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SFRevu Media Column- 12/2009  Next Month / Last Month
In order to provide timely reviews, we appreciate media kits, preview invitations and preview DVDs. All dramatic presentations received will be listed in this column. Send Materials and Invitations to: Gayle Surrette c/o SFRevu 16440 Baden Westwood Road Brandywine, MD 20613 Email should be sent to: media (at) sfrevu.com

Avatar [Theatrical Release] by James Cameron (Director) (20th Century Fox 31 December 2009 / ) - Amazon.com: After 12 years of thinking about it (and waiting for movie technology to catch up with his visions), James Cameron followed up his unsinkable Titanic with Avatar, a sci-fi epic meant to trump all previous sci-fi epics. Set in the future on a distant planet, Avatar spins a simple little parable about greedy colonizers (that would be mankind) messing up the lush tribal world of Pandora. A paraplegic Marine named Jake (Sam Worthington) acts through a 9-foot-tall avatar that allows him to roam the planet and pass as one of the Na'vi, the blue-skinned, large-eyed native people who would very much like to live their peaceful lives without the interference of the visitors. Although he's supposed to be gathering intel for the badass general (Stephen Lang) who'd like to lay waste to the planet and its inhabitants, Jake naturally begins to take a liking to the Na'vi, especially the feisty Neytiri (ZoŽ Saldana, whose entire performance, recorded by Cameron's complicated motion-capture system, exists as a digitally rendered Na'vi). The movie uses state-of-the-art 3D technology to plunge the viewer deep into Cameron's crazy toy box of planetary ecosystems and high-tech machinery. Maybe it's the fact that Cameron seems torn between his two loves--awesome destructive gizmos and flower-power message mongering--that makes Avatar's pursuit of its point ultimately uncertain. That, and the fact that Cameron's dialogue continues to clunk badly. If you're won over by the movie's trippy new world, the characters will be forgivable as broad, useful archetypes rather than standard-issue stereotypes, and you might be able to overlook the unsurprising central plot. (The overextended "take that, Michael Bay" final battle sequences could tax even Cameron enthusiasts, however.) It doesn't measure up to the hype (what could?) yet Avatar frequently hits a giddy delirium all its own. The film itself is our Pandora, a sensation-saturated universe only the movies could create. --Robert Horton (see review)

Hidden Empire by Orson Scott Card (Macmillan Audio 22 December 2009 / $39.99) - Product Description: In this sequel to Card's bestselling novel Empire, Averell Torrent has become President of the United States, with enormous political and popular support and, if people only realized it, a tight grip on the reins of both political parties.† He has launched America into a get-tough, this-world-is-our-empire foreign policy stance.

But Captain Bartholomew Coleman, known as Cole to his friends and enemies alike, sees the danger Torrent poses to American democracy and the potential disasters involved in his foreign military adventures. Cole quickly runs afoul of Torrent; on the run, he and a few friends and allies seek proof he of how Torrent orchestrated the political takeover that included assassinating a President and nearly starting a civil war. (see review)

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