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I think the term "Uncanny Valley"* should be put into a rocket and shot into the sun. If it was possible to do this more than once(or at all), I would.


*I nominate this term to be re-christened as the name of the "V" shape of the bed made by Jessica Biel's legs.
I imagine the Na'vi were designed specifically to mitigate the Uncanny Valley effect. It's all about eyes and the way a face moves, and the broad, catlike features make it easier to buy into the facial movement.
I believe that the faces of the Na'vi are humanoid enough for the UV to apply. If these things moved the way Zemeckis' monstrosities did, it'd be horrifying. But it wasn't.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I believe that the faces of the Na'vi are humanoid enough for the UV to apply. If these things moved the way Zemeckis' monstrosities did, it'd be horrifying. But it wasn't.

This exactly. Even though the Navi' are alien, they are close to human enough for the work on the eyes to be very impressive. They were so good that people are talking about the movie rather than the zombies (like Polar Express).
Except that the faces look much better in CHRISTMAS CAROL. Especially Scrooge's cartoony face. POLAR EXPRESS was a millenia ago, in terms of FX.
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Originally Posted by Devin

Cameron stages huge pixel set pieces that are thoroughly excellent in a completely emotionally detached way. I didn't give a shit about anything I was seeing on screen beyond the simple 'That looks cool' reaction. It's like a painting of cyborg dinosaurs equipped with rocket launchers and ridden by beautiful naked women: totally fucking awesome but utterly without any deeper meaning or resonance.

I had a good time with the movie, but this is right on. Cameron may be the least poetic director of all time. Sometimes it works in a kind of relentless Terminatorish “that's what he does! It's ALL he does! You can't stop him!” kind of way. But when it comes to emotion, he’s all stilted T2ish “now I know why you cry” type jive.

Some random thoughts:

-I’m a fan of 3D. For me, it imbued the still shots of people talking with a heightened intimacy. Excessive camera movement (especially the shaky, hand-held stuff) breaks the spell. The potential is there for great art. I’m fantasizing about Tokyo Story in 3D.

-Cameron’s action scenes were masterfully done. His schematic style works to his advantage here. Of course, points off for the lack of meaningful imagery and wit.

-The story was stupid.
I thought Beowulf had improved significantly upon Polar Express. I've yet to see Christmas Carol. I may have to just to see how much they've improved since Beowulf.
Uncanny Valley is the inverse ratio corresponding to realistically-rendered artificial humans (cgi, robot or otherwise) and our consequent inability to accept them: i.e. the more real a fake human looks, the less likely we are to like it. Which is why we find Beowulf a bit odd and Avatar notably less so, because it features "humanoids" who by their nature can't be held to the same standard..
It would be a pointless exercise, but I would really like to see one of the character models from Zemeckis' films rigged up to work with the technology used on Avatar.
I think a lot of "believability" in animation depends on exaggeration... and straight-up mocap doesn't exaggerate, it replicates. I think Avatar worked as well as it did because the animators working with the mocap understood which facial expressions to exaggerate. The same could be said of Kong or Gollum, too, which also had a great deal of artistic liberty taken in post-production. Concerning the Zemickis films, it often feels like he's just copying 1:1 from the motion capture with little expressionistic finesse applied afterward.
- Hated the 3D
- Liked the old fashion style of the storytelling, felt much like some of the early, big stuff from Disney.
- Visuals blew me away
- Loved the movie overall despite the most predictable plot I have ever seen.
- Can't wait to watch it in 2D
-Gotta sleep now
If Lang's character really was 100% CGI, Cameron pulled it off. There were only a few shots where he looked...I dunno. Shimmery.

Kind of a boring movie, unfortunately. The pretty colors and a few good action scenes mitigate that, but this is gonna be a slog on repeat viewings.
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Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
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- Hated the 3D

Care to elaborate? That's the last reaction I expected from you.
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Originally Posted by Hadjimurad
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I think a lot of "believability" in animation depends on exaggeration... and straight-up mocap doesn't exaggerate, it replicates. I think Avatar worked as well as it did because the animators working with the mocap understood which facial expressions to exaggerate. The same could be said of Kong or Gollum, too, which also had a great deal of artistic liberty taken in post-production. Concerning the Zemickis films, it often feels like he's just copying 1:1 from the motion capture with little expressionistic finesse applied afterward.

I agree with the fundamentals of what you said with some exceptions. Animation usually has to use exaggeration and caricature in order to compensate for the simplicity of a character model. I think the closer you get to a photoreal human, the less exaggeration you require to imbue a character with life. You can go for the subtle stuff.

If you're to believe what Cameron talked about in his Popular Mechanics interview, a major reason the models in Zemeckis' movies don't pass muster is because the rigs aren't complex enough to get the minutiae of a human performance. So when they try to transfer 1:1 of a mocap performance, the rig can't handle it and you get a robotic performance. Perhaps Carrey's Scrooge worked much better because the character model was such a caricature in addition to having a Jim Carrey performance behind it.
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Originally Posted by TheCynic
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Great spectacle cinema as far as I'm concerned.

Exactly what I was going to post.

Saw it at a 3D IMAX this afternoon and was blown away by the visuals. I don't think I've ever been transported into a world so completely as Pandora. The 3D was brilliant and added so much depth to an already amazing world. It was also nice seeing the Cameron Military again.

Sure, the complaints are legit and the story wasn't anything special unfortunately. But wow what a beautiful movie.

I have missed thee, Mr. Cameron. Glad you're back.
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Originally Posted by Slater
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If Lang's character really was 100% CGI, Cameron pulled it off. There were only a few shots where he looked...I dunno. Shimmery.

If only that were the real joke of Cameron's big show. Distract us with Na'vi while he gets a CG Stephen Lang right past us.

EDIT: Thanks Andre, for pointing the way for me to find the Steve Johnson Youtube channel.
I just wish that theaters knew how to turn up the brightness when showing a 3D movie. Don't they realize that the audience is wearing shaded glasses? I saw the IMAX preview in August so I was expecting the colors to 'jump' off the screen today but in watching it today at a regular 3d screening there was a definite lack of vibrancy to the picture.

Also, the theater messed up the beginning of the movie with some technical issue that caused the entire screen to be pink. It was pink from the cue for the audience to put on the 3D glasses and into the two previews for 'Alice' and some other movie and into about the first minute of the movie.

Theater technical issues aside, my reaction to the movie seems to follow most people... amazing effects, predictable story. It lacked an energy that seems to be in Cameron's other films but that may be because there was a certain unpredictability to his films so you didn't know what was going to happen, other than Titanic.
So, yeah, The Terminator remains my favorite James Cameron film. Avatar isn't bad, it's often pretty cool, the environment rendering is fucking mindblowing (seriously, the bulk of Pandora is so incredibly tangible that it's hard to wrap my mind around it), and the the Na'vi are often captivatingly lifelike, but the plotting and dialogue are, as has been stated, predictable and cheesy as all hell.

I don't have time to go into too many likes and dislikes, and I don't know if anyone has pointed out this little nitpick, but considering that w/ print media under the threat of extinction today, the fact that Dr. Augustine's book on the Na'vi, is an actual book, seems to me to be wildly out of place 100+ years into the future. Cameron probably realized this and made a concession for "dramatic impact", but still, I found that kind of funny.
Well, everyone else was reading off of 3d holoscreens, so it did seem a little anachronistic, but maybe that was in keeping with her character? I'm just being an apologist though, so carry on.
I don't get why their photographs are in 3D. It was kind of weird to have that depth in something a step up from a polaroid.

I guess it truly is James Cameron's world.
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Originally Posted by neoolong
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I don't get why their photographs are in 3D. It was kind of weird to have that depth in something a step up from a polaroid.

That caught me off guard as well.
I half-expected the figures to move and wave and shit. Just like in Harry Potter.
I wish I could use some of Pandora's biological mysticism and have Avatar and King Kong trade off some of its strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn't mind if Avatar were longer so that some of the relatively nuanced material from the scriptment could come back and I could feel more for the characters and the story. Then King Kong could be a tighter film that moves at a pace that doesn't stretch a simple story so thin.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I wish I could use some of Pandora's biological mysticism and have Avatar and King Kong trade off some of its strengths and weaknesses. I wouldn't mind if Avatar were longer so that some of the relatively nuanced material from the scriptment could come back and I could feel more for the characters and the story. Then King Kong could be a tighter film that moves at a pace that doesn't stretch a simple story so thin.

Oh, fuck, man, I don't think Avatar needs to be longer at all, it just needed to do better things within its given time.
Well said. Avatar would've been a much richer experience if it had taken the route King Kong had –and while it didn't work with King Kong (because it should be about Kong, not Jimmy) Avatar felt like it had all of these peripheral characters who were getting short-changed.
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Originally Posted by JacknifeJohnny
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Oh, fuck, man, I don't think Avatar needs to be longer at all, it just needed to do better things within its given time.

True enough. But I thought a lot of stuff felt rushed. It was generally paced well and I was never bored, but the stuff that was supposed to hit always felt like it slightly missed the mark.

Tired and predictable doesn't bother me if it moves me. And there were often times when I felt close to feeling something grand that just barely missed the mark.
I wouldn't mind a longer director's cut if it meant seeing the characters more fleshed out.
Problem seems to be that there doesn't seem to be much more to flesh out. A lot of that stuff seems to have been dropped early on from Cameron's early treatment. So I doubt there's much more to what we got than... what we already got.
I guess I'll have to hope for a loaded set of extra features for the Blu-ray release. Can't wait to see some of the making-of material.
Here's the making of: they stood in front of a green screen and acted. Nerds sat in front of computers for three years and coded. The end.
hahaha
I heard some of the coders were jocks and rock stars.
They MoCapped Horses!
Wow, this movie is fucking looney toons, and I mean that in the best possible way. A completely deranged Cameron master stroke of using technology to unlock his inner, pimple-faced, teenage impulses, and I couldn't have been more entertained. Had a huge grin on my face for the duration.

Had to be one of the greatest cartoons I've ever seen.
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Originally Posted by devincf
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Here's the making of: they stood in front of a green screen and acted. Nerds sat in front of computers for three years and coded. The end.

Ok, so its a short making-of video. But it'll be in HD on Blu-Ray! (hopefully)