I’ve now seen the movie. You can read my thoughts here.
For those who don’t know, Avatar is James Cameron’s (Aliens, Terminator 2, Piranha Part Two: The Spawning) upcoming movie. He had the idea for 15 years, but had to wait for technology to catch up with his vision of 3d film projection and realistically rendered computer generated alien characters being controlled by actors covered in ping pongs.
Avatar’s budget is over 200 million dollars and features so much technological innovation that it’s already being hailed as the next revolution in film making, comparable to the Jazz Singer’s introduction of synchronized dialogue, Jurassic Park’s introduction of CG creatures, and The 40 Year Old Virgin’s introduction of Judd Apatow’s sensibilities on comedies.
So 15 years in the making, giant budget and lots of hype, but no one had seen a single frame until this past Friday when they released the trailer.
What could possibly go wrong?
To begin with, for the first half of the trailer it looks like James Cameron’s top secret grand vision was to make a really nice looking video game cut scene complete with:
Drably colored spaceships
a drably colored military
drably colored improbable landscapes
a drably colored commander bearing scars (literal and one assumes metaphorical) from a past war that will surely cloud his judgment in this current conflict.
and of course, drably colored Mechs.
So far, we’re off to an underwhelming start. Where are these aliens that represent the next step forward in computer generated imagery?
Oh, here’s one.
Wow! 15 years and 200 million dollars and we get CG aliens that look like people, but with slightly longer necks. That’s right, slightly longer necks!
What was once the sole province of Botticelli paintings
Is now available on the big screen, for the low price of four easy payments of the gross domestic product of Bulgaria.
These alien designs are terrible. Did James Cameron really wait 15 years until computer graphics technology could catch up with his vision blue Thundercats?
And while I’m on the subject of color, who did the color design, a box of Neon Crayolas? It’s a bad sign when your palette is outclassed by a romance novel cover.
Also, where is this movie taking place? A Mead Trapper Keeper folder from the 80′s?
All it’s missing is a unicorn. So I added one.
Now some people might complain that I’m being overly judgmental, because Avatar is meant to be seen in 3D. But I don’t buy that.
I’ve watched videos of fanboy reaction to the 3d footage shown in theaters, and most just raved about the sharp image quality. If you love sharp images might I suggest buying in a pair of glasses? You’ll be amazed for hours on end by all the detail you can see in the trees.
Another big selling point was the ability to see pores on the CG aliens’ faces. Well, if your enjoyment of a movie is derived primarily from bad skin, just watch the Wrestler.
Good special effects don’t make movies good. Good stories make movies good. And Avatar’s story, as best I can tell (Avatar spoiler alert!), centers around drab industrial humans trying to ruin the natural beauty of Unicorn planet. But through a scientific experiment, one of these drab humans becomes a blue alien so he can spy on their blue alien world. The only problem is he falls in love with a blue alien babe, learns to appreciate the wonder of their 80′s-fantasy-art world and ends up fighting against the humans to protect his new neon purple home planet.
And if that sounds familiar, it’s because that is also the plot of…
FernGully, the 1992 animated motion picture about a human named Zak who works for a logging company chopping down rainforests. That is, until he is shrunk down to fairy size by a magical fairy named Crysta who lives in the rainforest. At first he’s mad, but then discovers how beautiful the magical fairy-world-rainforest is, falls in love with Crysta, and helps the fairies fight against the evil logging company.
I don’t know what’s sadder. How disappointed I am by the Avatar trailer, or that I will still see the movie in theaters. What am I saying? The saddest thing is that I remember FernGully.