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Old 12-10-2009, 07:49 PM   #121 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

9/10

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What Worked:
First and foremost, the world of Pandora is absolutely amazing. Every plant, animal, and environment is incredibly imaginative. James Cameron takes the familiar and puts a new spin on it to create an incredible, yet entirely realistic feeling world. It's quite apparent that his deep-sea explorations over the last few years had a huge influence on the world of Pandora. Plants look and act like coral, creatures float through the air like jellyfish, and everything is bioluminescent like deepwater creatures. It's visually stunning and it makes you think what could possibly be out there in space waiting to be discovered on another planet.

A lot of people complain about the overuse of CGI, but this is a case where it is done right. You become so totally immersed in the world that you forget it is all digital. I remember one scene where Jake's avatar dives into a river to escape a pursuing creature. I thought, "That looks like it was shot in South America," then it hit me. Every drop of water, every blade of grass, every beam of light, and everything on the screen was completely CGI. When you start thinking about the technological feats it took to get all that imagery up on the screen, it absolutely boggles the mind.

Entirely CGI characters are very risky business. They can either fail horribly (Jar Jar Binks) or work perfectly (Gollum). This is a case where they're working perfectly. Despite being 9 ft tall and blue, you quickly forget you're watching a highly detailed cartoon. They capture the facial expressions of the actors and actresses perfectly. This is especially the case with Zoe Saldana as Neytiri. When she's angry or agitated, they exactly capture her performance. They're amazingly expressive. I was also amazed at how much Sigourney Weaver's avatar looked like her. Overall, this is great character animation.

On the live-action side, the cast is excellent across the board. Sam Worthington really gets to shine as Jake Sully. He has the right mix of naiveté, toughness, and cockiness. You believe his transition from a marine obeying orders to a man literally 'gone native.' While Zoe Saldana is entirely CGI as Neytiri, she's no less impressive in her performance as previously mentioned. She's passionate and she manages to deliver the imaginary Na'vi language in a convincing manner. Sigourney Weaver is always a favorite of mine and it's cool to see her here as Grace. When she's in the lab, she's a tough old broad. But when she's in her avatar in the Pandora environment, she really comes alive. It's a nice touch for her character. The other real standout among the cast is Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch. This guy is someone you don't want to mess with. Cameron goes out of his way to make this guy tough. In one scene he barrels out a door without an oxygen mask just to try and take potshots at escaping prisoners. In another scene he's literally on fire and he doesn't stop what he's doing. Combine him with one of the armored AMP suits and you have someone that could tussle with both the Terminator and the Alien queen combined.

James Cameron is known for his action scenes and he certainly delivers here. We get some great scenes of Jake's avatar being pursued by an attacking panther-like beast. We get some absolutely thrilling scenes of Jake learning to fly his banshee creature. Then when everything hits the fan in the grand finale, we get a spectacular aerial battle between the helicopter gunships and the Na'vi riding the banshees. It's pretty spectacular and any sci-fi fan worth his lightsaber or pointy ears will get goosebumps seeing Jake's avatar in warpaint firing a gun at a spaceship while flying what's essentially a big dragon. This is the kind of stuff geeks live for.

If it's at all possible, see this in 3-D. "Avatar" is a cool movie without it, but this will add the icing on the cake. When Jake and Neytiri climb trees and run across branches hundreds of feet in the air, you get a real sense of height. When Jake walks through the Pandora forest, every leaf, branch, and flying creature pops off the screen. And needless to say the flying battle in the finale looks amazing. You'll thank yourself for going out of your way to see it in 3-D.

What Didn't Work:
As far as what didn't work goes, an easy thing to point at is the overall story. This is, essentially, "Dances with Wolves" set on an alien planet. But you know what? This is a story that has been told many, many times. Look at anything from "A Man Called Horse" to the biblical story of Moses. The story of men identifying with another people and aiding them in a fight for survival is thousands of years old. If you're going to have a familiar story, it's not a bad one to have. The only down side is that it is a bit predictable. If anything, that's what "Avatar" suffers from.

Along those lines, I almost wish I had gone into "Avatar" knowing absolutely nothing in advance. Having seen the trailers and commercials, it took away from some of the wonder of discovering the world of Pandora. The ads not only showed almost all of the environments and creatures, but it laid out the entire plot. Considering how much money Fox has invested in "Avatar," you can't expect them to not show anything, but it did steal some thunder from the film.

As a side note, I do plan to take my young kids to see this film. James Cameron does handle the topless Na'vi women in a non-gratuitous, National Geographic way. But I'll be the first to admit it will be a bit awkward for me and other parents. Ditto for a brief but awkward 'mating' scene involving our heroes. But I guess if I got Princess Leia in a gold bikini as a young boy, kids today will get something, too. Let's just hope it doesn't turn them into a legion of furries.

The Bottom Line:
"Avatar" is a fun, imaginative film that brings some popcorn flick excitement to an otherwise dreary holiday movie lineup. It should please sci-fi fans while dazzling general moviegoing audiences at the same time.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:09 PM   #122 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Take it somewhere else bible thumper.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:11 PM   #123 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Nic Cage is by far the least believable tough guy I have ever seen in Hollywood.
Nic Cage is much more than just a tough guy & really there are only a handful of movies where he plays a legit "tough guy".. Con Air, Bangkok Dangerous, Gone in 60 Seconds somewhat, etc.
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Old 12-10-2009, 08:28 PM   #124 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

And he even gets to play a sorcerer real soon, on top of that he's going to be a medieval knight that destroys witches lol
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Old 12-11-2009, 05:09 AM   #125 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

Nic Cage has a beautiful forehead.
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Old 12-11-2009, 08:54 AM   #126 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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ComingSoon.net attended the London press conference for Avatar today where James Cameron talked about possible sequels, whether he'll still make Battle Angel and producing Fantastic Voyage.

He said that because so much went into creating the world in Avatar, it makes sense to use that to make more films. "Actually, when I pitched this to 20th Century Fox four-and-a-half years ago, I said, 'You know, we're going to spend a lot of money and time and energy creating not only a process but the assets, the CG assets, we call them - all the models of every rock and tree and plant and creature and the muscle rigs for all the creatures and the facial rigging for the main characters and all that'... huge, millions and millions of dollars. So it really makes sense to think of it as the potential start of a franchise, if you will, or a saga that plays out over several acts, each movie being an act of that saga. And I have it mapped out, but I haven't written the scripts yet. And it all depends on whether we do well with the first film. But that was certainly the intention from the beginning - to create a foundation for a persistent world."

Cameron said that Battle Angel is one of the projects he's going to be considering when he decides what he'll do next. He was asked if he was to do a sequel to Avatar, would it be after Battle Angel? He said, "Not necessarily, that's part of the decision making process."

Also, this week there's been reports that he is going to develop Fantastic Voyage. "We've been working on a script for 'Fantastic Voyage,' but that's not for me to direct," the director said. "That's just a produced project. It's quite different. But it's got enough of the original story that you'll still recognize it."

Avatar opens in conventional 3D theaters and IMAX 3D on Friday, December 18.
Sequels huh
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:19 AM   #127 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Still dunno how or why the first one did so well, but I figure the second one will too.
First what? Chipmunks?
I think he meant this movie and its sequel.
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Old 12-11-2009, 09:51 AM   #128 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Sequels huh
Wow. That is something that could be quite interesting.
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Old 12-11-2009, 12:31 PM   #129 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

Early rumors say the next one will steal it's storyline from The Postman.
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Old 12-11-2009, 01:48 PM   #130 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Early rumors say the next one will steal it's storyline from The Postman.
Delivering mail in space Waterworld style?

That is probably the worst movie idea I have ever heard.
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:18 PM   #131 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

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Early rumors say the next one will steal it's storyline from The Postman.
i just rewatched the Dances with Smurfs episode of south park and now i can't take this movie seriously. i hate that dances with wolves plotline now. Zwick did it for the Last Samurai also.

an outsider learns the natives way of life and feels compassion. suddenly he is obligated to turn on the faction, who generally dislike the natives because of their differences and traditional culture, he was fighting for in the first place. the outsider will go on to survive while a vast majority of the natives and enemy die. oh yeah, he bangs a one of their women for good measure.

i can somewhat understand jmk's dislike for this movie now. i'd definitely watch it if it was more original. i'm not going to see a movie just because it has lots of special effects in it.
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:21 PM   #132 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

You are watching for the visuals not the storyline and jmk was hating on this movie even before plot details were released
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:33 PM   #133 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

What kind of ****ty movie cares more about visuals than story?
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Old 12-12-2009, 06:48 PM   #134 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

One that cost over 200 million dollars thats what
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Old 12-12-2009, 07:05 PM   #135 (permalink)
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re: "Avatar" Movie discussion

A ****ty movie that costs $500M to make is still a ****ty movie.
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