Posted on Starpulse.
Friday was officially retitled “Avatar Day” in select theaters everywhere, and there were lines around the block in New York City for people waiting in line just desperate to see fifteen minutes of James Cameron‘s newest film. The marketing and word of mouth about “Avatar” has been going strong for years now, even before they had any footage to show of it. This is Cameron’s first piece of work after Titanic, and there must be a great deal of pressure to bring the world something even better than that mega blockbuster. Well, he might just have succeeded.
The official trailer premiered on Thursday the 21st and the reactions were mixed to say the least. Some people complained that the footage of the aliens, the Na’vi, looked more like a video game than revolutionary CGI. This is the danger of psyching up a film for years; a backlash of people who expected something more. The problem with a backlash from Avatar is that it cost over $200 million to make. They can’t afford audiences not being intrigued by this extremely expensive sci-fi flick, so the marketing arranged this Avatar Day. About fifteen minutes of footage was shown, with some of it taking place in the ‘real world’ of Avatar and most of it on the magical, exotic world of Pandora.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a paralyzed former Marine who agrees to take place in a program that places his mind inside a human-Na’vi hybrid. Humans cannot breathe on Pandora, so only through these controlled bodies can they explore Pandora. We get a glimpse of the human world where Jake first gets placed within the Na’vi, and his first uncomfortable steps as a giant blue alien creature. He causes a great deal of trouble just out of delight from walking again, and who can really blame him? Sigourney Weaver was also introduced as Dr. Augustine, and she seems to be part of the Avatar project herself.
Once Jake gets into the Na’vi body, there was no need to go back to the human world. In fact, once you go to Pandora in the film, it will likely be that you never want to see the human world in a movie again. It is one of the most visually stunning, creative, dangerous, and beautiful places ever seen on film. Full of creatures never seen before and the apparently noble, tribal race of the Na’vi. Keep in mind that I saw the film in 3D IMAX and I can’t imagine seeing it any other way. When Jake runs from a giant hungry beast, you feel like you are right there next to him running for your life, screaming as it leaps at your throat. The colors of Pandora are so vibrant that it almost hurts to look at, and just when you think you’ve seen enough, the clips introduced us to Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). She is clearly set up as a romantic interest for Jake, and meeting her leads to yet another gorgeous shot of the Pandora landscape. Without any fire or light, the entire forest lights up in neon bioluminescence, and you feel like this is a real world. One of wonder, and fantasy, but one you want to see as much of as possible.
In fact, when the clips were over, everyone kind of sighed, as if to say ‘no more?’ The footage gave very little of the actual plot and was all from the first half of the movie, so no real spoilers were given. You can’t say much about the dialogue or the acting since very little of it is seen … plus everything on Pandora is CGI so it is hard to say whether the acting can even correctly be judged at that point. What viewers can say is that this will be one of the most visually incredible films made so far, and that it will be required to see it in the theaters. No matter how big your TV is, it will never show this film the way it deserves to be shown: on a big screen IMAX with 3D images popping out at you lightning fast. People will have to see this in the theater just to really understand what the talk is all about, and that may be the only way Avatar will make its money back.
Personally, I can’t wait. Being in Pandora was like entering a world of beauty and excitement, one you want to be a part of and never leave. That alone is enough to see this film when it comes out in December, because even if everything else about the movie fails, the visual effects take it to a whole new level. One you really, really want to visit.