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Author Topic: Avatar
rich
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I was underwhelmed. I'm also a little dubious about some of the science, but won't say much more because it may contain spoilers.

Anyone else see this?


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pdh
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I thought the presentation was great. Good visuals and graphics. Story line is old, old, old. Very cliche`.

I definitely want one of those flying dragon thingies.

pdh


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Robert Nowall
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Pass on going to see it. Might see it on TV, or buy the DVD...or maybe not. I've heard a lot of bad things about its, well, philosophy, and, as I said, it doesn't resonate with me like a movie about the sinking of the Titanic did.
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D2
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As long as you don't go in thinking it will be the best movie you've ever seen, it's good. I liked it. I knew going in that the plot was going to be cliche, but the visuals were gorgeous and the action was awesome.

Definitely a movie that gains a lot from seeing it in the cinema -- if you're even remotely interested, do yourself a favor and go. Unless you've got an amazing home theater setup, it won't be the same on DVD (esp. if you see it 3D!).


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BenM
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Before seeing it I had heard at least one commentator call it Dances with Smurfs, which in retrospect now seems quite apt. And yet I really enjoyed it despite the story being a little predictable. It certainly seems to have pushed the envelope for fully rendered films (the last so noteworthy I recall being Final Fantasy). Worth seeing just for that milestone, in my opinion.

I'm ambivalent about the 2D/3D. I saw it in 3D, but always seem to notice flicker and/or other artifacts in 3D films. And I don't think the film 'needs' 3D to make it work. So I'll wait until I have it on bluray before seeing it again in 2D - buying a copy will cost the same as going and seeing it again.


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Ben Trovato
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Extremely underwhelmed. Pretty pictures and big flying dragons can't make up for the lack of an original story.
Although, whatsherface who played Ripley was pretty good.

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Dark Warrior
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quote:
Although, whatsherface who played Ripley was pretty good.

Do you mean Ripley from Alien, played by Sigourney Weaver...Grace in Avatar?

I thought she did good, but Zoe Saldana (Uhuru from the new Star Trek) was amazing in her role. If a pure CGI voice over could get nominated for best actress then she should be nominated...doubt it will happen though.


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Robert Nowall
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News media reports this morning put its "take" at over one billion dollars---so I guess it doesn't matter if I spend my seven-fifty on it or not.
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ScardeyDog
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I loved it.

I had heard before going in that the story was only so-so, but I was actually impressed by how tight the plot was. Everything that happened came back and was important in some way, which is often not the case in movies. That said, the plot has definately been done before, and the science requires you to suspend disbelief.

I would recommend this movie to everyone. Go see it in 3D. Now.
Seriously, it's an amazing visual spectacle.


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Crystal Stevens
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I just got back from seeing it. Cliche or not, I was absolutely amazed by the whole spectacle. I could go and watch it again, again, and again. I can't say enough to expression how impressed I am. Simply incredible, and it wasn't in 3D where I saw it. I guess only certain theatres showed it in 3D.

WOW!!!!! And that says it all.

Just want to add that I liked the fliers the natives rode. I bet that would be a blast to ride one of them.

Ending comments: Maybe I'm old fashioned but I love it when a primitive society comes out on top, and thoroughly loved the native society and their connection with nature and the planet. Very well done. Best movie I have ever seen.

[This message has been edited by Crystal Stevens (edited January 17, 2010).]


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rich
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quote:
If a pure CGI voice over could get nominated for best actress then she should be nominated...doubt it will happen though.

That was her, just covered over with CGI. So she acted and they just colored her in.

On the other hand, I'd like to see James Gandolfini get a nomination for his VO work in Where the Wild Things Are.



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Dark Warrior
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quote:
Just want to add that I liked the fliers the natives rode. I bet that would be a blast to ride one of them.

They actually took a lot from World of Warcraft. The floating mountains (Nagrand), Na'vi (Night Elves), The home tree (Tedrassil), the flying dragon mounts (Drakes), The Panther Mount (Black War Tiger Mount), and probably some more. I know WOW borrowed them from places themselves, I am saying that graphically as much as anything, they have a lot of similarities. But hey, with 10 Million subscribers to WOW why not tap into that market.


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BenM
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quote:
I know WOW borrowed them from places themselves

Not to meander offtopic, but I think that's the real key - WoW has in so many ways just assimilated common and 'attractive' fantasy (and steampunk/scifi) elements in order to widen its appeal and get those subscriber numbers in the first place. If the Blizzard computer gaming juggernaut kept that product rolling for another twenty years, you'd not be able to write a paragraph of fantasy or science fiction without someone saying WoW did it first, despite there being precedents in much older fiction and the fact that a good percentage of the WoW "lore" hardly makes sense any more, or various in-game content doesn't match it (Murloc Space Marine, anyone?).

I see Avatar as borrowing on common SF/F elements just as much as any other SF/F story; I'd liken it to another discussion in this forum on Stephen Donaldson vs Tolkien - does sharing a ring as a talisman mean one's a derivative of the other, or are we free as authors to use symbols recognisable to our audience to tell our story?


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Crystal Stevens
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Oh my. I hope I wasn't misunderstood. When I said "WOW!!!!!" I wasn't referring to World of Warcraft. Until now, I've never heard of it, which shows I wasn't aware of similarities. I might not have liked Avatar as well if I'd been familiar with World of Warcraft, but since I didn't, my opinion of Avatar remains unchanged. Can't wait until it come out on DVD.
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Dark Warrior
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Oh no crystal, I was just sharing an opinion that had nothing to do with your WOW statements. I took my nephews and the entire reason they wanted to see it was because it was so much like WOW, in fact they thought it was the actual(rumored) World of Wacraft movie that has been in 'pre-production' for about ten years. More specifically on the graphics, as opposed to ideas or objects, especially the floating mountains and waterfalls of Nagrand.

[This message has been edited by Dark Warrior (edited January 17, 2010).]


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D2
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To be fair, Cameron started writing that script just after Titanic. Filming was actually supposed to start in 1994, with a planned release in '99, but there were troubles.

Namely Cameron had huge visions and computers in that day didn't.


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Crystal Stevens
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Bummer when technology doesn't keep up with one's imagination .


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billawaboy
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I loved it.

I know it's old old sci-fi - guess what, Cameron said that was his intention all along to make a movie in the style of the Edgar R Burroughs stories he read as a kid - so I say he did the story just right. I think reading it and seeing it have to be separated as forms of cliches - if you haven't seen it in a movie before - it aint a cliche. If Avatar's cliche, then LOTR is even more cliche.

Steal from Wow? He wrote the script treatment in 1994 - so I'm not sure if WoW even existed back then - did it have flying rocks? possibly - possibly not. Even if he didn't I'm sure it would still be considered a "rip off" of someone else who didnt have flyig rock...guess the guy can't win either way - might as well do something with it that no one has really seen before...

I think he made a great movie, a great classic updated scifi story, and he put sciFi movies back on the movie map with a vengence - and it's up for a slew of top awards! You know how comfortable studio are gonna be with creating new scifi movies because of him? - I'm hoping they leave the supersaturated superhero franchises behind and really dig into the scifi scripts.

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited February 21, 2010).]


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Crystal Stevens
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Sorry, but I grew up on super hero comics and still think they're fantastic. Haven't you ever dream of being able to do something no one else can? I'd love to have Spidey's powers. I don't know if I could do what he does with them, but the thrill of climbing walls like that or swinging from building to building on nothing more than a silken thread. What an incredible rush that must be.

Or to fly like Superman to any place in the world, or run at speeds only the Flash can achieve. I dream of things like that quite frequently at night, and to see them come alive on the big screen so realistically is a dream come true. I can't wait for the next Spider-man movie. I love the Black Cat.

But all that aside; I agree with you about inventing things that nobody ever thought of before, and then years later, someone else comes up with it before you have anything published. And by the time you submit something like this, what you thought of originally has been used to death.

My latest WIP is like that. I first wrote it over 30 years ago and forgot about it until I found it cleaning out my desk. I have a character catching a spear thrown at his head. I'd never seen that used anywhere, and then here comes Hercules and Xena, and they did it over and over again. I still think it's a great trick and am keeping it in my story. But at the time I thought it up, I don't believe the trick had ever been used in any form of literature or on TV or in the movies. Bummer.


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billawaboy
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But they've done spider man and superman and everything else! Now it's all part 2 and 3 - what more is there? They're gonna ruin it by making superheroes into what people thought of the batman movie series circa 1994. The most interesting parts are the origin stories and their best nemesis. That's it - after that it becomes a soap opera. Do I care for Iron man II or Hulk II (or the avenger group thing that happening)? Oh geez, they have to save the woman/child/dog/world again from BadGuy#4, and punch each other for 20 minutes...
When they start making spoof movies based on superheroes it's time to take a break. Worse is when the superhero movies start looking like the spoof movies...

EDIT: about the arrow thing...sounds cool. Use it anyway. But as they always say - use sparingly and with great effect. Has it been used before? Probably. I think I read some in the Children short story magazine Pantachantra (from India, when I was a kid) - where ancient Indian kings or warriors would be blessed with superhuman skill. Also I'm sure there has been some iteration of Robin Hood or William Tell that has such a feat occuring. If not, then probably somewhere in Native American or Western stories. I'm almost positive I've seen it many Chinese or Japanese martial arts movies - arrow-snatching seems almost a requirement there. The point is the idea exists and has been used many many times, but it's still cool if it happen under the right (i.e. unexpected) circumstances. Heck, if Jack Bauer suddenly saved himself by catching an brain-piercing arrow mid-flight that would be cool! - and considering how outlandish the show has gotten, that might actually happen.

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited February 21, 2010).]


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JSchuler
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I like this review of Avatar, which isn't entirely clean, but funny, and gives a good dissection of how to push the audience's buttons: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJarz7BYnHA
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billawaboy
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Eh...i dunno. That review doesn't work - even as a joke. You can do that for any movie - but here he also gets details wrong which spoil the joke.

Those guys aren't soldiers - they are mercenaries under the guise of soldiers hired specifically by a psychopathic boss because they have questionable morals. Cameron's bringing attention to the issues of the 100-fold increase in privatized ex-military corporations in the last 20 years, and they now doing shady business, but using military hierarchy and protocol. The issue is that the lines between a government and private military are being blurred and bad things can happen. Learn more from wiki: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_military_company

And when he says the "evil" folk are unrealistic - well, I'm sure anyone can find examples like that in the last 30 - 400 years of atrocities committed in the name of business. The point is we already have a very bloody historical proof of what people will do for money. So it's realistic.

Then the guys goes about the big sympathetic eyes!? What about the fat vs thin, or deformed? why focus on one aspect? Yeah yeah I get it's supposed to be humorous - but at least find some real flaws. Nearly all movies are biased to contain elements of beauty, tragedy, and love - it's a freakin movie!

That's why the review seems kinda...well, just attacking a movie because it's popular and deals with issues people think aren't real but are! Kinda lame, unoriginal, and ignorant really...

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited February 21, 2010).]


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JSchuler
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You have a choice with Avatar:
-either it is dealing with a serious issue or
-it is pure entertainment, devoid of serious commentary.

If it is the former, then every criticism in the review is appropriate, as Avatar is ultimately nothing more than propagandist trash. It deals with a serious issue in a non-serious way, seeking to manipulate the audience instead of presenting an argument. The world is made dumber for its existence.

If it is entertainment, then most criticism in the review is misplaced, as every pure entertainment roller-coaster ride does it. The "message" of the movie is incidental and not something to pay attention to, as it serves no more purpose than one of the digital flying jellyfish: it's just decoration.


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billawaboy
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First what's with the two choices? why either or? Why not both? I choose both!

Ok...do you even know why you dislike avatar? - I doubt you have a valid reason to dislike it. I'm thinking you dislike it just because you get off on hating, or your buddies dislike it and you don't want to stand alone, or whatever. I doubt it's a valid reason. Do you hate it's popularity? Are you just being rebelious?

So far I just hear badmouthing the basic elements of how any movie is constructed. that's kinda weak.

Ok I'll help you - how would you make the movie better to make more meaningful? How would you change it to reflect something more complex yet true? What would you add to improve on it in any way? What are the ideas out there to make the story better? If you cant come up with something, then why do you dislike it? Give me an real critique.

I don't mind people hating Avatar - but hate for the right reasons.


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JSchuler
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You can have a movie that's both serious and entertaining, certainly. But, if it is serious, it is not allowed to claim "entertainment value" in defense of its cartoonish simplicity. Your defense of it was trying to have it both ways "Hey! It's dealing with serious issues, but you don't get to criticize it for its light handling of these serious issues because it's fun!" No, not going to fly.

Have you considered that I might hold most movies in contempt? That the fact these are complaints that can be leveled at any movie make them complaints all the more worth making? That I would like to see cinematic science fiction be more than childish rants wrapped in shiny CGI to distract you from how shoddy the characters and story construction actually are? That maybe I hate Avatar because it represents everything that is wrong with science fiction movies?

Plus... I'm pissed that I have to search for "The Last Airbender" when I'm searching for news and trailers on the Avatar movie :P


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rich
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quote:
I don't mind people hating Avatar - but hate for the right reasons.

You may want to rethink that statement.

I'm obviously in the "didn't like it" camp, but I'm also not going to list reasons why I didn't like it other than to say that it WAS simplistic, the science WAS wonky, and, quite frankly, anytime an exo-skeleton has a KNIFE indicates that the writer/director wasn't interested in believability, but just thought it looked cool.

I, personally, need more than eye-candy.

If the movie worked for you, great. You and millions of other people have indicated with their wallets that it's the best movie they've ever seen. It wasn't the best movie I've ever seen, but I'm not going to try to convince you, billawaboy, because I don't think you can be convinced that my reasons for disliking the movie are valid.

The movie didn't involve me, or push any of my emotional buttons (except for wanting revisit Yes album covers). That's a good enough reason.


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billawaboy
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JS - So wait...it can't be both ways? you're saying parts of the movie can't be serious if the other parts are entertaining - it's either all serious with no fun parts, or all fun with no serious parts? I think you can have both...right?

rich - I definitely mean it. I think there are right and wrong reasons to like/dislike a movie. For example, I know people who hate any movie that keanu reeves stars in - that's not a valid reason to dislike a movie. You can extend that to directors (shyamalan), or genre (westerns), etc. I'm not willing to say I didn't enjoy a movie simply based on my subjective feelings. If I did it wouldn't matter any more - I could hate a movie where guys wear mustaches and it would be a valid reason.

That's seems to be the way criticism is going. That's why I feel real objective reasons must be given - and it also allows people to change their mind if properly shown the right reasons to dislike a movie - the glaring logical flaws in a story, or character, or bad editing, or terrible actor's portrayal, or bad use of color, or shots, or angles, or music. Or science.

So i ask: What exactly is "wonky"? It's science-fantasy obviously, certainly not hard-scifi, certainly not with a tongue-in-cheek element named Unobtainium and floating rocks as clear clues that this aint hard-sf. Were you expecting hard-sf? Also I'm not sure i understand your beef with exoskeletons - aren't there knife-like exoskeletal protuberances - I know I've shredded my fingers ripping flesh from a lobster claw...might have to explain that one to me...

Is it simplistic? You might have me on that one. I think if one ignore details, everything become simplistic. To a child it was probably a series of cool images and sounds. That's about as simple as one can get. Obviously, then, it's our knowledge and experience we bring with us that infuses a story with depth.

For example my knowledge of the many biologic examples of how neurons and neural networks work give an extra complexity to the science in the story. My understanding of the issues of privatized military along with my personal experiences working in national laboratories allow me to see naunces in the movie that reflect what i know in real life. There are movie we all appreciate more as an adult than when we saw them as a kid, or after a certain experience rather than before. So, yeah, perhaps to some it does appears simplistic.

I'm just trying to show that subjective reasons are too often given as valid criticism - but i understand now that subjective experiences help define the movie experience. But we need to rise above that and see if the movie was good despite our own experiences - it's the only way to improve ourselves. The use of subjective criticism is happening a lot now that older critics are dying off and a new breed of critics just seem to criticize to gather attention. If you're gonna make a joke criticism do it - but don't it push as something valid. And if you're gonna say you dislike something when I like it - I'm gonna wanna know why. And I'm hopin' it's a real good reason too. And so far - no one's come up with something decent of why avatar is a bad movie. And I'm actually willing to change my mind for the right reasons!

EDIT - please include the dubious science stuff - i admit I don't much about helicopters, or spaceships or the science of space travel - the biologic spirit-fluff stuff - I thought that was just the Na'vi interepretation of something they didn't understand - namely a vast neural network under the forest in symbiosis with nearly all the animals...

[This message has been edited by billawaboy (edited February 22, 2010).]


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JSchuler
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bill: you have to read my post, as I do say you can have a serious and entertaining movie. The thing is, in order to be serious, it must meet requirement X, and in order to be entertaining, it must meet requirement Y. A movie that tries to be both serious and entertaining is not permitted to throw X out the window just because they found getting Y was too difficult with X hanging around. If X is not achieved, then all claims to seriousness fail, and it is fair to excoriate the work for this failure, not matter how good Y turns out.

And if you want to know about the science in Avatar, well, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to understand that rocks dropped from space > knife wielding robots. You do not send ground troops in if your goal is to completely wipe out a civilian population except as a mop-up operation after the strategic bombing campaign has flattened everything it can. Ground troops are only sent in first when the resulting civilian casualties from an air strike would be unacceptably high (or if you don't have an airforce, which in the case of the marines in Avatar, would be a laughable assertion). If the mercenaries are evil, then they need to use the tactics of the evil, not the tactics of the good just so they can get their asses handed to them. If they aren't nuking the whole thing from orbit (as it's the only way to be sure), they need a damn good reason not to. Even the completely unserious movie adaptation of Starship Troopers gave a reason for why they weren't just nuking the hell out of Klendathu. As a good reason isn't given in Avatar, then we must conclude the villains are stupid, and thus the product of lazy, perhaps contemptuous, writing.

Strip Avatar of the pretty CGI, and it is pure twaddle. Avatar is nothing more than a screen saver with high production values. There are good stories out there that won't have their time on the screen because of this dreck. That should be reason enough for anyone to dislike it.


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rich
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There are not "right and wrong reasons" for someone to say whether they liked a movie or not. It is just a movie. If it blows your hair back, more power to you. My hair wasn't blown back. No one's paying me to write a review, and opinions on art are subjective. That's why people are always arguing about art.

However, it doesn't really matter what I tell you. You've already decided my criticisms aren't valid, and I'm sure you'll go through all kinds of mental gymnastics to show that yes, it's okay for a robot to have a hunting knife even though it really doesn't need it...except Cameron thought it would be cool to have a giant robot wielding a giant knife. The same "cool" reason was used to give the blue gals breasts, by the way.

Another by the way: If there really was a vast neural network--the whole planet was wired--then why did they have to send out riders to let the other tribes know what was going on at the Treehouse? It's a network. You don't need the pony express.

Anyway...you liked it, I didn't. Where the Wild Things Are, or The Informant! are much better movies. Why? Because they involved me. You may have a different opinion on those two movies, and that's quite okay with me.



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