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Comic-Con Update: Avatar

In: Movies

Posted By: Doc Holliday at 10:58 am

24 Jul 2009

avatar

While Comic-Con San Diego might not attract your standard boozehound as easily as a steak on the grill and a cooler full of ‘Gansetts*, it’s still a place I wouldn’t mind checking out someday.  The only expos I’ve attended were the 1998 Ski Expo and the 2008 Hunting and Fishing Expo, and both were surprisingly awesome.  Besides giving you more cool free shit than you can carry, Comic-Con also gives you a glimpse of upcoming movies, tv-shows, and video-games.  Not to mention one hell of a Viking Quest discussion panel.  This year’s schedule includes some features I’m actually interested in – the new show Flash Forward, the final LOST panel, Twilight (kidding), and probably most of all, James Cameron’s Avatar.

If you haven’t heard anything about James Cameron since Titanic, that’s because he’s been working on Avatar for 12 fucking years.  The hype for this flick is unprecedented, but people are actually saying Avatar will fully live up to the build-up.  The 3D technology he’s developed over the past decade is supposed to blow us away and fully immerse us into the environment of an alien planet known as “Pandora.”  The man knows how to dominate sci-fi movies.  I strongly urge you to go check out the Wikipedia page for the film, but here’s a quick synopsis for you:

Avatar is set during the 22nd century on a small moon called Pandora, which orbits a gas giant, and is inhabited by the tribal Na’vi, ten foot tall, blue humanoids that are peaceful unless attacked. Humans cannot breathe Pandoran air, so they genetically engineer human/Na’vi hybrids known as Avatars that can be controlled via a mental link. A paralyzed marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) volunteers to exist as an Avatar on Pandora, falling in love with a Na’vi princess and becoming caught up in the conflict between her people and the human military that is consuming their world.

So, Cameron showed off a bunch of footage yesterday and the reactions are starting to pop up all over the internet.  This first write-up excerpt comes from Garth Franklin at DarkHorizons.com – someone whose reviews I tend to agree with:

James Cameron showed up in San Diego an hour ago to show off 24 minutes of footage from the film at the most anticipated presentation at the show amongst non-Twilight fans.  The collection of around five or so scenes from different sections of the film meant we only got a disjointed look at the story. What it mainly was doing was showing off the visuals which truly are breathtaking, groundbreaking but not earth-shattering.  Specifically the texture rendering and lighting is superb. The movements and skin texture of the all CG blue Na’vi aliens are detailed enough that it often looks like actors in makeup. Only the tiny waists and yellow cat-like eyes took away from the photo-realistic illusion but give the blue pastel zebra/horse/cat hybrid creations a very alien look.

The environment and non-Na’vi creatures were more notably CG, especially one scene with attacking alien beasties that seemed more George Lucas than James Cameron in tone.  Plants and jungle recreations though were simply beautiful, especially a night scene where the characters traverse a bioluminescent forest utterly rich in biodiversity. The final scene involving harnessing and flying a winged creature was also pretty spectacular.

The 3D itself is utilized EXACTLY what the technology should be – never drawing attention to itself, immersing you in the world rather than distracting you with gimmicks. Can’t really recall one moment where someone throws or points something outward to deliberately show off that you’re watching 3D in action.  Visually it looks like one of the most ambitious projects ever made, and certainly in terms of CG photo realism no other film comes close thus far. The technology is not entirely there yet, but more often than not throughout the runtime the “Avatar” footage managed to make the illusion 100% real for me (and I’m a VERY tough judge on CG visual effects).

This other guy is much more exuberant/geekier about what he saw, and he talks about a few of the scenes in more detail.  The good news is it looks like Cameron’s going to pull off the biggest box office explosion in history, and he’s going to revolutionize the way movies are made and watched.  Additionally, 15 minutes of footage from the film will be screened for free in IMAX 3D theaters around the world on August 21st.  Pretty cool of you, Jimmy, pretty cool.  The bad news is we have to wait until fuckin’ December for the full movie.  Sounds like it’s worth the wait.

 *whaddya say, ‘Gansett – sponsorship?

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  • danger

    shit's gonna be sick. guy's smart putting it our right before awards season.

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