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Avatar (2009)


Sandor
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Glad to hear most are enjoying this, I do really think that Horner has put much more effort into this and yes of course there are his trademarks (that's never going to change), but Avatar showcases some of the best writing and innovation that Horner has employed in years.

Koray, it's hardly generic?! Perhaps you were being sarcastic?

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Glad to hear most are enjoying this, I do really think that Horner has put much more effort into this and yes of course there are his trademarks (that's never going to change), but Avatar showcases some of the best writing and innovation that Horner has employed in years.

Koray, it's hardly generic?! Perhaps you were being sarcastic?

If i may answer it, of course there are a lot of generic things in it. Obviously a case of the director demanding a popular summer blockbuster/Michael Bay movie sound (to depict an alien culture by new age-y spheres and tin whistles with high strings swelling in the background certainly isn't going to win you originality prizes). Add to this Horner's penchant for parading his old stuff prominently through the motions (Four Feathers Love Theme, danger motif, My Heart will go on etc.) and you have a score which you can hardly label 'fresh'. It's very subservient to the film, anyway.

AND this leads us to the movie itself: While i was spellbound by a lot of the 3-D spectacle, the whole storytelling borders on an intellectual insult. It was ok, because Cameron still is a class by himself as a director, but without some great setpieces (the flying sequence, the whole war segment) it would be in serious danger of hitting rock bottom.

PS: when the danger motif reared it's head at the end of the dstruction of Hometree, at least here in Berlin some cinemagoers commented on it being this or that movie. They got the movie wrong of course, but still... :)

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Obviously we're going to disagree on this, Cameron didn't ask Horner to write a Michael Bay sounding score and regardless of the fact of Horner's plagaerism issues, the score is quite dynamic in its use of choral, electronics and orchestra and it sounds nothing like the 'typical' score that the word generic implied.

I wouldn't say the movie insults intelligence, I think the approach of keeping the story reasonably simplistic was important considering the impressive technical aspects.

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Obviously we're going to disagree on this, Cameron didn't ask Horner to write a Michael Bay sounding score and regardless of the fact of Horner's plagaerism issues, the score is quite dynamic in its use of choral, electronics and orchestra and it sounds nothing like the 'typical' score that the word generic implied.

I wouldn't say the movie insults intelligence, I think the approach of keeping the story reasonably simplistic was important considering the impressive technical aspects.

Like I said, the story is simple, but - like Star Wars - borrows much from ancient mythological storytelling that it fits the fantasy nature of the film very well. It's the hero journey well told.

I do feel that the score seriously lacks identity. A score like E.T. - despite being a traditional orchestral score - still has its own voice so to speak. It's unique and its themes instantly distinctive. Even Titanic had a unique aural landscape (despite borrowing from Enya). Avatar is very limited in that regard. It's effective in the film, but the score could have drawn a lot more attention if the themes were more striking (and if a movie deserves memorable music, it's Avatar).

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I like how the main theme (is it the love theme?) in "The Bioluminescence of the Night" starts with two ascending notes that makes you think it's about to make a statement of the love theme from Titanic, but then veers off to become its own theme. Nearly had me there, James!

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Obviously we're going to disagree on this, Cameron didn't ask Horner to write a Michael Bay sounding score and regardless of the fact of Horner's plagaerism issues, the score is quite dynamic in its use of choral, electronics and orchestra and it sounds nothing like the 'typical' score that the word generic implied.

I wouldn't say the movie insults intelligence, I think the approach of keeping the story reasonably simplistic was important considering the impressive technical aspects.

Well, it can be as dynamic as a neurotic staffordshire terrier stung by a tarantula, the fact remains that there's a general aesthetic which oozes in trailer/video game music clichés - that's just not open for debate. It is reasonably engaging in it's simplicity and, as usual for Horner, melodic richness. But the only thing Horner can really offer here are high production values.

As for the film, i liked the effect it had on me with it's visual splendor, but a lot of the storytelling was cringeworthy. At least it will bring new age-y posters with frolicking unicorns resting before moonlit waterfalls back into fashion. And that can be not an altogether bad thing. :)

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I like how the main theme (is it the love theme?) in "The Bioluminescence of the Night" starts with two ascending notes that makes you think it's about to make a statement of the love theme from Titanic, but then veers off to become its own theme. Nearly had me there, James!

There's a main theme? The most recurring piece of music I could pick out was the danger motif.

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I like how the main theme (is it the love theme?) in "The Bioluminescence of the Night" starts with two ascending notes that makes you think it's about to make a statement of the love theme from Titanic, but then veers off to become its own theme. Nearly had me there, James!

There's a main theme? The most recurring piece of music I could pick out was the danger motif.

In all honesty Koray, do you listen to the music with any attention? Listen to the Becoming One with the People, Becoming One with Neytiri. That is one long development of the Love theme or the main theme which is really the most prominent thing on the soundtrack, featured on every other track.

Then there is the flying theme or wonder theme which is featured in Climbing the Iknimaya and Jake's First Flight which is heavily influenced by the theme from Glory.

And finally there is the "Sons of Na'Vi" theme or Independence theme or it sure sounds like it, if I can read film music tropes correctly :) which is the anthemy theme in Gathering the Na'Vi Clans and War.

The bad guys (humans) do not seem to have a theme. Danger motif is the closest to it I guess. The metallic or mechanized sounds and electronica are part of the sound world of the humans though.

And considering that Horner recorded nearly 3 hours of music, there should be a large chunk of unreleased material in the film which could contain more themes.

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I like how the main theme (is it the love theme?) in "The Bioluminescence of the Night" starts with two ascending notes that makes you think it's about to make a statement of the love theme from Titanic, but then veers off to become its own theme. Nearly had me there, James!

There's a main theme? The most recurring piece of music I could pick out was the danger motif.

In all honesty Koray, do you listen to the music with any attention? Listen to the Becoming One with the People, Becoming One with Neytiri. That is one long development of the Love theme or the main theme which is really the most prominent thing on the soundtrack, featured on every other track.

Then there is the flying theme or wonder theme which is featured in Climbing the Iknimaya and Jake's First Flight which is heavily influenced by the theme from Glory.

And finally there is the "Sons of Na'Vi" theme or Independence theme or it sure sounds like it, if I can read film music tropes correctly :angry: which is the anthemy theme in Gathering the Na'Vi Clans and War.

The bad guys (humans) do not seem to have a theme. Danger motif is the closest to it I guess. The metallic or mechanized sounds and electronica are part of the sound world of the humans though.

And considering that Horner recorded nearly 3 hours of music, there should be a large chunk of unreleased material in the film which could contain more themes.

According to people who had a chance to actually see the movie, the score is misrepresented on album. The War cue is apparently only the first part of the sequence and so on. But "misrepresented" is a bad word, for the score on album runs 74 minutes and there is not a single weak track on it. Which means now I need to see the movie. And I didn't want to, honestly.

Karol

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Not a single weak track? The first 20 minutes are boring as hell.

Zimmer would have SO better!

Intense muscle-pumping action every minute that doesn't take a break for boring trivialities like harmony. No way! It's all about gut-crunching intensity. Whoah. Everything he scores is like automatically badass and great and can beat up sixty dinosaurs before breakfast. And that's super-boss since c'mon, dinosaurs suck. I mean I COULD listen to other composers BUT I could also buy a Hans Zimmer score and get a full train of sweetness crashing with ANGER like some kind of angertrain. He COULD use other chord structures, but why would he want to? I mean look at his scores, the more people he hires on the album, the more he buffs up to awesome. And Zimmer NEVER holds back with those power chords, every time I hear them it's like being slammed through puberty again - twice.

You might say 'bad technique.'

I say 'Kicking so much ass in EVERY direction with each note, being badass doesn't leave you TIME to obey the rules.'

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I'll tell you I'm enjoying Sherlock Holmes right now much than I did Avatar.

And btw QMM, you're talking to the only guy that adores JNH's Michael Clayton. Everyone else thinks it's boring and uninteresting. I prefer subtle atmospheric music, but something interesting has to be going on. Avatar is just boring.

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Having not heard a single note and baring in mind Horner's lacklustre output in recent years I'm not expecting anything special from his Avatar score, but a liitle bit of me is hoping a cynical outlook is sometimes what is needed, for a score to take one by pleasant surprise.

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Structurally I would classify the themes of this soundtrack to more like something out of The Rocketeer. The theme's aren't quick phrases that you can immediately pick up on. They're full on "paragraphs" that form into a theme. But they are certainly there, and weaved through the score, it's just not something you can pick up on when you're skipping through the middles of tracks. Much in the same way if you skip through tracks of The Rocketeer you're hard pressed to notice a theme, and yet there are two profoundly memorable and beautiful themes in that score.

Unlike Titanic, where there's a bold statement every other minute. (And that worked well for that film).

I certainly believe those from the ADHD generation will not be able to find any themes in this work. Those with patience and willing to hear something develop will be rewarded.

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Saw the movie. Really enjoyed it. Thought the score generally worked. If it wasn't Stephen Lang, the climax would get really, really tedious. He's great fun, as is Worthington. I didn't really care for Weaver in it.

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Structurally I would classify the themes of this soundtrack to more like something out of The Rocketeer. The theme's aren't quick phrases that you can immediately pick up on. They're full on "paragraphs" that form into a theme. But they are certainly there, and weaved through the score, it's just not something you can pick up on when you're skipping through the middles of tracks. Much in the same way if you skip through tracks of The Rocketeer you're hard pressed to notice a theme, and yet there are two profoundly memorable and beautiful themes in that score.

Unlike Titanic, where there's a bold statement every other minute. (And that worked well for that film).

I certainly believe those from the ADHD generation will not be able to find any themes in this work. Those with patience and willing to hear something develop will be rewarded.

Great post, I agree completely.

For what it's worth, here's my (slightly gushing :angry:) review.

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I didn't know you wrote for Den of Geek, Charlie. That's become one of my regularly visited sites.

Yeah, I don't do it that often (mainly because I don't have the time) but I do have a few things on there, from time to time. Mostly Trek stuff. It's a really fun site, though. Glad you're a visitor.

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Avatar..what can I say but this film not only lives up to it's hype, but it kicks it firmly in the butt.

This movie will change the face of filmmaking forever. I don't even feel like seeing another 2D film theatrically after that. It's that awesome.

Cameron, you are a God.

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Before I left work, we had only sold 60 midnight show tickets. And it's gonna have mean competition next week with all the Christmas day releases. I smell a bomb.

If Zimmer scored it you wouldn't be smelling anything. Just kidding :angry:

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No, that would be an entirely different smell.

(Sorry, I couldn't resist :angry:).

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Well another listen of the album yesterday only solidified my appreciation of the music. Even with all the Hornerisms, this music represents the musical tradition which is becoming a rare breed in Hollywood. Emotional, full bodied thematic orchestral score. It was satisfying to listen to one of those. Wearing heart on its sleeve. Telling a story, transporting you aurally to another place.

I know film critics are too intelligent to stoop to liking this type of music as it obviously undermines their right to make emotional decisions purely based on visuals (damn the composer who is trying to manipulate them!) and with such traditional and expected musical sounds no less. I guess James should have done avant garde and blood curdling screams and moans for 2 hours peppered by slapping of twigs against a drum frame while lighting a donkey on fire. That is something new and as we know new is always, ALWAYS, good. Or then again, maybe not.

As for the plot of the film receiving some criticism for obvious recycling of ideas ranging from the story of Pocahontas to obvious Greek nomenclature. I hope no one expected from this film some deeply thoughtful and ruminative, many faceted and philosophical writing or angsty explorations about human nature and existence accompanied by oh so subtle but illuminatingly heart tugging performances that lay before us the whole scope of human emotion. Everything about this film promises popcorn. Albeit flashier popcorn and visual thrills.

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As for the plot of the film receiving some criticism for obvious recycling of ideas ranging from the story of Pocahontas to obvious Greek nomenclature. I hope no one expected from this film some deeply thoughtful and ruminative, many faceted and philosophical writing or angsty explorations about human nature and existence accompanied by oh so subtle but illuminatingly heart tugging performances that lay before us the whole scope of human emotion. Everything about this film promises popcorn. Albeit flashier popcorn and visual thrills.

What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

Then I stand corrected my sensei. As I have not seen the film yet I can't go any further into this discussion. How much time was sacrificed for this issue in the movie? Was it thoroughly and satisfyingly handled in a way it really became the thing you took away from the film? If so then excellent.

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :angry: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :huh: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

Avatar is in no way 'deep', nor does it need to be. It's a classic story told well with unique and original concepts added to it. The Phantom Menace would have benefitted greatly had its primary storyline been as direct and 'familiair' as Avatar. Instead, TPM is more political and it's unclear where the focus is (IMO the weakest point of the film).

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :huh: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

;)

But then, remember how deep a lot of people found GLADIATOR in 2000. I give AVATAR one year and 2, 3 other 3-D spectacles later before people begin to find it really square, a bit like THE ROBE as the first CinemaScope film in 1953.

Cameron still is the Cecil B. DeMille of our time, a real showman. But all the fuzz which is crowding social media these days of AVATAR being the second coming of motion pictures is just silly. And this is coming from someone who has seen it in Digital 3-D and feeling happy as a clam most of the time.

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :huh: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

It all depends on your level of perception. The film is layered in that way, as are all Cameron films, and that's why James Cameron is a genius, whereas a wannabe filmmaker like Roald, is just a jealous twat throwing peanuts from the gallery.

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :huh: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

It all depends on your level of perception. The film is layered in that way, as are all Cameron films, and that's why James Cameron is a genius, whereas a wannabe filmmaker like Roald, is just a jealous twat throwing peanuts from the gallery.

You're really an ass you know. You never really read my posts (which were solely positive of the film) did you?

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Oh come on Roald, you know that's something that Cameron himself would say to you on set, or worse.

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Oh come on Roald, you know that's something that Cameron himself would say to you on set, or worse.

??? You're being nonsensical to the limit now. IF I would be criticising his film I'd understand, but I've been very positive of the film. So in all honesty; what IS your problem here....?

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I mean, Cameron would tell you that you are a pile of dog-dung, no matter how well you do your job.

That's just how he do. t's a philosophy that I admire.

And again, thats what makes him James Cameron.

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I mean, Cameron would tell you that you are a pile of dog-dung, no matter how well you do your job.

That's just how he do. t's a philosophy that I admire.

Perhaps the difference is that he is James Cameron and you are... Well, what have you achieved exactly...? I would take anything he'd say seriously based on his accomplishments.

So leave the bitching to those that have earned the right to do so and next time you have a problem with those who don't consider JC to be 'a God' leave me out of it. I respect James Cameron and Avatar and you're still an ass for insinuating I do otherwise.

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Avatar is in no way 'deep', nor does it need to be. It's a classic story told well with unique and original concepts added to it. The Phantom Menace would have benefitted greatly had its primary storyline been as direct and 'familiair' as Avatar. Instead, TPM is more political and it's unclear where the focus is (IMO the weakest point of the film).

The biggest problem is that TPM hasn't got a swing to it. The storytelling, performances and dialog feel static and stilted. There's no drive.

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Perhaps the difference that he is James Cameron and you are... Well, what have you achieved exactly...?

More than you ever will buddy, that's for sure.

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Perhaps the difference that he is James Cameron and you are... Well, what have you achieved exactly...?

More than you ever will buddy, that's for sure.

Yeah sure.

Back to Avatar please.

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Perhaps the difference that he is James Cameron and you are... Well, what have you achieved exactly...?

More than you ever will buddy, that's for sure.

And that's astounding, especially for someone sporting the maturity of a 10-year old...

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I mean, Cameron would tell you that you are a pile of dog-dung, no matter how well you do your job.

That's just how he do. t's a philosophy that I admire.

And again, thats what makes him James Cameron.

Reminds me of Kevin Rudd when he made some assistant cry because he couldn't find his hair dryer.

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What, are you kidding me? The idea of a disparate consciousness being able to inhabit and leave a 'body' is as deep as it gets. It addresses the most fundamental issue of all, albeit in a way that clearly flew over your, and most all critics heads.

And I bet it spends most of its running time expoloring this idea, right? :huh: It's like saying the prequel trilogy is a mature study of human nature (which it kind tries to be ;)).

Karol - who can't see how is this deep at all

It all depends on your level of perception. The film is layered in that way, as are all Cameron films, and that's why James Cameron is a genius, whereas a wannabe filmmaker like Roald, is just a jealous twat throwing peanuts from the gallery.

I didn't say I can't read these "layers". What I said is that it is probably not the most imaginative way to present them, story-wise. From what I understand it is basically about character literally transcending his body. It's not a clever metaphor or anything. It's not like the stargate sequence in 2001.

But then, remember how deep a lot of people found GLADIATOR in 2000. I give AVATAR one year and 2, 3 other 3-D spectacles later before people begin to find it really square, a bit like THE ROBE as the first CinemaScope film in 1953.

Or even The Dark Knight from last year. Which, apart from being a great movie, was terribly overhyped. To an extent that it spoiled the movie for many people, who thought they will watch "the greatest movie ever made". Many of my friends were underwhelmed. And that's because of this buzz. And this comes from someone who absolutely loves the film.

Karol

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Avatar is not necessarily deep, in the sense of a Dostoevsky novel. But it is profound. It is a majestic and simple tale of human vs. nature.

And no such story needs to be more complicated. If you're going in to look for a 3-hour talk movie about the merits of chopping down a tree to save a dying planet whilst raping an alien world and all the life on it, you've not quite found the right movie for yourself. The answer to that question is a given from the get go. It has been a given in every story about man vs. nature since the first Greek Myths, to Lawrence of Arabia (for some things are written!), to this film.

But the film asks questions when it needs to....it makes us, the people of this world, at this time, ask about what we are doing to our own world. It makes us question human's lost spiritual connection with the universe in which we live. There are layers to be found in this film, including the doppelgänger-like dynamic of Jake, the main character, and his avatar, who loses his spiritual connection with his own broken human self. From the grey color palette and uncomfortable composition of shots in the machine run human bases, to the gorgeous palettes and compositions of nature, that theme pervades the film. And that in my beliefs is what great sci-fi does at its best.

I found Avatar to be *great* science fiction. Because it is a well and true allegory. Does it sit down for an hour with the antagonist and explore his subconscious stream of thought about what he's doing to the planet? No. But it also gives us insight into that on more than one occasion. Not in outright words, but in the acting, the expressions. Even the baddest of the bad have an air of solemn duty at the darkest times of the film.

And it does all this in one of the most astonishingly well-paced nearly-three hour movies I have ever seen. Can 2001 say that? Errm. 2001 was a lot of things, well paced wasn't one of them, unless you are having fun with some anti-motionsickness medicine. The Dark Knight is not even in this league of story-telling, and again it suffered from sketchy pacing. Avatar is the best put together narrative I've seen in a film of this scale since...well I can't remember when, maybe The Lord of the Rings Trilogy.

I give AVATAR one year and 2, 3 other 3-D spectacles later beforepeople begin to find it really square, a bit like THE ROBE as the firstCinemaScope film in 1953.

I completely disagree. This is in another class film

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Well this film seems to have a lot of layers after all and messages in abundance. I am glad it is so. I can't say anything about the film itself yet as I am going to see it next Tuesday. I was just refering to the fact that the plot has been called a very typical and accused by some critics of borrowing from many different sources. I do not see this as a bad thing as same stories have been and are worth repeating in different guises through out history and bear important messages for different ages.

I was not even aware of this film a short while ago but now I am really interested in seeing it. The positive comments here in this thread have piqued my curiosity even more.

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Having seen this again tonight, in glorious IMAX, I have to say this was the one movie I was unsure of this entire year. And I'm astounded by how far beyond my expectations it has gone.

There have been only a few occasions in my life where I have been so captivated by a film: when I first saw Star Wars in 1987 at the ripe old age of 7, Jurassic Park in 1993, The Matrix in 1999, The Lord of the Rings (which I consider one movie). Of the hundreds of films I've seen, only 4 had left me with this magical feeling. And now it's 5.

What else can I say? My lady and I both were sad to leave Pandora at the end. As was the other couple we went with. And you know a film is good when you're sad that the credits pop up.

There are little tiny moments that are simply magical. I mean, what would YOU do in a field of giant flowers with that defense mechanism? :) I was welled up with emotion more times in this movie than all movies I've seen this year, excluding perhaps the nostalgia emotions associated with Star Trek. But that's not fair. This movie generated those emotions purely out of thin air, Star Trek did not.

The only caveat? I'm still tepid about 3D (the stereoscopic variety, not the CGI which is unbelievable in this film). Yes, it's done MUCH better with this movie, but it's still...eh.

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