‘Avatar’ earns place as modern classic

Ten years ago, on Friday, Dec. 18, 2009, “Avatar” was released. The film follows its protagonist Jake Sully, an ex-marine who links his mind to an alien’s on the planet Pandora and finds himself caught between his loyalty to humanity and his love for an alien woman. The film has garnished many critics and haters over the years, and while it is not a cinematic masterpiece, a decade later it still stands the test of time, earning itself a role as a modern science fiction classic.

The outdated CGI is transcended by the amazing storytelling and breathtaking visuals.”

— Blake Loria, 11

While the visual effects and computer-generated graphics (CGI) of the film are dated, they were revolutionary for the time and help set the stage for future animation works. “Avatar” set a new standard for animation and improved many technologies, which ultimately made the film’s aesthetic and environment so surreal and lively. It also does a good job of conveying information to the audience, which is unique compared to other films from the time.

For example, the liveliness of the Na’vi–the aliens of the film–is often considered unsettling and even creepy. While at first glance that may be true, the character design showcases the foreignness of the creatures, which is a major plot point in truly understanding the Na’vi and the beauty in their culture and environment. The film’s use of  bright blues, pinks, purples and glowing greens, along with the forests and other terrain the animators created were made possible by the time and care the animators put into the film, and shows how the outdated CGI is transcended by the amazing storytelling and breathtaking visuals.

Along with criticism of the film’s poorly-aged graphics is a complaint of the stories plot, or rather, lack of plot. The film may appear to be a spectacle first and a science-fiction movie second, but behind the fanciful setting of ‘”Avatar,” the themes within the writing and storytelling thicken the plot and help develop the overall story. As the story develops, the Na’vi are forced to arm themselves to protect themselves and the Hometree, their home, as the humans wreak havoc on the environment while mining and gathering resources. The film is allegorical and draws parallels to the real world, where humans are entering ecosystems to take their resources and other issues such as climate change. The movie even directly brings this up when the humans destroy Earth and are now destroying Pandora. Additionally, the tone is set by the melodrama action, and one point of the film is to show the overly emphasized tension in the world.

Even 10 years later, the world is still fleshed out and immersive.”

— Blake Loria, 11

In the days of remakes and reboots, the story of “Avatar” is a lasting one that delves into deeper, important topics. The film’s originality was refreshing for the time, and even though there are common tropes and stereotypes throughout the story, even 10 years later, the world is still fleshed out and immersive. For instance, the film uses subtle ways to world-build and develop characters. When Sully, who lost the ability to use his legs while serving as a marine, gains his new body as a Na’vi, the viewer can witness the character’s reaction of feeling dirt underneath his feet and how this affects him. “Avatar” not only takes the time to give the characters life and build the world effectively, but does so in a way that highlights both sides of the stories.

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The contributions to the film industry, science fiction in particular, have landed the film’s place next to classics such as “Alien,” “Inception” and “The Terminator.” When the film released in 2009, viewers may have been captivated by the bold colors and flamboyant imagery, but in 10 years time, “Avatar” has proven itself a movie to be remembered from its decade because of its innovation in animation, as well as its lore and story building.