Avatar Special Edition

Doesn’t James Cameron already have enough of our money? Since his 3-D smash Avatar grossed around $2.7 billion worldwide, making it the biggest movie of 2009, does he really need to push a “special edition” cut back into theaters? And yet, that’s what he’s doing, with eight minutes of new footage, and I completely support the idea. Late August into Labor Day is a traditionally dead period at the multiplex, so why not revisit Cameron’s eco-epic? If you can get past a few New Age excesses (e.g., the hand-holding “Kumbaya” reanimation scene), the film is a model of clear plotting and action, making pretenders like Inception look muddled indeed. Cameron seamlessly fuses computer effects and human players into an intricate, dazzling vision of the year 2154, when mercenaries from Earth have colonized a jungle planet to rape its resources. Sam Worthington is the wheelchair-bound soldier who inhabits a 12-foot-tall blue avatar sent to infiltrate the locals in the name of science (represented by Sigourney Weaver) and conquest (Stephen Lang). Naturally he falls in love with a native princess—and the ways of her people, who live in graceful, networked harmony with their world. The battle between ecotopians and human marauders is inevitable. After all, violence is part of nature, too. Even if Cameron’s green ideals feel dated, he still loves a good fight. (PG-13) BRIAN MILLER

Aug. 27-Sept. 21, 2010

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