AVATAR is filled with fantastic 3D effects that will leave you mesmerized. Add to that a gripping story and you’ve got a blockbuster film. However, what sets AVATAR apart from other hit movies is the rich development of several characters throughout the film. This isn’t your typical summer action movie – instead, the story contains rich emotional feeling and realistic characters as well action and drama. Here’s a rundown of the major AVATAR movie characters and their role in the film.
Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition has been released on DVD and Blu-ray, read an extended version of our feature on the making of Avatar. Conceived over a decade ago when the means of realisation didn’t yet exist, James Cameron’s Avatar was finally released in the winter of 2009. At the time, 3D World went behind the behind the scenes at Weta Digital, where creativity met cutting-edge science. With epic results. It all started back in 1996 when James Cameron announced that he would be creating a film called Avatar: a science-fiction epic that would feature photo-realistic, computer-generated characters. He had a treatment for the film, which already defined many things, including the Na’vi – a primitive alien race standing ten feet tall with shining blue skin, living in harmony with their jungle covered planet Pandora – until people turn up.
Using the ‘Avatar programme’, the human beings infiltrate the Na’vi in order to exploit Pandora’s natural resources. Soon after the story was outlined, though, Avatar had to be shelved as the technology of the time could not satisfy the creative desires of the director. Fast-forward to October 2009: Dan Lemmon, FX supervisor and Andy Jones, animation director at Weta Digital had just two weeks left of visual effects production for Avatar. The near-900 strong crew spanned across six locations were working around the clock to achieve what was deemed impossible a decade earlier. “What is unique and special about Avatar is that it takes you to a world that you’ve never been before,” says Lemmon. “It’s fleshed out in such detail and scope that you really feel like you’re in a place that exists.”
Weta Digital, the New Zealand studio responsible for the groundbreaking visual effects in The Lord of the Rings trilogy and King Kong, took VFX to a new level of creative and technological excellence.
Jake Sully: Audience members learn a lot about Jake right off the bat. Between the inferences to his brother’s death and his cynical attitude towards the Pandora mission, Jake has plenty of burdens laid upon him from the start. However, we slowly begin to see his curious and rebellious nature shine through. This is especially evident by his reaction to his first experience in his AVATAR body. He also proves to be a compassionate and bright individual who wants to learn from the Na'vi. In the end, the entire Na'vi population comes together under Jakes strong leadership and courage. Jake is the main focus of all of the AVATAR movie characters, which explains why his development is so significant in the film.
Neytiri: Neytiri is one of the Na'vi. When she first appears on screen, she is striking not only for her brave actions but also her commanding demeanor. She instantly puts Jake in his place and retains that indomitable spirit throughout the film. Although she has a tough exterior, her feelings for Jake show a softer side later in the film. She is a natural leader, and her charisma and strength play a huge part in the survival of the Na'vi. She is also an excellent teacher, working with Jake day in and day out to teach him the ways of her people. Neytiri is one of the most admirable of all the AVATAR movie characters because of her willingness to fight for what she believes in and her strong will.
Dr. Grace Augustine: Like Neytiri, Grace is another strong female presence in the film. Her vast intelligence and expertise is displayed from the start. She commands a large group of scientists and researchers while also playing an important role by going into the field with her AVATAR body. She shows passion and empathy for the Na'vi by standing up to Selfridge, who tries to destroy their mother tree. Throughout the film, Grace is shown as a caring individual with selfless intentions. Her mothering instincts towards Jake also make her one of the most relatable AVATAR movie characters for many viewers.
Colonel Quaritch: Colonel Quaritch is a hardened military veteran with a vendetta against the Na'vi. He is convinced that the Na'vi people are cold-blooded killers out to get every human. He has no respect for their race or Grace Augustine’s research project, and will stop at nothing to complete the mission set forth by the RDA. Near the end of the film, he views Jake as a traitor to his own race for fighting alongside the Na'vi. The Colonel acts as the main villain among the AVATAR movie characters.
Selfridge: Though playing a smaller on-screen role among the AVATAR movie characters, Selfridge’s influence is seem throughout the film. Selfridge is the driving force behind the RDA, a corporation intent on procuring the unobtanium mineral, regardless of their effects on the Na'vi people. Along with Quaritch, Selfridge is one of the film’s main villains and his disregard for Grace’s research project ultimately lands Jake and his buddies in the Hallelujah Mountains.
Other Characters: · Norm Spellman: One of the researchers in Grace’s project. He also has an AVATAR body and fights to help the Na'vi.
· Trudy Chacon: A former marine and a combat pilot for the RDA. She goes against orders to help Grace, Jake and Norm.
· Tsu’Tey: One of the Na'vi, and the intended mate for Neytiri. He is a skilled warrior and has immediate suspicions about Jake.
The Na’vi: Over a decade ago, Cameron had already figured out what he wanted the Na’vi to look like. “Back then, it was clear that they were going to be blue, tall, have tails and be somewhat feline-like,” says Lemmon. “We set out to make the Na’vi as realistic as possible. To do that we needed key departments to be firing on all cylinders,” says animation director Andy Jones.
“From facial and body rigging, motion capture, to animation, and shading and rendering – all these departments reached a synergy to bring these performances to the screen.”
The CG, 10-foot tall Na’vi, were created using the following tools: