Michelle Rodriguez goes 3D in “Avatar”

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The last time James Cameron sat in the director’s chair, he brought us large chunks of ice and a sinking ship. From The Abyss and Aliens to Terminator and Titanic, nothing he does is small or cheap. So naturally we expect big things from his newest directorial project, a 3D sci-fi epic called Avatar, not to be confused with M. Night Shyamalan‘s live action version of Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cameron’s film is said to combine live action with virtual characters, including the big, blue avatar occupied by the movie’s hero for much of the film. With a budget of just under 200 million dollars, it would actually be cheaper than such recent offerings as X-Men 3 and Superman Returns. Of course, with Cameron at the helm, one would expect that budget to swell significantly.

I’m one of those people who love a good action epic, especially a good sci-fi action epic, but I’m not willing to give Cameron glowing recommendations. I love his movies, but he’s a little too egocentric for my tastes. But I have a great deal of fondness for some of the female characters he has helped bring to life, including Lindsey Brigman in The Abyss, Sarah Connor in Terminator, and Rose Dawson in Titanic.

So I’m looking forward to seeing what Mr. Cameron does with the female characters in his newest venture. Among the women previously cast in the film are CCH Pounder, Zoe Saldana and Sigourney Weaver. I wonder how Weaver feels about being in yet another war with aliens? Do you think she wonders if maybe Cameron has it in for her?

The newest addition to this group is feisty Michelle Rodriguez.

The film’s story revolves around an ex-Marine named Jake who travels to the planet Pandora to mine a valuable resource found only on that planet. The catch is, humans cannot survive on Pandora unless they project their consciousness into genetically engineered bodies known as avatars. The locals don’t take kindly to the exploitation and war ensues. Somehow Jake finds time for a little lovin’ with one of the locals played by Zoe Saldana.

Rodriguez is slated to play an ex-Marine pilot, but how her character fits into the plot is not yet clear. Filming began earlier this year in LA and will soon be moving down New Zealand way so that Cameron can take advantage of the F/X technology developed by Peter Jackson for King Kong and Lord of the Rings. The film is slated for a Memorial Day 2009 release. I don’t know about you, but I certainly think Michelle Rodriguez in 3D can’t possibly be a bad thing.

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