projects a walking-talking avatar in the form of a Na'vi creature. Jake's mission is to earn the trust of the blue-skinned Na'vi and report back to the colonizing military forces, who want to dispossess the aliens rather than kill them all outright. The Na'vi are primitive aliens who wear loin cloths, do battle with bows and arrows, and fly around on winged four-eyed creatures with which each Na'vi bonds for life. Naturally, Jake falls for a cute Na'vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who returns his affection. The inevitable David-and-Goliath war that transpires delivers a familiar tale: boy meets alien, boy goes native, boy betrays his past to do what's right. For an ostensibly anti-imperialist war movie written in all caps and splashed with every primary color in the Maxfield Parish color wheel, "Avatar" ends up being a toothless rollercoaster of eye candy that sexes up war, the very thing it professes to detest. "Avatar" is the perfect film to desensitize young audiences before they get the call-up.
Rated PG-13. 160 mins. (B-) (Three Stars)
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