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I was also thinking about Tarantino/Cameron, with respect to their skills. IB was probably in the top five most interesting movies I've seen from the year 2009. A list that AVATAR also calls home

Tarantino really showed a new side of himself with IB, as far as I'm concerned. With that said, I still don't think that Tarantino can sublimate his oddball interests and quirks enough to make a film that is as satisfying to the audience as Cameron can. For every great scene in IB, there was a bunch of stuff that just bugged the heck out of me.

I think it's because Cameron's career has always been about trying to be a populist filmmaker. He came up under Corman and was always trying to make films that sold, first and foremost. He has his pet interests (the water, for instance), but he has been forced to fit them into the structure of a salable story, rather than bend the story to fit the flights of fancy.

Tarantino is the exact opposite, and has been slavishly indulged by the Weinsteins since his first feature. He's been allowed to , if anything, narrow his scope and interests as a filmmaker. IB seems to have partially grown out of the Weinsteins wanting a more marketable film due to their money woes. Sure, Tarantino wanted to make a WW2 film for a while, but I bet the Weinsteins were not complaining his next project was not another foray into 70s fetishism.

IB showed me Tarantino has a master's skill, but I just wish he had been grown up as a filmmaker in Cameron's shoes. I think it would have taught him to please an audience greater than just his own personal audience of one (and the cult of personality that exists around him).

IMHO


As for Hitchcock, I think that's a very clever comparison. Both directors have similar skill sets. They just chose to focus those skills in different areas, while still producing results that thrilled audiences
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Originally Posted by AdrianDyka
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Personally I think versatility is really important, not just in content but in style. With Cameron I have never felt ther is really anything under the surface of his movies, and this is allied to the very black and White nature of
his storytelling- I like nuance and to be asked questions by the
movies I watch, wheras Cameron to me only engages on one level.

Look at Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Kill Bill and Inglourious
Basterds- I'm seeing a lot of difference in style, tone and pacing in those movies, although I will admit I would be fascinated to see Cameron's IB, I would be more interested to see his Jackie Brown.

I feel like what you're looking for is intellectual stimulation from a film. Cameron has never been one for intellect. His cinema is visceral. The idea is to take you completely out of your life and immerse you in an adventure. It works on the same level that the original Star Wars or North by Northwest does. (The Star Wars trilogy certainly has some level of depth...but most of this was introduced by Empire, not the original film, which is basically a shallow fun adventure story).

Cameron does it with the best technology and in innovative ways. One could say that this type of cinema is trash, but when it's approached with the level of skill that Cameron has I believe it can be seen as artistry. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Psycho. The Wizard of Oz. These are some of the greatest movies of all time and their storytelling is black and white without much nuance. They're just about thrilling an audience. We can argue about whether or not Cameron's films are on the same level as those (I'd rather not), but it's clear that those are the types of movies he's been going for his entire career. It's not about great writing, but it's great filmmaking. And he is the best at what he does in the current film world. Michael Bay is a poor man's Jim Cameron.

It certainly seems like Tarantino is more your style. I have many of the same problems with him that Kate seems to (Kill Bill was a little much for me), but I think that Inglorious Basterds, Pulp Fiction and Jackie Brown are three of the best films in the last twenty years. Both guys have flaws, but both are two of the absolute best in the world at what they do.
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Originally Posted by therewillbezodiac
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Just about every Cameron movie is a visual masterpiece. Whether it's the Terminator's skeleton climbing out of the fire or the Titanic standing up vertically in the water, the visuals of just about every film he's made have made a lasting impact on the culture.

Spot on.
I would add the "prototype" of the AMP suit in Aliens: Ripley entering the bay with the exoscheleton is iconic to say the least. Not to mention the weapons used by the marines, with their unique look (and sound!)
Also, I may be wrong here, but I think Cameron was the first to grant the shotgun the "Timeless and Cool Weapon" status... (the shotgun has been a must in every sci-fi movie or game since then).
It's really his thing.

@Princess Kate:
Thanx for the heartfelt review, truly a great read!
Too bad we don't have Imax screens around here
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Originally Posted by danko
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Spot on.
I would add the "prototype" of the AMP suit in Aliens: Ripley entering the bay with the exoscheleton is iconic to say the least. Not to mention the weapons used by the marines, with their unique look (and sound!)
Also, I may be wrong here, but I think Cameron was the first to grant the shotgun the "Timeless and Cool Weapon" status... (the shotgun has been a must in every sci-fi movie or game since then).
It's really his thing.

@Princess Kate:
Thanx for the heartfelt review, truly a great read!
Too bad we don't have Imax screens around here

Everything about Aliens is crazy iconic. I don't think I've played a sci fi based video game in the last 15 years that wasn't full of things ripped off from Aliens.

Video games may be a "lesser" form of media....but that's really an archaic way of thinking. Their influence will only grow as time goes on and things like Halo, Gears of War, ect. owe more of a debt to Cameron for their design than anything else. In many ways Avatar is about frikkin video games in the way it allows a random dude with broken legs to go to a different world and become a bad ass. Jake Sully has as much personality as your standard video game protagonist as well, he's like Link in Zelda. You project whatever you want onto him and it makes the experience more immersive.

The way the world consumes media is changing daily and at a rapid pace - Cameron is, like he always has been, on the cutting edge. Saying that the popularity of Avatar is going to lead to the death of character or plot in movies is an argument without merit. I'm not suggesting that anyone has said that here, but it's a sensationalist argument that I've heard before. Escapism has always been popular at the movies, it doesn't mean that escapist fare is gonna be the only types of movies made. Cameron's awesome at it, let the dude do what he does. Most of the rip offs will go nowhere and Hollywood will be like it's always been.
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Originally Posted by danko
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@Princess Kate:
Thanx for the heartfelt review, truly a great read!
Too bad we don't have Imax screens around here

Thanks! Much appreciated!

And, our iMax is one of those "Imax in name only" places, I think. It's screen is 50 by 26 or something. I've been to IMAX in NYC and DC, and I recall them being larger but whatever, it was still cool. It was over in Albany NY though and the roads between here and there are really winding. I ended up feeling pretty sick on the drive. So even though it's only an hour away, it feels much farther.
I enjoyed it. But I also really dig speculative nature programming like WALKING WITH DINOSAURS, THE FUTURE IS WILD, and ALIEN PLANET. I'd love to see more of that kind of world-building and faux-documentary material up on the big screen (and in 3D).

Everything's been picked apart already, and I can't argue with much of the criticism (holes, clunky dialogue, predictability), but I was totally immersed with the world, if not the characters.

I'm guessing because of the BO returns, it will be a "game-changer" in some way, but that influence (whatever it is) can't be predicted just yet.

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Originally Posted by Sonic Boom
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I absolutely loved it. The most visually amazing film I've ever seen. As for the story, it's predictable. We all know that. It's Dances With Wolves. That said, I found myself completely invested. I can't wait to see it again.

I think ATLANTIS came more to mind for me. Maybe it was all the blue. Like Len Wiseman, Cameron likes his blue.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Sigourney Weaver's avatar always looked a little off to me. I think it's because she looked so much like Sigourney Weaver.

I found that particularly unsettling too. The only Na'avi with a human nose.
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Originally Posted by TCD
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If Avatar was rated G, or even PG, you might have a point. But a PG-13 movie, by definition, is not made for 12 year-olds.

Uh, what world do YOU live in?

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Originally Posted by Ratty
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I'd almost like to see an alternate, darker version of her story where she basically re-channels Dian Fossey and wages her own doomed battle against the military.

AVATAR came across as ALIENS blended with GORILLAS IN THE MIST upon reflection (I immediately thought "'Fossey after seeing the pics of Grace and the natives at the school and wonder how I could sponsor a Na'avi for the price of a cup of coffee). In ALIENS, Sigourney tries to stop the evil corporation from exploiting the Xenomorph. In GITM, it's all about preserving and understanding the indigenous wildlife...
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Sigourney Weaver would probably come back in some form for some fanservice. Secret recording from beyond the grave? Spiritual guidance as the personification of Eywa?

Or maybe they can clone her (ala ALIEN 4) and someone has to use her as an Avatar ("BEING SIGOURNEY WEAVER"Wink.
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Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
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This has been done. It was called Battle Beyond the Stars.

Isn't Cameron remaking that?
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Originally Posted by Dax
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"AVATAR is the birth of a new grammar spoken with a pig’s tongue."

From Casanova/Invincible Iron Man writer Matt Fraction's review

"I refuse to believe that spectacle cannot be wedded with grace."

You don't have to look any farther than WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE for that. I would have loved to have seen that in 3D.
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Originally Posted by devincf
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None of the other Avatar pilots do anything the whole movie. One must assume they were doing nothing the whole time Jake was in transit.

Practicing their dunks for a Pandora Globetrotter career?
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Originally Posted by Andre Dellamorte
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I was talking about this with Mike Russell yesterday, and he said the best thing I said after walking out of the movie is that I felt like James Cameron played a lot of DnD and wanted to become an elf. I transitioned this morning thinking about how Inglourious Basterds ends with this fantasy that cannot be real (which is why it is so appealing) and the end of Avatar, which has the main character porting in, which I was objecting to yesterday.

And then I stumbled on thinking about Michael Hanaeke. What if, as in Funny Games, this is not what the director wants, but what James Cameron thinks you wants? What if James Cameron thinks you want to be a blue cat?

And then it came together. Jake is a cripple (here in the literal sense) who gets plugged into a game that allows him freedom unlike he knows in his human body. Then the endless chases, ducks, climbing mountains and flying that feels like a video game serves a purpose. Everyone in this videogame land comes with their own HDMI adaptable cables. Instead of doing his job and helping Earth, he decides to go native, and requires him to plug in even in times of war. I can imagine that Jake, getting plugged out when he's about to give his big speech is similar to a mom stopping a game for dinner. Ultimately he rejects his job to pursue his dream of being a blue cat in which he is the hero of everything and chicks (albiet, blue cat chicks) want to fuck him. In the end he gets his dream of leaving his body and becoming his avatar..

Interesting thoughts here, Andre.
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Originally Posted by joeypants
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The whole soul-transfer thing is sticking out as the biggest plot hole to me at the moment.

I just can't see how in the hell they've ever had practice with this before. And it is most certainly played like they know exactly what they're doing.

I mean, if a hunt goes bad, do they check to see if they have any fresh cadavers laying around? But then that doesn't even work, because anyone (Na'vi) who's already dead would most surely have something wrong with their body, and judging by the way it's played in the film, the tree couldn't fix or work with that.

You could say, "well, the Tree/Gaia can move a soul anywhere it wants to." But I really don't think it's played that way at all.


That whole device is the perfect representation of the "whys" this film plays with. Why? To get to the next scene (or sequel), stupid.

Could it be a part of the Prophecy? A deleted explanation? Someone who read the scriptment/script/novelization may be better informed on the process and whether it was already a part of the culture or just something special for this particular climax. As is, it does come across overly convenient and Deus Ex Awkward.
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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Yes, I would classify Groundhog Day as a sort of science fiction. I never thought of it that way before, but it certainly fits the bill. Great thought!

I see GH more as a "Fantasy Fable" (or the "could be an odd episode of the TWILIGHT ZONE" subgenre), like STRANGER THAN FICTION, PLEASANTVILLE, or LIAR LIAR. The crazy premise is usually inexplicable or not based on anything science related, but is still there to compliment the themes and act as sort of a looking glass for the characters.
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Originally Posted by Matches_Malone
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Fair enough. Take the lens far enough back and the themes of all stories are universal. So why make any classifications at all? It's all just fiction. To me, the classification of science fiction is how the science relates to us. Blade Runner does that, in my estimation. It's not that the themes it explores haven't been explored before in other ways - it's that Dick explored the specific implications of artificial life. It's a real concern, one that philosophers grapple with.

Science fiction is more than just going to an alien world to fight human analogues. It's more than having a spaceship shoot lasers. It's more than the setting.

What makes Avatar science fiction to you?

I found the idea of controlling another organism with your "downloaded" consciousness and/or fauna that could connect with each other and their environment via clear pathways to be scifi elements integral to this particular story.
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Originally Posted by JGButler
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So I finally saw it and I'm wondering - am I the only one who thought it would be exponentially improved as a silent film? They made a point to explicitly show EVERY SINGLE THING THAT WAS SAID. And they said it with that bullshit "Movie Dialogue" that grated on my nerves. More than once I wanted to shout "Shut the fuck up" to whatever bottomless pit of exposition was on screen. But, because the visuals WERE so strong and again - they made a point to have a visual representation of every goddamned spoken word - I feel like the whole thing would have been better served if they had let the visuals, score and sound effects stand on their own. Not to mention that it would have shaved at LEAST half an hour off of the tedious running time. Maybe that's just me.

I almost wanted to hear a calm and authoritative Brit narrating, Nature Show style.

"The viper-wolf is a deadly yet beautiful killer. Watch how this bitch's deadly yet beautiful young uses naive play as a lesson for future survival in the unforgiving jungles of deadly yet beautiful Pandora..."
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Originally Posted by Princess Kate
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I had to struggle to keep from going cross eyed

I can relate. '__'
Further proof that the opening scenes from the released shooting script were actually filmed.


Edit:

reading further from EW.com we learn that:

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Actually, Cameron says that there's only about 40 minutes of usable footage that didn't make it into the film. Yes, it will be on the DVD: ''live-action stuff of Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver, a fair bit of stuff with the Na'vi.'' And, yes, there's more of that sex scene.

As opposed to rumors of hrs woth of footage being cut.

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20336893,00.html
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Originally Posted by Princess Kate
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Thanks! Much appreciated!

And, our iMax is one of those "Imax in name only" places, I think. It's screen is 50 by 26 or something. I've been to IMAX in NYC and DC, and I recall them being larger but whatever, it was still cool. It was over in Albany NY though and the roads between here and there are really winding. I ended up feeling pretty sick on the drive. So even though it's only an hour away, it feels much farther.

Did you go to Jordan's in Natick? Their screen is true Imax (I think) but weirdly the screen at the one in Reading is bigger (and better).
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Originally Posted by Ryan Bean
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Did you go to Jordan's in Natick? Their screen is true Imax (I think) but weirdly the screen at the one in Reading is bigger (and better).

The Natick one has a Kelly's Roast Beef inside though. That makes it awesome.
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Originally Posted by therewillbezodiac
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The Natick one has a Kelly's Roast Beef inside though. That makes it awesome.

Not to derail, but the Reading one is made of jelly beans and has a trapeze school inside of it. (non-MA people: yes we're talking about furniture stores)
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Originally Posted by Ryan Bean
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Did you go to Jordan's in Natick? Their screen is true Imax (I think) but weirdly the screen at the one in Reading is bigger (and better).

I went to Crossgates Mall in Albany

I'm in the Western part of the state
The trapeze school is awesome.

In other states people don't buy their furniture from places where you can climb giant rock walls or go on motion rides?

You're all missing out.
It's out in Italy at last. Caught one of the first screening.
What can I say. The screen was surely too small, the image was obviously cropped and I have the feeling Real D and clumsy glasses don't deliver as they should.
I wish I lived in America and had access to those fancy theaters of yours!!

So I was a bit disappointed at start, and I must add that it always takes a while for me to "accept" a movie at the theater because of the dubbing (I watch movies undubbed at home). So I always have to "get used" to the dubbing and it takes a good part of a movie.

Anyway, I liked it. A lot.
The dialogs were basic, but they felt a lot less cheesier than they did in the trailers, and I have to assume that even the kids could follow it without losing too much.
I bought Jake in the savior role, because of the way he was portrayed before (impulsive and hungry for life).

Both the techonogy and the wild life of the planets were stunnigly beautiful and detailed beyond any possible criticism.
Too bad I couldn't spot that special "something" about the Colonel's AMP vehicle Nick talks about in his review (maybe the image was just too much cropped out).
The action was incredible.
Absolutely incredible.

Overall, the impression to be watching the work of a true master of the medium was overwhelming.
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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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Further proof that the opening scenes from the released shooting script were actually filmed.


Edit:

reading further from EW.com we learn that:



As opposed to rumors of hrs woth of footage being cut.

http://www.ew.com/ew/gallery/0,,20336893,00.html

This is James Cameron we're talking about...40 mins of Cameron usable footage is probably the pick from hours of serviceble footage.
Yeah you're probably right. Usable footage is probably footage that was completed with effects so there could be hrs of unfinished stuff.

According to sources at Marketsaw Cameron will helm the sequels as well and in the EW article he says he even left scenes in Avatar cause they would have a direct connection to the sequel. Maybe we'll see Avatar 2 sooner than we think.
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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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Yeah you're probably right. Usable footage is probably footage that was completed with effects so there could be hrs of unfinished stuff.

According to sources at Marketsaw Cameron will helm the sequels as well and in the EW article he says he even left scenes in Avatar cause they would have a direct connection to the sequel. Maybe we'll see Avatar 2 sooner than we think.

Maybe i'm crazy, but i think Stephen Lang has joked about being signed on for sequels or something like that too...I hope so, because "AVATAR II: QUARITCH`S REVENGE" would be one hell of an 80's title.
With a movie so filled to the brim with state-of-the-art FX, it's funny how I'm most amazed by what they did to Jake's legs.
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Originally Posted by ryoken
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Maybe i'm crazy, but i think Stephen Lang has joked about being signed on for sequels or something like that too...I hope so, because "AVATAR II: QUARITCH`S REVENGE" would be one hell of an 80's title.

Well he told EW something along the lines of "don't count me out. I may have ended up with 2 arrows in my chest but as long as they have my DNA..."

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With a movie so filled to the brim with state-of-the-art FX, it's funny how I'm most amazed by what they did to Jake's legs.

Dene the old fashion way. They made a mold from a real paraplegic's legs and then cast some for Jake in rubber. His own legs are under the seat.
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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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Done the old fashion way. They made a mold from a real paraplegic's legs and then cast some for Jake in rubber. His own legs are under the seat.

Nevertheless! Heheh.

Actually, I think it stood out to me because it was one of those moments where seeing those legs helped me see Jake as a character of at least SOME modicum of depth (little though it was). The first time I really saw those legs was right after Jake had had an exhilarating day in his avatar. Seeing those legs so withered actually made me feel for the character.

Would've been nice if the rest of the movie had done that... It's probably why I'm so amazed by such old-fashioned movie magic. It made me feel SOMEthing.
It would have been pretty easy to just never show the legs without pants on them. Showing the atrophied ones really did help you connect with Jake and his predicament.

oh and I'm not sure what Nick meant about Quaritch's mech...?
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Originally Posted by Ryan Bean
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oh and I'm not sure what Nick meant about Quaritch's mech...?

I interpreted that the huge mech knife was the special thing in Nick's comment. The cool contrast of a high-tech war machine armed with one of the oldest and simplest weapons known to man.
I'm wondering if HALO will be taken off the back-burner now that this is raking in the dough (Worldwide = $1,424,649,678). Not to mention's DISTRICT 9's decent return on its small investment. A viable investment now, regardless of whether or not they should?

Also, sort of a bait question, but for those who think that Americans have the dumbest movie-going audiences around, why is this cliche and very predictable plot (not to mention TITANIC's similar trait) so popular in the foreign market? Is it execution? Spectacle? Genre?

And I liked AVATAR, for the record.
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Originally Posted by NoahtheStud
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I interpreted that the huge mech knife was the special thing in Nick's comment. The cool contrast of a high-tech war machine armed with one of the oldest and simplest weapons known to man.

The giant mech with the giant regular old fashioned knife was one of the highlights of the film for me. Especially once it was used to kill the slimy octopus panther

And, like you say, the contrast was fascinating. The marine bad guy had all his ships and weapons stripped from him, and nature had basically defeated him (even if he himself still lived). So when he pulls out that knife, it's a pretty epic moment.
Well, AVATAR did something amazing this weekend. It got my in-laws to go to the movies for the first time since 1997.
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Originally Posted by Alan "Nordling" Cerny
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Well, AVATAR did something amazing this weekend. It got my in-laws to go to the movies for the first time since 1997.

Hence, $460 domestic so far.
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Originally Posted by DARKMITE8
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Also, sort of a bait question, but for those who think that Americans have the dumbest movie-going audiences around, why is this cliche and very predictable plot (not to mention TITANIC's similar trait) so popular in the foreign market? Is it execution? Spectacle? Genre?

At least over here it is the first widely released and heavily pushed 3D film. I checked and the tickets are overwhelmingly for 3D showings. Usually you have to go out of your way to find a 3D showing of anything. I think UP for example didn't have any 3D screens where I live. Avatar got at least 5. And not only that, theaters even upgraded to full digital projection for it. It seems that the whole industry, studios, distributors, theaters and press was behind it. And I'm not saying this in a negative way.
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Originally Posted by NoahtheStud
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I interpreted that the huge mech knife was the special thing in Nick's comment. The cool contrast of a high-tech war machine armed with one of the oldest and simplest weapons known to man.

Hmm, not sure, the knife didn't seem to be something specific to Quarich's suit...

Quote:

Also, sort of a bait question, but for those who think that Americans have the dumbest movie-going audiences around, why is this cliche and very predictable plot (not to mention TITANIC's similar trait) so popular in the foreign market? Is it execution? Spectacle? Genre?

Americans are not the dumbest audience, EXCEPT when it comes to *superhero* movies. Really, that's one silly obsession (and even as you all seem to criticize the announcement of the spiderman reboot, I see pages and pages of debate about casting choices for the lead....).

As for the rest, I say it's the quality of the package and the escapism value.
Audiences WANT to be taken to another world, or setting, but will respond in global numbers ONLY if it's done with the necessary care and detail.
  • Star Wars effectively took you to another world -> SUCCESS
  • Titanic effectively took you to another time and place -> SUCCESS
  • LotR effectively took you to Middle Earth -> SUCCESS
  • Avatar effectively takes you to Pandora -> SUCCESS
Of course there are a lot of other specific merits (and flaws) to each of the above mentioned movies, but I'm sure this is the *key* ingredient to a MASS success. A story/dialogue/plot based movie CANNOT have that kind of success, because you don't need the theater to be told that kind of story. People won't fill theaters to the brim for it.
And a good, old fashioned story will always have wide appeal.

I don't understand why critics don't just settle with this simple notion, instead of acting surprised and scandalized every fucking time.
Really, if indeed this is their job, they should know better.
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Originally Posted by danko
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As for the rest, I say it's the quality of the package and the escapism value.
Audiences WANT to be taken to another world, or setting, but will respond in global numbers ONLY if it's done with the necessary care and detail.
  • Star Wars effectively took you to another world -> SUCCESS
  • Titanic effectively took you to another time and place -> SUCCESS
  • LotR effectively took you to Middle Earth -> SUCCESS
  • Avatar effectively takes you to Pandora -> SUCCESS
Of course there are a lot of other specific merits (and flaws) to each of the above mentioned movies, but I'm sure this is the *key* ingredient to a MASS success. A story/dialogue/plot based movie CANNOT have that kind of success, because you don't need the theater to be told that kind of story. People won't fill theaters to the brim for it.
And a good, old fashioned story will always have wide appeal.

I don't understand why critics don't just settle with this simple notion, instead of acting surprised and scandalized every fucking time.
Really, if indeed this is their job, they should know better.

I agree.
The great thing about the giant mech-knife is it makes total practical sense. You don't run out of ammo with a knife and its a lot more difficult to lose in a fight. Given the intense hostility of the indigenous population, all the mechs should be equipped with one. Also, it's fucking awesome.

In one of the recent EWs, Cameron talks about how he is a tree-hugger and supports eco-terrorism (not sure how much of that comment was tongue-in-cheek) but it makes me think that rounding off the sharp edges in Project 880 for the final edit was a conscious attempt to make the film more accessible to a mass audience and avoid any Fox News controversy (or criticism from the right-wing) thus making it more likely that the film would be financially successful.
According to one of the making of books, there were "issues" when the mechs had built in blades and were used for riot control.
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Originally Posted by Jake
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It felt appropriate.
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Originally Posted by danko
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Americans are not the dumbest audience

Well I don't think so either. I just see the sentiment enough round these parts.
Holy crap...

My AVATAR plans for this holiday weekend were ruined when the brand new local 3d theater caught fire.

I now don't know if I'll ever be able to see it again... I am so upset, I can't even put it into words. I'd intended to go back 10 times, since there was now a local (sadly non imax) 3d theater.