AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

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Gwyneth M905
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AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Fri Dec 18, 2009 3:25 pm

Wow. Incredible special effects that seemed seamless to my eyes. Lots of action. Made me cry. Made me cheer. Made me squirm.

Once again, if it weren't for Harlan, Cameron wouldn't have a movie. From the minute they landed on Pandora, I kept thinking about Ursula K. LeGuin's novella The Word for World is Forest, published in Again, Dangerous Visions.

No spoilers. I got up early and brought along a bottle of cough syrup (for the sake of the other moviegoers) to catch the $6.00 showing. I feel that I got my six bucks worth. The concepts are not original, but damn, it's a visually beautiful movie.
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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby reddragon70 » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:02 am

Quite fancy this movie..... Heard the same in various reviews, bit of a plot vacuum but by god its visually astonishing.

Plus its got Sigourney Weaver in it, who I have a bit of thing for since about the age of 15 or so. :P

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby FrankChurch » Sat Dec 19, 2009 12:37 pm

We need to ban people who give largesse to the evil Cameron. Just too bad I am so damned attracted to this little Muslim hottie.

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Steve Evil » Sun Dec 20, 2009 11:10 am

reddragon70 wrote: bit of a plot vacuum but by god its visually astonishing.



Seems that something like this is said about EVERY new genre film that comes out. Just once I would love to see the opposite.

But of course, the audiences wouldn't stand for it. The greater public I find can shrug off a bad plot, but just doesn't tolerate bad visuals (no matter how good the plot is).

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Ben W.
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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Ben W. » Tue Jan 05, 2010 7:56 pm

MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS MAJOR SPOILERS - Mod



I can't go over what's already been covered enough times to make ears bleed, so I'll try to go down a less-traveled road. Some viewers believe the complexity and scope of the visual effects is more than sufficient to forgive the skull-numbingly simple script. For me it isn't.

When I left the theater, I felt...old. Is this really the future of 21st century mainstream filmmaking? The most shallow pretense of a story to serve as a backdrop to digital spectacle? I'm quickly losing faith in the current generation of A-list directors, primarily James Cameron, Peter Jackson, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas. The neurons inside their brains have become a series of 1s and 0s; they've been enchanted by the Binary Fairy. (This infatuation with the digital even extends to the fiction of the movie, wherein the Na'vi "plug" themselves into different animals.)

And yet, these are just petty grievances compared to a single line that was uttered near the very end of the movie. A character says something to the effect of, "The humans returned to their dying world."

It's a piece of dialogue that comes and goes in the blink of an eye, but the fact that AVATAR doesn't even concern itself with the sheer, horrifying magnitude of that remark chilled my spine. All this time, the majority of the humans were portrayed as greedy capitalist swine, and only NOW are we told that

EARTH

IS

DYING?

This one miniscule detail would have cast almost EVERYTHING in a whole new light: The humans' presence on Pandora, their desperation, their refusal to leave. Suddenly, the actions of the bad guys could have been given a better motivation that permitted - if not sympathy - a certain understanding where they were at least coming from.

But Cameron doesn't care about any of this. In his mind, everything's A-OK as long as the principal characters are safe and sound. It speaks of a vague, indefatigable selfishness, both within himself and his characters.

(And Unobtainium? UNOBTAINIUM? Subtlety has never been J.C.'s forte, has it?)

Of course, AVATAR has since crossed $1 billion at the global box office, so Cameron can laugh in my face all he wants.

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Gwyneth M905 » Tue Jan 05, 2010 9:56 pm

Ben W. wrote:I can't go over what's already been covered enough times to make ears bleed, so I'll try to go down a less-traveled road. Some viewers believe the complexity and scope of the visual effects is more than sufficient to forgive the skull-numbingly simple script. [snips]

(And Unobtainium? UNOBTAINIUM? Subtlety has never been J.C.'s forte, has it?)

Of course, AVATAR has since crossed $1 billion at the global box office, so Cameron can laugh in my face all he wants.


THANK YOU, Ben! Cameron's scripts suck big hairy donkey balls. His characters are one sided, have no character arc at all, and his movies have obvious tobacco company cigarette commercial placement. ("Where's my goddamned cigarette?")

Your point about the dying Earth--and it being a throwaway line--underscores the fact that Cameron just wants words that sound good, whether or not they make sense. "We sent the aliens back to their _____ world." Play "mad libs". Sucky? Green? Oceanic? Non-psychedelic? Boring? Dying? :!: :?: :!: Yup. "dying world" sounds like a suitable place to send those evil, military and corporate guys back to. Never mind that it completely changes the motivations for everyone in the movie. :roll:

This is why I've refrained from the porkssword fight about movies/scripts/directors/auteur theory on the Pavvy. My original question was if one person had total creative control, would the movie suck? Or, could beautiful cinematography and actors with tremendous screen presence save a turkey turd? Cameron's movies are proof that they can and do. He has a nose for what audiences like, and he's got a huge marketing and distribution machine behind him. That's why his movies are so successful. They're the megalodon in the Mezozoic market of movies.

Plus the fact that everyone wants to kiss the King of the World's ass and won't dare type a word of criticism against him lest it get back to him and ruin a potentially lucrative deal in the future. But hey, I actually do respect that kind of discretion. It's the better part of valor.

I'll never meet Cameron, he'll never meet me, so I can blow raspberries all I want.

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby KristinRuhle » Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:18 pm

Has anyone seen this:

http://www.chud.com/articles/articles/2 ... Page1.html

I heard about it at a party where a rather overenthusiastic young man was reading it out loud to us, then Googled it. PROJECT 880 might have been four or five hours, but maybe not *all* the subplots were necessary....just the explanations for things! (Like, why bother with such an expensive way of exploring a planet just so you could breathe the air? And what is "unobtanium" for?

If even a few minutes of the original had been left in the final film would have made WAY more sense!!! Some of the throwaway lines are obviously holdovers.

Kristin yeah i still have my posting account here!

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby FinderDoug » Wed Jan 13, 2010 8:08 pm

I read the scriptment when it was floating around on the web (where it first popped up in 1994) - and in the biggest sloppy storytelling niggles, Cameron is the architect of his own demise. Referring to it on my harddrive:

1) We're introduced to the dying earth at the very beginning of the scriptment - overcrowded, dirty, on its way out. Three pages of detail that introduce Sully and his world. It's a key piece of set-up that gets completely passed over. Cameron may have filmed these scenes - stills apparently exist of scenes of this dying earth - and then abandoned his very linear approach (found in the scriptment) in favor of the opening with the arrival at Pandora.

2) The dying earth is then tied into with the element they want to mine from Pandora. From the scriptment:

"Added to this unique phenomenon is another... Pandora is blessed with a naturally occurring substance a million times more precious than gold. It's joke name of "unobtanium" has stuck, over the years. Unobtanium is a rare-earth mineral, formed volcanically, which is a room-temperature superconductor."

And it goes on about the potential benefit; the point, though, is that Cameron could have just as easily translated that in a single line - "The eggheads back home have some eleven syllable name for it - we just call it unobtanium, because frankly, we can't really get at it. Yet." Bam - what sounds like a moronic screenwriting moment is turned into a character beat for the company guy.

3) The biodiversity of Pandora is seen from the scientists' side as the actual key to Earth survival, as Earth's own his been devastated. This too never comes through, and is a point Peggy and I discussed during the credit roll as something that would have benefited the final story. Rainforest allegory on a galactic scale. Why not?

4) The story of the scriptment IS more involved - there's a great hunt, for instance - but follows the same general gist; but a key beat of the ending is changed: Sully warns the departing humans not to come back, because Pandora will respond with a lethal pathogen, a hemorrhagic fever that will kill the humans deader than bone. That omission allows for the inevitable sequel(s).

Also - quibble - Sully's unfortunate Bladerunner-esque voiceovers and log entries? Not present in the scriptment and, in the final analysis, not especially necessary in the finished film. Don't tell me - you've already shown me.

The bottom line for me is that Cameron's scriptment - while not introducing any new concepts to the SF landscape (and really, that's certainly not a Cameron-specific sin in Hollywood) - is better told than the finished film. And that issue lies squarely with Cameron. A big problem I think is that he sat with the concept for too long, which can seriously affect the judgment on what to take out, leave in, focus on and gloss over. You get so familiar with the material that some things become "givens" in your head that the story actually needs.

It's visually arresting, even on the flat screen. For people NOT steeped deeply in Science Fiction, frankly, I think it's a good gateway drug to the genre - and fresh blood interested in the genre is a good thing. His derivatives could very well spur some original thoughts in the next generation of writers. For people versed in Burroughs and Pern and Poul Anderson and the dozens of other influences on the story, it's nothing new. For people disinclined to like Cameron because of past actions with story appropriation, it's all going to seem suspicious no matter what. And we'll all forget about it in time to look askance at Iron Man 2.

It's a circle of life kind of thing.

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Steve Evil » Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:25 am

I know they say that exposition is a bad thing in art, but who are "they" anyway? In science fiction it is the responsibility of the writer to provide the reader with enough information that they know how his story-world works. That it makes sense. Alas, putting any amount of detail or "thought" into such things seems out of style nowadays, the domain of the comic-book-guy "geek"; mainstreme writers hoping for mainstreme acceptance bypass all of that and just go for the action or the romance.

But maybe I'm just bitter.

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Moderator » Thu Jan 14, 2010 7:51 am

Still haven't seen the film, but the motivation behind humanity's rape of a world, and the explanation of the otherwise ridiculously-entitled substance would seem to be major plot points, not simple exposition. For one thing it keeps us, the viewing audience, from the being the villains-by-proxy.

But again, haven't seen it.
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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Steve Evil » Fri Jan 15, 2010 5:34 am

Barber wrote: the motivation behind humanity's rape of a world, and the explanation of the otherwise ridiculously-entitled substance would seem to be major plot points, not simple exposition.



True enough. But I wonder how many writers know the difference.

Haven't seen it either, but the criticisms people have made sound exactly like the sort of criticisms I would have made. . .

Visuals aside (which never impress me), is it worth seeing?

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Ezra Lb. » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:03 pm

Visuals aside (which never impress me), is it worth seeing?

Expressed in those terms then, no.

But it is a mighty technological acheivement. It looks like $300 million bucks. Unfortunately they spent only a couple of bucks on the script. But Cameron is an auteur so he has to write his own scripts even though he is a bad writer. M Night Shyalaman suffers from the same disease.

Hello! According to the Post, AVATAR is the Writers Guild of America award nominee for best original screenplay!

I can't think of anything to say to that.

Everybody go see THE IMAGINARIUM OF DR PARNASSUS. Classic Gilliam.
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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Ben W. » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:32 pm

Ezra Lb. wrote:Hello! According to the Post, AVATAR is the Writers Guild of America award nominee for best original screenplay!


...and this is exactly why I despise my fellow Man.

(BTW, thanks for adding the Spoiler alert to my previous post, Mr. Mod. In my exuberance, I keep forgetting the important little things.)

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby David Loftus » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:37 pm

I figured if I was going to see the damn thing, I might as well see it in the format for which it was ultimately intended: I dragged my wife to the only iMax 3-D theater that is screening "Avatar" in Portland. And that was part of the context that made me extra uncomfortable about the movie: in a multiplex at the heart of a suburban "Village" mall where traffic and parking were nightmares in themselves; long lines of people waiting for another showing (I showed up a half hour before show time and the seats in my theater were already 80 percent filled); a concessions stand that was something like a hundred feet or more across . . . symptoms of everything I hate about this country.

If I had just seen the movie alone, without all that physical context, I might have been even more charitable toward it. I enjoyed it while it lasted, for the most part. It didn't seem quite as astounding visually as I had been led to believe (all the previews were in 3-D too, and I thought the little bit of footage of the Hubble Space Telescope and space-walking astronauts tending to it was even more amazing than most of "Avatar"), but I didn't find it as badly written and plotted as I was expecting to, either.

It was walking out and thinking about the experience as a whole that soured me.

What annoys me was that the movie uplifted hearts, and evoked wonder, and deeply moved its audience . . . but it won't change their behavior one little bit. We are all descendants of the villains of this movie; we have all benefited from, and probably continue to benefit from, the kind of behavior exhibited by the villains of this movie; and we are all made to cheer for the victims of just the kind of behavior that gave us our lavish, comfortable, toy-ridden lifestyle. And I have the oddest sensation that the irony of this fact escaped 99 percent of the people who walked out of this picture.

My fear is that the worse things get on our planet, the more we'll turn to experiences like this, rather than the hard work of getting ourselves out of the hole we dug for ourselves. A couple of my friends have argued the movie provides a deeply spiritual experience, that it uses high tech in the service of high-touch values. I'm not so sure. I've seen much stronger, more imaginative attempts to change the world through art fail miserably in the sense of changing society as a whole. I don't think we have that much time, anyway; we're definitely doomed if we're going to depend on eye candy (even deeply heart-wrenching eye candy) like "Avatar" to save us.
War is, at first, the hope that one will be better off; next, the expectation that the other fellow will be worse off; then, the satisfaction that he isn't any better off; and, finally, the surprise at everyone's being worse off. - Karl Kraus

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Re: AVATAR - James Cameron's new movie

Postby Steve Evil » Sat Jan 16, 2010 6:29 am

Reminds me of when I saw Star Trek Dave. The multiplex was all flashing neon and ghastly pastel colours and video games and a massive footcourt selling all manner of junk-food, and crap hanging from the ceiling. . .masses and masses of people crammed into the cinemas like cattle, and a good quater of the seats so close to the screen it's actually impossible to watch the film. More like a casino than a cinema, or a gaudy theme park with hour long line-ups for two minute rides. It was an alienating experience that soured me on the film before it even started.

More importantly. . . I find people are very reluctant to apply lessons from art - or history come to think of it - to themselves. Suggest to someone that we are just like the bad guys in such a film, that our society doesn't just condone but requires this kind of exploitation - well, people get indignant or defiant or dismissive. They will make all kinds of excuses. And chances are they will ridicule you for making the comparison.

Sometimes when I look back on history and all the unpleasantries inflicted, I used to wonder "How could people treat people that way? What were they thinking?" Now I think they just thought the way people always thought, and continue to think today. Attain the highest possible lifestyle, whatever the cost and whatever the price.


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