James Cameron's Avatar

Discussion in 'Archive: SF&F: Films and Television' started by The2ndQuest, Jan 8, 2007.

  1. Jedi Vince Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 1999
    star 3
    Is Watchmen the type of sophisticated books you read? Your public school failed you.

    But anyway ... thanks.

    And the board members at Veidt Enterprises called. They want to know how much longer you can keep up your leftist, moral equivalent, social-Utopian dreams going.
  2. Kol_Skywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2006
    star 4
    I myself consider my political leanings to be centre-right, and *am* tired of the notion of white-guilt - that is not for discussion here, perhaps take it to the Senate? Lets discuss AVATAR! :)

    By the way Leto II, I did ROTFLOL at that comment! ;)

    Nice way to tie this slanging match into the theme of this board ... movies! :)
  3. Jedi Vince Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 1999
    star 3
    Yeah ... between the dude calling out what books I read (as if he knows), he got a funny one in -- I'll give him that.

    By the way ... I think Common Sense comes in way under 250 pages, but that's not good enough for him. Leto, you should read that.
  4. Leto II Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 23, 2000
    star 6
    Yeah, apologies if this got too out of hand -- sometimes it does, and you cool off after the heat of the moment. My wife looked over my shoulder, and asked me what the hell I was typing. (And seriously...thanks, Vince. I actually, honestly did enjoy the Veidt comment. At least everyone got some chuckles out of the whole thing in the end.)
  5. Kol_Skywalker Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Jun 9, 2006
    star 4
    What about those nift blue aliens, eh?
  6. Jedi Vince Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 1999
    star 3
    No apologies necessary, friend. What's really funny is that I'm on deadline at a real newspaper tonight as I'm getting into this!!! [face_laugh]

    After all my complaining ... I know where I'll be the night the film opens. :)
  7. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

    Manager
    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    Wow, looks what happens when i leave for just a few hours to read a book ;)

    The military is portrayed well in Aliens- they're the heroes, alongside Ripley, who has to solider-up in the movie. The film only villifies corporations and the associated character. Technology being the main element that helps them survive for so long.

    True Lies doesn't need any explaination I don't think, especially since the big hardware and technology help save the day. T2's future war sequence and the general solider angle to John Connor being the savior of humanity is also pretty strong. Uncle Bob representing a good use of technology.

    The Abyss I didn't forget about- but I don't think it had a negative portrayal of the military. Coffee (or however it's spelled) is portrayed negatively after becoming afflicted with pressure sickness and becoming increasingly paranoid. The other military characters are fine after he's out of the picture, and the military actions are what manages to bring Bud into contact with the NTEs. In the Special Edition, the message is decidedly against warfare (particularly hate-fuelded us-vs-them cold war-type paranoia) and atrocities, but not the military itself (though I can see how one might reach that as a possible conclusion given the "out fo a job" comment).


    So, just because both sides have committed such acts at some point, means you can't explore that facet of history/human nature by focusing on the advanced side in a story?
  8. Jedi Vince Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 2, 1999
    star 3
    I agree with you for the most part. Cameron definitely isn't an enemy of the military. I just think he tends to give in to some minor stereotypes -- nothing serious. But, let's not forget that in the Terminator story, it's basically the U.S. military-industrial complex that causes nuclear war. In short, Cameron's no Michael Bay when it comes to respecting the military. (I love Bay's work -- and don't care how much I get flamed for saying it.)

    And I agree with your second point. However, to "explore that facet of history/human nature" as you put it, one needs a certain sense of intellectual honesty. Without that, the story becomes propaganda. By Cameron focusing his allegory specifically on the formative years of the United States (at least it seems that way to me now), I feel he's advancing an agenda I wrote about in previous posts.

    Some of you say that I'm being reactionary here, but languages he uses like "bigger guns" leads me to believe he isn't serious enough to have a legitimate exploration into clashes of different cultures, but rather he's editorializing.

    The more I study the histories of the native tribes throughout history, the more it angers me that guys like Cameron -- who should be smarter about all this -- don't bother looking into it more.

    Again ... Cameron has never been known for his subtle approach to storytelling, but I still think he should be above this cliched approach.

    And like I said: I'll be there on opening night because it looks like great escapism. My worldview and sensibilities can withstand a lot -- I just liked to be challenged honestly.
  9. yodas_waiter Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Oct 31, 2006
    star 3
    I've just seen this and I can safely say that Avatar will be the biggest movie spectacle since Lord of the Rings. The movie is absolutely beautiful and the 3D effect makes it one of the most immersive experiances I've ever had. Avatar represents a leap forward in special effects, however, I'm not sure if it will as revolutionary as some insiders seem to have predicted. For that, I need to see the whole movie.

    Cameron has definitely crafted an amazing visual experiance. I only had a passing interest in the movie but since seeing this, I know I'll see it come this December
  10. Jedi_Keiran_Halcyon Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Dec 17, 2000
    star 6
    Just watched the trailer.

    I'm sure the 3d effects will be fun, but I have trouble believing it's going to revolutionize film when most of the trailer looked like a late-90s video game FMV.

    Is CGI EVER going to come back to photorealism?
  11. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    [image=http://www.cosasdecine.com/actualidad/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/button-i.png]

    ;)

    Seriously, I think the perceived "cartoonishness" of Avatar is simply a consequence of the alien-ness of the images. The design of the creatures and setting is so unreal that the mind automatically concludes "It must be CGI!" If the same technology were used to create human beings in an earthly locale, we would not be complaining about how cartoony it all looks -- though perhaps we'd be critiquing more subtle clues such as facial movements and surface texturing. Even the supreme example I've depicted above, Benjamin Button, has certain minute giveaways here and there in the animation, though by and large it is IMO the most realistic and lifelike CGI character creation ever committed to film. Cameron, on the other hand, is employing fantastical imagery, so of course it looks unreal to the eye.
  12. ThePriminister Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2005
    It IS beautiful. Saw the 15 minute preview last night. It was...amazing. i know that word is used alot. I can understand why alot of people weren't impressed with the trailer. Let me tell you, the aliens, the world, it DOES look completely real all the time.

    The subtle performances, the little nuances, and just the overall human-like REAL movement was almost unsettlingly real. When I said earlier that if a digital character is done well you forget it's digital(like Gollum and the Prawns in District 9), this has the huge advantage of just looking real the whole time. It was really weird but absolutely spectacular. The CGI was transparent, I am not joking. The Na'vi look real.

    Some of the favorite moments were just talking, and OH MY GOD, the bio-luminescant jungle is so beautiful, but not fake. The whole world feels real, and YES, it does look way better in 3D than in some crappy YouTube video, which I have no idea WHY you would want to watch the teaser in that format when the apple versions are much much better.

    The common consensus across the internet about the preview is that it is stunning. I thought the trailer was awesome, but it does NOT do this movie justice at all. Seeing this preview shows that the effects are literally transparent. It did not take a few minutes to get used to and forget like the best CGI has been until now(even District 9), you don't need time. It just looks like Jim Cameron went out into a REAL jungle and shot REAL people in make-up talking to eachother and running from hammerhead rhino monsters.

    Late 90s cutscene cutscene graphics? Really? You know, I hear this sometimes(mostly on AICN), and I gotta say(and I know they're just talking about the teaser), it's mind-boggling. Did you...PLAY PS1? This is far and beyong that, as well as the Final Fantasy movie, Beowulf, Gollum, any of that. Don't lie to yourselves. The more you watch the teaser the better it looks anyway, but come December, in IMAX 3D, you will see how awesome it actually looks.

  13. Darth_Hydra Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 4
    I too am unimpressed with the trailer. My main complaints are that the Na'vi look too CGI looking, all the creatures on Pandora are various shades of blue and that we don't much of a feel for the story beyond Human vs. Na'vi. Still, I'm a big sci-fi fan and am anxiously looking forward to December 18th. I hope someone is able to leak the 16 minute IMAX footage so we can get a better look at Avatar without having to wait another 2 or 3 months before Cameron decides to release the full theatrical trailer.

    I'm glad to hear it looks better in 3D but I'm worried about how it will look on DVD. I've been anxiously awaiting this for a long time now and would be disappointed if it doesn't hold up on a standard DVD. No matter how good the 3D the gimmick will wear off pretty quickly after the initial couple of viewings.
  14. ThePriminister Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2005
    The 3D isn't even used as a gimmick at all. The 3D immerses yourself in the movie and what's going on. Things don't pop out at you or anything(atleast th few scenes we saw).The Na'vi looked amazing from a CG standpoint(how do they not?) in the trailer in full 1080p HD. Watch a few more times and it looks better every time.

    But ya it looks a hundred times better in theaters. It just looks like Cameron went into a jungle and shot some blue people talking. It looks that real. And you don't doubt it's reality for a second.
  15. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    [face_laugh]

    My thoughts, exactly!

    Whatever everyone else is seeing, I'm not.

    Not only are the visuals that are displayed in the "Avatar" trailer practically equalled or surpassed by "Crysis", a PC game that's been out since 2007, and "3DMark Vantage", a benchmarking program available for over a year (and if you don't believe me, run a quick Google search; alternatively, see HERE and HERE), but the entire presentation is cliched and derivative in the extreme, in my opinion. It looks like Cameron has cannibalized the "Manifest Destiny" tract of stories like "Pocahontas" and "Dances With Wolves" and simplistically merged it with the pseudo-military/fantasy aesthetic of computer games like "Halo" and "Warcraft". This would barely have been a revolutionary cinematic entity ten years ago, and now?

    To my mind, the CG is not only nothing out of the ordinary, but actually quite primitive, in some aspects. For all the buzz about super-realistic alien characters, all I see is a bunch of mediocre sprites averagely animated. Have people forgotten the achievements of Gollum and Yoda already? If I think "good CG" (of the last decade; rendering, animation, integration), I *do* think of LOTR, the PT, "The Matrix", "Hollow Man", "Minority Report", "The Hulk", "King Kong", "Children Of Men" and "The Fountain"; not this. Notably, the trailer has one line of dialogue, like it's trying to be lush and symphonic, but it comes nowhere near classic Science Fiction "tone poem" trailers like those for Stanley Kubrick's "2001" and Ridley Scott's "Alien"; two extremely visually compelling and atmospheric teasers; and I won't even dare square "Avatar" off against the original teaser trailer for "The Phantom Menace". Where is the gripping music? Where are the iconic sound effects? Dramatic silences? Carefully suggested wonders? Understated epicness? To me, the trailer is a morass of light and color, and little else. It unfolds in a very ham-handed, disarticulated way. Maybe 3-D glasses and a 15-minute preview make all the difference; maybe I expected something more. Color me bewildered.
  16. ThePriminister Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 27, 2005
    I really don't understand you people. It is clearly more lifelike than any videogame, PC or otherwise. And more real thaany CG animation that has come before it. Once you see it, you'll know what I mean. I saw the 15 minute preview and it looks stunning. And again, the effects of the Na'vi are transparent.
  17. Hernalt Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jun 29, 2000
    star 2
    I take my cue from his own words. He uses the term "Na'vi", a clear port from 'native', and wants credit for an enlightened interrogation of Orientalist colonial imperialism, but then he sticks with a title like "Avatar" which couldn't be a more specific console-game generation chow-time bell, _most_ modern console games of this CGI focus being an inherent rehearsal or recapitulation of Orientalist colonial imperialism. Not to mention, the name "Avatar" has already been publicly claimed by other movies and games - what is his enchantment with this word? I think it's game sales. As the Apache would say, he is speaking with a forked tongue to two constituencies - the red-meat and the Crimea River.
  18. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    I dunno- it reminds me more of "fairy" (and the more ethereal visuals of the environment and people), though that could just be the Zelda talking... :)
  19. Darth_Hydra Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 14, 2001
    star 4
    I'm not saying that it looks bad, just that it could be better in some places IMO. The 3D will make it look better and I'm definitely seeing it come December but I worry as how it'll look in regular theaters and on (standard) DVD. Not everone will be able to see it in 3D and 2D films still dominate both the theater and home markets. If Avatar can't convince those people without a 3D theater nearby to see it this movie's going to take a serious blow at the box office.
  20. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    I think the perceived "cartoonishness" of Avatar is simply a consequence of the alien-ness of the images. The designs of the creatures and setting are so unreal that the mind automatically concludes "It must be CGI!" If the same animation technology were used to create human beings in an earthly locale, no one would be complaining about how "cartoony" it all looks. Cameron is employing fantastical imagery, so of course it looks unreal to the eye.
  21. Merlin_Ambrosius69 Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Aug 4, 2008
    star 5
    This is hyper-critical hogwash. Hernalt's entire argument is based on the belief that "Na'vi" is a "port from 'native'" and that therefore an obscure socio-political stance -- passionately felt by Hernalt, perhaps, but unknown to most other people -- is somehow being violated. It's a spurious and purely invented connection, in all likelihood, but even if it's valid... so what?

    As to the title "Avatar", yes, it's clearly intended to evoke the current meaning of a character icon in an RPG console game. The movie itself, as I understand it, is not set in a game world, but the title is symbolic and analagous to what is going on, namely a person's mind and psyche are placed inside a fantastical but real biological organism. Again, Hernalt is shoehorning in a personally-held conviction that a cinematic critique of "Orientalist colonial imperialism" cannot or should not be mingled with console-game iconography.

    Why this should be is left up to the reader to decide, as Hernalt offers no guidance on this question. Some kind of vague philosophical contradiction or hypocrisy is hinted at, but beyond this we can only glean that James Cameron supposedly has contradictory political beliefs. Stop the presses.
  22. PadmeLeiaJaina Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    May 23, 2002
    star 6
    Yep, really there's a marked difference in how the CGI looks in the trailers vs. seeing it in the 3D format. I watched the trailer in full 1920x800 repeatedly - then I went to the 16 minute preview. My initial thoughts w/ the trailer were that the CGI FX stood out a lot, then I saw it on the IMAX screen in 3D and everything is seamless - you can't tell where animation/live action ends and begins. The 3D usage in this film is incredible - it's completely different than anything that we've seen before, you become a living component to the storytelling - you're standing right there alongside the characters experiencing everything that they do from occasional funky and wild camera angles. You get senses of vertigo because of the incredible feeling of depth and life that comes from the screen.

    Maybe I'm just lucky. I don't play video games, nor have I had much of an interest in films since SITH came out, so I haven't overly scrutinized every movie out there for its CGI - what I can tell you is that this film is going to be amazing. My jaw was on the floor for the entire preview. Everyone in the theater with me could barely speak because their breath was taken away by how stunning this film promises to be after seeing the preview footage.

    There's a scene that we were shown where Jake and the Na'vi are trying to tame a wild flying creature atop a waterfall - the animation is hyper real and stunning. I remember both Jar-Jar and Gollum had issues of looking realistic in broad daylight - there isn't that problem w/ the Na'vi and creatures in this film. All of the creatures in this film the animation is worlds beyond what we ever saw in the Prequels. They also are drawn at lightning speed unlike anything that I've seen in films. It's very easy to trick your brain into thinking that these are breathing, live creatures.

    I know this much - I'm going to be watching this film over and over - this is the first time in years that I've actually been EXCITED about a movie.
  23. Cryogenic Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Jul 20, 2005
    star 4
    Absolutely not. That's a strawman of extreme proportions. To some eyes, the CG looks fake, period.

    For comparison, I have gathered two "ship" shots; one from ROTS, the other from "Avatar". Hopefully, it's a fair comparison; the former has been slightly upscaled from native DVD resolution, while the latter has been slightly downscaled from an HD 720p trailer:

    http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y178/0Cryogenic0/rotsavatarships.jpg

    To my mind, the ROTS shot demonstrates better rendering and attention-to-detail, in spite of the fact that it's four years older and was made with half the budget (ROTS' budget = $120 million; budget of "Avatar" = $250 million). What's more, James Cameron boasted that "Avatar" would offer mind-blowing visual effects, and would be an unparalleled cinematic achievement; maybe he can (somehow) deliver on the latter, but the former is already dubious, if not an outright lie. To the best of my knowledge, Lucas has never made such outrageous claims about any of the Star Wars pictures.

    Now, I'm not about to sit here and proclaim that the shot of ROTS boasts "photo-realistic" CG; I don't think it does; in my opinion, CG is still CG. However, the ROTS example is at least half-way convincing, and I appreciate the efforts of all involved. Pay particular attention to the way sunlight glints off the hull of the ROTS space cruiser, then compare it to the horrible (in my opinion) way it has been represented in the "Avatar" shot (over the three cylinders of the vessel closest to the camera); to me, the latter is like something out of a modern video game (where games designers are currently running amok with HDR and various lighting effects). Also, scrutinize the hull detail, in both cases. If you look closely, you'll see that the cruiser in the shot from ROTS has tiny flecks/indentations all over, approximating the fine detail of physical model work; by contrast, the hulls of the "Avatar" ships look flat and cartoony. Granted, the latter appears to be approximating the exact eningeering of real spacecraft, but to the detriment of suggesting analogue grain/imperfection; once again, the top of the vessel nearest the camera is extremely poor (in my opinion); the ships have very bland, matte-like reflections, which betray the sense that they're massive constructs of metal, sparkling in the sunlight.

    Of course, comparison with other films is a useful tool, but not entirely needed. Look at this lone shot from the trailer:

    http://i5.photobucket.com/albums/y178/0Cryogenic0/avatarcg.jpg

    I cribbed it from an IMDb user; he/she ringed off those areas as examples of especially poor CG. I'm not sure why they circled the human (perhaps simply to indicate how fake the human looks), but they ringed the gun for a specific reason. The gun shows clipping; that is, the gun moves through another surface; in this case, the mechanical arm that's gripping it. It clearly isn't meant to. If you watch that part of the trailer in full-motion, you'll see the soldier turn away, and if you watch the back of the gun carefully, you'll see it subtly pass through the arm, as it slightly turns (with respect to the arm, which also turns) in an anti-clockwise arc. By definition, nothing is perfect. And visual effects often have many limitations and imperfections. But consider this scenario for a second. Not only does everything in the shot look (again, in my opinion) ridiculously fake, but the shot also displays a very basic error of animation/rendering. It seems that the artists weren't paying attention, because they're incompetent, indifferent or being
  24. MisterVader Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Nov 17, 2006
    star 3
    Ah, yes. This is the *worst* CGI in the trailer, by a long shot. The clipping of the arm and the gun is obvious. The movement of the mech itself is also the goofiest movement in the trailer, like it's showing off to the viewer as opposed to operating within its own world. The shot has also been artificially slowed-down, which can ruin any initially intended realism.

    That said...

    Has anyone criticizing this picture demonstrated any observational skills whatsoever? All the "mistakes" are done *on purpose*.;)

    This movie has been touted as, simply, one that would not do the things it apparently does in that shot. Baffling!

    Notice that, as the clipping gun arm turns, some small text is revealed on the "torso" of the mech reading "high roller." A big gamble. Lots of $$$. Also notice that Jake's eyes are closed during the precise frames in which "high roller" is readable, and once "high roller" passes out of sight, Jake turns his head in its direction.

    The attention to detail was put into making sure that this "mistake" was visible, that "high roller" was written on the side of the mech, that Jake's eyes are closed when "high roller" is readable, and that the entire shot be in slow-motion so as to allow the viewer just enough time to read "high roller" at all.

    Jake seems to be CG in this shot, which makes perfect sense considering that a precise frame-by-frame interaction between foreground and background elements is needed to convey what everyone is missing, i.e., that everyone is missing how big of a gamble this movie is--or even more minutely--how big of a gamble throwing this "mistake" into the trailer so that a select, observant few will be able to understand what this movie is doing, which is to say, actually seeing "high roller" written there and understanding its implications. Also, in this shot, Jake is a "fake person" who can't really see anything. He stays this way, whether CG or not, until he is converted into his avatar form--a "fake person" immersed in the world of the movie.

    I have seen the 15-minute preview in 3-D. It has, superficially, the most realistic and immersive visual effects of all time, easily.

    Yes, this movie, in a "mistake" in the trailer, is providing access to a consideration of the heightened awareness of this film's visual magnificence by that select few who saw the 15-minute preview. In other words, if this shot is throwing people off (and it seems to be the only shot with a noticeable "mistake," because it was designed to be noticed), then people are seriously distracted and utterly incapable of seeing the forest for the trees (indeed, the completely animated forest in this movie is absolutely *amazing*). This is metaphorically and literally a case of inattentive people with screens over their faces getting hung up on surfaces without being able to see what's behind them. A classic case of projection: Who exactly is at fault for this "superficial oversight"? It is to laugh.

    If this is not something to be excited about (a real-life "war of Avatar appreciation" mirroring the conflict in the film), then I don't know what is. As is the case in other sci-fi franchises, the bashers just don't get it.
  25. The2ndQuest Tri-Mod With a Mouth

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    Member Since:
    Jan 27, 2000
    star 10
    While I do agree the ROTS shot looks better, I do think some of that has to do with the actual ship designs. SW ships are supposed to be metal-platted, with worn-down parts, details, knicks and dents, etc. Avatar's spacecraft is based on realworld spacecraft aesthetics, and that smooth, less-detailed, almost inflatable-in-appearance pure white design doesn't lend itself well to the level of surface touches you'd find in a "kit bashed"-inspired ship. It looks "clean", which makes sense for the larger craft since that's likely never been through atmosphere.