SDCC: Avatar

James Cameron’s highly anticipated (by me, natch, and just about every movie nerd worth their salt) 3-D Avatar, screened about 24-minutes of footage at Comic Con.  Essentially, the flick is an action fantasy, set on a foreign planet and involving a primal conflict between militaristic humans and a race of ten-foot-tall cat-like aliens called Na’vi.

I’ve read that some were disappointed with the footage, and it’s always difficult to take the word of the likes of Harry Knowles, Drew McWeeny, Alex Billington, et al.  The film critics that get excited for just about anything genre related, but especially a new Cameron movie.  But hearing from Jeffrey Wells, a critic that typically dislikes (or at least isn’t won over easily) this type of movie with condescending disdain, that the footage was something special.  Well, it gets us excited.


Wells’s reaction went something like this, “Jesus, this is something…oh, wow!…crap, this is new…oh, that‘s cool…this is so friggin’ out there and vivid and real…love it all to hell.”  Here’s is money quote:

I was transported, blown away, melted down, reduced to adolescence, etc. I mean, I saw some truly great stuff.

But I need to share one thing. As drop-dead awesome and mind-blowing as Avataris in terms of super-sophisticated CG animation that looks as real as anything sitting outside your window or on the next block or next continent, the bulk of it does appear to be happening in an all-animated world. Which means that after the first-act, live-human footage (i.e., laying out the plot basics, preparation for the Na’vi transformation, etc.) the film seems to basically be a superbly top-of-the-line animated action-thriller.

Which means that the visual climate and atmosphere of animation begins to settle in after a while and we’ll be watching something that’s one step removed from a “real” world. Which means that for people like me, Avatar may, beginning with the portion of the film in which the animation pretty much takes over, may not finally feel like a really solid and true-blue high-throttle experience because it lacks a certain biological completeness.

It’s the one thing that has me worried about the movie.  The good news is that on August 21, hence known as “Avatar Day,” IMAX theaters coast to coast will show 15-minutes of footage for free, an endless loop lasting all day.  Tickets will have to be reserved, but this is a brilliant way to market a movie, build word of mouth, etc.

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