Obligatory thoughts on the Avatar footage

It's late so today it will only be a repost of something I wrote elsewhere about the James Cameron Avatar preview footage screened last night. This was written after hearing a lot of people complain and moan about a teaser released online a few days earlier.

Oh and if you don't know what Avatar is...click here

It was a massive mistake for them to release that teaser online first. FOX should have even waited for a few weeks to release the 2D trailer in theaters.

The footage looks insanely cool in 3D. And I think if that's what was out there first the whole tone of comments would be very different. There's a sequence with a chase through the forest that was unlike anything I'd ever seen in 3D before. It just sucks you right in. Also this isn't horror movie 3D where shit's randomly popping out at you as a gimmick. It's more about an infinite depth of dimension beyond the foreground.

That said, the 16 minute reel was a weird experience only because any time it seems like people were getting into it, the screen faded to black and we were thrown into another scene with no perspective. I think a series of clips like that works well for an industry screening, but for this whole big event thing there should been a bit more effort into editing an overall sequence that flowed together.

When I watched the teaser online I thought some of it did look kind of shitty. On the IMAX screen I wasn't thinking that way and worries of Jar Jar Binks faded away. Is it the second coming perfect like the hype set it up to be? Absolutely not. But as you begin to become immersed in the world with the 3D it doesn't feel remotely as cartoony as it appears to be in the fast cut teaser. Because I watched the teaser and because I was thinking way too much about how realistic it looked, I found myself focusing on it way too much. That looks fake. That looks cool. I couldn't stop thinking about it. Hopefully when you're sitting in the theater and the story is unfolding, it's possible to let go.

I still don't love the character design, but the animation is not shitty. It's quite good. And it seems like they've finally figured out that hollow eyes thing that makes CG characters feel very off. Do they look real and alive not CG? Not really. But again, I was over thinking the entire thing and while I did get sucked in for a moment or two, the clip edits never allowed me to become fully immersed.

Cameron has said this is his Dances With Wolves...and seeing the longer clips it's VERY clear how that's the case. It may even end up being so similar thematically that it's not a good thing. We'll have to see in December. Either way after some concern with the online teaser, I'm still very much looking forward to it. It'll be nice if over the next four months the hype and expectations normalize to the point where it's actually possible to enjoy. And even if it completely sucks as a standalone movie in 2D, it's going to be one helluva ride in an IMAX 3D theatre.

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