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Finally saw Avatar, in IMAX 3D. Like many others I was immersed by the spectacle but disappointed by the story, especially in the last third of the movie. I loved all the exploring of Pandora and the flying. But the other actors - Weaver, Ribinsi - were wasted. Cameron's characters and plots are usually unsubtle and obvious, but they usually work better than this. The Abyss - his real masterpiece - does not have complex characters or emotions but it works because the actors were given more to work with and the effects do not overwhelm the story.

Maybe an extended cut of Avatar would fix some of these problems. I doubt it.
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Originally Posted by Ben Thomas
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Ok, Avatar > Titanic. Ridiculous comparison? Sure is. But its still true.

100% true. I'll stand here and point out Avatar's faults all day, but it's still better than Titanic.
I'd say I enjoyed Titanic more, just because I actually felt the disaster a lot more than anything in Avatar.

They're both schmaltzy and cheesy and manipulative and both deal in awful stereotypes and tropes (the fun loving working class is so irritating) but Titanic works as a piece of drama because we're allowed to get to know the thinly drawn characters. Also the destruction of the Titanic is amazingly visceral because it's something we can contextualise, Avatar's home tree sort of lacks that context.

Then again I really, really, disliked Avatar.
Yeah, I think I prefer TITANIC, if only for the much much better cast.
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Originally Posted by Spike Marshall
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but Titanic works as a piece of drama because we're allowed to get to know the thinly drawn characters. Also the destruction of the Titanic is amazingly visceral because it's something we can contextualise, Avatar's home tree sort of lacks that context.

This is EXACTLY it for me.
Plus, Spike secretly wishes he were Billy Zane.

And well, who can blame him.
Fron a narrative perspective, Titanic works better, simply because it's not as silly, and - as Plinkett pointed out - has obvious impending doomed spelled out, vs. it being built to clumsily. Also its love story is better. Again, all from a technical point of view, I don't really like either. In terms of cinema, what is great about Avatar is how it really is a game changer for effects and 3-D technology. But technical advances don't compete with storytelling.
I prefer Avatar simply because I'm more of a sci-fi/space battles/tech guy/effects whore/etc. Titanic is a better movie, and despite the ending being a foregone conclusion, they do throw some twists in there that Avatar never even bothers with.

I think it's pretty easy to say that Cameron's last 3 films have been his weakest though, despite some amazing work being done behind the scenes.
I also felt the final battle in Avatar suffered in the same way that the Battle of Zion suffered in that CGI fighting CGI just isn't that interesting to me personally.

I'm not a fan of big battles anyways but there's something utterly impersonal about what's going on at the end of that film.
When you have cardboard characters fighting for an obvious end, with only two really sympathetic leads, and then a bunch of extras, yeah, who cares?
It all comes down to the audience not knowing/caring about any(or enough) of the characters.
The Zion battle was far worse though, all the favorite/well drawn characters were nowhere to be found for the vast majority of that excessively long battle.
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Originally Posted by Andre Dellamorte
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Fron a narrative perspective, Titanic works better, simply because it's not as silly, and - as Plinkett pointed out - has obvious impending doomed spelled out, vs. it being built to clumsily. Also its love story is better. Again, all from a technical point of view, I don't really like either. In terms of cinema, what is great about Avatar is how it really is a game changer for effects and 3-D technology. But technical advances don't compete with storytelling.

Titanic also has a sense of focus (in character and plot) and "reality" informing it.
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Originally Posted by Nexus-7
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It all comes down to the audience not knowing/caring about any(or enough) of the characters.
The Zion battle was far worse though, all the favorite/well drawn characters were nowhere to be found for the vast majority of that excessively long battle.

Exactly. At least Avatar had the protagonists actually participating. I'm still reeling from the fact that the Wachowskis could really be that stupid.
Linda Hamilton is spilling the beans on Cameron in a new article, but bizarrely all her "dirt" just makes me love him more. I don't know what it is about cocky self satisfied people, but I find that personality type fascinating when the person with the attitude has lived a life that justifies the bravado

So this quote seems kind of awesome to me:

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'Anybody can be a father or a husband. There are only five people in the world who can do what I do, and I'm going for that.'"

Here is the article: Daily Mail UK article. It is lengthy, but interesting.
Having seen Avatar last night, the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced of its greatness. To make a film of such epic technical scope, and to then embed in it a message that is so liberal as to make my head spin, is, I think, the mark of a true creative giant. No wonder this film has proved so divisive. Such a perfect antidote to the stream of meaningless bullshit we have endured from mainstream filmmakers in the last decade.

I'm not saying it's perfect, for sure. But it has something to say, and no matter how earnest, naive, generic, or yes, racist, that something may be, you have to hand it to Cameron for putting it up there. In 3 fuckin' D.
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Originally Posted by Samurai Mike
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Such a perfect antidote to the stream of meaningless bullshit we have endured from mainstream filmmakers in the last decade.

Wow Mike, I wish I saw the film you did mate.
We have to hand it to him for making something generic, because he left all his generic mediocrity on the field? OK.

Not sure how this film's "message" isn't the epitome of meaningless bullshit, either. It's about as honest as new-age flower power hippie kids with facebook accounts and cell phones.
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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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We have to hand it to him for making something generic, because he left all his generic mediocrity on the field? OK.

Not sure how this film's "message" isn't the epitome of meaningless bullshit, either. It's about as honest as new-age flower power hippie kids with facebook accounts and cell phones.

One person's generic is another person's archetype. The story is simple, for sure. But compared to all the superhero films we've been subjected to, it's fucking Shakespeare. What has been the message of all of those films? That being a superhero is hard/awesome? Who the hell relates to that?

The message is: you can't understand another culture until you've walked in their shoes. It's a good message, I think, and very relevant to today's world, where cultures that for centuries were apart are being thrown together with sometimes violent results. Again, more than what most of Hollywood churns out every summer.

Oh, and "new-age flower power hippie kids" Greg? Getting old are we? ;-)
I guess 'great power comes with great responsibility' isn't a lesson that we can all use in our own lives... heheh.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I guess 'great power comes with great responsibility' isn't a lesson that we can all use in our own lives... heheh.

It isn't. When are any of us (individually) ever going to have 'great power'? Answer: we're not. The heroes of superhero movies are always either: a) rich; or b) extraordinarily lucky.

Result: no relevance whatsoever to the average person.
Bwuh?
Not old, just a low tolerance for stupid fucking hippie jerkoffs that can't even adhere to their own mantra.

And really? You think "Gee golly, weren't we just awful to the Native Americans!" is a unqiue and praiseworthy stance to take? It's like heaping praise on Spielberg for taking the stance that slavery was bad. It's completely safe and insular.

You know what's really praiseworthy? Taking a two-dimensional comic book character like Peter Parker and making a full fledged, crowd pleasing character out of him. It's been said before and funnier, but the only thing in three dimensions in Avatar was the effects.
mcnooj82: I know, I just blew your mind, right?
You could say that.
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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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And really? You think "Gee golly, weren't we just awful to the Native Americans!" is a unqiue and praiseworthy stance to take? It's like heaping praise on Spielberg for taking the stance that slavery was bad. It's completely safe and insular.

I never said it was unique, I said it was relevant. I don't think Cameron is saying "Gee golly, weren't we just awful to the Native Americans!" at all. No-one alive today is responsible for that. What he is saying is, "if we ever come across that situation again, maybe we could try to not be so awful?". Like I said, I like that message, but that's me.

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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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You know what's really praiseworthy? Taking a two-dimensional comic book character like Peter Parker and making a full fledged, crowd pleasing character out of him. It's been said before and funnier, but the only thing in three dimensions in Avatar was the effects.

You're absolutely right about the characters, but my point was about the overall theme of the movie. I just found Avatar's more interesting than Spiderman's.
I find themes to be useless and meaningless if the film can't find an original or even well developed character or plot to hang it on. "Genocide, it's bad, mmkay?" is so basic and duh-worthy, I'm not sure what you're getting out of it. Welcome to fifth grade social studies.
I'd like to add at this point that I am from New Zealand so my perspective on this stuff will probably seem a little bit unusual.
You've never been in a situation where you've had to sacrifice your happiness for the benefit of those you love? Let's not be so literal here...
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Originally Posted by The Rain Dog
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Wow Mike, I wish I saw the film you did mate.

Many did though.
WOM of mouth did propel the movie at first.

The movie is a finely crafted package, I really don't understand why it's so important to most of this site's users to deny it.
Something like "Great Power" could apply to a teen owning his/her first car or something really simple like that, it's pretty universal.
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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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I find themes to be useless and meaningless if the film can't find an original or even well developed character or plot to hang it on. "Genocide, it's bad, mmkay?" is so basic and duh-worthy, I'm not sure what you're getting out of it. Welcome to fifth grade social studies.

Fair enough. I've personally always found Cameron's characters rather simplistic for the most part (an exception would be Ellen Ripley).

I won't raise the point of your second sentence, as I'm not equipped to have that argument.
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Originally Posted by danko
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Many did though.
WOM of mouth did propel the movie at first.

The movie is a finely crafted package, I really don't understand why it's so important to most of this site's users to deny it.

No one's denying the film is finely craft. In fact, the quality of the craftsmanship on display hasn't been in question once this whole thread.

What people here are down on, and rightfully so, is the notion that the film is anything more than that. If it took a movie this basic and mongoloid in its storytelling to open your eyes and go "why can't we all just get along?", what does that say about you?
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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You've never been in a situation where you've had to sacrifice your happiness for the benefit of those you love? Let's not be so literal here...

Eh, that's kind of a stretch I think. Of course when it's someone I love, I'd sacrifice a lot. I am rather cynical about whether superhero films actually provoke that sort of decision-making process in the minds of those who watch them. That's a cultural issue I, again, am not equipped to comment on.
But Avatar will make someone think twice before becoming a greedy industrialist or exploiting a native culture?

...and Mike what exactly does being a kiwi have to do with your take on the movies 'message'?