Chris Nashawaty
December 14, 2009 AT 05:00 AM EST

Avatar

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
PG-13
runtime
162 minutes
Wide Release Date
12/18/09
performer
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
director
James Cameron
distributor
20th Century Fox Film Corporation
author
James Cameron
genre
Sci-fi and Fantasy, Animation

We gave it an B

STARRING Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoë Saldana, Michelle Rodriguez
WRITTEN AND DIRECTED BY James Cameron

Maybe you’ve heard of a little movie called Avatar? It’s a 3-D sci-fi adventure set on the planet Pandora; the characters are CG-rendered and blue; it’s been in the works forever, it cost a ton of money, and it may very well revolutionize cinema. And cure baldness. At least that’s the impression many got from last month’s Comic-Con, where 25 minutes of the $200 million-plus production were unveiled to the breathless, slack-jawed masses. There’s no doubt that, with his first directorial feature since 1997’s Titanic (which remains the biggest box office hit of all time), James Cameron is swinging for the fences. ”The reality is, every movie I’ve ever made was a swing for the fences,” he says. ”That’s just how I’m built. I’m like a baby rattlesnake. I can’t just inject some of the poison, I have to inject all the poison, you know what I mean?”

Avatar had its start before Cameron ever shot a frame of Titanic. Fifteen years ago, he wrote an outline about a paralyzed soldier from Earth who — in the body of a 10-foot-tall avatar — travels to a lush planet and meets a race called the Na’vi. He brought the idea to his then F/X company, Digital Domain. ”They said, ‘We’re years away from what you want to do,”’ says Cameron. ”So I stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it.” Since then, he and his F/X posse have had plenty of time (and check-writing goodwill from Fox) to realize his vision. It’s been a long haul. Just ask Avatar star Sam Worthington (Terminator Salvation). ”I spent 13 months filming with Jim,” he says. ”One day you love each other, the next you hate each other. But I’ve never had a guy push me like that. That’s why I like working in America. You guys love making big movies!”

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