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Avatar post-release discussion - Printable Version

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- stelios - 12-23-2009

The soul transferring ceremony was by far the most groan-worthy part of the movie. It looked like some stupid hippie version of Oktoberfest, only without the insane amounts of beer. When native tribes do this on Earth they at least have the decency to get blazed out of their minds.


- TzuDohNihm - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by JuddL
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Dumbest part of the movie, and conveniently shoehorned in just before it's really needed at the end. The whole time it was going on I was thinking "Really? This is where they're going, and how they're going to get there?" Though I'm easily won over by psychedelic bioluminesence. Anyone else watching that chant think of Baraka?

I actually was thinking about Zion and the Cave Rave.


- filmnerdjamie - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I wanna see what happened when the humans introduced the Na'vi to light beer.

And gambling.


- count floyd - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by stelios
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The soul transferring ceremony was by far the most groan-worthy part of the movie. It looked like some stupid hippie version of Oktoberfest, only without the insane amounts of beer. When native tribes do this on Earth they at least have the decency to get blazed out of their minds.

It's really hard to get past as a plot point when you think about it. It seems to be a well-practiced ceremony--do the Na'Vi have an abundance of empty carcasses lying around? Why the hell would they even know how to do this?


- Richard Dickson - 12-23-2009

I assume that they do one-way transfers when a Na'vi is close to death. That's how all those memories got into the tree in the first place. Wouldn't have been a bad idea to show that though.


- ElCapitanAmerica - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
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I assume that they do one-way transfers when a Na'vi is close to death. That's how all those memories got into the tree in the first place. Wouldn't have been a bad idea to show that though.

Yeah like maybe right after they downed their tree and a bunch of them were injured or dying?

A one-way mind transfer to the tree is kind of silly on it's own, but even if you accept that, from the dialogue they seemed to indicate they've tried this before. Why else would she say "she's not strong enough" or even try it in the first place.

The whole thing made no sense, if they really needed him to change bodies at the end, you'd be better off explaining it with the existing means they already had in the movie (the Avatar technology). Even better, just let him use the machine to live his "main" life as a Na'vi and then part time as a human. That would have been slightly more interesting.


- Richard Dickson - 12-23-2009

My thought was that somehow Jake's human body would be destroyed and he'd be stuck in the Na'vi one, either by choice (as a way to keep Quaritch from pulling him back out), by accident or by someone killing his body.


- damon houx - 12-23-2009

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.

Then the supposedly immersive 3-D makes more sense as it's about trying and - in my opinion, failing - to create another world. As I said, perhaps this isn't what Cameron wants, but what he thinks you want.


- juddl - 12-23-2009

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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.

Then the supposedly immersive 3-D makes more sense as it's about trying and - in my opinion, failing - to create another world. As I said, perhaps this isn't what Cameron wants, but what he thinks you want.

I don't think there's any doubt that what Cameron gave is what he thinks we want. Cameron often admits when he's going broad on an idea or theme. He admits that he's trying to reach the largest audience possible, and had to make concessions to do that. I also think he's a lot smarter than his movies let on. At the same time, I think your reasoning gives him too much credit. Perhaps much of what you're saying plays its part on an unconscious level in his decision making process, but I think at the volitional level he's just trying his best to fuse legitimate science fiction with mainstream tropes.

I'm sure there's a gritty, pure, hard-sci-fi somewhere in Cameron's brain and I hope one day he gives it to us.


- zhukov - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by JuddL
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Though I'm easily won over by psychedelic bioluminesence. Anyone else watching that chant think of Baraka?

Baraka is one of my favourite movies, and that is indeed the first thing I thought of.

I really liked the movie. It provided giants cats vs. giant robots in 3D by James Cameron, which is what I was expecting. I wouldn't say its a matter of lowered expectations - people say Transformers 2 is about giant fighting robots, so what do you expect? I think Avatar was so well executed, technically, that my expectations were heartily met. Obviously, the script is weak, and has problems (although everyone seems to be suggesting what should have been included, when the film is overlong as it is).

I find it remarkable that anyone could criticize this script and its execution while at the same time giving Star Trek a pass. Avatar may not have had very much depth or effective characterization, but at least it wasn't bullshit incomprehensible. (I enjoyed Star Trek, but only for the character beats, which were lifted wholesale from the classic series, with the only significant difference being o hai, Spock's a jerk, and even that gets short-circuited by needlessly shoehorning in old Spock).


- andrew merriweather - 12-23-2009

STAR TREK was funny and literally* overflowing with charisma. From the sounds of it AVATAR is not. I think that's all it boils down to.

*yeah, yeah, I know.


- ady meet roy - 12-23-2009

So...

If I do decide to catch this in theaters (still on the fence), is the viewing experience going to suffer greatly if the hubby & I catch a 2D viewing (yes we're cheap...but at least our theater is DP)? Anybody out there seen this in 2D yet?


- tati - 12-23-2009

I honestly think everyone should see it once in theaters and in 3D. It's just a spectacular visual assault.
Then you'll feel you don't want to watch it again.


- Evi - 12-23-2009

Personally, I wouldn't have enjoyed it very much in 2D, but as you can tell opinions are all over the place.


- damon houx - 12-23-2009

Re Star Trek vs. Avatar - this apple and the orange don't taste the same!


- joeypants - 12-23-2009

3D is the way to go. Especially if you're on the fence and it doesn't look all that appealing.


I would've been bored stiff watching this in 2D. During the 2nd half, the only things keeping me going were my interest in the filmmaking/technical aspects of the movie.


- phil - 12-23-2009

If you're going to see this, see it in digital 3D.


- johnny tremaine - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Ady Meet Roy
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So...

If I do decide to catch this in theaters (still on the fence), is the viewing experience going to suffer greatly if the hubby & I catch a 2D viewing (yes we're cheap...but at least our theater is DP)? Anybody out there seen this in 2D yet?

It isn't the story or the big blue cat people that makes Avatar memorable, it's the pairing of 3D and IMAX (the real kind, not the fake IMAX) that makes the flick a visual treat.

The story itself? It's so generic, and the characters so forgettable, that you barely remember it a few hours later. The line in Devin's review about there being no dramatic tension is spot on.

The action and flying sequences are pretty cool too. The movie is essentially a visual effects show reel.


- hammerhead - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
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My thought was that somehow Jake's human body would be destroyed and he'd be stuck in the Na'vi one, either by choice (as a way to keep Quaritch from pulling him back out), by accident or by someone killing his body.

Well yeah, except that the film establishes rather firmly that the human pilots' brains are never actually transferred to the avatars; their consciousness is merely transmitted through them. Cut the connection, and the human wakes up back at the base and there's an unconscious, mindless avatar out in the field. There's nothing in the film to suggest that the technology is capable of 'imprinting' a la Dollhouse. (Of course, there's little in the film to suggest how the tech works at all.)

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Originally Posted by ElCapitanAmerica
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Even better, just let him use the machine to live his "main" life as a Na'vi and then part time as a human. That would have been slightly more interesting.

I think the implication at the end was that after that last videolog entry the human outpost would be abandoned. And there didn't appear to be enough humans staying behind to keep it functional anyway.

I think Dre's on the right track with the videogame analogy. Jake neglecting to shave, bathe or even feed himself between marathon avatar sessions is pretty on-the-nose.


- ElCapitanAmerica - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Hammerhead
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Well yeah, except that the film establishes rather firmly that the human pilots' brains are never actually transferred to the avatars; their consciousness is merely transmitted through them. Cut the connection, and the human wakes up back at the base and there's an unconscious, mindless avatar out in the field. There's nothing in the film to suggest that the technology is capable of 'imprinting' a la Dollhouse. (Of course, there's little in the film to suggest how the tech works at all.)

I think the point was that using this means (the unexplained technology behind the avatars) was a better mechanism of achieving the happy ending than convenient magical tree soul transfer ceremony.

Quote:

I think the implication at the end was that after that last videolog entry the human outpost would be abandoned. And there didn't appear to be enough humans staying behind to keep it functional anyway.

I assumed they'd keep the outpost going as there are enough humans there that they're going to need somewhere to live instead of the little trailer Jake and company were using.


- hammerhead - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by ElCapitanAmerica
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I think the point was that using this means (the unexplained technology behind the avatars) was a better mechanism of achieving the happy ending than convenient magical tree soul transfer ceremony.

But through the whole film, it's shown that the big drawback of the avatar system is that however it works, it doesn't work like that. And if it was possible to permanently transfer a pilot's mind into an avatar someone, probably Grace, would have done it before.

And thematically, it's important that the final transformation is achieved the 'native' way.


Devin's article is right on. - busterg - 12-23-2009

Okay, I devil's-advocated that he might have been tired after BNAT, but apparently he was not.

I saw it once with 3D (horribly dark because of the glasses... they didn't compensate with a brighter bulb) and once more in 2D. I got the same motion-blurring problem in 2D that I got with 3D... lots of times the flying monsters looked jaggy, as if they were under strobes.

As for the story ... yeah, nothing much there. Whoever played the Corporate Weasel was phoning it in big time.

Neytiri was a truly engaging character, though. I'm still a bit creeped out at the idea of her being inseminated by this half-human mutant, though.


- devincf - 12-23-2009

Why would Grace have ever permanently dled a consciousness into a Na'vi body? That's a crazy level of commitment. The movie never addresses if the link could be made permanent, but if it can't I think it would be because no human would ever bother trying to make it permanent.


- devincf - 12-23-2009

BTW - why wouldn't the Avatar tech work with cloned human bodies? In fact, the applications of the Avatar tech OUTSIDE of Pandora seems endless. They made this tech JUST to play Jane Goodall? Weird that this is never addressed.


- Teitr Styrr - 12-23-2009

I thought the Avatar tech was created specifically to re-establish diplomacies with the Navi, with the thought that the Navi might be more receptive to the Avatars. They never really explain what stopped the first diplomacies though (I don't think). Course this is quickly dispelled by the Navi's not wanting anything to do with Dreamwalkers.


- blueharvester - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by ElCapitanAmerica
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The whole thing made no sense, if they really needed him to change bodies at the end, you'd be better off explaining it with the existing means they already had in the movie (the Avatar technology). Even better, just let him use the machine to live his "main" life as a Na'vi and then part time as a human. That would have been slightly more interesting.

I kind of accepted the soul transfer thing as a mirror to the cold, human technology method of transfer.
It was just another added facet to the whole theme of dualism the movie had. That even in this "high-tech cutting edge technology" aspect, ultimately the Navi are superior.
The Navi have the better eyes (not robotic), they can fly better, and their immense connection with their planet lets them do things even the most expansive human technology can't achieve. I bought it.


- hammerhead - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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Why would Grace have ever permanently dled a consciousness into a Na'vi body? That's a crazy level of commitment. The movie never addresses if the link could be made permanent, but if it can't I think it would be because no human would ever bother trying to make it permanent.

We see that she's miserable and grumpy in the human world, smiling and lively in her avatar. Maybe it's just me but I got the impression that given her druthers she'd choose a more dedicated (if not necessarily permanent) transfer.

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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BTW - why wouldn't the Avatar tech work with cloned human bodies? In fact, the applications of the Avatar tech OUTSIDE of Pandora seems endless. They made this tech JUST to play Jane Goodall? Weird that this is never addressed.

That's a whole 'nother movie, isn't it. When I first heard about Avatar years ago, it sounded to me as if the pilots and their avatars wouldn't be on the same planet-- that Pandora was so alien it precluded the presence of even a self-contained human outpost. So avatars would have been the only way to go. Here, it does seem extravagant.


- count floyd - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Blueharvester
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I kind of accepted the soul transfer thing as a mirror to the cold, human technology method of transfer.
It was just another added facet to the whole theme of dualism the movie had. That even in this "high-tech cutting edge technology" aspect, ultimately the Navi are superior.
The Navi have the better eyes (not robotic), they can fly better, and their immense connection with their planet lets them do things even the most expansive human technology can't achieve. I bought it.

Well, except the soul-transfer has a 50% success rate (small sample size, admittedly), while Avatar tech seems to have no such issues, besides needing a DNA match.


- joeypants - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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BTW - why wouldn't the Avatar tech work with cloned human bodies? In fact, the applications of the Avatar tech OUTSIDE of Pandora seems endless. They made this tech JUST to play Jane Goodall? Weird that this is never addressed.

Maybe Bruce Willis tipped Cameron off to Surrogates decades ago and asked for him to "play nice."


- devincf - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Count Floyd
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Well, except the soul-transfer has a 50% success rate (small sample size, admittedly), while Avatar tech seems to have no such issues, besides needing a DNA match.

Weaver was gutshot. I don't take that as representative of how it would usually go.


- filmnerdjamie - 12-23-2009

So is Norm sticking with his avatar body or staying human?


- count floyd - 12-23-2009

Norm needs to buy a new avatar first.


- joeypants - 12-23-2009

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.


- birdy - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by devincf
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BTW - why wouldn't the Avatar tech work with cloned human bodies? In fact, the applications of the Avatar tech OUTSIDE of Pandora seems endless. They made this tech JUST to play Jane Goodall? Weird that this is never addressed.

I take it more as a way to make people feel good about the terrible shit we do to get the stuff we want to make our lives easier.

Its like donating money to the World Wildlife Fund. Its easy to donate to and makes you feel like your actually doing something to protect the wild. But at the same time you still go out and buy all the shit from companies who are raping the environment

I thought Parker mentioned that it was a PR stunt for the people back home.

We don't really know how much Unobtanium there is but if we make a consertive estimate of 100,000 Tonnes at 20 Million a Kilogram that works out to an astounding 2 Quadrillion Dollars. Even if they are spening a few billion dollars on the Avatar project that still is a drop in the bucket to the total value of what they are getting out of it.


- filmnerdjamie - 12-23-2009

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Originally Posted by Count Floyd
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Norm needs to buy a new avatar first.

Could have sworn he was standing next to Jake (in his avatar body) holding a gun while the humans were leaving at the end.