So you’ve been to the theater to see James Cameron’s new $400 – $500 film Avatar, and after having taken off the glasses I’m sure something you had to wonder was: Does it live up to the hype? If you’re anything like me, you heard absolutely nothing about this movie before August. More than likely though you started hearing some buzz when the first trailer came out in September or October. Then you started hearing that this was James Cameron’s first movie since Titanic and that he was pushing the boundaries of digital animation and cinema. Now, as the dust settles, is Avatar going to be James Cameron’s next Titanic? Or is it just another in a long line of gimmicky 3D movies?
In my humble opinion . . . it does live up to the hype.
// The Technology
While digital animation, effects, and green screen are nothing new in film making, the techniques Cameron has pioneered for Avatar are. By developing new motion capture techniques for actors, with emphasis on facial details, and blending that with Cameron’s own brand of CGI-the line between what is live action and digital effects are starting to blur together. As you watch the movie it is very hard to tell that most of what you are watching was created in a computer. It’s almost as if they added in digital imperfections to give the effects and animation a more realistic look. Also, the movie does a great job of utilizing 3D. Most of the 3D involves defining space within the screen with just enough popping out not to make it seem annoying.
// Word of Mouth
The general consensus that I’ve heard, for the most part, is that everyone is enjoying their Avatar experience. Friends that I’ve talked to, tweets that I’ve read, reports and blog posts that I’ve been reading all lead me to believe that Avatar is generating a considerable amount of positive buzz. When your movie makes back half of it’s reported budget on opening weekend AND gets a glowing review from hardline movie critic Roger Ebert, good buzz is sure to follow. Who knows, maybe this buzz will lead to Titanic sized attendance in the weeks to come.
// Final Thoughts
Call it cliché or just my own naïveté, but I am going to say that Avatar will be one of the top films of the year. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and while the general plot of the movie is something we’ve sort of all heard before, it truly is the journey and not the destination that matters. I bought in to the characters and what Cameron was selling, so much so that towards the end I didn’t know who was going to make it, and who wasn’t. And, as I’ve previously stated, the visuals in the movie are spectacular, especially when combined with the Hi-Defness of IMAX. There’s something in this movie for everyone, so if you’ve got the time during the holidays I say go out and check it out . . . after all, the king of the world is back.
// Avatar Articles and Posts of Interest
Local Review :: by Russel Kealoha of the Two Beer Queers and Metromix Honolulu
Local Review :: by Ryan Senega of Honolulu Weekly
Mainland Soundbites :: from AMC’s Script to Screen has excerpts from various trades
Crazy Tech :: from Screen Rant gives more details on Avatar’s new technology
The Titanic Effect :: from Hollywood.com looks at potential Avatar backlash
Pick Your 3D :: from the 3D Vision Blog breaks down the different 3D technologies in theaters