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Cameron's Avatar 3-D

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Mark Suszko
Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 29, 2009 at 11:46:19 pm

Saw it today, Not in Imax, but still in 3-d. Awesome visual experience just begins to tell it. I peeked without glasses here and there to see the differences, the polarization system does a pretty good job, but the movie is more or less viewable without it. I was worried about nausea because I am susceptible to motion sickness usually, but this 3d worked great.

Plot-wise, it is almost exactly "Dances with Wolves" in space. And there's nothing wrong with that. Has a few plot holes here and there, one huge one is that there's no reason why the bad guys can't come back in a second movie, and no reason for them to leave at the end of the first.

The acting is pretty good; Zoe may win an Oscar for hers, it was completely natural and note-perfect in range. The special mocap technology Cameron used allows the actors to really emote in a natural way, and the alien bodies are alien enough that you don't encounter the effect of the "uncanny valley" as you saw in "Final Fantasy; the Spirits Within". They come across as flesh and blood characters and not computer creatures.

The art direction is stupendous; the imagined flora and fauna are like something out of Barlowe's Guide, crossed with a rave party, because everything on the planet is bioluminescent like Earth plankton. It assails your senses in a way that makes you want to re-visit the DVD and step-frame thru it to drink it all in. The score is very James Horner.

Like I said, there are a few plot holes in the story, but hey didn't get in the way of enjoying the spectacle. I felt this has every bit the impact Titanic did when that came out. I would call it a success, and more than that, it has changed the course of the industry yet again, with the various technologies developed in making the film.

While waiting for the movie we saw a 3-d promo for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Looks like creepy fun and perfect with a half a tab of blotter. We also saw a heavily produced promo for the National Guard, which created some heavy cognitive dissonance when the main movie comes on and the bad guys in the movie all look like the good guys in the guard promo. My oldest boy loves military stuff and advanced weapon tech, and he was all crazy in love with the cool weapons tech and battle suits, but then found it impossible to enjoy that stuff when the bad guys used it to do harm in the film. That means the acting was working and overriding his natural inclinations with the force of it's narrative argument. So, perfect, no, but well past good enough.


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David Roth Weiss
Re: Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 30, 2009 at 12:00:38 am

[Mark Suszko] "Plot-wise, it is almost exactly "Dances with Wolves" in space."

I couldn't help but notice that the Navi language sounded a lot like Mayan or Aztec. Think that was accidental?

[Mark Suszko] "While waiting for the movie we saw a 3-d promo for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Looks like creepy fun and perfect with a half a tab of blotter."

Yes! That trailer was perfectly positioned and the story is a perfect one for 3D storytelling.

Just in case anyone missed my review of Avatar, which I tacked onto a thread way down the list, I've copied it below.

-------

I saw Avatar on Christmas Eve day, and, while not perfect, it is definitely well worth the ticket price, and a must see for everyone, especially those in all facets of of video and film production.

As far as what I think was imperfect:

1)I would have chopped out about 20-minutes from act-2, and about 10-mins. from act-3.

What I liked the most was:

1) Stephen Lang's performance as "the heavy" (BTW, he despises the term "villain" that people have used to characterize his role). I've been watching Lang's acting for years and he never disappoints. His big fight scene puts Iron Man and every other comic book film to shame.

2) Cameron creates imagery that brings to life many of the great comic books and great sci-fi posters that I've ever seen, in ways that are, at once, both derivative (in a good way) and refreshingly new and realistic.

3) Cameron successfully borrows from many great sci-fi films (including his own), such as: 2001, Terminator, and Alien, while making it all seem new and better.



David Roth Weiss
Director/Editor/Colorist
David Weiss Productions, Inc.
Los Angeles

POST-PRODUCTION WITHOUT THE USUAL INSANITY ™


A forum host of Creative COW's Apple Final Cut Pro, Business & Marketing, Indie Film & Documentary, and Film History & Appreciations forums.


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Aaron Leong
Re: Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 30, 2009 at 5:34:54 am

Lots of hype. Saw it today in IMAX 3D (had to cuz I don't have an IMAX theatre at my house) and I really enjoyed it!! There was a LOT of emotion coming from the 3D models, as Mr Suszko mentioned and I feel that they came to life like no other movie in the past!! I saw a LOT of definite choices in each of the characters physically and emotionally. I could live with the holes previously mentioned, it was a solid production! Can't wait to see it again.

Mr. Weiss, I don't think there was anything accidental about the 'accent' of the Na'vi. Speaking of which, once you drive past the outward excellence of the film . . . is it just me or was there an almost BLATANT reflectance on American humanity? We always want to do the "RIGHT" thing, but sometimes we overlook and make exceptions for what is "RIGHT." The film has a fundamental message that I feel everyone should understand and not just those who see the film. It's message, I feel, is intended for those "running the show" as it were. Decisions that do not directly affect our lives may have detrimental impact on others. Education is key. . . . I feel as though I'm blabbering right now but I can't get what I feel out into words. Its the feeling that I got from watching and experiencing the film. Maybe when I can put my finger on it I'll be able to express myself better and revisit this thread.

Through Jake and his avatar, and shy of smelling and physically feeling what he felt, I got to really experience this new world. Very well done, Mr. James Cameron!! How cool would it be to actually connect to nature in that way? Maybe because we don't, we don't cherish it as much as we should? hmm . . .

oh well . . . still haven't seen "Sherlock" yet. Maybe that'll be next . . . see you guys then . . .


~aaron

ps I too, am looking forward to "Alice in Wonderland" Tim Burton style!!!! . . . very excited!!



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Micah McDowell
Re: Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 30, 2009 at 3:32:47 pm

I saw it (just plain 2D) the day after Christmas, and visually, it was INCREDIBLE. Absolutely mind blowing. I will try to get back and see it again in 3D as well.

I wasn't a huge fan of the story; it seemed a little predictable and there were many plot loopholes, but overall the film was very successful at making an alien world feel real and believable.


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Mike Cohen
Re: Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 31, 2009 at 5:34:21 pm

The "company" man was similar to Paul Reiser in Aliens - combining corporations with military seems to be a Cameron signature. Getting Sigouney Weaver to appear not just as herself but as an Avatar was great - it added some believability, since one would expect a top scientist to actually be in her 50's, not 20's. Fringe is doing this too. Having worked with a lot of scientists, I think it is wise to show the wisdom of older characters surrounded by youngins.

The plot was somewhat predictable, however the ending was a bit of a surprise. And the end battle sequence was everything the Ewoks/Wookies vs Stormtroopers should have been (Jedi / Sith). Everyone knows that Cameron emulates Lucas, but Lucas was left in the dust. It is just as well Lucas' next movie is about WWII.

However a 3D Star Wars is supposedly in the works - I'll be first in line.

I keep mentioning Star Wars because Avatar is possibly going to do for filmmaking what Star Wars did 30 years ago - both from a technology point of view as well as execution.

Can't wait to see it again. This might be the movie that makes me buy a Blu-Ray player.

Mike Cohen



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Eric Addison
Re: Cameron's Avatar 3-D
on Dec 31, 2009 at 7:23:43 pm

Maybe it's just me, but while I agree with everyone that the effects in this film are truly ground breaking and the 3D was some of the best I've seen, that was all I left the theatre excited about. The story (the most important part in my view) didn’t grab me at all. It's funny - I made the same comparison to my wife watching the credits - it was Dances with Wolves in space.

Now, I'm not that big a fan of that movie either (I thought it was very good, but Goodfellas should have won the Oscar that year), but I thought it did a much better job at telling this type of story. I didn't really connect with any of the characters in Avatar. The villain was very one dimensional, and the Giovanni Ribisi character was much better when it was Paul Reiser in Aliens...same type of character, just not used as well this time. And the main character (I don't even remember his name) was kind of interesting, but not enough for me to really get behind him. The film also reminded me of Jurassic Park – great effects with a thin story and characters…when you run short on plot, just wow the crowd with more effects.

People keep mentioning this movie if the same vein as Star Wars...I would agree that it may change things from an visual effects point of view, but what made Star Wars so great (even today) was the story and characters - all memorable and all fun to revisit so many years later. With Avatar, I don't care about revisiting the characters so much I as wouldn't mind seeing some of the effects again.


---Eric


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Jason Jenkins
Re: Cameron's Avatar Stinks!
on Dec 31, 2009 at 6:15:27 pm

It stinks so bad that there were no tickets left when we got to the theater. Sold out. And I still had to pay the babysitter 10 bucks.

Jason Jenkins

Flowmotion Media

Video production... with style!


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Mike Cohen
Re: Cameron's Avatar Stinks!
on Dec 31, 2009 at 6:23:19 pm

this should be an indication that we need more 3D theaters - hopefully more good 3D movies will follow. Or we need cheaper babysitters, but honestly, you gotta pay good money to someone to watch your kids.


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Mark Suszko
Re: Cameron's Avatar Stinks!
on Jan 4, 2010 at 4:56:19 pm

Hoping they use this 3 d mocap tech for "the Forever War", (now in development), as well as "Bubblegum Crisis".

Yes, Ron, our favorite 80's anime is coming out as live action this decade! Though the mulligan stew of participants on Bublegum Crisis and plans to first release it in China do not give a lot of confidence, at least they are using the writer and main artist from the originals.


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