Thursday, July 9, 2009

Avatar: Fan Reactions That Don't Make Sense

I was browsing some info on Avatar (the upcoming James Cameron film) on Coming Soon recently when I cam across some very odd comments. I just thought I'd review a few of these to clear the air, lest anyone foolishly make the same mistakes:
"There's gonna be a lot of angry people asking for their money back because they thought this had to do with the Nickelodeon "Avatar: The Last Airbender" character and the upcoming M. Night Shyamalan trilogy"

First off, let's get past the name. Avatar is a name that Cameron selected something on the order of 10 years ago, when he first conceived (and was quite vocal in the press about) the project. I don't think that anyone will be walking into the theater with the expectation that the blue-skinned aliens have anything to do with The Last Airbender (or its live-action remake) If this were a tiny indie film for which there was nearly no publicity, then sure, but that's not the way Cameron's films are released (see Aliens and Titanic for counter-examples). Anyone going to see Avatar will have been flooded with advertising telling them exactly what the film is about.

OK, on to the even stranger:
"Avatar? this is such a fake name! This is so a freakin Alien movie. James Cameron? Sigourney Weaver? God who r they kidding?"

Now, obviously this person is just suffering from an overdose of caffeine and needs to take some deep breaths, but there's an important point to be made here. If you're going to this film expecting Aliens (not Alien, that was Ridley Scott and Sigourney Weaver), then you're going to be rather a sad panda. Both Weaver and Cameron are done with that storyline, and neither one of them would have been terribly interested in working on a re-hash. In a recent interview, in fact, he said that he and Weaver had had a conversation about this and that she wanted to stay away from playing Ripley all over again.

What worries me most about this film is that Cameron is too enthused with the technology. He's had some pet projects that his effects people have been hammering out for 10 years to make this film, and I'm left wondering if the net result will serve the story. I look to Abyss and Terminator 2 with hope in this respect. In both films, astonishing special effects were used to strong effect to serve the story. I'll hope that he continues to bring this level of craftsmanship to Avatar. One of those projects is the creation of a photo-realistic digital actor and scenes. Now, this might not seem revolutionary in the wake CG characters in The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, The Matrix Reloaded and other notable films, but remember that digital acting is still a relatively new field, and currently requires a massive effort to incorporate into a film. If Digital Domain manages to make it not only photo-realistic, but easy to reproduce, then we'll truly be entering the age of the digital actor.

Anyway, here's hoping it's worth the wait!