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*** Official AVATAR Discussion Thread


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#1 of 631 OFFLINE   BrianShort

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Posted December 10 2009 - 12:59 PM

 Reviews are coming in, and so far they seem to be overwhelmingly positive - Check RottenTomatoes.

From The Hollywood Reporter (There may be spoilers, read at your own risk):
Quote:
Bottom Line: A titanic entertainment -- movie magic is back!
A dozen years later, James Cameron has proven his point: He is king of the world.

As commander-in-chief of an army of visual-effects technicians, creature designers, motion-capture mavens, stunt performers, dancers, actors and music and sound magicians, he brings science-fiction movies into the 21st century with the jaw-dropping wonder that is "Avatar." And he did it almost from scratch.

There is no underlining novel or myth to generate his story. He certainly draws deeply on Westerns, going back to "The Vanishing American" and, in particular, "Dances With Wolves." And the American tragedy in Vietnam informs much of his story. But then all great stories build on the past ( "Avatar" premiered Thursday in London).

After writing this story many years ago, he discovered that the technology he needed to make it happen did not exist. So, he went out and created it in collaboration with the best effects minds in the business. This is motion capture brought to a new high where every detail of the actors' performances gets preserved in the final CG character as they appear on the screen. Yes, those eyes are no longer dead holes but big and expressive, almost dominating the wide and long alien faces.

The movie is 161 minutes and flies by in a rush. Repeat business? You bet. "Titanic"-level business?That level may never be reached again, but Fox will see more than enough grosses worldwide to cover its bet on Cameron.

But let's cut to the chase: A fully believable, flesh-and-blood (albeit not human flesh and blood) romance is the beating heart of "Avatar." Cameron has never made a movie just to show off visual pyrotechnics: Every bit of technology in "Avatar" serves the greater purpose of a deeply felt love story (watch the trailer here).

The story takes place in 2154, three decades after a multinational corporation has established a mining colony on Pandora, a planet light years from Earth. A toxic environment and hostile natives -- one corporate apparatchik calls the locals "blue monkeys" -- forces the conglom to engage with Pandora by proxy. Humans dwell in oxygen-drenched cocoons but move out into mines or to confront the planet's hostile creatures in hugely fortified armor and robotics or -- as avatars.

The protagonist, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), is a crippled former Marine who takes his late twin brother's place in the avatar program, a sort of bone thrown to the scientific community by the corporation in hopes that the study of Pandora and its population might create a more peaceful planet.

Without any training, Jake suddenly must learn how to link his consciousness to an avatar, a remotely controlled biological body that mixes human DNA with that of the native population, the Na'vi. Since he is incautious and overly curious, he immediately rushes into the fresh air -- to a native -- to throw open Pandora's many boxes.

What a glory Cameron has created for Jake to romp in, all in a crisp 3D realism. It's every fairy tale about flying dragons, magic plants, weirdly hypnotic creepy-crawlies and feral dogs rolled up into a rain forest with a highly advanced spiritual design. It seems -- although the scientists led by Sigourney Weaver's top doc have barely scratched the surface -- a flow of energy ripples through the roots of trees and the spores of the plants, which the Na'vi know how to tap into.

The center of life is a holy tree where tribal memories and the wisdom of their ancestors is theirs for the asking. This is what the humans want to strip mine.

Jake manages to get taken in by one tribe where a powerful, Amazonian named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) takes him under her wing to teach him how to live in the forest, speak the language and honor the traditions of nature. Yes, they fall in love but Cameron has never been a sentimentalist: He makes it tough on his love birds.

They must overcome obstacles and learn each other's heart. The Na'vi have a saying, "I see you," which goes beyond the visual. It means I see into you and know your heart.
In his months with the Na'vi, Jake experiences their life as the "true world" and that inside his crippled body locked in a coffin-like transponding device, where he can control his avatar, is as the "dream." The switch to the other side is gradual for his body remains with the human colony while his consciousness is sometimes elsewhere.

He provides solid intelligence about the Na'vi defensive capabilities to Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the ramrod head of security for the mining consortium and the movie's villain. But as Jake comes to see things through Neytiri's eyes, he hopes to establish enough trust between the humans and the natives to negotiate a peace. But the corporation wants the land the Na'vi occupy for its valuable raw material so the Colonel sees no purpose in this.

The battle for Pandora occupies much of the final third of the film. The planet's animal life -- the creatures of the ground and air -- give battle along with the Na'vi, but they come up against projectiles, bombs and armor that seemingly will be their ruin.

 
Posted Image 
As with everything in "Avatar," Cameron has coolly thought things through. With every visual tool he can muster, he takes viewers through the battle like a master tactician, demonstrating how every turn in the fight, every valiant death or cowardly act, changes its course. The screen is alive with more action and the soundtrack pops with more robust music than any dozen sci-fi shoot-'em-ups you care to mention (watch the "Avatar" video game trailer here).

In years of development and four years of production no detail in the pic is unimportant. Cameron's collaborators excel beginning with the actors. Whether in human shape or as natives, they all bring terrific vitality to their roles.

Mauro Fiore's cinematography is dazzling as it melts all the visual elements into a science-fiction whole. You believe in Pandora. Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg's design brings Cameron's screenplay to life with disarming ease.

James Horner's score never intrudes but subtlety eggs the action on while the editing attributed to Cameron, Stephen Rivkin and John Refoua maintains a breathless pace that exhilarates rather than fatigues. Not a minute is wasted; there is no down time.

The only question is: How will Cameron ever top this? 



#2 of 631 OFFLINE   LynxFX

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Posted December 10 2009 - 01:27 PM

I'm glad that the reviews are confirming what a lot of us have hoped. I was luke warm to the trailer but I've had an Avatar background on my desktop for a couple weeks now and I'm really growing fond of the Na'vi look.

In Cameron we trust. :D


#3 of 631 OFFLINE   Patrick Sun

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Posted December 10 2009 - 02:20 PM

Just glad we can dispell the "smurfs in space" mockings from naysayers.  Looking forward to it next weekend, it'll be a grand birthday gift to myself. 



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#4 of 631 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted December 11 2009 - 12:34 AM

I loved Dances With Smurfs on South Park.  And no one has anticipated this film more than me.  Seriously :)  I can rarely say that, but this is a case of legit passion.

That said, I've intentionally not followed this film since the media blitz began.  In a week, I'll have seen it.  It's that simple.  Feverish anticipation rarely helps a movie, so I've kept it dialed down.

He's not the most subtle.  He's not the best.  And he is a huge dick with a giant ego.  But Big Jim is my favorite.  It's been twelve years.  A week is nothing.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#5 of 631 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 11 2009 - 01:13 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Chuck Mayer View Post

That said, I've intentionally not followed this film since the media blitz began.  In a week, I'll have seen it.  It's that simple.  Feverish anticipation rarely helps a movie, so I've kept it dialed down.
 

I'm in that boat too. Outside of seeing the first trailer once, I've seen almost nothing from the movie and read almost nothing about it (I've skipped over alot of posts in this thread) so I think my expectations are fully in check. Plus knowing little to nothing about the movie means that I'll be surprised by what I see in the movie rather than thinking "Hey, that's that cool shot in the commercial that I've seen 40 times in the last week."

#6 of 631 OFFLINE   Chuck Mayer

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Posted December 11 2009 - 04:17 AM

Nunziata over at CHUD raved about it as well.  Actually starting to get excited that this could be pulpy and serious and fun and great.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#7 of 631 OFFLINE   Andy Sheets

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Posted December 11 2009 - 04:25 AM

This will probably be the only movie I see in the theater this season. I've been looking forward to it but aside from the early trailer I haven't watched anything about it.


#8 of 631 OFFLINE   Charles Knox

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Posted December 11 2009 - 07:21 AM

I think the critics are on the take, the plot of this movie sounds wishy washy and worst of all very silly. I think there is a very blatant reason besides finishing touches on why this movie was held back until the holiday season. Viewer beware!



#9 of 631 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted December 11 2009 - 07:27 AM

Well, since you've actually seen the film and they haven't, I think--

Oh, wait.


 

 


#10 of 631 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 11 2009 - 07:40 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by cafink ">

Well, since you've actually seen the film and they haven't, I think--

Oh, wait.

It's the internet, you don't need to see something to know about it. 
					
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#11 of 631 OFFLINE   BrianShort

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Posted December 11 2009 - 08:17 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Knox View Post

I think the critics are on the take, the plot of this movie sounds wishy washy and worst of all very silly. I think there is a very blatant reason besides finishing touches on why this movie was held back until the holiday season. Viewer beware!

I know, those darn critics... Wait... Weren't you the one predicting The Dark Knight would be a failure at the box office?  Wonder how that turned out... ;)

#12 of 631 OFFLINE   SilverWook

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Posted December 11 2009 - 08:27 AM

I was kind of surprised South Park jumped on the bandwagon.  If the movie goes through the roof, the jokes on them.

They were a little late to the table with Smurfs getting killed anyway.


#13 of 631 OFFLINE   David Deeb

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Posted December 11 2009 - 08:45 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Knox View Post

I think the critics are on the take, the plot of this movie sounds wishy washy and worst of all very silly. I think there is a very blatant reason besides finishing touches on why this movie was held back until the holiday season. Viewer beware!

"The holiday season"???   What does that have to do with anything?  Or are you trying to be funny?  

#14 of 631 Guest__*

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Posted December 11 2009 - 09:01 AM

Come on, we all know studios dump their worst movies out in the last two weeks of the year!

#15 of 631 OFFLINE   Jason Charlton

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Posted December 11 2009 - 09:11 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by Charles Knox 

...why this movie was held back until the holiday season. Viewer beware!

Hmmm... let's consider the last 30 years' worth of Best Picture winners, shall we?

14 were released in December.
6 were released in November.

Only 3 were released prior to June.

Source: BoxOfficeMojo.com

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#16 of 631 OFFLINE   Steve Tannehill

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Posted December 11 2009 - 10:47 AM

Titanic was released one day later in 1997 and look how it did...

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#17 of 631 OFFLINE   TravisR

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Posted December 11 2009 - 10:59 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWook View Post

I was kind of surprised South Park jumped on the bandwagon.
 

I love South Park but if Matt and Trey didn't have a TV show, I think they'd spend alot of time on the Aint It Cool talkbacks saying how much they hate all movies.

#18 of 631 OFFLINE   Greg_D_R

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Posted December 11 2009 - 03:09 PM

Ebert's review is in:

Quote:
Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977.
http://rogerebert.suntimes.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20091211/REVIEWS/912119998

Hmm, if I'm not careful, I might start to get excited about this...



#19 of 631 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted December 12 2009 - 12:01 AM

Funny how the "Users" at rogerebert.com have so far "rated" it 2-1/2 stars 

#20 of 631 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted December 12 2009 - 09:03 AM



Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverWook ">

I was kind of surprised South Park jumped on the bandwagon.  If the movie goes through the roof, the jokes on them.

They were a little late to the table with Smurfs getting killed anyway.
 
Thanks for mentioning this episode. I didn't know anything about it, but I looked it up after seeing your mention of it. I had a good laugh and think they may be closer to the truth than anyone here will ever admit. <br /></span>

					
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