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Old 4th January 2010, 10:52 AM   #106 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

The film's animation supervisor talks about the techniques:

YouTube - A LOOK AT THE ANIMATION TECHNIQUES OF AVATAR
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Old 4th January 2010, 01:53 PM   #107 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

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And the palnet is in the Alpha Centauri A system,
Did they actually say that in the film? Because I had read/heard that it was, but not from dialogue in the film but from stuff I saw beforehand. Maybe I missed the line when they said Alpha Centurai A.

It has borken box office records for best opening takings, partly due to it being more expensive to see in 3D, but amazingly it hasn't even opened in Italy yet, so that is quite impressive that it has earned over $1'000'000'000 and isn't even fully released everywhere.
By the time it sto9ps playing at cinemas it will probably be the most succesful film ever.
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Old 5th January 2010, 05:51 PM   #108 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

That's great news. It's always good to see SF Films take the box office by storm. Who says that SF is dead?
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Old 5th January 2010, 10:15 PM   #109 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

I just saw this in 3d and what fun! I have to say it reminded me of Star Wars too - something of the same feel. The story was hackneyed, but it was satisfying in that hackneyed kind of way (just like Star Wars), and the visuals were beautiful. What I loved about it (apart from all the wish fulfillment about cat people and dragons) was the fact that all the "alien" life was inspired by our own - much of it from under the water - but to me the feel was very much a celebration of our own biodiversity. "They killed their mother", the aliens said of the sky people - and the whole film was like a mishmash of what our mother has made, given back to us as a reminder of how wonderful and precious she is. /mysticism

I won't pretend I have no quibbles - of course there are many, including the music score - but in the end this film evoked a kind of wonder and involvement in me that precious few sci-fi movies (or movies for that matter) manage to do, so be damned to the quibbles. I liked it.
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Old 5th January 2010, 10:36 PM   #110 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

I have to admit that I saw a pirate copy, and even though the picture was a bit fussy and the sound was very distorted, I was feeling as if I was watching Star Wars back in those days when I at the height of a fire-extinguisher (tall one).

Although some of the plot-elements were predictable, they didn't jar me as much as Dr Who's Christmas/New Year Special. In some cases I was thinking parallels of Borough's Tarzan or Mars saga's. So, the plot critics can go in hell if they didn't find any of it enjoyable. The same applies to those who're saying acting was wooden.

Avatar is one of those movies that you can watch without your brain turned on, and enjoy it as much as any other good movies. And I hope Cameron gets funding to expand this to the trilogy... but here's the thing... if it's an Avatar trilogy, then are we going to see other worlds, or is all of it going to be based on the same moon?
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Old 6th January 2010, 06:34 PM   #111 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

Saw Avatar yesterday, and have to say thet I thought it was fabulous.
Yes, there were Roger Dean's sky-floating islands, Anne McCaffreyian one-on-one bonding between dragons/banshees and people, elements of ERB's Barsoom books and Andre Norton's Janus books, not to mention Alan Dean Foster's Mid-World, and all sorts of other referents, but so what?

It was a good, absorbing and entertaining story -- romance, underdog vs superior technology, pathos, some fabulous action sequences, some beautifully depicted alien flora and fauna, and corporate humanity as the villain. Good science fiction laid out before a mass audience. Yes, those of us who are immersed in SF and fantasy may have seen a lot of similar plots before, but we've never seen them presented like this.

So glad to have caught this in the 3D version too, which I thought did add considerably to the experience. They showed trailers for a couple of forthcoming 3D movies beforehand, and these looked like pop-up books, with characters standing proud of a flat background. Then Avatar started, with a view down a long corridor, all depicted in convincing 3D, and you could immediately see that they'd invested the time and money to get the effect right.

Anyone who hasn't yet seen this should; don't be put off by the film's detractors. It's easy to find fault in things, and, inevitably, Avator is not perfect, but it is very, very special.

Last edited by Ian Whates; 6th January 2010 at 06:58 PM.
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Old 7th January 2010, 01:56 AM   #112 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

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Originally Posted by Ian Whates View Post
So glad to have caught this in the 3D version too, which I thought did add considerably to the experience.
It seems people have had different takes on the quality of the 3D. I saw it at an IMAX theater, which from what I've read uses a digital projector to give true HD quality. I haven't been able to find out what the non-IMAX theaters are using but maybe they aren't projecting the 3D in HD quality. If anyone finds some good info on this topic please let me know.

While I was looking for info I found this interesting article about the technology used for the film. Some quotes from James Cameron are also included answering some of the questions that have been posted. Specifically the floating mountains, and where Pandora was located. Inside the Scene-Stealing 3-D Technology Behind James Cameron's Avatar | Popular Science

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Science Advisers are Annoying:
I have just enough of a science background to get me in trouble. When I’m writing, I’m thinking: What can cause a mountain to float? Well, if it was made out of an almost-pure room-temperature superconductor material, and it was in a powerful magnetic field, it would self-levitate. This has actually been demonstrated on a very small scale with very strong magnetic fields. Then my scientists said, “You’ll need magnetic fields that are so powerful that they would rip the hemoglobin out of your blood.” So I said, “Well, we’re not showing that, so we may just have to diverge a little bit from what’s possible in the physical universe to tell our story.”
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Old 9th January 2010, 02:01 AM   #113 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

This is my take on it:

I finally managed to see this one, although it was a close-run thing. I was determined to get the maximum benefit from the much-praised 3D CGI by seeing it on the huge IMAX screen, and duly booked to go to the nearest one, a train journey away. On the morning I was due to go, a heavy overnight snowfall had added to the chaos of almost three weeks of freezing weather and snow, causing major transport disruption with doom-laden warnings for those foolish enough to poke their noses outside their homes. I nearly didn’t bother to make the attempt, but in the end I slogged the half-mile through the snow to the station, to find that not only did my train turn up (and arrive at its destination) on time, but the one home did as well. Just occasionally, everything goes right!

So, to the film. This review will contain some spoilers but I don’t think this matters because the story has been written up so widely; also because the plot is straightforward and predictable with no unexpected twists, so knowing what happens is unlikely to spoil anyone’s enjoyment of this highly visual entertainment.

The plot has been much criticised, with reason. It is very simplistic, divided into good and bad guys with no grey areas; the characters are little more than caricatures. The good guys are the humanoid natives (purely CGI) of the planet Pandora, who live in harmony with their environment at a stone-age level of technology, aided by a handful of the humans who have arrived on the planet. The bad guys are all the rest of the heavily-armed humans, who are systematically strip-mining the planet for a valuable ore without regard for the natives or their environment, and are motivated by a combination of ruthless corporate greed and gung-ho militarism.

The few good humans are mostly scientists who have developed avatars to deal with the natives. These avatars are vat-grown bodies which look like the natives but have a mixture of genes from them and from specific humans. These humans can mind-link with their avatars and effectively inhabit their bodies as if they were their own for hours at a time. One of the avatars belongs to Jake, a crippled former US marine, who accidentally becomes accepted by one of the native tribes and literally goes native himself. He eventually leads them in their fight against the human invaders, an opportunity for some dramatic – and rather overlong – battle scenes.

I’m not quite sure exactly what the director, James Cameron, had in mind (it’s never wise to assume that you can tell – I’ve had reviewers be quite wrong about the source of inspiration for my books). The film seems to me to be a condensed allegory of the 19th century clash between native North American Indians and the European-origin settlers. This is rubbed home by the fact that the culture of the natives is reminiscent of the Indians while the bad humans are American; a source of unhappiness to some in the USA, although they should take comfort in the fact that the good humans are American as well (in contrast, I am told by film buffs that Hollywood usually employs English actors only to play the bad guys…). Just to make audience support for the natives even more certain, they are preternaturally appealing - especially the females, who have huge wide eyes, sexy voices and supple bodies which move with fluid grace.

So there is nothing special or original about the plot, a standard tale of brave natives helped by a hero who has changed sides to battle against the evil members of his own kind, plus a dollop of cross-cultural (in this case interspecies) romance. It has been rightly observed that the plot closely resembles Dancing With Wolves, with a dash of Dragonflight thrown in. The only time I was taken by surprise was right at the end, when Jake’s voice-over commented on the “aliens returning home” – a nice touch which inverted normal assumptions.

However, it wasn’t the plot which made me (and I suspect most other viewers) want to watch Avatar but the spectacle, and on that score the film does indeed deliver spectacularly. The exotic landscape, flora and fauna of Pandora are richly portrayed; the quality of the CGI would have seemed miraculous only a few years ago. The 3D greatly adds to the effect without being obtrusive, and so does the big IMAX screen which allows viewers to become immersed in the film. Whatever you may think of the plot, this is a wonderful visual treat and is well worth seeing for that reason alone. It really does raise standards to a new level, and any future SFF films with fictional CGI environments will be judged technically against Avatar. Do try to see it at an IMAX if at all possible, or at the very least in 3D at a cinema. This is one film that I don’t expect I will ever bother to watch on TV since it would lose the great majority of its impact. To sum up: the story is easy to poke holes in, but the film must be seen.

(An extract from my SFF blog)
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Old 10th January 2010, 05:02 PM   #114 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

I started reading The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin last night and before the first page was done I was reacting OH MY GOD THIS IS AVATAR.
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Old 11th January 2010, 02:44 AM   #115 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

Cameron did say something to the effect that Avatar was based on all the science fiction he'd ever read...
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Old 11th January 2010, 08:38 AM   #116 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

I remember that from ComicCon, the authors he was naming were the nuts & bolts '50s guys because he's a regular joe blue collar fella. Harlan Ellison was missing from the list too
But this story is exactly the same: the Earth is a dying concrete wasteland, a colony on a far away planet must harvest resources for it, doing so is endangering the native indigenous population, they live in an airy fairy harmony with their eco-system, the psychotic military commander, Vietnam motifs abound, and it just goes on like that.
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Old 11th January 2010, 09:51 AM   #117 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

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Originally Posted by Lamont Cranston View Post
I remember that from ComicCon, the authors he was naming were the nuts & bolts '50s guys because he's a regular joe blue collar fella. Harlan Ellison was missing from the list too
But this story is exactly the same: the Earth is a dying concrete wasteland, a colony on a far away planet must harvest resources for it, doing so is endangering the native indigenous population, they live in an airy fairy harmony with their eco-system, the psychotic military commander, Vietnam motifs abound, and it just goes on like that.
All directors borrow extensively from some other source and claim it their own I'm sure.
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Old 11th January 2010, 10:03 AM   #118 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

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This is one film that I don’t expect I will ever bother to watch on TV since it would lose the great majority of its impact.
My housemate has watched this in both 3D and 2D and stated that 2D looked better as it was brighter and sharper. He, along with me, felt the 3D effects added nothing to the visuals of the film and actually detracted from it at times. So I think it will look just as good in 2D.
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Old 11th January 2010, 10:34 AM   #119 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

Well I've avoided this thread for quite a while before I got round to watching it, which I did last night.

I must say that I disagree slightly with Moonbat (although I haven't seen the film in 2D yet) that the 3D added nothing to the film. It may have been a little distracting in certain shots but when it worked it really added an additional depth to the movie. Some of the scenes where the natives are running through the forest were excellent because the leaves seemed to bounce back out into the audience and really suck you into the scene.

One minus side though was the fight scenes, especially the ariel battles in which the camera whirled around so much that I felt a little nauseous (although you could argue this is the 3D doing it's job too!) and, as it is a long movie, the prolonged effect of 3D glasses and visuals did give me a mild headache.

The storyline I'm not really going to pass judgement on as it is fairly generic but well done. It is essentially "Dances with Wolves in Space" but it's done competently and the plot holes aren't game-breaking.

The CGI for the natives is probably among the best I have seen so far in a movie and at one point I wondered whether the human scenes were CGI as well as there seemed little contrast to them. The only times it did seem to dip a little was in the human/native interaction scenes (like the lab scene where Jake first inhabits his avatar) as they still haven't 100% sorted out the issue with humans having to interact with air until the aliens are 'airbrushed in' so there is a little bit of random flailing around. Hopefully this is something which can be tackled in any future movies.

On the subject of sequels I'm really not sure where they can go with this. A prequel (human's first arrival on the planet) could work but I don't see a story for a sequel without it being very similar.
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Old 11th January 2010, 05:59 PM   #120 (permalink)
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Re: Avatar (2009)

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Originally Posted by Lamont Cranston View Post
I started reading The Word for World is Forest by Ursula K. Le Guin last night and before the first page was done I was reacting OH MY GOD THIS IS AVATAR.
It's not. If I recall correctly, the plots of the two stories are vastly different, even if the setting seems similar.
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