Photo #15

Film (with rating): Avatar (PG-13)

Studio: Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment

Summary: A paraplegic former Marine dispatched to Pandora
becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is
his home.

Review: How could I possibly begin to review the sci-fi epic
known as “Avatar?” It’s nothing short of a cultural phenomenon. James
Cameron is most definitely king of the world right now. So far, nearly everyone
I’ve met has seen this movie at least once. It’s raked in more than $26 billion
worldwide since its debut last December, making “Avatar” the
highest-grossing film of all time.

During awards season this year, the film was
nominated for nine Oscars (winning three, all in visual effects-type of
categories) and won two Golden Globes for best picture and best director. The
movie has taken on a life of its own. Viewers are reported to have become
depressed they don’t live in this mythical world portrayed so beautifully by

It’s obvious why the film took a dozen years to birth;
“Avatar” is, simply put, a visual orgasm. One reviewer writes that
the viewing experience is akin to the classical moment in “The Wizard of
Oz” when black and white opens the door to Technicolor. Cameron broke
benchmarks when he created this optic wonderland. There has never been a movie
like this before.

Some have criticized the plot and dialog, noting that the
latter is weak and drawn out. But with all of this beauty to look at and blow
you away, who cares? The seamless production makes any technical flaws dim in

In conjunction with “Avatar’s” release on DVD and
Earth Day, Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Earth Day Network
partnered together to plant 1 million native trees in 15 countries this year.
To help raise awareness, Fox created “The Avatar Program.” Through a
code found inside the DVD, viewers can register at www.avatarmovie.com and adopt one of the
trees being planted.

So check out “Avatar” again, or for the first
time. Even if sci-fi epics are not your genre of choice, you might as well
watch this one to see what all the fuss is about.

Extra highlight: None. Hmm. Not impressive. There are rumors
a “special edition” will street later this year, but for now, you’ve
got nothing.

What to serve for dinner: Everything blue: Cool Blue Martini
(epicurious.com), green salad with blue cheese dressing, Corny Na’vi Bread
(sparkrecipes.com), Chicken Cordon Bleu (foodnetwork.com) and blueberry pie.


Cool Blue Martini:

*  3 oz (about
1/3 cup) gin or vodka

1/2 oz (1 tablespoon) dry vermouth

1 teaspoon blue Curaao

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice, strained

Garnish: 2 lemon twists

Shake together all ingredients except twists in a cocktail
shaker with ice, then strain into two martini glasses and garnish with twists.


Corny Na’vi Bread:

* 1 package Trader Joe’s cornbread mix

* 1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt

* 3/4 cup skim milk

* 1 egg white

* Blue food coloring

* 1 cup fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 350. In a mixing bowl, blend the cornbread
mix, yogurt, milk and egg white. Add blue food coloring a couple of drops at a
time until the mixture is the desired hue of blue. Add blueberries. Pour into a
greased 8×8 pan. Bake for 40 minutes until golden and cooked through. Let cool
for about 10 minutes. Slice into nine evenly sized bars/pieces.


Chicken Cordon Bleu

* 4 double chicken breasts (about 7-ounces each), skinless
and boneless

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

8 thin slices deli ham

    * 16
thin slices Gruyere or Swiss cheese

2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves

1/4 cup flour

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 teaspoon olive oil

2 eggs

2 teaspoons water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lay the chicken between two
pieces of plastic wrap. Using the flat side of a meat mallet, gently pound the
chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Take care not to pound too hard because the meat
may tear or create holes. Lay two slices of cheese on each breast, followed by
2 slices of ham, and 2 more of cheese; leaving a 1/2-inch margin on all sides
to help seal the roll. Tuck in the sides of the breast and roll up tight like a
jellyroll. Squeeze the log gently to seal.

Season the flour with salt and pepper; spread out on waxed
paper or in a flat dish. Mix the breadcrumbs with thyme, kosher salt, pepper,
and oil. The oil will help the crust brown. Beat together the eggs and water,
the mixture should be fluid. Lightly dust the chicken with flour, then dip in
the egg mixture. Gently coat in the bread crumbs. Carefully transfer the
roulades to a baking pan and bake for 20 minutes until browned and cooked
through. Cut into pinwheels before serving.


What to talk about over dinner: Would you like to live in a
world like this? Why or why not? Were you depressed when the movie was over?
How has “Avatar” changed the way movies will be made? Anyone else
notice the huge onslaught of “In 3-D!” films out there now? Do you
remember the first 3-D movie you’ve ever seen? Do you notice any “Titanic”
hints in “Avatar?” Who was your favorite character? Was the movie too
long? Did it drag? Or did you want more? What’s next for Cameron? Did he get
robbed at the Oscars? Or was “Avatar” so lauded because it was so
popular? What about “Avatar 2?”