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Unless the 3D and IMAX radically change what we have seen on our computer scenes, I don't see what's so special about these special effects. I mean, I've even seen the trailer in 3D and didn't like it, although maybe that's because I don't like 3D.

I will say that the vegetation looks pretty damn superb and realistic, but the machinery and Na'vi don't look revolutionary to me.

Mate, you are such an an ignorant unwitting victim of the times you are living in that nothing would satisfy you, nothing.

I'm pretty easily satisfied. If they just didn't make the film sound like the Second Coming of Christ I would probably be really looking forward to it.

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Initial Reactions the Morning After:

Good god! I, having my profession in the field of visual effects/3D animation, quite literally got chills and a genuine erection watching the visual effects! I don't know how to describe it, but the feel of the film is something very sensual. There is a mystique to the way the camera moves, the way things are revealed, the way shots are composed. It's not like your typical action visual effects sensory overload fest. Again, the only way I can describe it is it's like the film is one big sex scene.

When people say this is unlike anything you have seen before, they are right. And I think it's in great part due to the approach to that sensory overload that makes the difference. Visual effects blockbusters of late tend to follow a very messy visual approach. There is very little cohesion in what is happening on screen. It is now with Avatar that I realize just how poorly my industry has been doing its job of late. It's as though the people behind blockbusters had forgotten the power of phi (the golden ratio), the rule of thirds, or the way the human mind perceives the world.

As for the 3D effect, there is a noticeable difference between this and other 3D films up until this point, and that's because it is a lot less noticeable. It's hard to describe. It's a small part of what makes this film such a stunning visual achievement. But it is certainly a big sub-conscious contributor.

Story-wise, I will be honest I did not fully pay attention, just because I was so busy analyzing the visuals. Without spoiling things I will say it's no better than the story of Star Wars. It's an easy story with easy good and evil and a lot of depth in terms of the world being created. Star Wars was an unremarkable story if you really think about it as just a story, but it was a magical story and experience with a lot of breadth and depth in terms of everything presented having a history. And I don't know if I can quite say that Avatar is quite as magical a story and experience. It does however have a similar level of breadth and depth. And I will say this...the characters and story are clearly first. At points the visuals feel like they tie with the story elements in terms of priority, but they never exceed it.

James Horner's score...is awesome, it's familiar, yet distant.

There is only one suggestion (and now my goal for the month) I have: Watch it in IMAX.

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Got my AVATAR cd in the post this morning along with Jerry Goldsmith's INNERSPACE. Happy days are here again. It shall be a Christmas long remembered. It will soon see the end of John Williams....it will soon see the end of Hans Zimmer.

I'm loving the Leona Lewis song. Score is epic, big, loud, hints of GLORY, IN COUNTRY, LEGENDS OF THE FALL, TITANIC and the infamous danger motif rears its ugly head in the latter part of the cd.

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Unless the 3D and IMAX radically change what we have seen on our computer scenes, I don't see what's so special about these special effects. I mean, I've even seen the trailer in 3D and didn't like it, although maybe that's because I don't like 3D.

I will say that the vegetation looks pretty damn superb and realistic, but the machinery and Na'vi don't look revolutionary to me.

I'll fully admit that where this movie takes us in terms of the quality and process of visual effects are things 99% of people sitting in theaters will not appreciate. But for those of us who've been struggling to recreate an oil fire with particle effects for the last 10 years, it simply floored me every time I saw a fire or an explosion on screen. The end results are simply phenomenal.

For those of us who watched Beowulf or Davy Jones and could see the problems and limitations of motion capture technology at that time. The way the lighting was slightly off, shadows did not follow realistic umbra and penumbra. The way colors bleed together realistically. The way so many different tiny bits of detail in the faces are captured. This film represents earth-shattering processes.

Davy Jones was amazing. But he was one character. This movie does MORE than the artists for Davy Jones did....for MORE characters. The amount of work, the amount of data, the amount of hours in this film is just astounding.

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I listened to the score last night for the first time and it did nothing for me. I'm sure that it'll be much better with the movie, but right now it didn't impress me ;) I'll listen to it again today to see if it grows on me.

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It's a hard film to discuss realism with this film. Because it is extremely photorealistic. But the subject of the realism is completely fantastical. I think that helps with overcoming the uncanny valley. Honestly I'd say there's about 3 times in the movie where things looked off (without serious scrutiny), and 2 of them were because of the CG characters. And that's to me, someone who spends his life scrutinizing this stuff.

So does it overcome the uncanny valley when it comes to human-like characters? Yes. But moreover, the consistency of quality in the total package is so good, I doubt most people will be taken out of the film once they suspend their disbelief.

To give you a metric, after I saw Return of the King the first time, I had almost a dozen "things looking off" moments just when Rohan arrives at Pelennor fields.

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About what I expected then.

The movie is set on an exotic fantastical planet, so suspension of disbelief shouldn't be a problem anyway, so long as everything else works right in the movie, aside from the quality of visuals.

So, would you say you would've been just as convinced by the visuals, had the movie been set on earth. I'm thinking urban surroundings etc.

Sorry if I'm coming across as a tad anal, it's just that I do find this stuff interesting to chat about.

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Not at all anal, this is the stuff I love discussing as well.

So, would you say you would've been just as convinced by the visuals, had the movie been set on earth. I'm thinking urban surroundings etc.

Well considering urban environments are always easier to replicate than natural, I'd say if the artists and engineers tackled it exactly like this, with the only difference being the urban environments, it would be virtually flawless. As for the humans...believe it or not, I'd say it would be just as convincing..

It may sound like a stretch, but you have to understand how profound this movie is for character animation.

This movie really shows how far we've come since Gollum and Davy Jones. Those two characters existed happily within the uncanny valley, the uncanny valley made them better 3D characters. Why? Because they were characters that were designed to make us, the viewers, uncomfortable. If Gollum and Davy Jones were repulsive thanks to the uncanny valley, that was a good thing. They were innately repulsive, and that made the uncanny valley an asset to them.

The characters in Avatar do not have the luxury of taking advantage of the uncanny valley. These are characters that we are supposed to feel and see as beautiful creatures. Characters that are the good guys. And that's what makes them such a remarkable technical achievement. And seeing them on screen, seeing their stomachs slightly bulge against gravity, seeing small twitches, all that stuff makes them human. You don't feel the ugly feeling that the uncanny valley is renowned for.

And if Weta has accomplished that, then humans are just as doable.

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If this movie is so good, why the hell it looked so terrible in the trailers? (normally it's the other way around) And I don't mean vfx, but dialogues and plot. If I had to decide, just on the basis of the trailers, whether to go to a cinema or not, I wouldn't.

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Might be old to some, but to me its new, either way this is an EXCELLENT interview with Messrs Jackson and Cameron, filmed guerilla style, at Comic Con 2009:

Kudos to the clued up interviewer - he asks all of the right questions.

If you like the work of any of the above directors, this interview is a must see and the best I've seen in a long time. Very entertaining.

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Review: "Avatar is as old-fashioned and romantic as Titanic, and thrillingly, just as wonderful to watch."

What's so "groundbreaking" about that?!

Review: "It's a big fat lie."

Ah, I thought so!

Alex

Out of dozens and dozens of good to excellent reviews, you are naturally drawn to the LESS THAN AN HANDFUL of less than positive. What a surprise.

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$10 million budget for pre-production.

The computer infrastructure behind this movie is the *3rd largest* in the entire world. Combining that power together you have one of the top ten most powerful super computers in the world. Behind only programs backed by public funds. When you think about it that way, it's easy to see how they spent $500 million on this film.

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Empire has been off for a while, in fact I think they have lost the plot a little - I stopped trusting them when they gave Indy IV four out five stars.

I stopped trusting them when they gave AOTC five stars.

I trust The Sun even less, though. Especially when they said BATMAN FOREVER was the best film ever made.

<_<

As for Empire's stonker of a review for AotC, well they did go on to retract, months later.

if they did that they are a bunch of hypocrites.

Why? It's hard not to get sucked in when the Lucas machine is in full force and you really want to love a film. People's tastes change, they mature, they gain new knowledge and sometimes that leads to new appreciations, sometimes it leads to depreciations. It's not hard to fall in love, then ask yourself six months later why you ever loved that person in the first place.

I just see it like people really liking something, then noticing that many people dont, and then jump into the banwagon of the dislikers, just for not being mocked or critisized and 'be cool' with the main trend.

First impressions count sometimes.

And about maturing, ok if we are talking about kids and teenagers. But i dont think the magacine reviewers fall in that category.

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Unfortunately, my local theater does not sport 3D, so I probably won't have the opportunity to see it that way. Though, I'm hearing the 3D is not necessary to enjoy the film so I'm not missing that much.

I was really hoping to see it in 3D, though, as I detest 3D for it's random popping in-your-face images that simply make me want to look away with disdain, but I hear this film uses 3D differently and none of it is shot just so it can be in 3D. Too bad.

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Now that I picked up the soundtrack on cd and have had the opportunity to listen to it a few times, I actually like it. Not sure how it will play with the film yet, but standing alone I think it's pretty good. While it contains the inevitable Hornerisms, I think his extra effort is tangibly audible. But I am a fan of his, so don't take my word for it haha.

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I'd say I'm still a bit disappointed by the score. I certainly can't hear this 'years of work' that went into it. Maybe there's such a thing as giving a composer too much time.

And I don't like the song as much as I expected to (and I very often do enjoy the tacked-on pop songs, even if they're guilty pleasures sometimes).

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I saw AVATAR yesterday in Amsterdam (IMAX 3D).

The movie is good. Very good.

The special effects were great, although the Na'vi are - with the exception of some shots - not as realistic as Cameron would like (us) to believe. Especially the walking of the creatures suffers from those typical CGI animation movements. Can't put my finger around it exactly. At times it felt more like Beowulf than watching the next phase in CGI animation (surpassing Davy Jones).

But during the film you won't care at all, because the story is engaging enough and the characters, the planet and its creatures are just too fantastic to watch. :D

The music didn't do that much for me. It's not bad, but it lacks personality and has nothing that makes it distinctive.

In the end I had the feeling I had watched a truly imaginitive and special film and I would certainly recommend it. Just don't expect special effects that are lightyears beyond anything else you've ever seen.

Some will criticise the story, but this is a pure fantasy film and I've always felt fantasy films need simple, direct stories without becoming simplistic, because there is a difference.

And the 'avatar'-concept is something I've never seen before, so at its core there is something really original (at least for me).

The 3D is great, but I doubt that this (or any other) film will make the current state of 3D cinema essential. I'm sure somewhere down the line 3D will become the standard in cinema, but it's a long way down the road I think.

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I like it too. I wasn't so sure at first but it quickly grows on me. I didn't spot that many references. This score is no more plagued with them than Horner's greatest. And they are more subtle than usual.

As for the MV-like quality? Well, devil's in the details and there is a considerable difference in the quality of the writing. I just love these long pieces Horner does. Besides it all sounds more like James Newton Howard than anything else. Which is fine by me.

Karol - who, contrary to many people, can see what took so much time on this score.

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I like it too. I wasn't so sure at first but it quickly grows on me. I didn't spot that many references. This score is no more plagued with them than Horner's greatest. And they are more subtle than usual.

As for the MV-like quality? Well, devil's in the details and there is a considerable difference in the quality of the writing. I just love these long pieces Horner does. Besides it all sounds more like James Newton Howard than anything else. Which is fine by me.

Karol - who, contrary to many people, can see what took so much time on this score.

I agree completely, I think it's something that, when you listen to it a couple of times, the details really start to come out once you lose your preconceptions and relax. There's so many great little moments, and it has a remarkable balance to it that doesn't always come from an album on its own.

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By MV-like I mean the this modern eclectic approach in general. You know synths, ethnic percussion, choirs and such. As I said earlier, there is a difference.

Karol - who actually can't stand Carmina Burana (what an overrated piece of rubbish!)

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What do you mean?

I'm tired of O' Fortuna in much the same way that I'm tired of the Imperial March.

But the whole of Carmina Burana? No.

You're tight, I meant O Fortuna. Whenever someone makes a fast-paced choral piece, everybody seemm to say "oh, it's so Carl Orff". Like when "Duel of the Fates" first came out. When, really, DOTF is much better piece. I understand O fortuna might be an icon, but, to be frank, it is quite uninteresting piece. And, you have to admit, overused.

Karol

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