The embargoes have been broken and the first reviews of James Cameron’s much anticipated film Avatar have come in this evening from the two big Hollwood trades. Thanks to reader G1000 for pointing out that Variety‘s Todd McCarthy and The Hollywood Reporter‘s Kirk Honeycutt both posting reviews on the much anticipated film. Word on the film has been coming through in Twitter-sized snippets after first screenings began last week. However, a review embargo until Monday has kept the official statements to a minimum until now.
So, what’s the word? Is it as good as expected? As bad as expected? According to McCarthy it’s pretty good and to Honeycutt it’s fan-freaking-tastic. Both reviews hail the special effects as “groundbreaking” and “transporting” and claim that the film is beyond stunning.
Kirk Honeycutt of THR calls James Cameron the “king of the world” and in his review’s tagline he says “movie magic is back.” (I guess I wasn’t aware that it had gone away.) In the beginning of the review he suggests the film will have a massive box office haul (which it would have, regardless of quality) and then after the summary he does less praising of the film and more of the man himself:
As with everything in “Avatar,” Cameron has coolly thought things through. With every visual tool he can muster, he takes viewers through the battle like a master tactician, demonstrating how every turn in the fight, every valiant death or cowardly act, changes its course. 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 (watch the “Avatar” video game trailer here).
Todd McCarthy of Variety is not head over heels in love with the movie, but he does have a lot of great things to say including this statement early in the review:
Cameron delivers again with a film of universal appeal that just about everyone who ever goes to the movies will need to see.
McCarthy points out a few plot holes and some thematic stereotypes that the film is guilty of. However, he can’t deny the technical excellence and praises every level of the technical team that worked on the film:
On an experiential level, however, “Avatar” is all-enveloping and transporting, with Cameron & Co.’s years of R&D paying off with a film that, as his work has done before, raises the technical bar and throws down a challenge for the many other filmmakers toiling in the sci-fi/fantasy realm. The lead team from Weta in New Zealand as well as the numerous other visual-effects and animation firms involved have done marvelous and exacting work, a compliment that extends to every other craft and technical contribution on view.
What does this mean for James Cameron’s visual spectacle? More reviews have to come in before an official opinion can be regarded, but with a start like this, I wouldn’t be surprised if it made a big dent in the Awards race. It will certainly do huge business at the Box Office and will no doubt make back its huge production tab. Look for it to show up on my updated Best Picture charts, which are coming tomorrow.
Honeycutt makes an interesting observation at the end of his review:
The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this?