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#328189 - 19/12/2009 05:57 Avatar
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Go see it. And if possible, see it in IMAX 3D with good seats. Yes, it contained some gimmicky 3D shots, but not that many, and overall the immersion worked well.

It's easily the best movie I've seen all year, beating out Star Trek, District 9, and Fantastic Mr Fox.
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Tom

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#328209 - 21/12/2009 18:01 Re: Avatar [Re: drakino]
JBjorgen
carpal tunnel

Registered: 19/01/2002
Posts: 3538
Loc: Columbus, OH
On my list if I can convince the wife to go smile
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~ John

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#328210 - 21/12/2009 20:18 Re: Avatar [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
I can't tell if you're reviewing the effects or the story/movie.

Effects are nice and all, but I have no interest in sitting through a 3-hour screensaver, which is the impression that I get from the ads. Well, I suppose there are all those hackneyed sci-fi clichés, too.

I've been lied to by ads before, though, so my impression may well be wrong.
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Bitt Faulk

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#328211 - 21/12/2009 22:18 Re: Avatar [Re: wfaulk]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
Bitt, I'm in the same boat as you, but I've read a couple of reviews that say it's a great movie outside of the effects. Even if it is "Dances with Wolves" in space.
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#328212 - 21/12/2009 22:31 Re: Avatar [Re: hybrid8]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Ebert, who I generally agree with, gave it four stars. It's important to note that he gave Armageddon, a movie that is most definitely nothing but special effects, but which frequently gets good reviews anyway, one star.
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Bitt Faulk

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#328215 - 22/12/2009 02:31 Re: Avatar [Re: wfaulk]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12148
Loc: Sterling, VA
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Ebert, who I generally agree with, gave it four stars. It's important to note that he gave Armageddon, a movie that is most definitely nothing but special effects, but which frequently gets good reviews anyway, one star.

I tend to agree with Ebert as well, and I've had the same concerns.

I've not been excited by the movie at all leading up to the release. I think a lot has to do with the way it's been marketed to death. You'd think that such an expensive movie wouldn't leave much in the budget for marketing [kidding], but this thing has had way too many tie-ins. The worst I've seen was an episode of Bones a couple weeks ago. Almost the entire episode revolved around Avatar, including a segment where they played practically the entire trailer with the characters watching it during the damn show. That really pissed me off and was enough to get me to skip it entirely.

But now that reviews are coming in, it really does sound like the movie its self is quite good (apparently Zoe Saldana's performance is particularly good, even with all the CG laid on top of her), and the effects might be even better than we were told they'd be.

I'm approaching it this way: there's an Imax 3D theater near me in D.C., and I'll check it out as an amusement park ride. If I so happen to see a good movie while I'm at it, great. Either way I've been told the visual experience is spectacular.

*side note*
I've not experienced this myself, but can anyone speak to the poorer experience one gets at an AMC IMAX? Aziz Ansari's somewhat famous rant really put me off of trying it out (not that there's been much I've wanted to see since then). All I know is that the IMAX website now shows many more IMAX 3D screens in my area than there were before, and the new theaters are ones I've been to, so I know they didn't build new screens in them. I'm with Aziz, I don't want to spend IMAX money if I'm not getting the full IMAX experience. I might spend a buck or two, but not full price...
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#328216 - 22/12/2009 04:01 Re: Avatar [Re: wfaulk]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Stop paying attention to the marketing department, and pay attention to the actual movie creators by seeing the movie. It will be well worth it. Much like my industry, marketing is done by a separate group of people paid to hype things. I'm not going to let their work ruin the actual movie.

And Matt, odds are the marketing team was given a huge bucket of money due to the cost of the actual film. The more a movie costs, the more marketing is going to try and pull in as many people as possible with tie-ins everywhere to recoup costs. Yes, marketing in many cases may just be trying to polish a turd, but not so with Avatar.

I just got back from seeing it a second time, this time at a normal screen but with Real 3D. Still just as impressed with the movie, and debating where it fits on my all time movie list now.

The story may have it's weak points, but overall I found it quite good. And just the style of the film (outside the effects) worked really well. One of the things I realized recently is that it's a nice solid single story. It's not bouncing around between multiple subplots and such. Thats probably part of the reason I am still surprised that it's nearly 3 hours long. It feels shorter, even after seeing it again.

Put another way, most of the crowd clapped when it ended on opening day. And today, most of the audience clapped when it ended. So both the "must see" and the "well, it looks good enough to see" crowds are really enjoying it.

I'm now debating when I want to see it a third time. I'll probably wait till I'm back in Austin to see it at a civilized theater though. I had to stand up and ask the person behind me to stop kicking my chair about 5 minutes in.
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#328217 - 22/12/2009 06:08 Re: Avatar [Re: drakino]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Originally Posted By: drakino
Put another way, most of the crowd clapped when it ended on opening day. And today, most of the audience clapped when it ended. So both the "must see" and the "well, it looks good enough to see" crowds are really enjoying it.

Is that an Amercan thing or does it just not happen in the north of England. I don't think I've ever witnessed anyone in an audience applauding at the end of a film. It's not like the actors can hear you!
Originally Posted By: drakino
I'm now debating when I want to see it a third time. I'll probably wait till I'm back in Austin to see it at a civilized theater though. I had to stand up and ask the person behind me to stop kicking my chair about 5 minutes in.

Pretty much every film I see nowadays at the cinema is marred by some kind of idiot. Whether it's talking, chucking popcorn or phones going off etc. A friend of mine has simply given up going to regular screenings because it just pissed him off so much. One of the cinemas near me does over 18's only screenings, although in my experience the 'adults' are just as retarded as the kids.
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Andy M

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#328218 - 22/12/2009 06:23 Re: Avatar [Re: andym]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
Originally Posted By: andym

Is that an Amercan thing or does it just not happen in the north of England. I don't think I've ever witnessed anyone in an audience applauding at the end of a film. It's not like the actors can hear you!


I think it's an American thing. Although I have been on a flight to Spain where most of the passengers gave the pilot a round of applause when he landed ok. That was very weird.

As for Avatar, I get the feeling it will have a long run at the cinema, so I'm going to wait until the numbers die down and go and see it towards the end. The thought of sitting for 3 hours with kids messing about with the whole 3D thing doesn't sound like fun to me.

And as for Avatar the film, I'm not a fan of Sci-Fi so I think my opinion will have to wait until I've actually seen the film. Whilst I'm sure the technology has moved on greatly in this film, it still has a CGI look as far as I have seen from the extended preview they had on Sky HD. Maybe that won't matter to me in 3D?

Cheers

Cris.

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#328219 - 22/12/2009 10:28 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
StigOE
addict

Registered: 27/10/2002
Posts: 568
Originally Posted By: Cris
Although I have been on a flight to Spain where most of the passengers gave the pilot a round of applause when he landed ok. That was very weird.

I think this is most usual on charterflights, but it happens sometime on regular flights as well. I wonder if the same passengers applaud when a bus driver arrives on the bus stop without any problems as well...

Stig

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#328220 - 22/12/2009 11:14 Re: Avatar [Re: StigOE]
peter
carpal tunnel

Registered: 13/07/2000
Posts: 4153
Loc: Cambridge, England
Originally Posted By: StigOE
I wonder if the same passengers applaud when a bus driver arrives on the bus stop without any problems as well...

It probably depends how relieved they are, i.e. how badly they feared they'd never arrive. I nearly did just that the other week: the National Express bus from Heathrow to Cambridge broke down on a roundabout in Luton, so after an hour's wait they sent us on our way on a replacement bus whose driver had to ask us to give him directions from Cambridge park and ride into the city centre, although I later wondered if that had just been a miscommunication due to his poor English, as he had a satnav chattering away to him in some Eastern European language, and while driving he answered his mobile phone only to say "No, I'm driving [pause] I don't understand you, my English isn't good [hang-up]".

So we were all, in fact, quite relieved when he arrived at the bus stop without any problems.

Peter

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#328221 - 22/12/2009 11:49 Re: Avatar [Re: peter]
mlord
carpal tunnel

Registered: 29/08/2000
Posts: 14105
Loc: Canada
As usual, I'll save my money and bide my time, watching it a year from now when the local DVD rental shack has it available for copying viewing. Or possibly wait even a few months longer than that, and pick it up for free, over the air (TV).

Then I'll watch it as many times as I want to, pausing, replaying scenes etc.. and without the privilege of somebody kicking the back of my seat or chatting on a mobile.

All thanks to you guys, who pay the big bucks up front at the cinemas to keep the game rolling! smile

Cheers

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#328222 - 22/12/2009 13:27 Re: Avatar [Re: drakino]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: drakino
Stop paying attention to the marketing department, and pay attention to the actual movie creators by seeing the movie.

Uh....

Since the movie wasn't screened for reviewers prior to the release date, the only information I had about the movie was from the marketers. If the movie sucked, as I inferred from the marketing, why would I want to reward the creators (and waste 3 hours of my life) by paying to see it?

In addition, having no preview screenings is usually a big red flag that says the studio thinks the movie is terrible. Occasionally this isn't the case, but it is more often than it's not.

And I pretty much explicitly asked my question: is the marketing lying to me, as it often does? The only story elements included in the ads really are worn out plot devices, though. "Going native" themes date back at least to Kipling, and probably much further. And it doesn't look like it adds much of anything to the military sci-fi genre. Then again, there haven't really been many military sci-fi movies; the only ones that come to mind are Starship Troopers and Wing Commander, neither of which is, to be generous, very good.

I seem to have wandered off into tangents, so I'll shut up now.
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#328223 - 22/12/2009 13:48 Re: Avatar [Re: mlord]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
Originally Posted By: mlord
As usual, I'll save my money and bide my time


I would normally agree with you Mark. I have a nice cinema system here, and now I have a PS3 as well as Sky HD I am really happy with the picture and sound quality as well as the lack of smelly kids.

But, I am interested to see if 3D is worth it. Or is it just a gimmick? I don't think the 3D experience when it does come to home cinema will be able to deliver the same experience as Real 3D or IMAX. I can't see it adding to the plot much, but I think it's worth a couple of pounds to find out.

Cheers

Cris.

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#328224 - 22/12/2009 14:38 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Originally Posted By: Cris
But, I am interested to see if 3D is worth it. Or is it just a gimmick?


Oh it's definitely a gimmick, like HD. grin

I saw A Christmas Carol last week on an ordinary sized cinema screen using RealD and I was suitably impressed. The circular polarisation on the glasses lenses are much better than old linear design, you lose very little light in the process and the 3D effect is maintained even if you're waggling your head round.

The first 3D film I saw was one of the Harry Potters in the IMAX which had a 3D sequence using a previous 3D system which was pretty crap.

I've witnessed a couple of good home cinemas, but unless you're a nutter with nothing else to spend your money on or a premier league footballer, it's never going to be as good as a quiet cinema for reasons of scale alone. If I ever did build my big bastard house, one floor would be for the cinema alone. But I'd still end up at the cinema for the big releases.

Also, one of the perks of working shifts was going to the cinema in the afternoon. Then you only had amorous students to worry about!
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Andy M

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#328225 - 22/12/2009 15:01 Re: Avatar [Re: andym]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31298
Loc: Seattle, WA
You just had me looking up RealD and circular polarization on Wikipedia. Fascinating!
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Tony Fabris

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#328226 - 22/12/2009 15:55 Re: Avatar [Re: tfabris]
hybrid8
carpal tunnel

Registered: 12/11/2001
Posts: 7738
Loc: Toronto, CANADA
I'd say that nothing at home is going to beat the big screen for visual impact, but it's not too difficult nor insanely expensive to get better audio at home than at the majority of cinemas.

I'd probably go this week to see Avatar if it weren't for this pesky cold I've got. Hopefully it will still be playing in 3D in a few weeks. I've never been to a 3D showing at the cinema before.
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Bruno
Twisted Melon : Fine Mac OS Software

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#328227 - 22/12/2009 16:21 Re: Avatar [Re: wfaulk]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: wfaulk
Since the movie wasn't screened for reviewers prior to the release date, the only information I had about the movie was from the marketers. If the movie sucked, as I inferred from the marketing, why would I want to reward the creators (and waste 3 hours of my life) by paying to see it?


It actually was previewed extensively to the press/reviewers, starting at ComicCon this year. Back then it was just a few pieces, but as it got closer, more and more was shown. On December 10th, more then a week before the release, a reviewer friend of mine saw the entire thing. The reviews themselves may have been embargoed for a bit, but it did even win an award from the New York Film Critics Online before the general release.

Ok, sure, the story is a rehash of ideas in the past, and as Bruno here said, "Dances with Wolves" in space. That doesn't diminish it though. Ideas are rehashed all the time, but what is unique here is a very well done detailed new world.

The main point I was trying to get at with the marketing/creators difference is that it's marketings job to slap it on the side of happy meal boxes or whatever. Marketing doing so though isn't directly connected to the quality of the movie, instead it's tied more to the cost of the movie.
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#328228 - 22/12/2009 16:37 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
drakino
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/06/1999
Posts: 7868
Loc: Seattle, WA
Originally Posted By: Cris
I am interested to see if 3D is worth it. Or is it just a gimmick?

I'll have to see Avatar in 2D at some point to really judge how it helps. I can say that the 3D was never really distracting and instead felt natural about 10 minutes in. The trailers before the movie in 3D had way more gimmicky things in them then the entire presentation.

IMAX vs RealD is a hard one. IMAX gave me the bigger presence of course. But the 3D was a little more noticeable, in that it could be distorted a bit with head movement. If you do see it in IMAX, get good seats where you don't have to move your head around much. It is shown in a normal film aspect ratio, instead of the taller IMAX ratio, so ignore the very top and bottom of the screen when picking a seat.

Originally Posted By: mlord
and without the privilege of somebody kicking the back of my seat or chatting on a mobile.


I definitely don't miss the megaplex theaters though, and anytime I see a movie at one (very rarely these day), it does make me appreciate the higher end places more. The Alamo Drafthouse has very strict rules on talking, using a cell phone, and so on. And due to the wait staff serving food, the rules are enforced very quickly. The Arclight in Hollywood also has a great movie experience, due to auditoriums built to allow people to move their legs without kicking the seat in front of them, and by having assigned seating.

I made the effort a few years back to stop subscribing to cable TV, and in doing so, I've had more money in the budget to put forward towards a good theater experience. In turn, it's made me appreciate the experience more, and I do think a visit to the big screen is worth it from time to time at least.
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Tom

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#328229 - 22/12/2009 17:03 Re: Avatar [Re: drakino]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
The last feature film I saw on IMAX was one of the Matrix trilogy, I wasn't impressed. I came out with neck ache even though I had a really good seat. Of course it didn't help that the film totally sucked also.

Some of the cinema's around here now have VIP screens, you have to pay a lot more but maybe it would be worth it for something like this.

Cheers

Cris.

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#328230 - 22/12/2009 19:27 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
Originally Posted By: Cris
The last feature film I saw on IMAX was one of the Matrix trilogy, I wasn't impressed. I came out with neck ache even though I had a really good seat. Of course it didn't help that the film totally sucked also.

I saw the 2nd one at the IMAX in Manchester and it was, for want of a better word, shit. It wasn't framed for IMAX which meant you were constantly looking around to keep up with the action. I seemed to spend most of the film looking at Laurence Fishburne's cheek. Also, the blowup was horrendous meaning everything was either fuzzy, grainy or both. It put me off watching feature films at IMAX for a very long time.
Originally Posted By: Cris
Some of the cinema's around here now have VIP screens, you have to pay a lot more but maybe it would be worth it for something like this.

I really must give that a try, I've done the whole premier seating thing, but not full blown VIP treatment. In fact, I only know of one cinema that does it.
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Andy M

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#328231 - 22/12/2009 20:06 Re: Avatar [Re: andym]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
Originally Posted By: andym

I really must give that a try


Sounds like a mini meet if I ever heard one smile

Try and find out if that place near you is showing it VIP and in 3D and we'll do it smile

Cheers

Cris.

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#328232 - 22/12/2009 20:10 Re: Avatar [Re: hybrid8]
wfaulk
carpal tunnel

Registered: 25/12/2000
Posts: 16706
Loc: Raleigh, NC US
Originally Posted By: hybrid8
I'd say that nothing at home is going to beat the big screen for visual impact

The sad thing is that early digital cinema projection was of a lower resolution than HDTVs of the time, once the aspect ratios of the movies were taken into account, and even more so when frame rate is taken into account. It's gotten better since:

Quote:
Early DLP projectors, which were deployed primarily in the U.S., used limited 12801024 resolution or the equivalent of 1.3 MP (megapixels). They are still widely used for pre-show advertising but not usually for feature presentations. The DCI specification for digital projectors calls for three levels of playback to be supported: 2K (20481080) or 2.2 MP at 24 or 48 frames per second, and 4K (40962160) or 8.85 MP at 24 frames per second.

Even so, DCI 2K is basically the same as 1080p.

Few of us have 70-foot TVs, though. (Of course, the larger the screen, the more exacerbated the low framerate problem is, though.)
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Bitt Faulk

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#328233 - 22/12/2009 20:56 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
They're showing it at the Printworks. The place I was referring to doesn't do 3D apparently. They're all evening showings this week and next. When did you want to go?
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Andy M

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#328234 - 22/12/2009 21:21 Re: Avatar [Re: andym]
Cris
pooh-bah

Registered: 06/02/2002
Posts: 1896
Loc: Leeds, UK
Holy crap!!! 18.50 is more than I was expecting. Let me check with the boss.

Cheers

Cris.

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#328235 - 22/12/2009 21:31 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
tfabris
carpal tunnel

Registered: 20/12/1999
Posts: 31298
Loc: Seattle, WA
For that price, the movie should come with a happy ending. smile
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Tony Fabris

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#328236 - 22/12/2009 22:11 Re: Avatar [Re: Cris]
andym
carpal tunnel

Registered: 17/01/2002
Posts: 3979
Loc: Manchester UK
I should point out SWMBO will not be attending.
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Andy M

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#328239 - 23/12/2009 03:17 Re: Avatar [Re: andym]
Dignan
carpal tunnel

Registered: 08/03/2000
Posts: 12148
Loc: Sterling, VA
I did my best to follow the thread, but couldn't see if anyone had any input on the whole "IMAX doesn't necessarily mean IMAX" thing. I'm debating whether to simply drive to an AMC with a smaller screen or hold out and go downtown where the parking is terrible just to see it on a larger one. Mostly I'd just be pissed if they were both the same price yet one offered a poorer experience.
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Matt

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#328240 - 23/12/2009 03:38 Re: Avatar [Re: Dignan]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Spoiler free...

I just saw Avatar in IMAX 3D. The 3D-ness didn't really add anything, but I agree that it does "work". This is the second IMAX film I've seen of late. The previous one Star Trek, wasn't 3D, but I was in the second row. Combine that with Star Trek's ShakyCam (tm) effect, and it was worthless. This time, we made a point of getting in the queue an hour before showtime, and were able to get better seats.

(I was in London in '95 and saw a film, and they had assigned seating for movie tickets. Wonderful stuff for an IMAX 3D film. Sit 3/4 of the way back in the center, if at all possible.)

The plot was entirely predictable, and had techno-stupid holes as well as military-protocol holes you could drive a truck through. Nonetheless, it was entertaining and visually rich. The whole 3D gimick is fun, but I won't shell out $15 again, the next time a 3D film comes around.

Was Avatar a groundbreaking film? Yes and no. Does anybody look back fondly on Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow as a feat of cinematic greatness? Does anybody look back at Jurassic Park as epic cinema? No, not really, and I assume Avatar will be similarly treated by future critics.

What I do expect will come out of Avatar is that all the technology behind the film will find its way into unusual and interesting places. Once the price comes down, we'll be able to see far less conventional scriptwriting that can leverage this technology toward realizing much cooler results.

For contrast, District 9 was bonkers good, with far fewer drive-a-truck-through-them plot holes as well as far less moralizing about how The Man is an agent of pure and unadulterated evil yet doing a far better job of demonstrating the very same.

We're long overdue for an alien film where the aliens are emphatically not humanoids (with or without blue warpaint).

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#328241 - 23/12/2009 03:55 Re: Avatar [Re: DWallach]
DWallach
carpal tunnel

Registered: 30/04/2000
Posts: 3728
Now, the spoilers, wherein I grouse about plot holes, technological deficiencies, and assorted annoyances.

Click to reveal..

1. Military protocol: if you're a military pilot or soldier or whatever and you refuse to follow your orders and leave rather than engaging the target, your career is over the minute you get home. Our helicopter pilot girl apparently went undisciplined in any way. I don't buy it, and the plot hinges significantly on her actions.

2. The whole VR/radio thing: Avatar asks us to believe that we can get stupid-low-latency radio communications and staggeringly high bandwidth to a synthetic body that's possibly hundreds or thousands of miles away from the transmitter. We're then asked to believe that there's a particular area where radio communications and whatnot don't work. When our avatars got near this very area, their telepresence seemed to work fine. Again, this was an essential plot element. The whole final climax depends on it, but it doesn't hang together.

2a. Where are the nukes? Assuming the humans really wanted to take out the uber-tree, why dump a palette of conventional explosives out of the back of a cargo transport? Why not use an ICBM of some kind? If radios and whatnot are non-functional, rig up some sort of inertial guidance system. You know, with all that AI that we're supposed to have by then (and which we pretty much already have now).

3. Where's the AI? Given the apparent level of computer technology available to humans at the time, one would think their computers would be much, much better than we've been led to believe. Where are the robots or autonomous aircraft or, for that matter, autonomous mining equipment? How can a pilot just hop into a parked aircraft and take off without some command signal being sent to the thing to ignore the local pilot and head back home?

4. So, like, the whole planet is sentient? Wouldn't that end up looking a whole lot more like the Borg? And what sort of evolutionary process would yield cross-species compatible network jacks?

5. Unobtanium? At least they're honest that it's just a thinly veiled plot device.

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