ames Cameron's 'Avatar' takes place on a planet called Pandora, where American corporations and their military mercenaries have set up bases to mine a surpassingly precious mineral called unobtanium. The vein of awe mined by the movie is nothing short of unbelievium. This is a new way of coming to your senses -- put those 3-D glasses on your face and you come to a sense of delight that quickly gives way to a sense of astonishment. The planetary high doesn't last. The closer the story comes to a lumbering parable of colonialist aggression in the jungles of an extragalactic Vietnam, the more the enchantment fizzles. Much of the time, though, you're transfixed by the beauty of a spectacle that seems all of a piece. Special effects have been abolished, in effect, since the whole thing is so special.
The word 'avatar' wasn't invented by Mr. Cameron, though everything else in the production seems to have been. (With the help, that is, of a few thousand colleagues around our own planet.) In Hindu myth, an avatar is a deity descended to earth in human form. In computer parlance it's an icon that represents a person in virtual reality or cyberspace. In the movie it's a manufactured body that's remotely controlled -- not by some hand-held clicker but through brain waves generated by a human being who functions as the body's driver.
这听上去感觉是枯燥的技术，但体现在银幕上则让人目眩神迷。那具身体的驾驶员──或者说那具身体的灵魂──是一个退役海军陆战队员杰克?萨利（Jake Sully，萨姆?沃辛顿(Sam Worthington)饰演）。他在以前的战斗中负伤，只能被困在轮椅上。杰克参加了一个科研项目，负责人是一个名叫格雷丝?奥古斯汀（Grace Augustine，西格妮?韦弗(Sigourney Weaver)饰演）的女强人。该项目开始了对潘多拉星的探索，但这个星球的空气对人类有毒，因此只能使用以人类DNA与外星生物DNA合成的阿凡达。阿凡达的身体克隆了潘多拉星的主流种族，一种身材高大的蓝色类人生物，拥有瑞士超现实主义雕塑家贾柯梅蒂(Giacomett)作品中的那种优美线条，还有如同超人一般的敏捷身手。影片中有几段如歌如泣般的动人场景，其中最美的一段当属杰克。当他第一次控制阿凡达时，发现自己新的双腿可以带着这具轻快的新身体穿越潘多拉这个外星星球最壮丽的大好河山.
if this sounds technobabbly in the description, it's dazzling in the execution. The main driver-to-be -- or, rather, animating spirit-to-be -- is an ex-Marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) whose combat injuries have left him confined to a wheelchair. He's part of a scientific program run by a tough cookie named Grace Augustine; she's played by Sigourney Weaver. The program has begun to explore Pandora, whose atmosphere is toxic to earthlings, using avatars with recombinant DNA -- part human, part alien -- constructed along the lines of the planet's dominant species; they're very tall, very blue, Giacometti-slender and Superman-agile. The movie offers several lyrical passages, but one of the best belongs to Jake. It's when he inhabits his avatar for the first time and discovers that his new legs can take his lithe new body through some of the most sublime scenery on not-Earth.
再怎么用文字形容，都无法比拟3D影像所呈现出来的绚丽恢宏，3D影像根本无须通常那些吸引观众眼球的视觉小把戏。将种种特效天衣无缝地融为一体──拟真感、动作捕捉、动画效果、虚拟人物制作以及各种各样的技术元素──这简直就是巫术或黑魔法。（我还没看过IMAX的版本，这是我接下来的观影计划。）影片中的一些植物景观就像是没有水的大堡礁（在空中飞翔的水母，用手一碰就会旋转并几乎化为虚无的珊瑚色圆锥型植物），潘多拉星那些漂浮的山脉，彷佛是在向日本动画大师宫崎骏(Hayao Miyazaki)致敬。潘多拉星的动物种群异常丰富，耀眼的龙，六条腿的马，有着蓝色牙齿和爪子、头像个大槌的笨重动物等等，而且这些动物拥有各自的生活习性，彷佛真的存在一样，不像电影《星球大战》(Star Wars)里的那个莫斯?艾斯雷 (Mos Eisley)酒吧，里头都是一些奇形怪状的搞笑外星生物。
No description of that scenery will spoil the experience of the 3-D process (which dispenses with the usual eye-catching tricks) or the seamless integration of live action, motion-capture, animation, computer-generated images and whatever other techniques went into the mix -- maybe witchcraft or black magic. (I haven't seen the IMAX version; that's for my next viewing.) Some of the flora suggest an anhydrous Great Barrier Reef (airborne jellyfish, coral-colored conical plants that spiral down to almost-nothingness when touched) or, in the case of Pandora's floating mountains, represent an homage to the Japanese animation master Hayao Miyazaki. As for the fauna, they're not only prodigiously varied -- flamboyant dragons, six-legged steeds, elephantine chargers with heads like battering rams, nature-blue in tooth and claw -- but creatures with convincing lives of their own, unlike the cheerfully bizarre creations that filled the Mos Eisley cantina in 'Star Wars.'
Then there are the indigenes, the French term for natives being appropriate because Pandora evokes the Indochina that existed before France's doomed war against an indigenous insurgency, as well as the Vietnam that became a battleground for American troops. They're called the Na'vi, and to describe them as humanoid may be to defame them, inasmuch as they, unlike most of the film's Americans, revere their planet and live in harmony with their surroundings. The most beautiful of the Na'vis -- at least the one with the most obvious star quality -- is a female warrior named Neytiri. As most of our planet already knows from the publicity, Jake falls for her in a big but complicated way.
难以自拔是因为佐伊?萨尔达娜(Zoe Saldana)饰演的内提莉风情万种──天蓝色的肌肤、柠檬般的眼睛、黄蜂一样的细腰、长长的尾巴、铁钻般的鼻梁、会扭动的耳朵（相信我，这些都很迷人），还有战斗时发出的那种凶猛吼叫。复杂莫名是因为杰克是一个行走于无间道的地下工作者。他和内提莉相爱，很快就接受了她族人的价值观。（没错，有间接证据表明，导演卡梅隆看过《与狼共舞》(Dances With Wolves)、《人猿泰山》(Tarzan)、《绿厦》(Green Mansions)、《科学怪人》(Frankenstein)、《幽灵公主》(Princess Mononoke)、《南太平洋》(South Pacific)、《斯巴达克斯》(Spartacus)和《壮志凌云》(Top Gun)等影片。）与此同时，杰克在为一个目光锐利的指挥官米尔斯?夸里奇(Miles Quaritch)上校刺探情报。（饰演该角色的斯蒂芬?郎(Stephen Lang)证明，广义的卡通式表演也能展示优秀的演技。）邪恶的上校答应杰克，只要找到能将Na'vi人赶出其圣地的情报，就可以替杰克治好瘫痪的双腿。Na'vi人的圣地正好是唯一出产珍稀矿物元素unobtainium的地方。
Big because Neytiri, as played by Zoe Saldana, is so alluring -- cerulean-skinned, lemon-eyed, wasp-waisted, long-tailed, anvil-nosed, wiggly-eared (trust me, it's all seductive) and given to feral snarls in the heat of battle. But complicated because Jake is secretly working both sides of the jungle. He's in love with Neytiri, and soon embraces her people's values. (Yes, there's circumstantial evidence that Mr. Cameron knows about 'Dances With Wolves,' along with 'Tarzan,' 'Green Mansions,' 'Frankenstein,' 'Princess Mononoke,' 'South Pacific,' 'Spartacus' and 'Top Gun.') At the same time, Jake is spying for a gimlet-eyed military commander, Col. Miles Quaritch. (Stephen Lang proves that broad, cartoony acting can also be good acting.) The evil colonel has promised the ex-Marine a procedure that will restore the use of his paralyzed legs in exchange for information that will help chase the Na'vi from their sacred land, which happens to be the only place where unobtainium can be obtained.
我不想评论沃辛顿和萨尔达娜的演技，他们都给人留下深刻印象，但你如何去评判融合各种高科技的演技呢？两人之间的异族爱情故事缺乏莱昂纳多?迪卡普里奥(Leonardo DiCapri)和凯特?温丝莱特(Kate Winslet)在“泰坦尼克号”甲板前端迎风依偎的激情，十几岁的女孩子不会一遍遍地去重温这部电影，除非她们自己也是耳朵会扭来扭去的Na'vi人。不过，《阿凡达》改变了观众和银幕角色之间的互动关系。演员一直就是某种形式上的阿凡达，在电影的虚幻世界里替我们感受希望和恐惧。然而，在这部影片中，演员被高科技转变成一群全新而又模糊不清的娱乐符号，既不是《绿野仙踪》(The Wizard of Oz)里的拟人角色，也不是《极地特快》(The Polar Express)中的放大版手套娃娃，而是存在于一个虚拟世界但逼真得几乎触手可及的幻想人物。
It's no reflection on Mr. Worthington or Ms. Saldana, both of whom are impressive -- though how, exactly, do you judge such high-tech hybrid performances? -- that their interspecies love story lacks the heat of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet clinging to each other on the storm-swept decks of 'Titanic.' Teenage girls will not return to see this film half a dozen times or more unless they possess a rogue gene for wigglable ears. But then 'Avatar' revises the relationship between everyone in the audience and the characters on screen. Actors have always been avatars; they've always represented our hopes and fears in the virtual reality of motion pictures. In much of this film, however, they've been transformed by technology into a new and ambiguous breed of entertainment icon -- not the quasihuman denizens of 'The Wizard of Oz,' or the overgrown glove puppets of 'The Polar Express,' but nearly palpable fantasy figures that inhabit a world just beyond our reach.
《阿凡达》的迷幻特质给观众带来的首次视觉冲击始于美国士兵向Na'vi人打响的第一枪。导演卡梅隆在影片中用很大篇幅表现了黑暗、恐怖而富有寓意的战争场景，让人想起越战。片中既有凝固汽油弹和橙剂(Agent Orange)化学品，又有武装直升机的肆虐扫射（其中一架直升机名为女武神(Valkyri)，灵感来自《现代启示录》(Apocalypse Now)中主角在瓦格纳的“Valkyries”曲下，将弹药源源不断地向越南人的阵地上扫射与轰炸的经典镜头）。不管观众对这段反战思想浓厚的部分怎么想，有两件事情是肯定的：一是场面让人热血沸腾（至于这反映出我们这个种族存在什么问题，我就不在这里讨论了），二是场景结束后给人一种如释重负的感觉.
The fantasy quotient of 'Avatar' takes its first major hit when the Na'vi take their first hit from the American military. Mr. Cameron has devoted a significant chunk of his movie to a dark, didactic and altogether horrific evocation of Vietnam, complete with napalm, Agent Orange and helicopter gunships (one of which is named Valkyrie in a tip of the helmet to 'Apocalypse Now.') Whatever one may think of the politics of this antiwar section, two things can be said with certainty: it provokes an adrenaline rush (what that says of our species is another matter), and it feels a lot better when it's over.
Other narrative problems intrude. For all its political correctness about the goodness of the Na'vis, 'Avatar' lapses into lurid savage rituals, complete with jungle drums, that would not have seemed out of place in the first 'King Kong.' While Ms. Weaver's performance is a strong one, it isn't clear what her character is doing as an avatar, or how the Na'vi perceive her. What couldn't be clearer, though, is that Mr. Cameron's singular vision has upped the ante for filmed entertainment, and given us a travelogue unlike any other. I wouldn't want to live on Pandora, mainly because of the bad air, but I'm glad to have paid it a visit.