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Avatar post-release discussion
Avatar is waaaay more self-contained than The Matrix Revolutions. Avatar is ridiculously simple and familiar, while The Matrix Revolutions was a disappointing and frustrating follow-up to The Matrix Reloaded, which went out of its way to seem NOT simple and familiar.

Both are disappointing, but I think the narrative/editorial shortcomings between them are really very different.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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I wonder if his argument would apply to actors in heavy prosthetics. John Hurt doesn't look like the Elephant Man, but he got nominated for an Oscar. You could consider mo-cap to be digital prosthetics.
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Originally Posted by Richard Dickson
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I wonder if his argument would apply to actors in heavy prosthetics. John Hurt doesn't look like the Elephant Man, but he got nominated for an Oscar. You could consider mo-cap to be digital prosthetics.

John Hurt had to act through all the make up. A CG artist makes sure that whatever emotion needs to be expressed gets expressed. They are capable of manipulating everything.
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Originally Posted by mcnooj82
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Avatar is waaaay more self-contained than The Matrix Revolutions. Avatar is ridiculously simple and familiar, while The Matrix Revolutions was a disappointing and frustrating follow-up to The Matrix Reloaded, which went out of its way to seem NOT simple and familiar.

Both are disappointing, but I think the narrative/editorial shortcomings between them are really very different.

I'm trying to look at it from the average viewer's point of view, not someone who thought about it like we would. I suppose Revolutions is a bad example because it has two films in front of it. I'm trying to find something comparable on a surface level, but everything (Blade Runner, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Aliens) has something else going on beneath the surface that makes the difference. I'm afraid you're right for the most part, and people don't want to think. That makes me sad.
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Am I the only one that thought the Burger King tie-in marketing was bizarre? What the hell did this movie have in common that was so inspirational and awe-inducing as Avatar was (supposedly)? There were people having orgasms biting into hamburgers while some scene from Avatar flashed in the background.

Weird.
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Any big budget, popular PG-13 film is likely to have a number of similar marketing tie ins.
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Saw this again in IMAX. If this movie is a game-changer in any way, its making the IMAX format the preferred way to see certain films. I found the Real-D presentation very close, but the epic size and detail of this format trumps it. My opinion on the movie hasn't changed much, I still dug it. Visually-stunning, well-worn story, blah blah. But sitting in a theater that usually shows things like nature documentaries and CGI escapades, my problems with AVATAR came into sharper relief. It feels like a film that was designed to first trump those other IMAX features and give credibility to the presentation format, not primarily a film designed to replace the cinema mindshare that The Matrix or LOTR has earned (although I'm sure it was vying for that too). After all, the film is almost an exact marriage of the genres most typically associated with IMAX and I don't think that's a coincidence.
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Originally Posted by Bucho
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In a lot of ways the success of the film seems to run in parallel with the dumbness of other aspects of pop culture. Look at what's popular in TV and on the charts and even in people's mouths and you'll see that quality-wise a movie that's artistically eqivalent to the likes of Nickelback, CSI and MacDonalds can do very well. Take that fast food format and put it in a futuristic context (because everyone wants to be up with the latest tech) with a name they trust at the helm and it blows sky high.

There is a lot of pop culture targeted at a broad base to make lots of money and they suck. I respect a movie or a food chain that puts in the effort and actually makes a great product. It is okay to eat healthy and still enjoy McDonalds from time to time.

I think it takes as much talent to make a great pop-culture movie as an award-winning independant film aimed at a select audience.
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Hey guess who finally saw big blue kitties in Imax 3D? I'm guessing that by page 44 there is not much new I can add to this discussion however this movie was a Meh for me. If this wins best picture it will be a desperate attempt from the academy to try and seem cool and with it. The movie is not...bad per-say as to me it was two things going for it and one thing going against it.

In it's favor is that this is the biggest technical achievement in movie history. This movie is gorgeous and just stunning. Geroge Lucas and his gullet should be crying and give back every dime he made off the new trilogy for trying to make stupid special effect spectacles with such embarrassing effects compared to this movie.

Also in it's favor is James Cameron is just a great action director. After sitting through flat characters, cliche stories and begrudging the fact that I payed 30 bucks for the wife and I to see this I have to admit I was into the battles at the end.

The bad is everything else. The Dances with Wolves comments are certainly valid but as has been said in other places that is just one of many movies he cut and pasted from. It's just such a silly movie to be getting this much attention. Except for True Lies this would be the Cameron movie I'm least likely to revisit. Sure I could see my self watching some of the action scenes again but to sit through all the rest of the talking heads and montages to get to it, no sorry I have better things to do. Most everything else I have to say has been talked to death on here so I'll just say I had the same complaints as everyone else.

As far as the acting goes I thought everyone was sub par to bad other than Weaver who was decent (though here avatar design was laughable) and someone else who I'll get to in a second. Worthington has no charisma and lacks the ability to stick to an accent. Also Michelle Rodriguez needs to be taught how to deliver dialog.

Now beyond the visuals Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch is the best thing that this movie has going for it and I'll make no bones about the fact that I was rooting for him from the moment that he ran out of the building shooting while holding his breath. If they could have cut an hour of connecting their phallic objects to animals and added more Lang I could probably be on board with this movie. Yes I wish he would have defeated blue Neo/Lt. Dunbar and blue Trinity. As it is I stick with my meh.

Obviously I and those like me are not in the majority and Cameron did something right for some people there was applauding at the end and a 50 something year old man a few seats down from me was a blubbering crying mess by the end of the film.
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Two colleagues of mine finally got around to seeing this over the last week or so. Interestingly the more straightforward and conventionally mainstream of the two was disappointed, complaining about the predictable story and so on, while the one with slightly more niche sensibilities (last film he went to see and came back raving about was A Prophet) was blown away and waxed lyrical about not just the visuals but the emotional involvement he felt and how surprised he was by the more radical political messages etc.

The one thing all three of us seemed to agree on was that the 3D was a load of overhyped guff.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Werner Herzog, interviewed by Katja Nicodemus

Is the ecstatic truth actually a religious term?

Yes, there is something of that there, something of late medieval mysticism. But I want to get away from the religious, from the mystical, because it leads all too quickly to the cloudy waters of the New Age, which is the most horrific thing you can possibly imagine in the spiritual realm. And this is something you see in a film like Avatar by the way.

It's basically a New Age fairytale film.

What annoys me is the way the film romanticises and idolises nature. It's celebrating a new form of paganism and it gives me knots in my intestines just thinking about it.

link
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Yavor
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In it's favor is that this is the biggest technical achievement in movie history. This movie is gorgeous and just stunning. Geroge Lucas and his gullet should be crying and give back every dime he made off the new trilogy for trying to make stupid special effect spectacles with such embarrassing effects compared to this movie.

Ten freaking years ago. Why don't you talk about how much worse the effects in Jason & the Argonauts were while you're at it?
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Not to mention, you can almost draw a line from the leaps and bounds Lucas took with pushing digital filmmaking with the prequels straight to Cameron pushing 3-D and mocap with Avatar.

For all their failings as actual films, the tech is and always will be impressive. What's really weird is how Lucas gets raked over the coals for it, while Cameron gets accolades.
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Exactly. It's one thing to hate the trilogy on an artistic level. But robbing Lucas of the credit for his pioneering work with digital effects is just rewriting history out of spite. It's childish.
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Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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Not to mention, you can almost draw a line from the leaps and bounds Lucas took with pushing digital filmmaking with the prequels straight to Cameron pushing 3-D and mocap with Avatar.

For all their failings as actual films, the tech is and always will be impressive. What's really weird is how Lucas gets raked over the coals for it, while Cameron gets accolades.

Actually I thought most of my comments on the film while not raking cameron over the coals at least pointed out he made a shitty movie. A very pretty movie with some decent action scenes near the end but a shitty movie all the same. I just felt it necessary to give him credit for making impressive visuals.

I apologize if my comments that George Lucas also made shitty movies offended anyone.
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I saw it for the second time a couple of weeks ago and felt like almost everything from my first experience was magnified. The things I loved like the flying scenes and the jungle, I loved them even more. The disappointments from the first time, especially the half-assed character work, I was even more pissed off at.


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Originally Posted by Jason Yavor
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If this wins best picture it will be a desperate attempt from the academy to try and seem cool and with it.

What if it's all the Academy members voting for Avatar to validate the movie that brought babillions of dollars into their industry during financial hard times that gets Avatar to the top? I honestly don't care one way or the other what wins, although it is always nicer to see a first-time recipient than a multiple winner climb the stairs to glory, but I expect Avatar to win because of the enormous cash boost more than anything else.

I mean, $2bil over and above the budget! My uneducated guess is that the Academy will notice that enormous wad of dough and salute it not to because cool, but because it makes their lives better when their industry is bigger.
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Quote:

Originally Posted by Greg Clark
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Not to mention, you can almost draw a line from the leaps and bounds Lucas took with pushing digital filmmaking with the prequels straight to Cameron pushing 3-D and mocap with Avatar.

For all their failings as actual films, the tech is and always will be impressive. What's really weird is how Lucas gets raked over the coals for it, while Cameron gets accolades.

I don't think Lucas gets raked over coals for pushing the tech. He gets shit for pushing tech over story and failing to make coherent films with the tools he invents. Avatar, for all its flaws, is not anywhere close to a terrible film. For the most part (minus the travelogue 2nd act) Cameron keeps focused on the story. To be fair, the prequels were aiming for something more complex than Avatar, so perhaps they were always going to fail more as films.
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Originally Posted by Pop Zeus
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I don't think Lucas gets raked over coals for pushing the tech. He gets shit for pushing tech over story and failing to make coherent films with the tools he invents.

Lucas didn't push tech over story with the prequels. If anything there was too much bloody story. If the argument is that he spent more time on the FX than the narrative...well, hello AVATAR.
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Originally Posted by Jason Yavor
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I apologize if my comments that George Lucas also made shitty movies offended anyone.

Nice try, but that's not what you said. You made a snotty comment to the effect that Avatar's effects are significantly better than those of a film made ten years ago with inferior tools. To which the only proper response is "duh".
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Originally Posted by Andrew Merriweather
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Lucas didn't push tech over story with the prequels. If anything there was too much bloody story.

It's probably more accurate to say Lucas pushed tech over characterization rather than over plot. You're right; the prequels were packed with plot points and information. But character development and dialogue very much took a backseat to visuals and FX.
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Plus, its mostly nerdrage against Lucas. People see his films, people love his films, and his films have become part of our daily lives, manners of speech and even symbolism for two generations now.
A couple people whining about a raped childhood memory on the internet dont really count

What is interesting though, as I was thinking the other day, will any actor from Avatar get a career bump from it? There is no Han Solo, no Luke Skywalker (though that didnt work out at all, yeah), no personality that sticks with you. Its really even more techy and dreamy than the Star Wars movies.
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Originally Posted by Khaunshar
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What is interesting though, as I was thinking the other day, will any actor from Avatar get a career bump from it? There is no Han Solo, no Luke Skywalker (though that didnt work out at all, yeah)

Actually, it worked out pretty brilliantly. Hamill doesn't work anymore because Star Wars made him fabulously wealthy, and he doesn't feel like working. We should all have such a career crash.
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Is that from the franchise and merchandising or from the movies alone? Because I don't see Avatar spawning the massive franchise that Star Wars did.
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Hamill owns a percentage of the original trilogy. So did Ford and Fischer. None of them were going to end up sharing a box in an alley with Margot Kidder.

And you're right, I don't see Avatar having this kind of long-term moneymaking potential. Star Wars didn't achieve its longevity just because it had impressive effects. Kids wanted to be Luke and Han. I don't see a lot of kids on playgrounds across America pretending to plug into the earth with their hair.
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Interesting, I didn't know he owned a piece of it. I guess it makes sense though given its origin. Although, Hamill actually works quite a bit. He just doesn't do high profile stuff, and is mostly a voice actor now. Nothing wrong with that.

I find it interesting that films that would seem to have the potential to earn more revenue from ancillary revenue streams don't really work that. Star Trek had a mass market toyline that sorta went nowhere, even though there were plans to expand it to include more of the universe. It's the second biggest science fiction franchise in the US and can't support a mass market toyline? Kinda boggles the mind a bit, but I guess kids aren't into action figures as much anymore and there wasn't the effort to make it work for the long term.

Of course, Avatar made over $2.5B so I'd say most of the producers are happy.
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Originally Posted by Greg David
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Nice try, but that's not what you said. You made a snotty comment to the effect that Avatar's effects are significantly better than those of a film made ten years ago with inferior tools. To which the only proper response is "duh".

First off I'm talking the whole Trilogy so stop this 10 years stuff since it's only been 5 since sith. I understand your argument and will admit it is valid in connection to the one sentence I gave to star wars. My response is that Lucas claimed he waited the technology caught up to his vision.

Well so did Cameron. Both made shitty movies but pretty eye candy. Even 10 or 5 years ago there was some embarrassing effects in the Lucas movies. I did not see that with Avatar. Perhaps the 3d masked some of that. My point is I'm sure Avatar will look some what dated 10 years from now but my option is that it will not look as dated as star wars does 10 or even 5 years out. I could be wrong and if you point out a movie that makes this look that dated 10 years from now I'll gladly admit it.
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I saw this for the second time in IMAX on Wednesday, and I have to say that despite what seems like a fairly simple plot structure, I got the feeling that there is something much more complex going on. The fact that Cameron is able to place so many ideas in the movie while actually making it seem simple is what really caught my attention the second time around.

Basically, on the second viewing I was able to kind of sit back and think about stuff other than the plot and to me it seemed that the Navi are actually highly evolved computers. Almost cyborgs taken to the furthest extent to the point where their entire eco system is one giant computer. I am not an expert in how computers work, but I think this link below touches on a lot of the things I was thinking about on the second viewing, and gave me a far greater appreciation for the world that Cameron had created. In the sense that the Na'vi could potentially be a more highly evolved species than humans and, despite appearing primative to the ignorant that can only see what they don't fully understand and their bad english accents, the fact is, that they have chosen to live in harmony with nature because they are intelligent enough to know the benefits. What this means is that they probably went through a phase were they were where we humans are at right now, but through combining with computers and advancing further they actually reached a point where returning to nature and living in harmony was actually a step forward and not backwards. It also suggests that the connection to their world(braids on their heads able to connect with plants and animals) is something that was actually developed, manufactured, and implemented as opposed to being created simply through evolutionary methods.

http://ideas.4brad.com/avatar-isnt-d...s-another-plot

Clearly this guy is speculating and I don't necessarily agree with all his "theories", but I do think there is a lot more going on in the movie, and to call it Dances With Wolves in Space(despite having, admittedly, many similarities) is really kind of a shortcut to actually thinking about the movie as it's own entity, and I think the sequel(s) will ultimately change(for better or worse) how Avatar as a whole is viewed.
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Okay, whatever you think of the movie, this is pretty cool:

http://kottke.org/10/03/100-differen...ions-of-avatar

A presentation control freak like Kubrick would've loved to have this option.
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Play.com rather nicely sent out my copy of Avatar 2 days early so I got to watch it this afternoon.

Still love it despite the basic plot and it looked absolutely gorgeous on Blue Ray.
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I'm seriously debating with myself over buying this on Blu Ray. On the one hand, there's no denying that it's an amazing-looking movie, and would look fantastic on my set. On the other hand, I know I'm never going to learn to enjoy it on a story or character level.

At the very least, I'll wait for the Super Deluxe Collector's "I See You" Edition. The extras should be interesting.
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I finally watched Avatar (on Blu-ray) for the first time. I'll just crib a little something from Dennis Green and say it was what I thought it would be. I found the first hour and a half to be a bore and the last hour was entertaining. That's it. Just a very average movie that didn't do anything to change my initial disinterest.

The one thing this movie did do was really open my eyes to how much I value real sets and environments. The environments in the film are very convincing but no matter how epic they were or amazing the "shot" they never moved me.

I guess finding a great location and filming it with an artistic eye is much more rewarding to me as a viewer (viscerally) than watching something that was made on a computer. I can't rationalize it. It's just a feeling I get when I watch other "big" movies that Avatar never brought out of me with all of it's brilliant CGI work.
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Originally Posted by Timothy Q
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The one thing this movie did do was really open my eyes to how much I value real sets and environments. The environments in the film are very convincing but no matter how epic they were or amazing the "shot" they never moved me.

I guess finding a great location and filming it with an artistic eye is much more rewarding to me as a viewer (viscerally) than watching something that was made on a computer. I can't rationalize it. It's just a feeling I get when I watch other "big" movies that Avatar never brought out of me with all of it's brilliant CGI work.

I have the same problem with this particular film as well that can't really be rationalized. Mentioned it in the blu-ray thread too. This movie just doesn't feel cinematic. Everything is gorgeous and convincing, but as you said it is rarely moving.
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Yeah, another thing that really illustrated what this movie was missing for me was (and this will sound really silly) that I just watched Transformers 2 last night.

For as bad as that movie is (and boy oh boy is it ever!) it still made me stop and think to myself "Jesus Christ this movie is ENORMOUS." Never once did Avatar make me feel that way... even though it is enormous.

Very strange...
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Originally Posted by Timothy Q
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Yeah, another thing that really illustrated what this movie was missing for me was (and this will sound really silly) that I just watched Transformers 2 last night.

For as bad as that movie is (and boy oh boy is it ever!) it still made me stop and think to myself "Jesus Christ this movie is ENORMOUS." Never once did Avatar make me feel that way... even though it is enormous.

Very strange...

Actually, it makes perfect sense. When we watch a robot smash up buildings and freeway overpasses, we get a sense of scale because we've stood next to those things. We have an instinctive sense of their size.

Watching nine-foot-tall cat people fly dragons in front of floating mountains gives us nothing familiar to measure size against. The figures and the environment are both fantasy. There's no sense of scale because there's no frame of reference that we can relate to.
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Funny, because it's exactly the sense of scale and excitement that I get from the scenes amongst the misty floaty mountains or whatever that are the only things I actually take away from the film.

Had the Blu on in the background while we played games with some friends tonight, and the flying scenes were the only consistent moments that would make me pause to watch. I feel like they're extremely well conceived to communicate scale, height, and danger- at least as much as any of the classic beautiful matte paintings we get weepy-eyed about (even though they are equally obvious elements of artifice).

Then blue people talk and I keep playing TABOO.
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