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Avatar Day wrap-up

Aug. 24, 2009by: Jenna Busch

Ed. note: We sent intrepid reporter Jenna Busch to her local theater to check out "Avatar Day." This is her report.

I just got to check out 16 minutes of the upcoming (and endlessly plugged) film AVATAR. James Cameron, I must shake your hand. And not just for what I saw. You somehow managed to keep this all a secret...those non-disclosure agreements must have included some sort of demon blood pact.

We've all seen the teaser trailer by now and to be honest, most of us were underwhelmed. It looked pretty, but for a film this hyped and with reports from Comic Con saying that it will change cinema forever, I was expecting a bit more. But what I saw last night blew me away! I'm not going to say that it changed my life or I had some sort of religious experience, but it was absolutely beautiful.

From the time they let the lucky viewers in until the preview started, the theater was buzzing. People who didn't come in together were chatting it up, introducing themselves and deciding to meet later. There were long discussions about James Cameron and cinema in general. (I had no choice but to listen. They made me leave my cell phone in the car. Might as well cut off my arm.) And when the lights went down there was a huge round of applause.

We were shown a few scenes, beginning with the set up. Crippled war veteran Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) wheels his way into a military scene. One of the higher ups is explaining that where they are stationed is one of the most dangerous places in existence due to a race called the Nav'i. (They're the purple dudes you've seen on the posters.) Sully is put into what looks like an MRI machine by Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) and told to keep his head down. His brain is transferred into a Nav'i body, eight feet tall, complete with long braid, yellow eyes and a tail he can't control. They try to keep him still, but he wants to take the new body out for a test drive and leaves the facility. Once he's outside (new scene by the way), he is attacked by weird little creatures and saved by another, female Nav'i named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). We're in CGI land now. From here on in, it's all about the beautiful, glowing, sherbert colored landscape and the purple creatures. (Thanks for making me crave sherbert, by the way. If I gain weight, I blame you Mr. Cameron.) We saw another scene where Jake is taken to a mountain full of giant flying creatures, taming one for a rite of passage, and a really impressive fight/chase scene with Jake and a giant birdy/cat dinosaur thing.

So here's the verdict. The story seems pretty simple. Get a new body, meet a tough chick who can't stand you at first, but learns to care for you after you do something to impress her. The guys in the tribe have no respect for the new guy (I can almost guarantee one of them has a crush on Neytiri and hates Jake for that, but will grudgingly shake his hand at the end or sacrifice himself to save Jake in some noble way.) Fine, I guess, but nothing earth shattering. And I've only seen a bit from the first half of the film, so I could be wrong.

But the CGI is incredible. Incredible. Stunningly beautiful. And a bit freaky. After seeing Sam Worthington in TERMINATOR: SALVATION, I know how he moves. Nav'i Jake moves exactly the same way. The facial expressions are spot on. And for those of you who freak out about the whole uncanny valley thing (look it up for details, but basically it's a repulsion for something really close to human but not quite...usually CGI eyes are the culprit), AVATAR has that pretty much figured out. Don't make the eyes human. We don't have anything to compare it to, so it looks pretty real. The bodies are built differently as well, so the movement makes sense. And between the colors, the glowing plants, the flying pterodactyl things with beautiful markings...just gorgeous.

The studio didn't do itself any favors by restricting the shots in the teaser trailer. Unless this is some kind of campaign to take away some of the expectation and...sorry. I like conspiracy theories. Anyway, the other thing I have to mention here is that I saw the footage in IMAX 3D. AVATAR may silence the ongoing debate about whether or not 3D is fad or the future. UP was lovely in 3D. BOLT was too. Either one of them would have been just as nice in 2D. But this...this is a revelation for the third dimension. It almost made me forget how uncomfortable the glasses were. It absolutely adds to the film, and if this is what the future of 3D looks like, sign me up for my custom pair. (Jeffery Katzenberg has a deal with Luxotica eyewear to make them. He says we'll all have movie glasses in the future.) I'm not only dying to see the rest of the film, but I can't wait to see if this does what I think it will do for the future of 3D.

Source: JoBlo.com

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+1
8:15AM on 08/24/2009

Roll on Dec

Thx for the write up Jenna, I'm really looking forward to this (even more so now). Trailers just don't do a film justice
Thx for the write up Jenna, I'm really looking forward to this (even more so now). Trailers just don't do a film justice
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8:28AM on 08/24/2009

A secret..

That whole Avatar day was a scam. A big marketing ploy.

Anyone try getting tickets and it read it was sold out?

Total bullshit.

I work at a local imax theater and our two showings had a combined 115 patrons out of a possible 700. Maybe it was just our theater?

No

All theaters had to reply to the company email stating how many ppl were in their theaters..all you saw was 65 here, 85 there, one or two theaters broke 100. Total bs

The footage was alright. Nothing that got me
That whole Avatar day was a scam. A big marketing ploy.

Anyone try getting tickets and it read it was sold out?

Total bullshit.

I work at a local imax theater and our two showings had a combined 115 patrons out of a possible 700. Maybe it was just our theater?

No

All theaters had to reply to the company email stating how many ppl were in their theaters..all you saw was 65 here, 85 there, one or two theaters broke 100. Total bs

The footage was alright. Nothing that got me crazy about. The scenes that looked cool were actually in the quick trailer at the end that showed the battle between humans and the navi. Other then that..not that serious. Im actually more hyped to see Final Destination 4 in 3d.

I totally backed this movie and will still see it but still not impressed. Laughed at this whole "site shut down" and "sold out" stunts
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+1
9:35AM on 08/24/2009

someone please explain!!

i didn't make it to a screening, can someone please explain how the 3D used here is different than 3D used in other movies? just exactly how does it "add to the film" in ways that are different than used before? i'm dying to know!
i didn't make it to a screening, can someone please explain how the 3D used here is different than 3D used in other movies? just exactly how does it "add to the film" in ways that are different than used before? i'm dying to know!
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-2
9:38AM on 08/24/2009

Good Grief

It's fine to make gimmick movies and tell fun stories or even great stories, but if this is all that movies are going to be about, (glasses and aliens) then call me old fashioned, but, I want none of it.

I'm not opposed to this and I realize they have to hype it up to a ridiculous extent to sell tickets and make people believe that this is important. But will the Godfather be any less of a great movie if since it's not in 3-D? Will One flew over the Cuckoo's nest be any less powerful? I
It's fine to make gimmick movies and tell fun stories or even great stories, but if this is all that movies are going to be about, (glasses and aliens) then call me old fashioned, but, I want none of it.

I'm not opposed to this and I realize they have to hype it up to a ridiculous extent to sell tickets and make people believe that this is important. But will the Godfather be any less of a great movie if since it's not in 3-D? Will One flew over the Cuckoo's nest be any less powerful? I don't think so. But we are in danger of losing movies like this already with Michael Bay's and James Cameron's changing how we watch things.

All this is going to do is force movies with an issue or a great story out of business. Or worse. It'll force movies like those to become 3-D. And how pointless is that?

I love big action movies. I love them when they're done right, and I'm not opposed to cinema being reinvented. I just think this is being blown out of proportions and before calling something revolutionary shouldn't you let it happen first?

It's great that we have sound and colour with our movies today. They really help tell the story and bring us in. But to see things popped out of the screen, well, that only helps some movies and stories.

Anyway. I hate complaining about this but it's just a way for Cameron to out do himself. 10 or 20 years after this he'll have something else to sell. If not him, someone.
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10:12AM on 08/24/2009

Went to this in DC

If the theater I was at is any indication, AVATAR might be in trouble. After the footage finished there were laughs and boos. USA Today was out in the lobby filming people's reactions and had a hard time trying to find a positive one.

I thought the footage was good, not great. The 3D was impressive, especially in the non-action scenes of people just talking. (I didn't notice anything drastically different about it, except that I didn't get the headache I usually get.) The CGI was really
If the theater I was at is any indication, AVATAR might be in trouble. After the footage finished there were laughs and boos. USA Today was out in the lobby filming people's reactions and had a hard time trying to find a positive one.

I thought the footage was good, not great. The 3D was impressive, especially in the non-action scenes of people just talking. (I didn't notice anything drastically different about it, except that I didn't get the headache I usually get.) The CGI was really good, but when you watch a 5 minute scene with nothing obviously "real" about it, it still felt more like a cartoon or a video game. My biggest worry though is still the story. Every scene we saw seemed really cliche from a plot standpoint and some of the dialogue was awful. When the girl tells the guy he has a strong heart everyone in the theater laughed. I'm hoping the preview footage was just awkwardly cut together and that the actual movie fares a little better.
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+2
10:36AM on 08/24/2009
I loved the footage. Oh well. I lose.
I loved the footage. Oh well. I lose.
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11:51AM on 08/24/2009

JUST

watch the damn movie december 18th
watch the damn movie december 18th
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11:51AM on 08/24/2009
xxxoverridexxx, thanks for that info, very interesting.. somehow I'm just not suprised! :(
As for the 3D glasses mentioned, Now that didn't suprise me at all, 3D glasses are the wave of the future? well of course they are, since theaters are giving them out to you for free with the price of admission now, but in the future, when we get companies like, RayBan and Oakley making thier own "stylish" versions of such glasses for $200 a pair when 3D goes more main stream, Theaters will then be
xxxoverridexxx, thanks for that info, very interesting.. somehow I'm just not suprised! :(
As for the 3D glasses mentioned, Now that didn't suprise me at all, 3D glasses are the wave of the future? well of course they are, since theaters are giving them out to you for free with the price of admission now, but in the future, when we get companies like, RayBan and Oakley making thier own "stylish" versions of such glasses for $200 a pair when 3D goes more main stream, Theaters will then be "renting" them to you for about as much as your $8 large popcorn when you don't have your own. Grrrr!
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1:35PM on 08/24/2009
I just expected to be wowed. And another thing which i couldn't take were the one liners. Every clip had this guy saying cliche one liners.

I just expected to be wowed. And another thing which i couldn't take were the one liners. Every clip had this guy saying cliche one liners.

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10:02PM on 08/24/2009
Hmm, so what were the one liners? I've seen the footage and don't remember a single one liner, at all.
Hmm, so what were the one liners? I've seen the footage and don't remember a single one liner, at all.
7:06PM on 08/24/2009
Yeah, but Cameron is the king of one-liners! It's his signature. Look at Aliens, T2 and Titanic! Full of cheesy, awesome one-liners.
Yeah, but Cameron is the king of one-liners! It's his signature. Look at Aliens, T2 and Titanic! Full of cheesy, awesome one-liners.
+0
2:31PM on 08/24/2009
Has the technology for 3D been improved? Because Beowulf 3D and Terminator 3D did NOT look 3D when I saw them. They just looked like layers sliding over one another, and it gave me a horrible eye ache, like someone was trying to rip my eyeballs out of their sockets. "uncomfortable glasses" are the least of my concerns. Since I haven't heard anything to quell my disgust in "3D" movies, I'm still adamant about seeing Avatar in reliable 2D, and staying far away from 3D.
Has the technology for 3D been improved? Because Beowulf 3D and Terminator 3D did NOT look 3D when I saw them. They just looked like layers sliding over one another, and it gave me a horrible eye ache, like someone was trying to rip my eyeballs out of their sockets. "uncomfortable glasses" are the least of my concerns. Since I haven't heard anything to quell my disgust in "3D" movies, I'm still adamant about seeing Avatar in reliable 2D, and staying far away from 3D.
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+3
5:59PM on 08/24/2009

I loved it

Wowed by the footage... I'd never seen anything like it before. I'm not going to make any predictions but from what I saw, this movie is going to be somethin' else
Wowed by the footage... I'd never seen anything like it before. I'm not going to make any predictions but from what I saw, this movie is going to be somethin' else
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6:08PM on 08/24/2009

I want to see what this looks like 2D

I'm curious. The 3D IMAX looks amazing though.
I'm curious. The 3D IMAX looks amazing though.
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+2
6:26PM on 08/24/2009
Avatar day was a success in my opinion. I much preferred seeing Avatar footage in 3D on the big screen than I did on my computer screen. I think Avatar will be a great movie, and I can't wait until it comes out in December.
Avatar day was a success in my opinion. I much preferred seeing Avatar footage in 3D on the big screen than I did on my computer screen. I think Avatar will be a great movie, and I can't wait until it comes out in December.
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8:34PM on 08/24/2009
The 3D was amazing. Those of you who piss and moan over "3D should not replace the story", have no idea what you're talking about. Avatar has a great story. In fact the script from 1997 was hailed as Cameron's masterpiece, and had many articles written about it. Go read the scriptment if you doubt the story.
The 3D was amazing. Those of you who piss and moan over "3D should not replace the story", have no idea what you're talking about. Avatar has a great story. In fact the script from 1997 was hailed as Cameron's masterpiece, and had many articles written about it. Go read the scriptment if you doubt the story.
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8:50PM on 08/24/2009
I've never seen anything 3d since lol. Jaws 3-D! And we all know how bad that was. When I was checking out this preview I felt like I was in the film watching everything as if I was right there. Kudo's to JC and can't wait to check out the whole thing in IMAX 3-D. I've watched the trailer and it just does not do it justice one bit.
I've never seen anything 3d since lol. Jaws 3-D! And we all know how bad that was. When I was checking out this preview I felt like I was in the film watching everything as if I was right there. Kudo's to JC and can't wait to check out the whole thing in IMAX 3-D. I've watched the trailer and it just does not do it justice one bit.
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+6
10:50PM on 08/24/2009
I've never had such an amazing experience in the theater since seeing The Matrix for the first time as a kid. The 3D preview blew my mind apart.
I've never had such an amazing experience in the theater since seeing The Matrix for the first time as a kid. The 3D preview blew my mind apart.
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11:06PM on 08/24/2009
I attended Avatar Day, and I must say that the 3D Avatar footage looked phenomenal. I'll be at the cinema opening day to see Avatar.
I attended Avatar Day, and I must say that the 3D Avatar footage looked phenomenal. I'll be at the cinema opening day to see Avatar.
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2:23AM on 08/25/2009

WAY TOO MUCH HYPE!!

This flick is getting the porn star treatment. And silly enough, it's just online fan-boy hype too.

I don't know, what little I've seen, just doesn't do it for me. I doubt I'll see it, but... eh... whatever. I'm just sick to death of the hype already. This comes out when... 2010?
This flick is getting the porn star treatment. And silly enough, it's just online fan-boy hype too.

I don't know, what little I've seen, just doesn't do it for me. I doubt I'll see it, but... eh... whatever. I'm just sick to death of the hype already. This comes out when... 2010?
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