Monday, July 06, 2009

James Camerons Avatar

James Cameron (Aliens, Terminators, The Abyss, Titanic) has nearly finished his new film called Avatar. Like the previously mentioned films, this film will be a quantum leap forward in film special effects.

It tells the story of man meeting a new alien race on a far off world, and has been described as "Poccahuntas" in space. An Alien/Man love story.

"Avatar is set during the 22nd century on a small moon called Pandora, which orbits a gas giant, and is inhabited by the tribal Na'vi, ten foot blue humanoids that are peaceful unless attacked. Humans cannot breathe Pandoran air, so they genetically engineer human/Na'vi hybrids known as Avatars that can be controlled via a mental link. A paralyzed Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) volunteers to exist as an Avatar on Pandora, falling in love with a Na'vi princess and becoming caught up in the conflict between her people and the human military that is consuming their world."

But thats not the exciting bit. It is the level of photorealism that JC has brought to his film. Clips that have been seen have been described a literally "jawdropping". Think how cool Gollum looked in Lord of the Rings.... then square it.

I will let some other people tell you more about it.

"by GForce05 Jul 3rd, 2009
06:53:59 AM
Sweeeeeeeet. I'm going to read it right now. I'll let you know what I think. Anyway, people who are talking shit about Avatar on here don't seem to understand what Cameron is trying to accomplish. He takes on projects that are almost impossible to film. They are always beyond the cutting edge. He challenges himself with every single project. He makes movies that are almost always the most expensive for their time, drawing ridicule through production, because everyone knows that if he fails, it'll be his head on a plate for the kind of money he's blown, but he produces, every time. The Abyss was absolutely brilliant. It was one of the most expensive films, if not the most expense film, when it was first produced. Cameron actually rented out a nuclear silo and filled it will millions of gallons of water to get his shots. Go back and watch the trailer. It was made in 1989, and it could have been made tomorrow. There is absolutely no time stamp on it. It is an action movie with brilliant acting, and incredible tension. It was way ahead of its time. If you don't understand what makes the movie brilliant than I seriously question your taste, and therefore understand why you don't understand "Avatar". With Avatar it would appear that Cameron is trying to make the first photo-realistic CG world. This hasn't been done yet, not as far as I am concerned. I can always spot the CG. The fact that so many people have come on here saying, "looks just like beast from xmen, big deal" proves that Cameron is succeeding. The banner is a CG image, and it would seem that people who come to this talk-back without prior knowledge of Avatar have no clue. They just don't seem to understand why anyone would be excited about a guy painted blue! The Avatars and Na'va are human-like so that the audience has an in. Pandora will be like Earth, only more extreme. Like a dream, or nightmare, depending on how you look at it. It seems like it will have the aesthetic quality of a photo-realistic Disney anime, but for adults, haha. It's going to be beautiful, sexy, cutting edge, and daring. Cameron isn't going the usual route with his marketing plan. He is appealing to all the geeks directly, at E3 and Comic Con, and letting word of mouth do the rest. He's brilliant."

"I've just returned from a preview screening of James Cameron's hugely anticipated movie "Avatar" at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam and I'm still feeling the after effects of this jaw-dropping experience. First off, I'm really not a fan of the so called 3-D craze, that's currently taking Hollywood by storm. Before the "Avatar" screening, Fox showed us "Ice Age 3" in 3-D and although the movie is pretty entertaining, I don't understand why it has to be in 3-D. What is the added benefit? I just got a headache from the whole experience. For some reason or another, my eyes just can't get used to the 3-D experience. With it comes the fact that 3-D until now has been used as a gimmick.

Would "Avatar" change my mind? With anticipation I directed my attention to the 20th Century Fox show reel. After some pretty disappointing clips from other movies like "Gulliver's Travels" you could feel the tension in the theater. Then it appeared on the screen: AVATAR. After a brief introduction from cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver, we were asked to put on the 3-D glasses (really uncomfortable, especially if you already wear a pair). Most of the scenes were from the first half of the movie.

In the first scene we see Sam Worthington's crippled ex-marine Jake Sully, who just arrived on the planet 'Pandora.' He's in a wheelchair and just rolled in to hear Colonel Quaritch, played by the impressive Stephen Lang, talk to the troops. He's giving a classic speech that every military leader gives at the beginning of a battle. Jake listens as an outsider to this speech. A melancholic smile appears on his face. Although the scene is in 3-D, I haven't really noticed it. Finally a director who doesn't feel the need to stick it in the audience's face with cheap tricks like pointing objects at the camera.

In the second scene Sigourney Weaver's Dr. Grace Augustine explains to Jake how the process of transporting your mind into an Avatar works. Although the scene is mostly exposition, we've got a good look at the lab and more importantly we get a first glimpse of the Avatars, the Na'Vi lookalikes. These tall blue creatures lie in water tanks, waiting for their human to 'jump' in their bodies. Besides Weaver and Worthington, the scene introduces Joel Moore's character Norm Spellman. As is usually the case with Moore, his character is the comic relief.

It's the third scene where my heart begins to pound like crazy. Jake and Norm will inhabit their Avatar for the first time. They enter some sort of capsule and - flash – their mind enters the blue creatures, now lying on hospital tables. And not before long Avatar Jake wakes up. And it took my breath away. I thought--just like you guys--that I've seen it all with Gollum, or The Hulk, but Cameron has done it again. These creatures seem so real, that within minutes you forget you're watching an enormous and very blue CGI character. Even the eyes are totally convincing. The characters have real personalities and a soul.

In the fourth scene the Avatars of Jake, Norm and Grace explore the jungle of Pandora. The surroundings remind me of a planet that appears briefly in "Revenge of the Sith." A lot of massive colorful flowers and plants grow everywhere. Jake's unbridled enthusiasm works on Grace's nerves. And not before long they have their first confrontation with some creatures. Some sort of rhino with a flower sticking out of his head looks like he will kill Jake, but he's not scared and he let's out a scream. The 'rhino' runs away, but not because of Jake. A more dangerous creature – a wolf? – jumps at Jake from behind.

In the next couple of scenes Jake meets Na'Vi Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Jake finds himself alone at night in the jungle with only a torch as protection against some evil looking dogs. Eager to fight them, Jake says: 'What are you waiting for?' When one of the 'dogs' attacks him he slams the torch in the creature's face. A fight ensues that Jake can't win by himself. Lucky for him, there's Neytiri who with her trusty bow and arrow helps Jake chase away the creatures. Just when Jake wants to offer his gratitude, Neytiri knocks his reached out hand away and says to Jake that killing these creatures is a bad thing. When the scene fades out to black, my mind begins to work overtime. How the hell is it possible that I never once felt like I've been watching a movie where almost everything comes out of a computer?

The most beautiful scene follows directly after the one I've described above. When Jake wants to take his torch with him, Neytiri takes it from him and throws it in the river. Like magic the flowers and plants – even the grassy soil - begin to glow in the night. The beauty completely takes my breath away. Meanwhile we get to learn more about Neytiri and her people. Everybody who knows the story of Native American Pocahontas and John Smith, will recognize a lot of similarities. Before you can sing "Colors of the Wind," Neytiri guides Jake through her world. Mysterious flowing and glowing seeds from a mystic tree appear out of nowhere. To Neytiri's surprise Jake attracts them. She has a look in her eyes like he's the 'chosen one.' And of course she's right. Jake has to lead the Na'Vi into battle against the massive army of Colonel Quaritch.

In the next scene we meet the Banshees. The Na'Vi ride these fierce looking creatures when they hunt. After some exposition, where Neytiri explains to Jake that a Banshee first has to respect you, before you can ride it, she takes flight and another gorgeous scene unspools.

The last scene wasn't completed. What we saw, was sort of a video-game version of the mother of all battles. Countless numbers of Na'Vi riding their Banshees attack Quaritch's fleet. I can't wait to see the battle fully rendered.

Overall I was really impressed by what I saw. The effects are in a league of their own. After some disappointing or even pointless 3-D movies, "Avatar" may be the first movie where 3-D is properly utilized."


Wesoly said...

Ooooh...I haven't heard of this one. I like Cameron's work too. I loved The Abyss & Aliens.

Jaw-dropping, eh? I'm looking forward to seeing this!

andy said...

My friend Stacey was a sound assistant on Avatar. She's starting working on Narnia next month...ah the life some people have hey?

Martin said...

I would LOVE to work for someone like James Cameron.

Funnily enough, my next film is being directed by someone who was one of the major characters in Schindlers List, so that makes me one degree of seperation from my hero Steven Spielberg lol

Wonder if I can get his number? lol ;)