Monday, 24 August 2009

Review: Avatar 3-D preview

Big Mike, dutifully put up my comments on Flash-Bang, this morning. Sadly, these were phoned in from the train, on the night of the preview, using a Nokia 3120 - not the best phone for writing emails. Had I known I'd have some time to elaborate, I'd have sent this off. So, the blog gets it.

Before I set across London to catch the Avatar preview at the Wimbledon IMAX, I'd heard that "fanboys" were moaning about the online trailer saying it looked like cut scenes for a video game. I was somewhat taken aback. So, Cameron's project that was supposed to revolutionise cinema is like a video game? After 14 years of development? Nah, can't be right I thought, so off I went.

Casually, I entered the Odeon IMAX at about 17:20. There were no tickets I discovered, you queued at a "control area" and handed over the print out from SeeFilmsFirst as you went in. It appeared that people were already queuing. I wasn't having any of that and went for a wander. I returned at about 18:10 and a healthy queue had formed. I was downstairs. I spoke to a couple of women in the queue and explained why I was there, to watch the preview and do a mini-review of it. One of them handed me a card (I need to get some cards done) for her website. Looks interesting for those who need managing;

Eventually, we got in and were handed the polarising, non-tinted, 3-D glasses that I recognised from attending the IMAX screening of Superman Returns. The cinema was not as crowded as I imagined. Maybe, South London is a bit far afield for most. (I was too late for the Waterloo IMX, irritatingly). the lights went down and the preview began.

Jim Cameron introduced the 15 mins, looking a little older now than I remember. Aren't we all? We first see a briefing about the planet. A grizzled vet with a face streaked with scars from huge claws puts the fear of god into the group listening. he is Col Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang) and he's warning them that they are going into hazardous territory. The scars on his face back up his words. Immediately I could see the appeal of the 3-D. At one point it felt as if we were part of that briefing, sitting in between some of the audience.

The next two clips are of Sam Worthington, as Jake Sully, in hospital. The first is with Sigourney Weaver as Dr Grace Augustine. Here she is analysing Worthington's character after an accident has rendered him a paraplegic. The next scene is when Jake Sully wakes in his avatar body. This is where we see the Na'vi for the first time. Anybody expecting photo-realistic CGI is going to be disappointed. It's not quite that but it's the best CG rendered humanoid creature that I've seen. Sully, against orders, gets out of bed and begins to walk like a newborn, tripping up and trashing expensive looking equipment.

The next scenes are made up of Sully training as his Na'vi avatar self. This is where the 3-D shows it's power over standard 2-D presentations. The planet of Pandora is nothing short of stunning as the 3-D is highlighted by Sully's avatar being chased by Pandoran predators and observing the plant and insect life in a separate clip.

The rest of the footage is more like a trailer with a flurry of clips. The human military technology is an extension of the tech that we saw in Cameron's 1986 movie Aliens with dropships and helicopters. the space technology mirrors future versions of vehicles we are familiar with.

The synopsis of Avatar is:
Jake Sully, a former Marine, is confined to a wheelchair following a war on Earth. He is chosen to participate in the Avatar program. His mind will control a healthy Na'vi body and travel to Pandora, a rainforest-covered moon with indigenous creatures that are both beautiful and deadly.
The Na'vi are sentient, humanoid beings, but considered primitive by humans as they attempt to take the moon by force. Jake has to decide which side he is on.
The movie opens on December 18th 2009.

Incidentally, what kind of article is this, I ask you? What does it serve to do? Is this what online journalism produces now? What an ignorant waste of space. One thing I hate it's rubbish reporting. I wish these talkback generators would stick to subjects they actually know something about. "Sycophants"? Offensive woman!

Rant over.

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