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"The people who see this film as a genuinely great piece of cinema are dismissive or apologetic of its shortfalls, and in some cases are even holding them up as examples of why the film works."

Well, its major shortfall (classic/cliche story) is one of the reasons why the film works in an all-quadrant cross-cultural kind of way. Reason why "new Cinderella story", "according to prophecy, the One will save us all", or "Romeo & Juliet for a new generation" keeps getting yanked out of storage. Familiarity doesn't breed too much contempt for Hollywood's tastes or their pockets. On the contrary. But yeah, we can argue execution till the 6-legged cows come home.

AVATAR covers:
Dances With Wolves (if you can't beat em, join em!)
Cinderella Story (underdog gets an op of a lifetime and rises to the challenge... who's gonna root against a cripple?)
Chosen One (our Saviour! long live our faith! end tyranny!)
Romeo & Juliet (forbidden romance across borders! Jungle Fever!)
One of my friends called it "Dances with smurfs" which I really enjoyed. I don't think he made it up, but it's still funny.
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Originally Posted by therewillbezodiac
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Also, there's plenty of people who analyze movies who loved Avatar. I don't think we should start calling its massive audience ignorant and then move on. Lots and lots of intelligent film lovers enjoy this movie.

Yeah I didn't mean to call fans of the film ignorant. I like it quite a bit myself.

Good call Darkmite. That's a formula for success. He had all his bases covered pretty much.
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Originally Posted by Diva
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Agreed. If you haven't seen this, you should:

http://chud.com/articles/articles/21...CKS/Page1.html

Yeah, thanks Diva, I actually did watch the first part when it came out but I've never taken the time to go back to watch the rest even though I liked it a lot. But the first part makes a great case for character development and why the Star Wars OT, hokey story and all, endures.


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Originally Posted by Scratch
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Actually, none of my friends or family are hardcore movie fans, and almost every one of them gave this exact review. "The story wasn't all that original but it wasn't bad, the effects were amazing and I had a great time watching it."

Same here. I think kids are the only ones who might say it's the best movie ever made but I haven't heard any adults I know, movie dork or not, say it's any kind of flawless masterpiece. They mostly just say it's a pretty and thrilling ride but they all recognize the goofiness of the designs and the unremarkable story.
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Originally Posted by Bucho
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They mostly just say it's a pretty and thrilling ride but they all recognize the goofiness of the designs and the unremarkable story.

That's more or less what the response has been from people I know, as well. The praise they've leveled at Avatar has always come back to the immersive experience of watching it. They don't think that they've watched the best movie ever (or the best movie they've ever seen) but they do think that they've sat through one of the best movie-going experiences of their lives.
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Originally Posted by DARKMITE8
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Well, its major shortfall (classic/cliche story) is one of the reasons why the film works in an all-quadrant cross-cultural kind of way.

I don't think it's ... ahem ... unanimous ... that the story itself is the major shortfall, or even a shortfall at all. Especially around this joint where most peeps understand well and good all that hero's journey stuff and how there aren't many new story types to tell.

That's why character keeps getting brought to the forefront in the conversation, because when a classic/cliche story has good character development it can still fly. When the characters are engaging everything about the story is more interesting to follow because we sympathise with them as they hit the familiar story beats. But when the characters feel half-cooked it throws the predictability of the story into the foreground and when those beats hit they're unsatisfying.

On the surface our reaction might be, "The film was poor because I knew what was going to happen," but the real reason we're more unsatisfied than usual is because we knew what was going to happen and we just didn't really care about it enough, because it was happening to uninteresting characters.


Of course, when a film like Memento or Fight Club or District 9 comes along that messes with convention a little bit as well as throwing us engaging characters, that's when movie dorks like us have a chance to really get a hard on about it. All of those films take familiar elements and tweak them in some way, and the mass audience isn't necessarily drawn to that, so Avatar did need to play it straight in that regard.
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Originally Posted by agracru
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That's more or less what the response has been from people I know, as well. The praise they've leveled at Avatar has always come back to the immersive experience of watching it. They don't think that they've watched the best movie ever (or the best movie they've ever seen) but they do think that they've sat through one of the best movie-going experiences of their lives.

Which is something thats, in my opinion, an important part of cinema. Using the nature of the medium, size of the screen, 3D, the fact you are sitting in a dark room with lots of other people is part of the art. At least for some movies.

There are movies that you can watch just as well at home, in which other people can be a hassle to deal with, ruin the atmosphere or experience, where you notice the bad sound, annoying commercials or poor hygiene in the theatre. A movie that takes these things and turns them into a strength, or at least makes you forget them, is a piece of art nonetheless.

I ll probably not re-visit Avatar a lot on DvD or Blu-Ray, true. There are some movies that I consider better movies for that format, better stories, better ideas, but Avatar worked as far as the whole movie-going experience goes, which is more than I can say about a lot of "better" films that just dont really belong into a room crammed with dozens of people eating snacks, texting and hooting.

I think a lot of people on these boards dont accept much besides the sheer quality of the movie, how it works regardless of format or circumstance, and that IMO is leaving something out.
I found that my lack of enthusiasm for the film itself ended up really dulling the impact of the theatrical experience. Aside from several moments I've described earlier in the thread, I really didn't find the Avatar EXPERIENCE anymore special than the 3D presentations of Up, Coraline, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. If anything, I'm inclined to think that those experiences were superior to that of Avatar because I was so much more entertained/enthused by the films themselves.
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Originally Posted by danko
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That's because Fox is probably considering only the budget directly tied to Avatar.
Which, is reasonable.
Don't forget that Cameron pioneered at least 4 different technologies (I'm quoting by heart, I may be inexact):
  • The new High def 3D Camera (partially with his money, then of course with Sony, I don't know about Fox here frankly)
  • The improved face-specific motion capture system
  • The virtual cam
  • The simul cam
All of these technologies will be used for other movies, and likely licensed to other filmmakers. So they are general investments rather than "movie budget", which you'd tie to Avatar as they were pursued because of Cameron.
And think of the possibilities! The improved motion caption alone (which is the simplest) can be used -I think- to finally handle properly the aging-deaging effects in all movies requiring flashbacks/flashforwards.

This point without wanting to come off as an apologist is something people running away with their estimated budget's need to consider and if they want to hold those "rumored" budgets against the gross they also need to take into account the money these technologies are going to make in licensing for years to come.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I found that my lack of enthusiasm for the film itself ended up really dulling the impact of the theatrical experience. Aside from several moments I've described earlier in the thread, I really didn't find the Avatar EXPERIENCE anymore special than the 3D presentations of Up, Coraline, and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. If anything, I'm inclined to think that those experiences were superior to that of Avatar because I was so much more entertained/enthused by the films themselves.

Quit being reasonable. This is the internet. Your life was changed in a profound and meaningful way.

I've stayed out of this thread, because I liked the movie, but as secure as I am with my self image, I don't want to be lumped in with people that want to commit suicide because there is no Pandora and I most definitely don't want to fuck a jumble of pixels.

So, a month removed from the screening, I still think it was a pretty amazing movie, I was involved with the characters and story, and emotionally invested. Old news, but Stephen Lang rules.

That said, the dialogue was pedestrian at best, the white guy saves the savages storyline is a little hard to swallow in this day and age. Most of the fun in the story is from the wonder and awe I felt, I really miss the James Cameron who made me hold my breath (ha) while Bud was swimming with a drowned Lindsey in tow back to the rig. BTW, I now view The Abyss as his best movie, for those of you keeping score at home.

Guess I don't have anything new to say, just wanted to weigh in now that a little of the intense hoopla, positive and negative, has died down. This movie is nowhere as good as the fanatics say, and nowhere as bad as the detractors say. It's simply a well made, insanely expensive B movie, which is what Cameron is great at. Now, by calling it a B movie, I'm not making excuses for the shortcomings in story or characterization, there are faults here, at the screenplay level.

Oh well, I'm bored and rambling.
(Keith jacks off to Ney'tiri screencaps guys)
An anecdotal note... despite my middling reaction to the film, I somehow ended up seeing it 3 times. Once on an opening night showing in IMAX3D filled with people who waited in line forever. Another IMAX3D showing. And a LIEMAX3D showing.

Every one of those showings didn't get much of a vocal reaction from the sold out audiences I saw it with. Not during the actual movie, anyway. A few light chuckles here and there for the handful of humorous moments, but otherwise not all that 'active.' But then there was applause when the big ugly green title showed up at the end.

It's quite a feat to make a film that makes audiences sit down and shut up for 2.5 hours. That's actually pretty admirable! But to the person who said that the art of cinema involves the idea that I'm watching a movie in a room full of people... I might as well have been watching Avatar alone with the way audiences have been sitting silent.

In terms of theatrical experiences, I love an active audience when the movie calls for it. Ones that immediately come to mind: Hot Fuzz, Inglourious Basterds, Up, Drag Me to Hell... kick the Avatar experience's ass in terms of pure enjoyment. I enjoyed Avatar ok. The audience may have loved it. But they sure didn't show it. As an audience experience, it was a non-entity. Even the applause afterwards felt middling.

And I will be completely honest. I might've temporarily LOVED Avatar had the audience been more vocal with its enjoyment.
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Originally Posted by Jake
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(Keith jacks off to Ney'tiri screencaps guys)

Poundora, ifyouknowwhatimsaying.

Nooj, I didn't take an individual poll for the soldout IMAX screening I attended, but like your hypothesis, one of the reasons I enjoyed it as much as I did may have been because of the overwhelmingly positive reaction of the room. During a few of my necessary to avoid total migraine 3D breaks, I looked around and noticed quite a few younger kids completely enthralled, huge smiles on their faces. I noticed this on a lot of the adults, too.

Yeah, I know this is anecdotal evidence, has no bearing on the quality of the movie, yeah yeah yeah. Thing is, I'm not going to make excuses for liking it. I'm not going to ignore the movie's shortcomings, either, but, hi, I'm Keith, and I like Avatar.
That's fine, as long as I can make excuses for... NOT... liking it. ... all that much. ?
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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That's fine, as long as I can make excuses for... NOT... liking it. ... all that much. ?

I wasn't directing that at you, more realizing I'm having trouble standing up and admitting I like this movie. I don't want the cool kids to make fun of me.
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Originally Posted by therewillbezodiac
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I also think that the earlier comparisons between Avatar and the original Star Wars pretty spot on. The Star Wars trilogy had no real "depth" until Empire. If Avatar 2 is a similar jump up in quality, the original Avatar's reputation will only go up.

Cameron doesn't do depth, particularly in sequels. Both Aliens and Terminator 2 saw a significant backing away from any attempt to make the audience think. The only depth Avatar 2 is going to concentrate on is depth of field.
Well... I'm the guy who actually ENJOYED Transformers 2!

...(please don't cast me out!)
No, I really enjoyed that movie a lot, too. GI Joe and the rest of the awful blockbusters seem so bland by comparison.

You're also 100% right about Speed Racer--which is slowly gaining a reputation in some academic circles. The next Citizen Kane? I think maybe....
Heh... though I don't think I'm enjoying Transformers 2 or Speed Racer at the same pitch you are, Policar...

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The only depth Avatar 2 is going to concentrate on is depth of field.

Ha!
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Originally Posted by Keith F
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the white guy saves the savages storyline is a little hard to swallow in this day and age.

I'm curious what people's experiences have been in regards to this. I have a number of friends who refuse to see the movie because of this (many of whom are black). It's interesting to see the racial breakdown in regards to interest in this film.
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Originally Posted by Paul C
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It got me to engage with its world enough that most of the narrative 'beats', as storytelling 101 as they are, were still pulled off well enough to hold my interest; the destruction of the hometree part hits harder than the equivalent sequence in Star Wars for example.

Justin Clark said something similar much earlier in the thread, and I have to take issue with this again. Both plot points are superficially similar, but to compare them feels really lopsided. They are in no way equivalent to their respective films. I won't go into it again, but I talked about it in this post.
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Originally Posted by Diva
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I'm curious what people's experiences have been in regards to this. I have a number of friends who refuse to see the movie because of this (many of whom are black). It's interesting to see the racial breakdown in regards to interest in this film.

Most of the white people I've talked to don't even think about that aspect. Of the three black people I talk to regularly, only one is even interested in the movie at all. As a theme, the white guy saves the savages story doesn't seem to be a factor for most people I've met.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Justin Clark said something similar much earlier in the thread, and I have to take issue with this again. Both plot points are superficially similar, but to compare them feels really lopsided. They are in no way equivalent to their respective films. I won't go into it again, but I talked about it in this post.

I agree. A closer point of reference would be the burning of the Lars homestead. And even that isn't entirely fair.
I find it odd that despite the fact that the amazing technology Cameron used could've allowed anyone to play the noble savage characters, he still cast the Na'vi with non-white actors.

Or is it odd? It's probably absolutely fitting as he cast the movie in a way as conventional as the story he was telling.
Heh. I just got a promotional e-mail for Mass Effect 2 in which Time.com is quoted as saying "It's the Avatar of video games, except it's better written".
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Originally Posted by Diva
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I'm curious what people's experiences have been in regards to this. I have a number of friends who refuse to see the movie because of this (many of whom are black). It's interesting to see the racial breakdown in regards to interest in this film.

Diva, not to be a quote whore, but the quote in your post was mine.

And I don't know how any reasonably intelligent person could not think about this point of the story. On the other hand, the guy I saw it with, who is Native American, brushed it off when I brought it up. He loved the movie, and didn't give a shit about this concern. Perhaps the "scifi-i-cation" of this has made it a non issue with many. I don't know.
Weird. I hit the quote button. Not sure how it got mixed up. Will edit.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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An anecdotal note... despite my middling reaction to the film, I somehow ended up seeing it 3 times.

That's funny Nooj, I think I liked it more than you but I'm afraid to go back to see it again in case the emotional flatness comes galloping to the fore and ruins what fun I had the first time.


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Originally Posted by Diva
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I'm curious what people's experiences have been in regards to this. I have a number of friends who refuse to see the movie because of this (many of whom are black). It's interesting to see the racial breakdown in regards to interest in this film.

I've talked about it with a few people and to me it comes down to the fact that Jake saving them wasn't as a result of him being genetically superior (the race analogy). It was more to do with luck, a right place, right time kind of deal.

As in The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves the hero outsider in Avatar brings with him knowledge that the tribe doesn't have, and that's not because the hero is more intelligent, it's just because he has experience the tribesmen never could have gotten. So although on the surface he has a tactical superiority over the tribe's warriors, it's not a superiority based in race (or species).

The second part of the criticism has been that Jake is shown to be fundamentally superior because he's able to do something the na'vi could never do themselves when he tames the jesus dragon. This is a case of "Listen closer Deaf Ears!!!" because it's clearly explained by Neytiri that five other na'vi have tamed jesus dragons in the past. Jake's good, but he's not necessarily superior, so the racism thing falls down there too.

In fact the na'vi are shown to have intelligence and wisdom beyond what the humans in the film have and the movie clearly wants us to believe they have evolved a superior way of life to what humans live. I don't think the racism criticism holds up to any scrutiny unless you want to bash Cameron for actually dissing the white folks.
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Originally Posted by DARKMITE8
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I'm hoping for an Oscar-bait trilogy:

Dances With Retards
Dances With Hobos
Dances With Beautiful Actress Who's Uglified Herself With Prosthetics

Dances With The Holocaust. Duh.

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Originally Posted by Diva
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I'm curious what people's experiences have been in regards to this. I have a number of friends who refuse to see the movie because of this (many of whom are black). It's interesting to see the racial breakdown in regards to interest in this film.

I have a black friend who's fairly militant about all matters of race... I'm a pretty progressive dude and I take issue with some of her stuff. Apparently what ruined the movie for her: the Naavi trying to save Sigourney Weaver's character. She thought it was incredibly racist that the whole tribe would stop whatever they were doing to "waste all this time trying to save a white woman!".
Personally I think the only problem with that scene is that it's a pacing hiccup and blatantly foreshadows what's going to happen with Jake at the end.
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Originally Posted by Alan "Nordling" Cerny
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I stuck this out until she started talking about growling. Then I couldn't close the window fast enough.
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Originally Posted by Bucho
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I've talked about it with a few people and to me it comes down to the fact that Jake saving them wasn't as a result of him being genetically superior (the race analogy). It was more to do with luck, a right place, right time kind of deal.

As in The Last Samurai and Dances With Wolves the hero outsider in Avatar brings with him knowledge that the tribe doesn't have, and that's not because the hero is more intelligent, it's just because he has experience the tribesmen never could have gotten. So although on the surface he has a tactical superiority over the tribe's warriors, it's not a superiority based in race (or species).

The second part of the criticism has been that Jake is shown to be fundamentally superior because he's able to do something the na'vi could never do themselves when he tames the jesus dragon. This is a case of "Listen closer Deaf Ears!!!" because it's clearly explained by Neytiri that five other na'vi have tamed jesus dragons in the past. Jake's good, but he's not necessarily superior, so the racism thing falls down there too.

In fact the na'vi are shown to have intelligence and wisdom beyond what the humans in the film have and the movie clearly wants us to believe they have evolved a superior way of life to what humans live. I don't think the racism criticism holds up to any scrutiny unless you want to bash Cameron for actually dissing the white folks.

Good points. I'll bring this up the next time I talk to my friends.
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Originally Posted by Bucho
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That's funny Nooj, I think I liked it more than you but I'm afraid to go back to see it again in case the emotional flatness comes galloping to the fore and ruins what fun I had the first time.

The movie was emotionally flat the first time I saw it. The 2nd time I saw it, I enjoyed it as much as I did the first time. The third time was when I dozed off during the non-first act but still enjoyed the movie once it got going.

I liked it. I wanted to love it.

As for the Jesus Dragon... my only beef with that is simply how ridiculously easy it was. The whole movie is full of EASY. I knew Jake was gonna tame the Jesus Dragon. I laughed at how it took NO effort. And then how easily the tribe bought it. I've said it before earlier. Never did I feel that Jake truly understood the Na'vi lifestyle (done up in a rushed montage ending with, "You are ready!"Wink. And because I never bought that, his use of the Jesus Dragon felt cynical and opportunistic. It made the Na'vi look dumb. And it made me laugh derisively.
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Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
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I stuck this out until she started talking about growling. Then I couldn't close the window fast enough.

I wounder how I should pay my respects for the people of Pandora...
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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As for the Jesus Dragon... my only beef with that is simply how ridiculously easy it was. The whole movie is full of EASY. I knew Jake was gonna tame the Jesus Dragon. I laughed at how it took NO effort. And then how easily the tribe bought it. I've said it before earlier. Never did I feel that Jake truly understood the Na'vi lifestyle (done up in a rushed montage ending with, "You are ready!"Wink. And because I never bought that, his use of the Jesus Dragon felt cynical and opportunistic. It made the Na'vi look dumb. And it made me laugh derisively.

Yeah, I had fun with the spectacle but I did feel much the same as you about all that dramatic stuff. And also there was something about the fact that for most of the film it never felt like Jake was in mortal danger while he was galavanting about in his Avatar that seriously detracted from the stakes of his precarious actions and dampened the drama quite a bit. Say what you will about the flaws in Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai but at least those guys face real swords and arrows in their own vulnerable human skin, not in a remote controlled drone body.
Maybe the point was the life in his Avatar body was the only one worth living and the only one he wanted to live. But yeah.
I was wondering how they'd deal with the whole death-of-your-Avatar thing... looks like it freaked nerdy scientist out something fierce but no lasting harm.