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- Evi - 12-28-2009

People are asking these questions because Cameron's basically begging them too. Anyway, we can come up with as many explanations as we like, but I'm pretty sure the only reason the Navi look the way they do is that in Cameron's mind they'd be easier to identify with. They are, for all intents and purposes, just blue humans.


- alan "nordling" cerny - 12-28-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by devincf
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All of Pandora's landmass is covered in jungle, so we saw a pretty representative section.

The four eyes are explained as being regular eyes and infrared or some shit eyes. Why would two eyes be 'proper?' That makes no sense. And the idea that the Na'vi would have evolved to be that way while nobody else has also makes no sense. No mammals have six legs, for instance. All mammals have four limbs. All Pandoran mammals (or whatever they are) should have six limbs.

"Proper" probably isn't the right word. Lower level creatures may have not made the evolutionary leap from four eyes to two, where evolution gave the Na'Vi, like humanity the thumb, the ability to use two sets of eyes instead of four for infrared and night vision. Eyes are generally considered weak points in a face's structure, so they may be an evolutionary advantage (and yeah, I'm aware that the Na'Vi eyes are so big that it probably is a negligible difference in weak points). We may be in an earlier period of time for Pandora, or that the biolink of the planet has actually kept the planet's life forms from evolving too much. I know, can't have it both ways, but it's just me spouting ideas.

Can't explain the six leg thing either. I just took it as Cameron really liking YES album covers.

I can poke at this movie easily enough, it's really not very difficult, but I can't deny that I really had a great time seeing this movie, and that's part of what I'm judging it on.


- joeypants - 12-28-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain Mal
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Or, rather, Cameron does.

I know. I sort of switched to the universal "you"/ "talking to Cameron" mode in responding to your post.

It really doesn't matter what genre the film goes for. It could be a comedy. But if a filmmaker goes on and on and on about the scientific completeness of that film, then they have to expect people to poke around.


- captain mal - 12-28-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by joeypants
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It really doesn't matter what genre the film goes for. It could be a comedy. But if a filmmaker goes on and on and on about the scientific completeness of that film, then they have to expect people to poke around.

Fair enough. Perhaps this is akin to George Lucas blathering on about how Star Wars was about technology vs. naturalism or whatever. The film doesn't really support the notion, and is probably best enjoyed on its own merits, without bringing that expectation along for the ride.


- blueharvester - 12-29-2009

All those complaining about missing alien features on the Navi are missing one crucial point:

Making the Navi basically "blue people" heightens the cruelty with which the corporate goons go about their business. I think that's the whole point: The Navi are very much human. In space red or black is blue.


- Evi - 12-29-2009

It'd be like that anyway (see D9). Making the aliens so clearly anthropomorphic does nothing but make it more on-the-nose. Cameron was hedging his bets.


- blueharvester - 12-29-2009

The situation in D9 was a little different.
The dehumanized aliens really are alien, at least on the surface.
There was no need for the propaganda machine to artificially dehumanize the "enemy" cause they weren't human looking and behaving at all. As the movie unfolded the aliens showed emotions, love, sacrifice and other human qualities thus making it easy for the audience to switch over and sympathize with them.

In AVATAR the aliens are dehumanized in a fashion very similar to what has been done with all kinds of native people and minorities. Them having only "blue paint" as the major difference makes them being called apes and other shit more tragic I think.

Also the "invader" roles are reversed. In D9 the aliens are occupying the area around Joburg, in AVATAR the expedition humans automatically call the whole planet their own.


- ryoken - 12-29-2009

Saw it today; really loved it, and its truly an spectacle in 3D (shame those 3D glasses aint friendly with the shortsighted, already glasses wearing folk like me); however, after reading Devin's article on the original project, I cant help believe that the original project would had been a far superior science fiction film; Cameron pretty much trimmed a lot in order to reach a wider audience, and while the films doesn't suffer much from it, it does keep it from being truly great.
i was surprised by how brutal the final battle is; film was rated PG here, and some idiots brought kids under 6 years old to my screening....great idea, you morons.
Also, 3D showings were packed, with 20 meter lines for just entering the screening room, and its only been a week since it opened...staying power will be strong with this one.
Here's hoping Cameron doesnt take another freakin eternity to work again.


- Bucho - 12-29-2009

That screenshot Bitches posted a page or so back reminds me of how much goofier the design is in stills and artwork. In the kinetic 3D swing of things I mostly enjoyed watching them but still-life Na'vi are inherently comical to me.


Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueharvester
View Post
All those complaining about missing alien features on the Navi are missing one crucial point:

Making the Navi basically "blue people" heightens the cruelty with which the corporate goons go about their business. I think that's the whole point: The Navi are very much human. In space red or black is blue.

What's actually happening is that you're missing the fact that if Devin was missing that point then why would he have specifically addressed it, TWICE, from an "in-world" perspective? The reason the Na'vi are designed how they are from an audience-empathy perspective is obvious. What's not obvious, and what the discussion has become about, is whether this celebrated world-building is really any deeper than the surface. Hence the question of whether there is an explanataion consistent within the ecosystem they've designed.


- captain mal - 12-29-2009

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Originally Posted by Bucho
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What's not obvious, and what the discussion has become about, is whether this celebrated world-building is really any deeper than the surface.

I don't think there's any question that the world-building is deeper than "the surface." The question is whether it's as complete as some fans would like it to be. And the answer is, "of course not." How could it ever be?


- martin blank - 12-29-2009

Gotta say I dug the flick. If you didn't dig it on a visceral level, all the screenplay and science shit will occur to you. If you dig it, you just roll with it flaws and all.

Whatever's said about the story or whatever, this is a master class in pure cinema, and a reminder to Lucas, Spielberg, and especially the Bays and McGs that this, motherfuckers, is how you make a big-dog spectacle. The filmmaking craft can't really be denied. I realize this'll be misconstrued as giving the guy mad props for simple competence — like, oh, knowing where to put the camera so you can see what's going on; when to cut, when to hang steady; how to parcel out the 3D to give the audience's eyes a rest — but, y'know, I wish we could say that sort of competence is commonplace in huge megabudget flicks now. It ain't. Cameron, if nothing else, reminds us how a big bad-ass movie is supposed to look and move and flow.

It makes me wish that (A) he would direct narrative films more often and (B) he didn't have to set himself some absurd Fitzcarraldo technical/technological challenge every time out, which it seems started with The Abyss. I would say the unmade James Cameron film I mourn most is The Crowded Room. It would've been something radically different for him.

— Speaking of Fitzcarraldo, I'm reading a book on Werner Herzog and it amused me to wonder (A) what he would make of Avatar (he might consider it either "obscene" or "ecstatic" or maybe both) and (B) how he would make Avatar (basically, The Wild Blue Yonder is his Avatar — rent it if you haven't).


- Bucho - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Captain Mal
View Post
I don't think there's any question that the world-building is deeper than "the surface."

Yeah, for fans of science fiction there is that question because fans of sci-fi are fans of science and science is a fan of questions.

So we look at things on the surface and wonder if they really make sense beyond that. For example, if on the surface there is a tendency toward four-eyed hexapeds as the analogy for Earth's mammals, why is the Na'vi a four limbed bi-ocular creature? Is there an explanation that makes it feel right?

We have a world in which, on the surface, mountains hang suspended in the air, and not only levitate but have significant waterfalls. Science asks how does such a small body of airborne land not only balance against gravity but accomodate a reservoir sizeable enough to supply the falls?

We have a world in which, on the surface, the flora and fauna are connected by a network of biological pathways. Science asks, "Neato, but how does this jive with our knowledge of the way botanical and animal elements interact in the real world?"

We have a world in which, on the surface, a breed of lizard has a helicopter rotor. Science (and common sense and instinct) ask, "How the fuck?"

Of course there's a question as to whether the world is as feasible as the makers and fans want to claim it is, and the surface richness will be studied by both the curious and the skeptical (both healthy, lively states of mind) to see whether those claims hold up, or whether they're simply castles made of hype and sand. Not to feel the need to ask these questions isn't any kind of fault - thinking about the intricacies in the art of world-creation and science is just not that interesting to some people - but don't fool yourself for a second that people won't ask the question just because it feels good to exercise the brain that way and/or just because they're testing out claims made by others.


- ryoken - 12-29-2009

AICN, of all places, had a great article over the "science" of Avatar here
Cameron truly researched and went over his head to make the world he built make as much sense from a scientific perspective as he could, but you have to compromise to the entertainment and wonder factors eventually; you might as well complain on Abrams not having the balls to have kept all space moments in "Star Trek" silent as that great early sequence he pulls of at the start of the film.

As for the Na'vi standing out from the rest of Pandora's fauna, it doesnt hurt the film (we might as well wonder why land dwelling mammals dominate a planet which is 70% oceans and water, or why a giant monkey is the apex creature in an island with giant bugs and dinosaurs) and makes them stand out, plus, I doubt people would have empathized with a less humanoid race onscreen.
As long as it doesnt break the rules the film itself set, why bother with over analyzing it? I went to see the film with a packed audience who never complained or mocked the world onscreen, because it worked, simply as that.


- Bucho - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by ryoken
View Post
AICN, of all places, had a great article over the "science" of Avatar here
Cameron truly researched and went over his head to make the world he built make as much sense from a scientific perspective as he could, but you have to compromise to the entertainment and wonder factors eventually; you might as well complain on Abrams not having the balls to have kept all space moments in "Star Trek" silent as that great early sequence he pulls of at the start of the film.

As for the Na'vi standing out from the rest of Pandora's fauna, it doesnt hurt the film (we might as well wonder why land dwelling mammals dominate a planet which is 70% oceans and water, or why a giant monkey is the apex creature in an island with giant bugs and dinosaurs) and makes them stand out, plus, I doubt people would have empathized with a less humanoid race onscreen.

As long as it doesnt break the rules the film itself set, why bother with over analyzing it? I went to see the film with a packed audience who never complained or mocked the world onscreen, because it worked, simply as that.

Thanks for the link dude, I'll read up later. I already gave you the answers of why peeps are analysing it (read Devin's recent "It's Ok To Think About Movies" article too). Because Cameron invites it and because peeps are curious and because it's fun. People bitched plenty about the shortcomings of Abrams film too, doesn't mean they didn't enjoy it overall. Film-makers go to all this trouble to construct their worlds, it's just good manners for us recipeints and audience members to be interested in that.

p.s. We have wondered why land dwelling mammals dominate a planet which is 70% oceans and water, and we've come up with some pretty good ideas about how to answer that one.

p.p.s. People empathized with a little inhuman looking dude I like to call E.T. just fine. Same with a little robotty looking dude I like to call Wall-E. Same with a giant prawn looking dude I like to call Christopher. Skilled film-makers can make us feel for creatures who look markedly different from us.


- ryoken - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
View Post
p.p.s. People empathized with a little inhuman looking dude I like to call E.T. just fine. Same with a little robotty looking dude I like to call Wall-E. Same with a giant prawn looking dude I like to call Christopher. Skilled film-makers can make us feel for creatures who look markedly different from us.

Glad you liked the link, its worth a read, and ditto on films being discussed and analyzed by fans as much as they can be.
As for your examples, none of those beings were in romantic relationships with a human character (if the Na'vi looked like the Prawns, I wouldnt see much empathy from the public) which is why I think Cameron played it safe with the humanoid alien route; hell, it pretty much boils down to this (apologies in advance for using PA as an argument):



- count chocula - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
View Post
Yeah, for fans of science fiction there is that question because fans of sci-fi are fans of science and science is a fan of questions.

So we look at things on the surface and wonder if they really make sense beyond that. For example, if on the surface there is a tendency toward four-eyed hexapeds as the analogy for Earth's mammals, why is the Na'vi a four limbed bi-ocular creature? Is there an explanation that makes it feel right?

We have a world in which, on the surface, mountains hang suspended in the air, and not only levitate but have significant waterfalls. Science asks how does such a small body of airborne land not only balance against gravity but accomodate a reservoir sizeable enough to supply the falls?

We have a world in which, on the surface, the flora and fauna are connected by a network of biological pathways. Science asks, "Neato, but how does this jive with our knowledge of the way botanical and animal elements interact in the real world?"

We have a world in which, on the surface, a breed of lizard has a helicopter rotor. Science (and common sense and instinct) ask, "How the fuck?"

Of course there's a question as to whether the world is as feasible as the makers and fans want to claim it is, and the surface richness will be studied by both the curious and the skeptical (both healthy, lively states of mind) to see whether those claims hold up, or whether they're simply castles made of hype and sand. Not to feel the need to ask these questions isn't any kind of fault - thinking about the intricacies in the art of world-creation and science is just not that interesting to some people - but don't fool yourself for a second that people won't ask the question just because it feels good to exercise the brain that way and/or just because they're testing out claims made by others.

who the fuck cares


- Bucho - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Count Chocula
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who the fuck cares

If you didn't work that out yet you're only half as smart as you think yuo are Chockykins.


Quote:

Originally Posted by ryoken
View Post
Glad you liked the link, its worth a read, and ditto on films being discussed and analyzed by fans as much as they can be.
As for your examples, none of those beings were in romantic relationships with a human character (if the Na'vi looked like the Prawns, I wouldnt see much empathy from the public) which is why I think Cameron played it safe with the humanoid alien route; hell, it pretty much boils down to this (apologies in advance for using PA as an argument):

No apologies necessary, you're pretty much right about the romantic angle (except that it'd be huge in Japan if they at least had tentacles) and PA is superbness in cartoon form.


- thecynic - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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To him, something like Transformers 2 (something I don't think he'd give the time of day anyway) is no worse than Precious.

I'm trying to imagine this ridiculous person and coming up with nothing.


- bitches leave - 12-29-2009

I think that footage of the attack on Hells Gate was supposed to be part of the end battle and not a raid set in the middle of the story like in the treatment. Maybe they felt it was just too much with 4 different battle locations.

My mom mentioned this movie today so it must be getting REALLY big. The last time she mentioned a Hollywood movie was when Fellowship was released. She asked me about this 3D and how one can follow the story if something happens to your left and you are not looking there? I was floored, she actually believed the characters somehow fills the room as a hologram or such...


- Nooj - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by TheCynic
View Post
I'm trying to imagine this ridiculous person and coming up with nothing.

A totally cool normal dude that I respect. A total believer in structure. If the structure's not there, he checks out. I rarely agree with him, but love listening to him talk.


- phil - 12-29-2009

A gallery of different unused Na'Vi designs from sculptor Jordu Schell.




- ryoken - 12-29-2009

Nice find, Phil.


- bobby bear - 12-29-2009

I finally saw it. Not back through the door much more than an hour and still on a high from the viewing. A quick skim through this most recent, predictable page has tarnished that in no way. Captain Mal is well worth listening to.


- Bucho - 12-29-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobby Bear
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Captain Mal is well worth listening to.

He's dead right that you don't need to think about the depth of the world to have a good time at the movie (like I did) but he's off the mark thinking that it's pointless to think about that stuff. Some people just have brains naturally wired to be curious about the hows and the whys beyond the fuck-that-looks-cools, and their attention is drawn momentarily towards these wondrous things whether they want it to or not, but it doesn't need to bum anyone out who doesn't care about it.

It doesn't invalidate the experience of people who loved everything about seeing Avatar if other people weren't blown away to the same degree so there's no good reason to get bummed out when questions are asked about what's gone into the film-making. After all, CHUD is a site for people who don't just love the experience of watching movies, they're also very interested the art that goes into the making of movies, so it makes complete sense that Chewers will delve into all that in the post-release discussions to process what the film means to them and what it means to cinema in general. That's what we do here.

I think if anything it's a tribute to the film-makers that people care about what they do and listen to what they say. I'll point to things that didn't pop for me the way I think they could have but I still salute Cameron for what he did accomplish.


- bobby bear - 12-30-2009

I absolutely agree, Bucho. Well said. I didn't agree with everything C.M. said and I've not been through this thread in enough detail to even know all that's come up. At any rate, I felt compelled to tip my cap to him for his recent "no mushroom in the cheescake" comment.


- blueharvester - 12-30-2009

I caught ALIENS on TV again and holy Space Marines Batman does it feel like it's the same universe (at least the human side)!
The dropship, the freight robots, the marines, weapons, even the control tower looks similar with its table top overview map.

Also the corporation background stuff feels very similar.
In ALIENS we have the Weyland Yutani Corporation working to circumvent ICC (Interplanetary Commerce Council?) quarantine.

in AVATAR, the RDA tries to work around ICA (Interplanetary Commerce Administration) rules.

After we get AVATAR 2 and 3, why not do ALIENS vs. AVATARs?


- ratty - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Blueharvester
View Post
After we get AVATAR 2 and 3, why not do ALIENS vs. AVATARs?

I say with self-loathing that I would see the shit out of ALIENS VS AVATARS.


- phil - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Ratty
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I say with self-loathing that I would see the shit out of ALIENS VS AVATARS.

It would be ten minutes long.


- parker - 12-30-2009

When I left the theater, my friend wondered if the Company alluded in this was the same as in Aliens. I theorized playfully that they were from the same universe, and in the sequel the company would send Aliens to the planet to kill the Na'Vi to get the unobtanium.

I also liked to imagine that the company is ACME and that the CEO is Wyle E. Coyote who's doing all of this just to kill the Roadrunner.


- ratty - 12-30-2009

Quote:

I say with self-loathing that I would see the shit out of ALIENS VS AVATARS.

Quote:

Originally Posted by Phil
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It would be ten minutes long.

That will be just fine.


- Bucho - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bobby Bear
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I absolutely agree, Bucho. Well said. I didn't agree with everything C.M. said and I've not been through this thread in enough detail to even know all that's come up. At any rate, I felt compelled to tip my cap to him for his recent "no mushroom in the cheescake" comment.

Yeah, that was a good analogy from Captain Mal for how he feels about the film. But like Devin pointed out to him, the fact that other people on the site take discussion about the art of film more seriously doesn't need to bother anyone who's happy to just let the movie wash over them.

If peeps like Mal see it as looking for mushrooms in cheesecake that's fine, but if others see the movie as a cheesecake that's short on milk and butter and very long on cheese then they're going to talk about why even though the ingredients are all present, the mix is lacking in a couple of areas. And here at CHeesecakes Under Discussion the Chewers are going to discuss that business until the cows come home so there's not a whole lot to be gained by worrying about that discussion taking place. That's just how this place works.


- bobby bear - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bucho
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That's just how this place works.

Indeed. In that spirit, as the guy who's harder than most to win over in regard to C.G. - and, in particular, C.G. aliens - this flick deserves special praise. A comment from Nick's review really resonated with me. I didn't expect to "feel for these collections of pixels and polygons", but I really did. This was due as much to the craftsmanship of the actual F.X. as it was the presentation and particulars of the species. They were eminently accessible, and the strength of their execution kept their Earthly trappings from becoming an issue.

Actually, the vast majority of Nick's review agreed with me. I didn't enjoy Stephen Lang quite as much, though.


- bitches leave - 12-30-2009

People can nitpick - sorry discuss - Avatar all they want, that's perfectly fine. Just accept that some people don't have the need to do that with this particular movie or answer questions about why this works like that or how come something evolves in a certain way.

Nordling said it best, that it's easy to nitpick Avatar it just doesn't seem constructive in any way as the overall enjoyment is what matters with this particular movie.

For some that is.


- joeypants - 12-30-2009

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bitches Leave
View Post
People can nitpick - sorry discuss - Avatar all they want, that's perfectly fine. Just accept that some people don't have the need to do that with this particular movie or answer questions about why this works like that or how come something evolves in a certain way.

We do.


- martin blank - 12-30-2009

This could turn into a war between the accept-the-movie-for-what-it-is Na'vis and the scarred, unimpressed detractors clanking around in their mech suits of logic. Devin = Quaritch. "My job is to make all of you realize how lame the script is. I will not succeed. Not all of you."