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IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-06, 05:01 PM
I think you're making some good points here, but I just want to say, are you sure you meant the term "comic relief"? I don't remember her being funny in her rants.
Yes, that's what I meant. Linda Hamilton plays it completely deadpan, and that's part of the humor. The best part is when she starts going completely over the top and her son has to interrupt her.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-06, 06:23 PM
I can't fathom the sort of mindset that would get worked up over the perceived political subtexts in a fictional story.

I can. When they're a little beyond "perceived." See also Ayn Rand.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-06, 06:31 PM
I can. When they're a little beyond "perceived." See also Ayn Rand.

Heinlein went overboard at times, too. The Cat Who Walks Through Walls got very annoying when people who thought air should be provided for free were basically called beyond reason and people you just can't argue with.

I can't fathom the sort of mindset that thinks I shouldn't get a little annoyed when I'm basically called stupid and practically insane because I disagree with the author. ;)

Phantomimic
2010-Jan-06, 11:17 PM
I hope I'm not making this political, but rather just negating the politics that you brought into it. *of course* people whose lives revolve around political arguments are going to have a "field day" with a popular movie. So what? Don't kid yourself into thinking that only one side of the spectrum does it.

Oops, sorry, I didn't mean to imply that only one side does it. I have seen a lot of ultraliberal people rant against the sexism, racism and other isms of certain movies. I was just merely reporting that it was happening with Avatar.


And that's just getting started. Natives aren't smart enough to save themselves. They need the help of a white guy! Hooray!

No they don't need the help of a white guy, they need the help of a guy who knows the strength and weaknesses of both side and who happens to be white.

Note: spoiler alert! Don't continue reading if you haven't seen Avatar.




In any case the white guy was not enough to save the day, in the end it was the nature force of the planet that had to step in to save them all.

JohnD
2010-Jan-06, 11:36 PM
Clint,
These new 3D films use polarised images for each eye, rather than the old red/blue stereoscopic pictures. You are given (or buy?) specs that filter out the inappropriate image. If you can see them in 2D, I don't think you will lose a thing, they aren't made in the old way that emphasises the 3D effect (except for the Pearl&Dean adverts). If you have to go to a 3D viewing, just close one eye or tape over one side of the specs and you'll see the film in normal 2D.

John

jamesabrown
2010-Jan-07, 03:07 PM
No they don't need the help of a white guy, they need the help of a guy who knows the strength and weaknesses of both side and who happens to be white.

Note: spoiler alert! Don't continue reading if you haven't seen Avatar.

But he was more than just a military advisor, the technical expert the community draws on in a crisis. Like the nineteenth-century Eurocentrism of Burroughs (Tarzan or John Carter on Mars), we see in Avatar that when a white male encounters people of color, he quickly becomes their king. Because white males are superior that way.

This movie has been compared often with Dances with Wolves, but while Kevin Costner did provide weapons and military strategy to his tribe to fend off an attack, he wasn't named chief for it. He simply took his place among his adopted family, and even exiled himself to protect them from the inevitable blowback (something I don't see our hero in Avatar doing.)

tofu
2010-Jan-07, 05:12 PM
Ripley was under the impression that Burke was acting independently when we tried to secure some aliens for Weyland-Yutani. Not that Weyland-Yutani would have done the right thing if Burke had suceeded, but hey, I am picking a nit.

One thing about Aliens that makes it stand the test of time is that the characters are complex.

Burke, for example, seems like a nice guy, and all the evil stuff he does (up to the medical lab incident) can be interpreted two ways. For example, Ripley's account of the message he sent to Newt's family sending them to the alien ship is simply that he "didn't even warn them" but Ripley might be exaggerating given her fear of the aliens. Maybe Burke's message said, "go to this grid square, take a picture of what you see, and report back to me" thinking that they would follow the letter of his order and not actually go inside the ship.

Then Ripley threatens him, and that's when he crosses over to obviously a bad guy. Afterward, there's a funny scene where Ripley accuses Burke. Hudson points out that, "wait a minute, we don't know (for certain that he's guilty)" and what amuses me is that Ripley doesn't offer any evidence. She simply says that Burke would sabotage the marine's freezers. That seems to convince everyone present, even though it's just more accusation.

When you watch the movie a second time, you realize that scenes were it initially seemed like Burke was "an ok guy" are actually examples of him being a jerk. It's obvious that he intentionally lets slip the length of Ripley's hypersleep.

The point is, Burke is an interesting and complex character, and there are other in the movie. The lieutenant for example, presents himself as an expert when he first meets Ripley. Then we see him disrespected by his subordinates because he's not really an expert. We seem him as incompetent and even cowardly. And in his last scene, he sacrifices himself for a fellow soldier - he dies a hero.

I just don't see much complexity in Avatar. The good guys are good. The bad guys are bad.

clint
2010-Jan-08, 12:45 AM
Clint,
These new 3D films use polarised images for each eye, rather than the old red/blue stereoscopic pictures. You are given (or buy?) specs that filter out the inappropriate image. If you can see them in 2D, I don't think you will lose a thing, they aren't made in the old way that emphasises the 3D effect (except for the Pearl&Dean adverts). If you have to go to a 3D viewing, just close one eye or tape over one side of the specs and you'll see the film in normal 2D.

John

Thanks, yes, as I said, I sneaked into the 3D version for a few minutes, and it was quite ok to watch it even without full 3D vision.
Very much unlike those earlier forms of 3D movie technology back in the 80s.
But you're right, the 2D version was quite impressive, too.

clint
2010-Jan-08, 12:58 AM
But he was more than just a military advisor, the technical expert the community draws on in a crisis. Like the nineteenth-century Eurocentrism of Burroughs (Tarzan or John Carter on Mars), we see in Avatar that when a white male encounters people of color, he quickly becomes their king. Because white males are superior that way.

This movie has been compared often with Dances with Wolves, but while Kevin Costner did provide weapons and military strategy to his tribe to fend off an attack, he wasn't named chief for it. He simply took his place among his adopted family, and even exiled himself to protect them from the inevitable blowback (something I don't see our hero in Avatar doing.)

Since I live on a continent a little less obsessed with race (at least recently), I was reading a different message into this:
that a guy with no training whatsoever is able to beat a team of top-notch multi-disciplinary scientists who had been preparing for many years
- "if only his heart is brave enough"

On the plus side, it makes the scientists look very human.
And for once they are clearly among the good guys here - they're even allowed to stay on the planet when all others have to leave.

Delvo
2010-Jan-08, 02:52 AM
we see in Avatar that when a white male encounters people of color, he quickly becomes their king.Since that didn't happen at all in Avatar, "seeing" it would be an indication of a problem you could use some help with...

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-08, 03:16 AM
Since that didn't happen at all in Avatar, "seeing" it would be an indication of a problem you could use some help with...

Wasn't the whole point of the avatars so they didn't see a white man?

Gillianren
2010-Jan-08, 03:37 AM
Wasn't the whole point of the avatars so they didn't see a white man?

We did. And maybe not "king," but there are an awful lot of sociological issues that were kind of glossed over. What's-her-name was supposed to be their next priestess, and she was supposed to be mated to their next king, at least that's what I got out of it. Also, king he may not have been but major spiritual figure and person who could unite the tribes he assuredly was.

jamesabrown
2010-Jan-08, 01:52 PM
On the plus side, it makes the scientists look very human.
And for once they are clearly among the good guys here - they're even allowed to stay on the planet when all others have to leave.

Until they run out of oxygen tanks.

jamesabrown
2010-Jan-08, 02:05 PM
We did. And maybe not "king," but there are an awful lot of sociological issues that were kind of glossed over. What's-her-name was supposed to be their next priestess, and she was supposed to be mated to their next king, at least that's what I got out of it. Also, king he may not have been but major spiritual figure and person who could unite the tribes he assuredly was.

Right. He was only the the sixth person to have been able to tame the deadly Pterodactyl (or whatever it was called), after maybe a week of practice with his own smaller version. That was all that was needed for his rival to back down and whisper reverently. If that doesn't make him the actual King, then it certainly makes him Uber-Navi.

As a friend of mine remarked after seeing the movie, Cameron certainly knows how to tap into the fantasies of geeks. Virtual reality, taking over super-bad life-forms, flying dinosaurs, falling in love with the tribe princess, beating the faceless identical soldiers with primitive weapons--all major themes in what every World of Warcraft geek would desperately want.

Imagine a different Avatar--you plug into a computer and find yourself on another world in the body of animal the size of a shrew--with a brain stem to match. You blumber around a bit desperately hungry all the time. You encounter a tribe and they attack you because you smell different. The only one who will mate with you is another outcast because she has birth defects. When the enemy comes, you offer your expertise to the tribe, but they ignore you because you don't know the proper code to placate the boss. The tribe is wiped out from the superior technology, and you're eaten by a predator who's ten times your size.

How many billions of dollars would that movie make?

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-08, 02:09 PM
Well, you might as well wonder why the Replicants in Blade Runner were all beautiful. If you're going to make artificial beings, why not make them as awesome as you can?

jokergirl
2010-Jan-08, 02:50 PM
<nitpick>
Actually, not all replicants in Blade Runner were beautiful. I kind of wondered about that. Especially if they're so dangerous, why not make them stand out?
</nitpick>

Agreed though.

;)

LotusExcelle
2010-Jan-08, 03:20 PM
Only Priss was a 'pleasure model'. The others need not be beautiful - only useful.

jokergirl
2010-Jan-08, 03:30 PM
Yes, but if you -can- make them beautiful, why not?
(The soldier types also had a benefit from being beautiful. The worker types weren't beautiful, but on the other hand there's really nothing saying they shouldn't be.)

;)

LotusExcelle
2010-Jan-08, 03:32 PM
I would argue that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

Fiery Phoenix
2010-Jan-08, 05:34 PM
Is there any bad physics/astronomy in this movie?

Still haven't seen it myself, but that will change soon hopefully.

JohnD
2010-Jan-08, 05:37 PM
And another thing!

The dragon taming was by direct mind-link, via neural fibres (??) in the Na'vi pig tail of hair.

Now maybe I'm stuck in a mammal mindset, but if such neural links were to evolve, they would be much more likely to be in the tip of the tail, which the Na'Vi were given. The spinal cord in humans ends at lumbar vertebra 1, but it sends spinal nerve roots right down to the sacrum. I'm no vet (?veterinarian?) so don't know how far a tailed animal's spinal cord goes down the tail. Anyway, hair is modified skin, not neural tissue at all.

Mammals' cranial nerves are really part of the brain, and quite different to spinal nerves, so the other end of the link on the dragons, which came out of their ears I think, is plausible, though the idea of two beings linked by their ears is more laughable than a plot difficulty. So, pigtail of hair or real tail as link.

Could it be that the idea of two beings linked by their tails is too Freudian ?
Not something that our rootin', tootin', square-shootin' hero could be seen to do?

John

Gillianren
2010-Jan-08, 06:12 PM
Is there any bad physics/astronomy in this movie?

Still haven't seen it myself, but that will change soon hopefully.

Not that I know of, because all the problems I spotted were biological or sociological in nature. They were still enough to throw me out of Cameron's world, though. Possibly more so--I've actually studied both biology and sociology.


Now maybe I'm stuck in a mammal mindset, but if such neural links were to evolve, they would be much more likely to be in the tip of the tail, which the Na'Vi were given. The spinal cord in humans ends at lumbar vertebra 1, but it sends spinal nerve roots right down to the sacrum. I'm no vet (?veterinarian?) so don't know how far a tailed animal's spinal cord goes down the tail. Anyway, hair is modified skin, not neural tissue at all.

I'm no veterinarian, either, so I can't answer about the spinal cord. There's clearly something still there, as tails move through muscle control, but yeah. Anyway, you're right; that's a weird place for them.


Could it be that the idea of two beings linked by their tails is too Freudian ?
Not something that our rootin', tootin', square-shootin' hero could be seen to do?

It looks funny on camera.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-08, 08:00 PM
The dragon taming was by direct mind-link, via neural fibres (??) in the Na'vi pig tail of hair.

Now maybe I'm stuck in a mammal mindset, but if such neural links were to evolve, they would be much more likely to be in the tip of the tail, which the Na'Vi were given.
Do you smell or see with the tip of your tail? No, your eyes and nose are much closer to your brain, for superior bandwidth and latency.

If such a thing were to evolve among mammals, it would be a nose-to-nose link. The olfactory sensors are about as close as you can get to directly touching the brain as it is.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-08, 08:15 PM
The olfactory sensors are about as close as you can get to directly touching the brain as it is.

o.O

Uh, what?

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-08, 08:22 PM
o.O

Uh, what?
Take a look at this: Olfactory nerve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Head_olfactory_nerve.jpg)
Basically, your sense of smell comes from a bit of your brain that extends into your nasal cavity. Think about that the next time you shove a finger up there to dig out a booger.

korjik
2010-Jan-08, 08:32 PM
I'm not picking, I am manual tuning!

:D

TinFoilHat
2010-Jan-08, 09:07 PM
Is there any bad physics/astronomy in this movie?


The only real physics problems I can come up with are the following.

First, there's the issue of the unobtanium that the mining company is there for. I have trouble believing that the material they presented cannot be synthesized on Earth, no matter the cost, and that the only way to get it is with fantastically expensive mining on another planet without FTL technology. We can be fairly certain that unobtanium is made from the same elements we have on Earth. There are only so many ways that proton and neutrons can go together to make stable elements, and since unobtanium is shown to be sufficiently non-radioactive to have a chunk of it sitting unshielded on your desk, it can't be made from any of those weird short-lived elements off the bottom of the periodic table. We can also be fairly certain it isn't made from strange quarks or neutronium or something similarly exotic as the density of the chunk shown in the movie is not terribly high. We also know that it can't have a highly complex or information-rich internal structure since it can be formed into wires and other components (its value is as a high-temperature superconductor).

It must therefore be some strange compound of rare but known elements in some unexpected composition. Even if it formed under very unusual conditions or works through unknown or novel means, once the composition and structure of the matter is known it should be possible to recreate it. It might cost a lot and take some very expensive equipment, but for the price implied by the fact that it's worthwhile to send slower-than-light starships to mine it from another world there should be a lot of people working on synthesizing it.

I know that the supplemental material for the movie claims that the material formed under conditions that can't be reproduced in the lab, but I don't buy that. We have today the ability to make metallic hydrogen, if only very briefly. A civilization with the technology to conduct interstellar mining operations, with fusion and antimatter routinely used for power sources, should be able to reproduce any conditions short of a supernova.

The other questionable bit of physics is the Avatar link. Somehow, the operator's brain becomes linked to the avatar's body. This real-time, high-bandwidth link persists over significant distance, does not need line-of-sight, has no detectable lag, and works even under conditions where radio signals are shown to be jammed. The avatar body also conspicuously lacks any kind of radio antenna or other communication gear. And when an avatar is lost in the jungle, the humans are not able to use the gear to triangulate its position. We have to assume that they are using some kind of quantum entanglement or other magic communications technology here, as no known communications technology works this way.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-08, 09:36 PM
I know that the supplemental material for the movie claims that the material formed under conditions that can't be reproduced in the lab, but I don't buy that. We have today the ability to make metallic hydrogen, if only very briefly. A civilization with the technology to conduct interstellar mining operations, with fusion and antimatter routinely used for power sources, should be able to reproduce any conditions short of a supernova.
How about it consists of some weird matrix of matter that somehow stabilizes atoms from the island of stability (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability)?

It would be extremely challenging to even make atoms from the island of stability, much less to form them into some sort of composite matrix. As for how it could naturally occur...maybe a rare direct collision with a neutron star? Neutron stars could have all sorts of weird heavy nuclei, but the only way to get them out of the gravity well would be if something directly hit it and some of the heavy atoms "splashed" off (and was then carried away in the neutron star's stellar wind).

But seriously, I think the whole point of naming it "unobtanium" is to directly acknowledge that it's just a contrived MacGuffin.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-08, 09:56 PM
Take a look at this: Olfactory nerve (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Head_olfactory_nerve.jpg)
Basically, your sense of smell comes from a bit of your brain that extends into your nasal cavity. Think about that the next time you shove a finger up there to dig out a booger.

Oh. For some reason, I misread what you posted.

And why should that stop me? Hasn't hurt so far! :P

Gillianren
2010-Jan-09, 02:30 AM
You know, I'm sure they thought they were being cute and ironic with their little reference to The Core, but it was one of the earliest bits in the movie to really annoy me.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-09, 03:20 AM
You know, I'm sure they thought they were being cute and ironic with their little reference to The Core, but it was one of the earliest bits in the movie to really annoy me.

Actually, the term unobtainium pre-dates The Core by a good many years. A lot of the "cars of tomorrow" shown at car shows in the 50s and 60s were said to be powered by "unobtainium."

Delvo
2010-Jan-09, 04:23 AM
The thing about the links on their heads is no big deal. Other Pandoran species were shown to have special tentacle-like appendages. The Na'vi just had a fused single one, wrapped in hair, instead of a pair. The attachment site to the head was still equivalent to other Pandoran animals, and the overall form is similar other than those two details (but different from the functional counterparts in plants), so the Na'vi version looks like a simple evolutionary variation on a theme. And no assertion about "hair" being composed of or functionally similar to nervous tissue is made.

What reference to The Core was there? The name "unobtainium"? That's not a reference to that movie. It's been used by engineers since the 1950s to indicate any substance with strange or rare but valuable traits.

I wondered about the remote-control communication thing, and concluded that some degree of autonomy in the avatar fits what we're shown better than the idea of simple straightforward remote control. This not only relieves some of the communication issues because of reduced need for really high bandwidth and really low transmission time, but also makes sense in another couple of ways:

1. It matches the way we already build remote-controlled robots and drones which have particularly complex functions (and even some non-remote systems such as fly-by-wire and most modern automotive transmissions & throttles), so that a human operator tells it what to do and some kind of independent onboard system makes the determination about exactly how to do it.

2. It gives the avatar brain some kind of basis on which to begin gradually absorbing more of the human's personality as that "degree of autonomy" shifts higher. Even before the final scene when Jake abandoned his human body altogether, it was hinted that this process had already begun, during the fight scene with Colonel Scratchy in the robosuit. When the pod Jake's human body was in got disrupted and some gas leaked, the avatar started to fall at first, but then was moving again for a moment before completely collapsing, as if Jake had some partial ability to will himself into the avatar even after being suddenly snapped out of it.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-09, 04:53 AM
Actually, the term unobtainium pre-dates The Core by a good many years. A lot of the "cars of tomorrow" shown at car shows in the 50s and 60s were said to be powered by "unobtainium."

I was unaware. I suspect most modern audiences are, as well. Either way, you know, it is currently obtanium and therefore would, you'd hope, get a better name. Otherwise, what speculative name do you use next? "Really-unobtanium"?

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-09, 05:07 AM
I was unaware. I suspect most modern audiences are, as well. Either way, you know, it is currently obtanium and therefore would, you'd hope, get a better name. Otherwise, what speculative name do you use next? "Really-unobtanium"?

Nah, "plotainium" or "bovinium fecallarium"! :D

TJMac
2010-Jan-10, 12:32 AM
Nah,........ "bovinium fecallarium"! :D


OK, THAT made me laugh. Wish I were half that clever. :lol:

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-10, 12:44 AM
It sounds like a really messed up Harry Potter spell...

Glom
2010-Jan-10, 01:02 AM
Nah, "plotainium" or "bovinium fecallarium"! :D

Hey! No profanity!

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-10, 01:32 AM
Fornicating feces, I didn't think about that.

JohnD
2010-Jan-10, 11:42 AM
The olfactory nerves are just one of twelve pairs of cranial nerves that are all "a bit of brain that extends" out of the cranium. Olfactory is No.1 - see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cranial_nerves for the rest. They are all connected with either major senses - smell, sight, hearing - or augmented ordinary sensation in the head and neck. Eg Fifth, trigeminal nerve, really provides a sixth sense related to touch if you are cat, via your whiskers.
However, that is the FRONT of the head and neck. The back of the neck, and the back of the head are provided with ordinary touch etc by ordinary spinal nerves. So where is the evolutionary origin of the Na'vi pigtail mind-link? Esp. when the dragon does it via the ears - Cranial nerve VIII. They must have a 13th cranial nerve, the Occiptal?

AND, the Na'vi pigtail, is braided hair and some characters have many other braids as well. Are we to understand that they have a naked cranial nerve that grows out of the back of the skull, that they carefully braid their hair around? Human hair grows quickly, nerves do not, so do the Na'vi have very slow growing hair?
Most nerves in the human body are well protected or padded by overlying and supporting tissue. An exception is the ulnar nerve at the elbow, the 'funny bone'. Handle that, and you get unpleasant sensations - strike it and it's agony. Can Na'vi handle their 'occipital' nerve without pain, when they braid and un raid their hair?

Oh, dear, I'm forgetting. THIS IS A STORY! IT'S NOT REAL!
I am reminded of this by coming across a website devoted to learning to speak Na'vi. I know people speak Klingon, but I have better things to do, like learning to speak better French.

John

TinFoilHat
2010-Jan-10, 04:21 PM
For the Na'vi braid thing, I assumed the hair braid was covering a fleshy tentacle that the interconnect nerves were housed inside, rather than naked nerves surrounded by hair. But I also assume that the entire ecosystem is artificial, that some time in the past some advanced technological civilization (possibly native to Pandora, possibly not) engaged in some major genetic engineering to build all of the unlikely features of the Pandoran ecosystem. It makes a lot more sense than assuming that everything there could just evolve naturally.

Cougar
2010-Jan-10, 06:13 PM
I just saw the movie and looked up this thread. 290 posts already? Excuse me while I crawl out from under this rock. Well, my impressions:


There were certainly some spectacular scenes, but couldn't he come up with a little more sophisticated plot line than cowboys and indians?

And the main character is a "dumb marine" but gutsy warrior who is convinced by a lot of money to take the place of his dead twin brother, who was a PhD working on a "very expensive" cutting-edge project? Is there supposed to be some symbolism here?

And the antagonist military-industrial "cell" on this distant planet was so ridiculously thoughtless and gung-ho to the point of being evil, it makes it impossible to suspend belief that any human in a position of authority could be so ridiculously bad.

What is it about a movie character shouting "Woo hoo!" that I think detracts from the intended thrill of the scene? It throws subtlety out the window? It's passe in the extreme? What?

Then there's all the supernatural, the special tree is all-seeing, even into the future, apparently, and this is what the natives worship. But on this distant planet, the miraculous is actual, as opposed to here on planet Earth, where...



"...the knowledge of nature, continually advancing on incontestably safe tracks, has made it utterly impossible for a person possessing some training in natural science to recognize as founded on truth the many reports of extraordinary occurrences contradicting the laws of nature, of miracles which are still commonly regarded as essential supports and confirmations of religious doctrines, and which formerly used to be accepted as facts pure and simple, without doubt or criticism." -- Max Planck, Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers

Oh, and the musical score was grossly over-magnanimous...

Is the twelve-year-old audience so important that a movie has to dumb itself down to that level?

LotusExcelle
2010-Jan-10, 06:59 PM
And the antagonist military-industrial "cell" on this distant planet was so ridiculously thoughtless and gung-ho to the point of being evil, it makes it impossible to suspend belief that any human in a position of authority could be so ridiculously bad.



A quick glance back into recent human history reveals this is not at all far-fetched. I'll use just one example - the Zulu.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-11, 12:44 AM
I just saw the movie and looked up this thread. 290 posts already? Excuse me while I crawl out from under this rock.
I finally saw the movie, and got pretty much exactly what I was expecting. I was blown away by the visuals and design detail. The amount of work going into the plants boggles my mind, and I was tickled that this was acknowledged by having one character more interested in the plants than the people.

And the main character is a "dumb marine" but gutsy warrior who is convinced by a lot of money to take the place of his dead twin brother, who was a PhD working on a "very expensive" cutting-edge project? Is there supposed to be some symbolism here?
I think it's just the Cameron has decided that scientists aren't commercial enough. His original concept for the Abyss was that the heroes were supposed to be scientists, but he changed it to blue collar workers after arriving in Hollywood.

And the antagonist military-industrial "cell" on this distant planet was so ridiculously thoughtless and gung-ho to the point of being evil, it makes it impossible to suspend belief that any human in a position of authority could be so ridiculously bad.
I thought "the company" was pretty sympathetic and realistic. They aren't out to slaughter the natives; they go out of their way to try and deal with them peacefully. The executive leader makes earnest attempts to make everything work out. The head of security isn't bloodthirsty, he just sees logically that a certain level of casualties is inevitable and doesn't care for wasting time about it.

I found the head of security the most interesting character. He projects the air of a military drill sargeant, but this isn't the military. Someone like him acting the way he does would be necessary to maintain discipline and prevent total chaos. He can't court-martial anyone, so his options are pretty limited.

Then there's all the supernatural, the special tree is all-seeing, even into the future, apparently, and this is what the natives worship. But on this distant planet, the miraculous is actual, as opposed to here on planet Earth, where...
I thought this was handled rather well. I mean, if there's some pervasive psychic link between all life forms on the planet, you'd expect there to be some obvious physical manifestations of this link...and "tada!" there are.

Cougar
2010-Jan-11, 03:05 AM
A quick glance back into recent human history reveals this is not at all far-fetched. I'll use just one example - the Zulu.

Yes, that's true, but to be mining planets in other solar systems, this must be far in the future, and it kills me when writers (or directors) have characters in such future settings acting the same as some people would today... or worse, with utterly no evolution in human behavior or the social compact.

Cougar
2010-Jan-11, 03:16 AM
I thought "the company" was pretty sympathetic and realistic.

Ribisi was a bad guy! :razz: To him, the rare mineral deposit was more important than the lives of the indigenous 12-foot blue people! They should have been the prize find on that planet, not some rare 'element'. And what happened to the Star Trek principle of non-interference? :confused:

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-11, 03:23 AM
Yes, that's true, but to be mining planets in other solar systems, this must be far in the future, and it kills me when writers (or directors) have characters in such future settings acting the same as some people would today... or worse, with utterly no evolution in human behavior or the social compact.

Why should we assume that such changes "stick", though? It's not like the human race has fundamentally changed since 1000 years ago. We still got the same kind of brains; it wouldn't take much to "revert".

In fact, even in the modern world, people can act pretty dang vicious if they wanted to.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-11, 03:56 AM
Ribisi was a bad guy! :razz: To him, the rare mineral deposit was more important than the lives of the indigenous 12-foot blue people! They should have been the prize find on that planet, not some rare 'element'. And what happened to the Star Trek principle of non-interference? :confused:

Hey, if Kirk couldn't obey it. . .

LotusExcelle
2010-Jan-11, 01:19 PM
Why should we assume that such changes "stick", though? It's not like the human race has fundamentally changed since 1000 years ago. We still got the same kind of brains; it wouldn't take much to "revert".

In fact, even in the modern world, people can act pretty dang vicious if they wanted to.

Couldn't agree more. Our capacity to do bad things to each other has not decreased over time.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-11, 02:56 PM
Ribisi was a bad guy! :razz: To him, the rare mineral deposit was more important than the lives of the indigenous 12-foot blue people!
He didn't want to kill them, though, he just wanted them to move--and he would have rather done it with an amicable trade than the threat of violence.

To him, the huge forest stretching as far as you could see offered no shortage of places for the local tribe to move to.

They should have been the prize find on that planet, not some rare 'element'.
Why not both? Look at it from his point of view. Unobtanium is valuable enough to pay for the bills and make a profit off of, and it can pay for scientific research on the native life also. It's a win-win. And the company would have traded for the mineral rights, so the natives would come out ahead also.

And what happened to the Star Trek principle of non-interference? :confused:
Wrong fictional universe.

Cougar
2010-Jan-11, 03:05 PM
Wrong fictional universe.

Oh. :lol:

mike alexander
2010-Jan-11, 04:59 PM
IsaacKuo wrote:

He didn't want to kill them, though, he just wanted them to move--and he would have rather done it with an amicable trade than the threat of violence.

To him, the huge forest stretching as far as you could see offered no shortage of places for the local tribe to move to.

As was pointed out earlier in the thread, humans haven't changed much. Pandora ca. 2200, or North America ca. 1500, or Australia ca. 1780. I assume that was the underlying message of the movie. Just get out of my way and there will be no trouble.

Since he wanted them to move, and they wouldn't, he decided to kill them anyway. Just in a day's work (OK, he did seem to get into it at the end there).

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-11, 05:19 PM
IsaacKuo wrote:
As was pointed out earlier in the thread, humans haven't changed much. Pandora ca. 2200, or North America ca. 1500, or Australia ca. 1780. I assume that was the underlying message of the movie. Just get out of my way and there will be no trouble.

Since he wanted them to move, and they wouldn't, he decided to kill them anyway. Just in a day's work (OK, he did seem to get into it at the end there).
I think you're thinking of the other villian...we were talking about the company executive, not the head of security.

Anyway, it wasn't quite like that. The executive didn't want to just kill them, he wanted them to move with the threat of violence. The head of security assured him that the plan of using gas to smoke them out of the tree first would be "humane...mostly".

The executive gave the go ahead, perhaps halfway deceiving himself about the casualties involved.

That was the first attack, which more or less went to plan. Sure, some of the natives were killed but most ran away as hoped.

However, after the first attack the natives started massing from all over. At that point, it became a fight to the death. So for the second attack, the executive pulled out all of the stops.

So, while the first attack was successful on a tactical level, it was a strategic blunder. The executive was a victim of optimistic thinking and not wanting to face the harsh reality.

The head of security, in contrast, had seen plenty of action so he knew where things were going to eventually lead.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-11, 07:01 PM
I loved the line Dr. Augustine says when they are talking about the tree of souls. She mentions how it is off limits, and then she says "I would die to get some samples from there."

Gillianren
2010-Jan-11, 10:01 PM
Anyway, it wasn't quite like that. The executive didn't want to just kill them, he wanted them to move with the threat of violence. The head of security assured him that the plan of using gas to smoke them out of the tree first would be "humane...mostly".

Yes, but in the end, he was willing to. Maybe not thrilled about it, but willing. This is, really, the failing with the end of the movie. Humans have killed other humans over things far less valuable, and if they didn't stop after Little Big Horn, what would stop them here?

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-11, 10:13 PM
Yes, but in the end, he was willing to. Maybe not thrilled about it, but willing. This is, really, the failing with the end of the movie. Humans have killed other humans over things far less valuable, and if they didn't stop after Little Big Horn, what would stop them here?
It depends on what James Cameron wants to make the sequels about. I think he'd rather explore the other moons than rehash this story.

The easy excuse to take The Company out of the picture is that they do a dispassionate actuarial analysis. This analysis concludes that the costs of a war effort won't be recouped by the unobtanium mining profits. No profit? No war campaign.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-11, 10:49 PM
It depends on what James Cameron wants to make the sequels about. I think he'd rather explore the other moons than rehash this story.

That doesn't make the ending of this one more plausible. I don't care about sequels or not--how ignorant of human history do you have to be in order to have the certainty that everything will be fine now expressed by a human (at least by birth) at the end of the movie?


The easy excuse to take The Company out of the picture is that they do a dispassionate actuarial analysis. This analysis concludes that the costs of a war effort won't be recouped by the unobtanium mining profits. No profit? No war campaign.

Given the value of unobtanium, how much would that war have to cost? And once they've beaten humans--you know, the Good Guys!--public resistance to outright xenocide drops way down. After all, they're a Threat to Humanity. People have been slaughtered for far less than the claimed value of this particular substance. Why bother sending in humans at all? Nuke the entire site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-11, 11:29 PM
That doesn't make the ending of this one more plausible. I don't care about sequels or not--how ignorant of human history do you have to be in order to have the certainty that everything will be fine now expressed by a human (at least by birth) at the end of the movie?
That human is familiar with how ridiculously expensive and time consuming interstellar travel is in his time.

He's also familiar with how ridiculously expensive modern warfare is even without crossing interstellar space to get to the battlefield.

Given the value of unobtanium, how much would that war have to cost? And once they've beaten humans--you know, the Good Guys!--public resistance to outright xenocide drops way down. After all, they're a Threat to Humanity. People have been slaughtered for far less than the claimed value of this particular substance. Why bother sending in humans at all? Nuke the entire site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.
The Company isn't out to defend humanity, or get revenge. It just wants to make money.

And even nukes are expensive. If you look at the cost of nuclear weapons, you have to wonder if there's any way to make a profit in a nuclear war even if you're the only one with the nukes.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-11, 11:37 PM
The nukes themselves aren't the real expense. It's operating in a still-irradiated area. ;)

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-11, 11:38 PM
And even nukes are expensive. If you look at the cost of nuclear weapons, you have to wonder if there's any way to make a profit in a nuclear war even if you're the only one with the nukes.
There is, by being the one selling the bombs to the ones using them.

Ronald Brak
2010-Jan-12, 01:03 AM
There is, by being the one selling the bombs to the ones using them.

According to Underpants Gnome Economic theory, that works as follows:

1. Make nukes.
2. Sell nukes.
3. Profit.
4. ??????????

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-12, 03:15 AM
According to Underpants Gnome Economic theory, that works as follows:

1. Make nukes.
2. Sell nukes.
3. Profit.
4. ??????????

That's a bit backwards. There's no need for 4, after all, is there? :P

1. Make nukes.
2. Nuke resource-high area.
3. ??????????
4. Profit!

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-12, 04:12 AM
Speaking of Nukes, another reactor has sprung a leak. No worries, it just dumped radioactive waste into the Connecticut River.

Authorities say don't panic.

korjik
2010-Jan-12, 04:44 AM
Just what board are you guys on!?!?!

This is BAUT!

After travelling 24 trillion miles to oppress the natives, we dont nuke them!

We drop rocks! All the indiscriminate destruction with none of that pesky radiation afterwards!

Kinetic Energy RULES!!!

:evil:

:D

Seriously tho, if people are going to travel sixty two million times the distance to the moon just to mine some rocks, I would say that they probably are not really likely to give a hoot about the locals. Marines dont really seem to be a good answer tho. Marines tend to suffer from things like morals and feelings, no matter how hard you try to train it out of them :) I dont understand why they didnt just pesticide the who area from the air, then wait for the indigs to move out on their own

Gillianren
2010-Jan-12, 04:54 AM
See, what the Company wants is, at this point, almost irrelevant. You think word isn't going to get out about what these "savages" have done? This is not intended to be political, because I can point out a lot of examples through history. In fact, let's go back a hundred-odd years--after Little Big Horn, it only took a few determined people to get the American public very angry indeed and determined to show those "savages" their place. Giovanni Ribisi (and who left him in charge?) says the company doesn't want to kill the natives, but at this point, this is where revenge takes over from company profit. Unless we've come way farther in the short time until the movie than we should expect.

I do agree, though, that dropping big hurking rocks on the planet is actually another way to be sure.

Ronald Brak
2010-Jan-12, 05:28 AM
Well considering the space hobbits that invaded the planet the planet of the blue elves... Wait a minute... Those space hobbits were supposed to be us! I'M SEEING THE MOVIE IN A TOTALLY DIFFERENT LIGHT!

Anyway since the space the space hobbits, I mean us, were able to grow blue elves, I mean Na'vi, in vats and even add human DNA to them, it's obvious that a biological weapon would be no challenge for hob... humans to produce.

Of course, since Eye-wa has absorbed several humans into its net, it's possible that when when earth ships return to Pandora they will discover that it's become a planet of borg.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-12, 05:53 AM
See, what the Company wants is, at this point, almost irrelevant. You think word isn't going to get out about what these "savages" have done?
Okay, let's see.

Suppose Blackwater is working security for a Big Oil Corporation. On their way to bomb a mosque to terrorize the local population into submission, a bunch of the Blackwater employees are killed, and the local population expels the Big Oil Corporation from their country.

I somehow don't think that either the American public or the American Government is going to be out for revenge against the locals when word gets out.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-12, 06:35 AM
I think that has actually happened a few times.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-12, 07:42 AM
Suppose Blackwater is working security for a Big Oil Corporation. On their way to bomb a mosque to terrorize the local population into submission, a bunch of the Blackwater employees are killed, and the local population expels the Big Oil Corporation from their country.

Or, you know, squatters start taking gold out of the sacred Black Hills. And the US government sends in its soldiers to get revenge for the Innocent Americans.


I somehow don't think that either the American public or the American Government is going to be out for revenge against the locals when word gets out.

Study history, then.

geonuc
2010-Jan-12, 11:40 AM
Is it too late to add that I just saw the movie and thought it was cool, predictable plot notwithstanding? It is?

Never mind.

Argos
2010-Jan-12, 12:29 PM
Saw it last night. Motion pictures are never gonna be the same after this spectacular movie. It dwarfed the impact I felt in 1977 with Star Wars. Simply fantastic [who cares about verisimilitude?]

Cougar
2010-Jan-12, 02:31 PM
Well, yeah, and the 3-D was pretty cool. Lots of movies are going to be going that way.

Cougar
2010-Jan-12, 02:34 PM
Nuke the entire site from orbit; it's the only way to be sure.

That was a great line from Alien, which also had a devious company man.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-12, 03:00 PM
Or, you know, squatters start taking gold out of the sacred Black Hills. And the US government sends in its soldiers to get revenge for the Innocent Americans.
[...]
Study history, then.
The thing is that attitudes toward war and other cultures have changed. History doesn't just repeat itself. There are always differences.

In this case, a change in attitudes toward bombing a non-military target like a church equivalent is one relevant difference. There's just no way to spin that one positively given modern attitudes.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-12, 03:29 PM
The thing is that attitudes toward war and other cultures have changed. History doesn't just repeat itself. There are always differences.

In this case, a change in attitudes toward bombing a non-military target like a church equivalent is one relevant difference. There's just no way to spin that one positively given modern attitudes.

I was reminded of Monte Cassino. Any target can be made military.

I'm willing to bet that with the proper spin a majority could be convinced that bombing the Vatican was both reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-12, 05:56 PM
I was reminded of Monte Cassino. Any target can be made military.

I'm willing to bet that with the proper spin a majority could be convinced that bombing the Vatican was both reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances.

Well, and of course, people believe Christianity and Islam are "real" religions. How they feel about them is not, here, the point. The point is, even a lot of the scientists seemed to think of the Na'vi religion more as "superstition" than "religion." I also don't want to get into the dividing line between them, but I can tell you that even on Earth, some religions are taken more seriously than others. Tree-worship? Yeah, no.

korjik
2010-Jan-12, 05:56 PM
I was reminded of Monte Cassino. Any target can be made military.

I'm willing to bet that with the proper spin a majority could be convinced that bombing the Vatican was both reasonable and necessary, given the circumstances.

I wonder if there is an upper limit. What were the attitudes before and after the pics of Hiroshima and Nagasaki became public?

I seem to remember that people here in the US were pretty horrified, even tho the japanese were enemies only months before

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-12, 07:40 PM
Well, and of course, people believe Christianity and Islam are "real" religions. How they feel about them is not, here, the point. The point is, even a lot of the scientists seemed to think of the Na'vi religion more as "superstition" than "religion."
So what? The stereotypical Hollywood science character thinks all religions are "superstition", especially including the ones you're calling "real" religions. Dr. Augustine fits that mold. It's only when she finds scientific evidence of relevant phenomena that she takes any interest in it.

I also don't want to get into the dividing line between them, but I can tell you that even on Earth, some religions are taken more seriously than others. Tree-worship? Yeah, no.
Tree-worship here on Earth isn't the dominant religion of an entire world.

You may not want to get into the "dividing line" between "real" religions and joke religions, but it's directly relevant. Basically, any religion which is the dominant religion of a large region of Earth is taken seriously. It has little to do with the content of the religion and everything to do with the population of the religion.

In any case, the bottom line is that The Company was explicitly concerned that killing the natives would look bad. This already indicates that the natives are considered more than the worthless pests to be exterminated which you suggest (as with comparisons to examples in the past). We didn't nuke anyone in retaliation for 9/11--where thousands of innocent civilians were murdered on our own soil. So I really find it hard to believe that we would nuke someone in retaliation for the killing of some mercenaries on a mission to blow up a sacred tree.

Argos
2010-Jan-12, 07:46 PM
Tree-worship here on Earth isn't the dominant religion of an entire world.

Think twice. ;)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-12, 10:53 PM
How many people kicked up a fuss when historical landmarks were destroyed in a religious context in the last ten years? Ergo, I don't think destroying the religious landmarks of an alien species would be anything remotely as big a PR nightmare as you think, and again, we've always been perfectly willing to kill other humans in the name of cash.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-12, 11:28 PM
How many people kicked up a fuss when historical landmarks were destroyed in a religious context in the last ten years?
What are you referring to? The first thing that came to my mind was when the Taliban was destroying historical landmarks, but people made a huge fuss about that so I don't think that's what you're talking about. (Not enough of a fuss to go to war over, of course, but then modern warfare is just ridiculously expensive.)

Ergo, I don't think destroying the religious landmarks of an alien species would be anything remotely as big a PR nightmare as you think, and again, we've always been perfectly willing to kill other humans in the name of cash.
I thought you were trying to argue that we'd be certain to go to war even though it would be ridiculously expensive--the justification being "defending humanity" and/or getting revenge, rather than making a profit.

At this point, it's not about whether it's a PR nightmare. It's about whether we're going to be all worked up to get revenge on those savages with nukes.

You seem to think nuclear escalation is the inevitable consequence when local "savages" kill a few mercenaries in a far away land, in what looks more or less like self defense.

But in the world I'm familiar with, nuclear escalation clearly has a much higher threshold.

If say, desperately poor modern pirates take hijack an oil rig, then that's one thing. Those oil rig workers are just regular guys not messing with anyone, so the American public is going to empathize with them. The public will expect a response (but not a nuclear response).

But if some mercenaries hired on by a Big Oil Corporation go assaulting some poor village for their oil, then that's another thing. Maybe the American public doesn't really care that much about the villagers so it's not really a huge PR nightmare, but that doesn't mean they're going to get all gung ho about bombing the country in revenge.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-12, 11:36 PM
Either this is fantastic marketing, or this film has passed Star Wars on the geek status scale very quickly.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/index.html


(CNN) -- James Cameron's completely immersive spectacle "Avatar" may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.

On the fan forum site "Avatar Forums," a topic thread entitled "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible," has received more than 1,000 posts from people experiencing depression and fans trying to help them cope. The topic became so popular last month that forum administrator Philippe Baghdassarian had to create a second thread so people could continue to post their confused feelings about the movie.

I checked, and it is true. And the Navi forums are awesome as well.

I don't think this is just marketing.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-12, 11:36 PM
And 1.4 Billion already? Seriously?

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 12:56 AM
Is 1000 posts really that incredible? I'm pretty sure a lot more than that have actually watched Avatar. Also, is every post really "I'm depressed" as opposed to more than a few of, "You n00bs"?

Gillianren
2010-Jan-13, 12:58 AM
What are you referring to? The first thing that came to my mind was when the Taliban was destroying historical landmarks, but people made a huge fuss about that so I don't think that's what you're talking about. (Not enough of a fuss to go to war over, of course, but then modern warfare is just ridiculously expensive.)

Right. We didn't go to war, and I don't think the average person has even heard about it.


I thought you were trying to argue that we'd be certain to go to war even though it would be ridiculously expensive--the justification being "defending humanity" and/or getting revenge, rather than making a profit.

Motives are not exclusive. There's something valuable there, and Those Savages are keeping us from getting it. Also, Those Savages killed our people. Those two motives have gone hand in hand through an awful lot of history.


At this point, it's not about whether it's a PR nightmare. It's about whether we're going to be all worked up to get revenge on those savages with nukes.

If it's the only way to get what we want, why not?


You seem to think nuclear escalation is the inevitable consequence when local "savages" kill a few mercenaries in a far away land, in what looks more or less like self defense.

Sure, to us it does. We saw it from the side of Those Savages. (Note that I'm not personally calling them savages; that would be the inevitable spin.) You think the Sioux weren't just fighting back in self defense? I could find you many, many other examples. And, yes, in most cases, we look back on it historically on the side of the oppressed, but we also in many cases idealize the oppressors--like Rome.


But in the world I'm familiar with, nuclear escalation clearly has a much higher threshold.

In the world you're familiar with, there's the chance of a counterattack.


If say, desperately poor modern pirates take hijack an oil rig, then that's one thing. Those oil rig workers are just regular guys not messing with anyone, so the American public is going to empathize with them. The public will expect a response (but not a nuclear response).

Yes. And that response is never finding out why it happened and trying to deal with root causes. It's punishment.


But if some mercenaries hired on by a Big Oil Corporation go assaulting some poor village for their oil, then that's another thing. Maybe the American public doesn't really care that much about the villagers so it's not really a huge PR nightmare, but that doesn't mean they're going to get all gung ho about bombing the country in revenge.

Nukes, perhaps not. But you really don't think we haven't bombed countries in revenge for what people did? You haven't been paying attention, either.

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-13, 01:13 AM
Either this is fantastic marketing, or this film has passed Star Wars on the geek status scale very quickly.

http://www.cnn.com/2010/SHOWBIZ/Movies/01/11/avatar.movie.blues/index.html



I checked, and it is true. And the Navi forums are awesome as well.

I don't think this is just marketing.

Someone needs to show them the real world. They need to put down their role-playing cards, turn off the WoW and go outside. Walk around. Go to a jungle if necessary; Earth jungles are just as stupefyingly beautiful as anything in Avatar. Maybe we can, you know, preserve that beauty instead of slash-and-burning it into farmland that only lasts a few years.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-13, 01:58 AM
Someone needs to show them the real world. They need to put down their role-playing cards, turn off the WoW and go outside. Walk around. Go to a jungle if necessary; Earth jungles are just as stupefyingly beautiful as anything in Avatar. Maybe we can, you know, preserve that beauty instead of slash-and-burning it into farmland that only lasts a few years.

Of course, the more people walking around in it, the worse for the environment. That's why there are a lot of places in our rainforest without trails.

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-13, 02:20 AM
Of course, the more people walking around in it, the worse for the environment. That's why there are a lot of places in our rainforest without trails.

See, that's why we need speeder bikes.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-13, 02:23 AM
Good point!

Some sensitive areas that are super popular have built elevated walkways to try and reduce the damage.

But yeah, I bet taking a suicidal teen to a rain forest would be good therapy.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 02:41 AM
See, that's why we need speeder bikes.

I think this is less good for "exploring the jungle", and more good for "Darwinian evolution against those without great reflexes".

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-13, 02:45 AM
I think this is less good for "exploring the jungle", and more good for "Darwinian evolution against those without great reflexes".

It was a joke. RotJ's speeder bike bit was filmed in an old growth rainforest.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 02:46 AM
It was a joke.

What, and you took my response completely seriously? :p

Glom
2010-Jan-13, 08:23 AM
I've forgotten it already.

I can see some bluish textures in the back of my mind, but I'm not sure if that's memories of this movie or memories of playing Theme Park World.

That's what happens when you make your writing so pedestrian. The production values were clearly excellent. That team deserved better than what Cameron gave them.

Argos
2010-Jan-13, 12:12 PM
Earth jungles are just as stupefyingly beautiful as anything in Avatar.

Although insects and heat totally spoil that beauty.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 12:24 PM
Diseases... predators... poisonous animals...

weatherc
2010-Jan-13, 12:50 PM
Diseases... predators... poisonous animals...Yes, there is a reason for the expression "It's a jungle out there."

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 12:51 PM
Cannibals, spirits, jungle women...

Hmm. Jungle women... would that make it worth it?

korjik
2010-Jan-13, 04:27 PM
Cannibals, spirits, jungle women...

Hmm. Jungle women... would that make it worth it?

That would depend on just how much difference there was between the cannibals and the jungle women....

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-13, 05:41 PM
That would depend on just how much difference there was between the cannibals and the jungle women....

I can think of a few fun responses to this, but it's stretching the limit of BAUT rules. :D

cosmocrazy
2010-Jan-13, 09:08 PM
I went to see the film this last wk at the pictures, In 3D

My personal opinion:-

The plot was cheesy
The story dragged when it was obvious what the plot was after the first 10 mins
The special effects were brilliant

Overall I thought it dragged on too long was a bit cheesy but found it ok, but not up there with the more classical sci-fi fantasy stuff of previous years.

Glom
2010-Jan-14, 07:42 AM
The story dragged when it was obvious what the plot was after the first 10 mins

One bit I do remember because it was the point when I buried my head in my hands was when Uhura yelled "I trusted you!" Not only is the line trite and cliche anyway, but I knew it was going to happen as soon as it was clear that there was going to be an obligatory romance plot.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-14, 08:44 AM
One bit I do remember because it was the point when I buried my head in my hands was when Uhura yelled "I trusted you!" Not only is the line trite and cliche anyway, but I knew it was going to happen as soon as it was clear that there was going to be an obligatory romance plot.

Yep, trite and cliche...that's how people usually are on one side of a relationship rift or another. Hardly anyone is clever or original in the heat of a moment like that...until they start telling stories about the moment later. :lol:

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-14, 01:21 PM
Yep, trite and cliche...that's how people usually are on one side of a relationship rift or another. Hardly anyone is clever or original in the heat of a moment like that...until they start telling stories about the moment later. :lol:

Absolutely ... just imagine how trite and cliche all movie dialogue would be if they actually had the characters speak the way normal human beings do. My overuse of the aforementioned "absolutely" in normal conversation would undoubtedly drive a movie audience wild with frustration in no seconds flat.

And as for my 14 year old son's use of the word "awesome" ...

clint
2010-Jan-14, 04:50 PM
I can think of a few fun responses to this, but it's stretching the limit of BAUT rules. :D

I had to bite my tongue already a few posts further above :silenced: :lol:

PS: on a more serious note, I agree that anybody who finds jungles romantic has probably never been to one.
I really enjoyed the alien wildlife in the movie though...

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-14, 05:12 PM
Now that I think about it, perhaps my previous relationships would have gone better (or at least I might have won more arguments) if only I'd had a team of talented screen writers. Oh...and a score...or maybe a laugh track.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-14, 05:14 PM
Now that I think about it, perhaps my previous relationships would have gone better (or at least I might have won more arguments) if only I'd had a team of talented screen writers. Oh...and a score...or maybe a laugh track.

Friends, outside of awkwardness and bad relationships, would be a dream world. You get to sit in a coffeehouse all day, talking to friends, while being able to magically support yourself, and pretty much the most pressing part of living is which highly attractive woman you're going to be with.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-14, 05:25 PM
Friends, outside of awkwardness and bad relationships, would be a dream world. You get to sit in a coffeehouse all day, talking to friends, while being able to magically support yourself, and pretty much the most pressing part of living is which highly attractive woman you're going to be with.
Unfortunately you'll also find that you're a social moron with an emotional age of 7, whose first reaction to finding yourself caught in the bottom of a hole is to get out your trusty speed shovel and start digging yourself further down.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-14, 06:02 PM
Friends, outside of awkwardness and bad relationships, would be a dream world. You get to sit in a coffeehouse all day, talking to friends, while being able to magically support yourself, and pretty much the most pressing part of living is which highly attractive woman you're going to be with.

To be fair, they did have jobs. It's just that we only saw it when it was funny. Or not, in the later seasons.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-14, 08:13 PM
Friends, outside of awkwardness and bad relationships, would be a dream world. You get to sit in a coffeehouse all day, talking to friends, while being able to magically support yourself, and pretty much the most pressing part of living is which highly attractive woman you're going to be with.
In the first season of Friends, there was a lot made of Rachel having to actually work for the first time in her life, and the main cast was distinctly divided between the "decent income" half and the "barely making it" half. My favorite episode of the entire series (well, of the first few seasons before I stopped watching) was an episode which centered around this divide.

Techist
2010-Jan-14, 11:08 PM
Well, and of course, people believe Christianity and Islam are "real" religions. How they feel about them is not, here, the point. The point is, even a lot of the scientists seemed to think of the Na'vi religion more as "superstition" than "religion."

I read in the L.A. Times that the Catholic Church has come out against "Avatar" because is suggests the idea that there could be a "religion" based on a world-wide plant/animal interrelationship.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-14, 11:50 PM
I read in the L.A. Times that the Catholic Church has come out against "Avatar" because is suggests the idea that there could be a "religion" based on a world-wide plant/animal interrelationship.

No marriage between a man and a larch!

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-14, 11:59 PM
Friends, outside of awkwardness and bad relationships, would be a dream world. You get to sit in a coffeehouse all day, talking to friends, while being able to magically support yourself, and pretty much the most pressing part of living is which highly attractive woman you're going to be with.

That was funny.

But I saw episodes that revolved around the jobs, including in the coffee shop.

SeanF
2010-Jan-15, 12:35 AM
No marriage between a man and a larch!
It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and leaves.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-15, 01:15 AM
If you make fun of people's thoughts, at least try to make it of what they actually think.
Here's (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/6963399/Vatican-calls-Avatar-bland.html) a better reference to the actual review.

adapa
2010-Jan-15, 04:17 AM
Just saw the movie today.
Excellent special effects.
Plenty of action.
However, it seems that in the spirit of its eco-friendly message, it used a plot that has been recycled (http://failblog.org/2010/01/10/avatar-plot-fail/).

Gillianren
2010-Jan-15, 04:27 AM
I rewatched Dances With Wolves today, and the parallels are even closer than I remembered. The plot is not an unusual one, of course, but the structure of the two movies is awfully close as well. On the other hand, Dances With Wolves has a more realistic ending. It's also directed by the only man in Hollywood who can be excused for thinking Kevin Costner can act.

Argos
2010-Jan-15, 09:10 PM
Now it occurs to me that Pandora is strikingly similar to the worlds that the Hipgnosis Studio [England] designed for album covers of Rock bands [like Yes], with its flying mountains, dragons and spirals.

In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there... - Yes

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-15, 09:14 PM
It also strikes me as very similar to lot of sci-fi paperback cover art I've seen over the course of many many years.

korjik
2010-Jan-15, 10:19 PM
I had to bite my tongue already a few posts further above :silenced: :lol:

PS: on a more serious note, I agree that anybody who finds jungles romantic has probably never been to one.
I really enjoyed the alien wildlife in the movie though...

Until it sticks its ovipositor down your throat and lays its eggs in your chest. After the second or third time, it starts getting old.

clint
2010-Jan-15, 10:25 PM
Until it sticks its ovipositor down your throat and lays its eggs in your chest. After the second or third time, it starts getting old.

Must've missed that one - wrong movie maybe? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_%28film%29)

clint
2010-Jan-15, 10:28 PM
It also strikes me as very similar to lot of sci-fi paperback cover art I've seen over the course of many many years.

Yep, difference being that those "only" came to life in your imagination.
I love those paperbacks, don't get me wrong, but it's also cool to have somebody make it come alive on-screen every once in a while...

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 03:12 AM
Is the next one going to be titled: Avatar: The Corporation Strikes Back? (http://ca.movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-talk-avatar-trilogy.html)
By now everyone knows that not only is "Avatar" a huge hit, but also director James Cameron never expected it to be anything less than a blockbuster. So it's not a huge surprise that the director confirms this week that he has always planned to do an "Avatar" sequel, and hopefully even turn the franchise into a trilogy (you hear that, George Lucas?).

Gillianren
2010-Jan-16, 03:19 AM
Until it sticks its ovipositor down your throat and lays its eggs in your chest.

Do you know, I think it might have had something to do with those white-haired fellows?

korjik
2010-Jan-16, 06:18 AM
Must've missed that one - wrong movie maybe? (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alien_%28film%29)

Naa, the aliens always have ovipositors. They act all cute and cuddly until you let your guard down and the next thing you know, a little blue guy bursts out of your chest.

Where do you think aliens come from?

:D

Glom
2010-Jan-16, 10:59 AM
Is the next one going to be titled: Avatar: The Corporation Strikes Back? (http://ca.movies.yahoo.com/feature/movie-talk-avatar-trilogy.html)

It helps when you spend a sum equivalent to the budget of the film on advertising.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 05:16 PM
It helps when you spend a sum equivalent to the budget of the film on advertising.

On a related note, people are talking about how beautiful the film looks, as if that's somehow difficult to do when you're spending something close to half a billion on the movie. With modern tech, any idiot with that kind of money can make something look beautiful.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 05:21 PM
The official word is the movie cost 237 million to make. Even if the other estimates are correct, 280–310 million, that isn't half a billion.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 05:43 PM
The official word is the movie cost 237 million to make. Even if the other estimates are correct, 280–310 million, that isn't half a billion.

No, but its close, as I said, to half a billion. Certainly closer than the money spent to make the first Star Wars movie.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 06:18 PM
237 million isn't close to 500 million.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 06:20 PM
Of course if the figure for 150 million in marketing is correct, and you add that to the high estimate cost of production, then you could say it's close.

Of course then you could also say that since it made 700 million profit already, the cost is close to the return as well.

I mean, a 100 million here, a hundred million there, next thing you know we are talking about real money. :D

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 06:30 PM
Of course if the figure for 150 million in marketing is correct, and you add that to the high estimate cost of production, then you could say it's close.

Of course then you could also say that since it made 700 million profit already, the cost is close to the return as well.

I mean, a 100 million here, a hundred million there, next thing you know we are talking about real money. :D

If you've ever studied the books of an entertainment company, then you know the last thing you can trust are the official figures. These are deliberately misleading and after a property (be it a franchise like Trek, or an album like Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon, for examples) reaches a certain point, no one connected with it can tell you who owns the rights to what, and who's getting paid for what, and how much they should be paid for any of it.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 06:35 PM
Have you ever studied the books of an entertainment company?

If so, which one?

Disinfo Agent
2010-Jan-16, 06:36 PM
On a related note, people are talking about how beautiful the film looks, as if that's somehow difficult to do when you're spending something close to half a billion on the movie. With modern tech, any idiot with that kind of money can make something look beautiful.I guess any idiot could pay for the special effects, but it takes more than an idiot to develop them.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 06:37 PM
Not that I don't agree that when it comes to money, and plenty of it, things get pretty strange real fast.

But claiming they spent half a billion to make the CGI is ridiculous. Claiming anyone with half a billion to spend could do it is also absurd.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 06:38 PM
I thought they had developed new technologies for the film. That's not something that any idiot can do.

You slipped in. Yes, the point you are making is very astute. Before they pushed the technology to do the film, nobody could do it. No matter how much money they spent.

Disinfo Agent
2010-Jan-16, 06:41 PM
I edited my post, because perhaps Tuckerfan's point was that, given the right amount of money, any director/producer could have payed others to develop the technology. :)

I'm not sure I agree with that either, though.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 06:51 PM
Have you ever studied the books of an entertainment company?

If so, which one?

Not personally, but I've a few friends with some connections to the industry and I wind up following the detail stuff of these kinds of the things because of it. There's been a few high profile cases that have gotten mainstream media attention which shine a bit of light on things. Art Buchwald's lawsuit against Paramount over Coming to America being one example (Harper's magazine did a nice breakdown on how the movie studio was hiding profits by saying that it was being "expensed" for this or that, when in reality very little money was being laid out.) In the late 90s, a number of recording artists sued the record labels for similar bizarro world accounting practices (Don Henley being one that springs to mind, as he wound up testifying before Congress on the matter). Vicky Lawrence (of Mama's Family fame) sued the production company because they kept telling her the show wasn't making any money in syndication, but on the shareholder reports it was listed as one of their most profitable programs. NPR did a story a few months back on how nobody connected with the Trek franchise was completely certain that their held the rights to this or that aspect of the franchise and they were all just guessing and hoping that no one connected with it found evidence that they were wrong. Back in the 1950s or so, when it was common to print two different science fiction works by different authors in the same book, the publishing companies would send those authors different sales figures based on how close an author was to recouping his advance (the closer he got, the lower the sales figures).

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 07:16 PM
I edited my post, because perhaps Tuckerfan's point was that, given the right amount of money, any director/producer could have payed others to develop the technology. :)

I'm not sure I agree with that either, though.

The technology is irrelevant, however. Take the 1960s movie Bullitt, for example. One of the things the movie is famous for, is the fact that during a car chase one car sheds about 16 hubcaps. Now, when they edited the movie all together and discovered this fact, there's not much they could do about it, given how expensive car chases are to film (especially in a major city like San Francisco, even in the 60s, this probably wasn't cheap), how minor a matter it is (and since the concept of home video didn't really exist at this point, no one could conceive of people watching the film hundreds of times), the money involved for the film can be spent on other things.

However, when you're a guy like Cameron, Lucas, Spielberg, or a few other top tier directors who have a virtually limitless supply of money at your disposal, you can reshoot any scene you want (or with modern technology do vast amounts of CGI work) until you get every single tiny mistake corrected. So, if the director of Bullitt was in the same financial shape as the top tier directors of today (and its only been relatively recently that studios were confident about just "letting the meter run" when it came to some film productions), he could have reshot, re-edited that car chase over and over again until it was absolutely perfect.

Maybe someone else wouldn't have conceived of the story line of Avatar or thought to do the kind of CGI technology that Cameron did, but they most certainly could have flown the cast to an exotic location here on Earth, done a conventional story (say a simple adventure story), and gotten the same kind of "Its incredibly beautiful!" comments about their film, while spending the kind of money that Cameron did. When you've got that kind of money, you can afford to hire the best designers, the best camera operators, etc., and then you can pay someone (and if Cameron does a sequel, he could no doubt find volunteers by the thousands) to sit there and watch the film over and over again, looking for mistakes, continuity errors, etc.

I can have the absolutely worst idea for a movie ever, but with enough money behind me, I can hire the best art directors, set directors, etc. to bring it all to life, with no flaws, and as realistic looking as my heart desires. (I could also have the best writers, but its not easy to splash a 10 second clip on the screen and convince people that this movie is going to have the best plot line ever.)

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-16, 07:35 PM
With modern tech, any idiot with that kind of money can make something look beautiful.

Dead wrong. Most people in the world couldn't make a great movie, no matter how much money they had to spend. Make, as in write and direct it.

Certainly any idiot couldn't.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 07:51 PM
Dead wrong. Most people in the world couldn't make a great movie, no matter how much money they had to spend. Make, as in write and direct it.

Certainly any idiot couldn't.

Who said anything about a "great" movie? I said beautiful. There's a big difference. "Great" is a bit more subjective than "beautiful." For some people, things like writing, directing, and acting help define what's "great" about a movie, more so than if it looks like the spaceship is being held up by wires or not. Other people think a movie is "great" if it consists of nothing more than buildings being blown up for 90 minutes with the only shots of actors consisting of them being thrown into the air by those explosions because the effects are so well done. Both types, however, can agree that the all explosion movie is "beautiful" while the first might think that Avatar is a "great" film, but the second might say it was "too talky."

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-16, 10:52 PM
Who said anything about a "great" movie? I said beautiful. There's a big difference.

Actually, I don't think there is, because the look of a movie is just as much an aspect of making it as the acting, writing, directing etc.

By way of a cheap analogy ...

I am not much of a photographer. I have a 7MP point and click digital camera that allows me to record the stuff that I am doing in images that look OK ... more than good enough for anything I might want to do with them.

I have a friend who is a professional photographer by trade. He has an extremely expensive goodness knows how many MP digital camera that he uses for his work and he takes some breath-taking photos (his commercial work is mainly in food, and just looking at his website makes me hungry).

Thing is, give me his budget and equipment and there is no way I could produce the kind of photographs that he does. And even more irritating (as he has demonstrated on several occasions) he takes much better photographs with my cheap point and click too.

Money buy itself doesn't produce a beautiful movie, you also need to have an eye for what looks good, what will work and how to accomplish that with what you have available, among other talents ... and that list of talents includes knowing who to sub-contract work too to fulfill your vision.

An idiot throwing half a billion dollars around cannot and will not produce another Avatar.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-16, 10:54 PM
Actually, I don't think there is, because the look of a movie is just as much an aspect of making it as the acting, writing, directing etc.

Yes, and having just one aspect be really good does not a great picture make.

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-16, 10:58 PM
Yes, and having just one aspect be really good does not a great picture make.

I don't disagree, but the argument I was addressing was essentially that any idiot with enough money could make a beautiful looking movie because this somehow didn't require any input other than a deep wallet, where a great movie required actual talent. Cameron has shown himself in the past capable of making great movies but neither Titanic nor Avatar are anywhere near.

That said, my teenage children loved Avatar to bits.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-16, 11:09 PM
An idiot throwing half a billion dollars around cannot and will not produce another Avatar.
So you're saying that you couldn't hire your friend to take pictures for you with that kind of money? And, if you'll read what I wrote, I did not say that any idiot could make another Avatar, I said "a movie that looks beautiful." Sure, hand that same equipment and budget to a professional and they'll no doubt come up with something better on the first try, but we're now into the territory of being able to hire enough monkeys that they can bang out Shakespeare on a typewriter with the budget that some folks are dealing with.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-17, 12:16 AM
I don't disagree, but the argument I was addressing was essentially that any idiot with enough money could make a beautiful looking movie because this somehow didn't require any input other than a deep wallet, where a great movie required actual talent. Cameron has shown himself in the past capable of making great movies but neither Titanic nor Avatar are anywhere near.

I haven't seen Titanic, nor do I intend to. However, an idiot with enough money could assuredly hire the team to make a beautiful movie. It's hardly as though James Cameron did all the work himself, after all. That's why they give separate awards for that sort of thing.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-17, 12:25 AM
I haven't seen Titanic, nor do I intend to. However, an idiot with enough money could assuredly hire the team to make a beautiful movie. It's hardly as though James Cameron did all the work himself, after all. That's why they give separate awards for that sort of thing.

Exactly. The film Star Wreck (http://www.starwreck.com/) was made for roughly $20K and looks on par with many big budget Hollywood productions, if $20K and talent can get you something that looks good, then $200+ million and no talent, should at least get the same results. (Story line, direction, plot, acting, are entirely different, of course.)

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-17, 01:43 AM
The tricky part here is whether the rich idiot would be able to figure out who the right people to hire is.

Tuckerfan
2010-Jan-17, 02:01 AM
The tricky part here is whether the rich idiot would be able to figure out who the right people to hire is.Eh, I'd imagine that they'd probably want to hire whomever did their favorite movie, so they'd get some talented folks. Maybe not the most talented, but talented none the less (and with $200+ million at their disposal, they can afford to reshoot a lot). See Travolta's version of Battlefield Earth for an example of this in the real world.

Or to put it in a rather painful perspective, if you hired the technical crew from Avatar, Uwe Boll, and some random actors, to do a $200+ million remake of The Star Wars Holiday Special (using the original script), not only would you wind up with a beautiful looking movie, you'd also be guilty of crimes against humanity.

korjik
2010-Jan-17, 10:37 AM
Eh, I'd imagine that they'd probably want to hire whomever did their favorite movie, so they'd get some talented folks. Maybe not the most talented, but talented none the less (and with $200+ million at their disposal, they can afford to reshoot a lot). See Travolta's version of Battlefield Earth for an example of this in the real world.

Or to put it in a rather painful perspective, if you hired the technical crew from Avatar, Uwe Boll, and some random actors, to do a $200+ million remake of The Star Wars Holiday Special (using the original script), not only would you wind up with a beautiful looking movie, you'd also be guilty of crimes against humanity.

After that, I am not sure there would be a humanity to have crimes against :)

I think I may have lost a week in a daze after just reading it

Glom
2010-Jan-18, 08:08 AM
I think I've bottomed out what really got my capricornus on this movie.

The plot is as stock and pedestrian as they come. But the value of movie is with the setting, not the plot. Rarely do you get a world created in such intricate detail. It is clear the ten years were spent developing the world while 10 minutes were spent developing the story.

Then Cameron proceeded to decimate that world to serve the story. But the story is not the point of the film. The setting is. You don't destroy the setting, which is the point of the film, in order to make the point of the plot, which is not the point of the film. That completely misses the point.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-18, 08:46 AM
That's as good a summary as I'd ever manage. Thanks!

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-18, 01:13 PM
I haven't seen Titanic, nor do I intend to. However, an idiot with enough money could assuredly hire the team to make a beautiful movie. It's hardly as though James Cameron did all the work himself, after all. That's why they give separate awards for that sort of thing.

Absolutely, but the question then is who came up with the ideas that we see realised in the movie. James Cameron visualising the world, the settings, the flora and fauna and how they interacted, the look and feel of the trees, creatures etc. and then hiring someone to do the technical work to bring that vision to the screen is very different from James Cameron simply hiring someone to come up with a beautiful world for him.

Likewise, if I hire my photographer friend to take some beautiful landscape photos for me and leave the choices of location, time of day etc. to him then I have essentially done nothing but pay someone for some beautiful photos. If, on the other hand, I outline in detail exactly what I want in terms of location, time of day, atmosphere, content, camera angle, etc. I have simply hired him to do the technical stuff.

Maybe I am just not explaining myself very well, but I just see a big difference between hiring someone to make a beautiful looking movieworld on your behalf, and visualising all of the details of the world yourself and hiring someone to do the technical stuff.

The first requires money alone, the second money and talent.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-18, 01:26 PM
Well, if you define "make" as "pay somebody to make", then it is all OK.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-18, 01:27 PM
Like, "anybody can paint a beautiful picture if they have millions of dollars!"

It doesn't mean they can actually paint a picture, but they could hire somebody to paint it. Which is exactly the same thing.

dohbot
2010-Jan-18, 03:42 PM
i'm dissapointed with avatar.

i was really excited to see this movie when i saw the trailer. but after i saw it, i felt it didn't meet my expectation. maybe i'm expecting too much.

i can care less about the new age thing and the save the forest message. the central core of the movie the navi was the worst part of the movie. their cgi was inferior to the cgi of master yoda.

cameron made the navi look too human, they resemble a scene from dances with wolves. i find it hard to take this seriously. perhaps if the movie was a comedy, i'll can go along with it.

the best part of the movie was the spaceship at the start of the movie. sadly it was onscreen for only a few seconds.

Tog
2010-Jan-18, 04:16 PM
Did anyone happen to catch Saturday Night Live this weekend? Weaver was the host and near the end, there a was a skit where she was Googling herself and taking everything people were saying personally. I thought it came off a lot better then the other Avatar bits in the show. It doesn't look like it's one of the few clips the put on the website though.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-18, 04:46 PM
I laughed so hard at that SNL. Cameron's appearance, and the show they pitched, that was really great.

clint
2010-Jan-19, 11:35 AM
i was really excited to see this movie when i saw the trailer. but after i saw it, i felt it didn't meet my expectation. maybe i'm expecting too much.

Tends to happen with much-anticipated movies.

For me, it was exactly the other way round:
after watching 2012, my expectation level for Avatar was about minus 7 (on a 1-10 scale).

Also, I didn't even know what the movie was about really
(judging from the banner, I expected some very cheap Lord-of-the-Rings fantasy nonsense).

So you can imagine my (positive) surprise when I saw that space ship and the close-up of the alien world :)

gzhpcu
2010-Jan-19, 12:02 PM
I finally saw Avatar last night. Well, I liked it very much. Liked the visual effects, even liked the story (even if not "deep"). I'd see it again...:)

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-19, 12:14 PM
I finally saw Avatar last night. Well, I liked it very much. Liked the visual effects, even liked the story (even if not "deep"). I'd see it again...:)

To be honest, I think most of the problem with Avatar is that expectation was built up beforehand with comments from Cameron and others alluduing to this being a movie that would change the way films are made and viewed forever ... and it isn't.

I am happy to accept that the CGI effects are on a scale and quality never before attempted, and maybe there were some new techniques pioneered, as there were with the Lord of the Rings movies, but as the debate higher up the thread illustrated that isn't all there is to making a movie ... and maybe Cameron has gotten so wrapped up in the technicalities of making it that he has lost sight of the story aspect.

Being cynical, my response to the hype was "yeah, right", and I have to say that, in spite of its flaws, I enjoyed it very much as a cinematic experience. And perhaps, ultimately, that is how Avatar will be viewed, as a classic cinematic spectacle rather than a classic movie.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-19, 03:46 PM
To be honest, I think most of the problem with Avatar is that expectation was built up beforehand with comments from Cameron and others alluduing to this being a movie that would change the way films are made and viewed forever ... and it isn't.
I think it is a game-changer. It cements the future of stereoscopic 3d, which is a change in how films will be viewed, and pioneers at least two important techniques--perfecting the stereo 3d cameras and fully realistic performance capture.

It's not just a matter of throwing an incredible number of man-hours onto the animation, but developing the software to automate conversion of an actor's facial expressions onto a human model. And doing it with sufficient quality that the model could be a human rather than a cartoon.

Why does this change things? Suppose Clint Eastwood wants to do another Dirty Harry movie or Harrison Ford wants to do another Indiana Jones movie. Now imagine that they don't have to look old in the movies. You don't need multiple actors to play a character at different ages. You could have an entire cast full of Benjamin Buttons.

Of course, it's not like Cameron is the only one perfecting these techniques. But Cameron's Avatar will be remembered as the movie which made the big impact.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-19, 05:55 PM
Being cynical, my response to the hype was "yeah, right", and I have to say that, in spite of its flaws, I enjoyed it very much as a cinematic experience. And perhaps, ultimately, that is how Avatar will be viewed, as a classic cinematic spectacle rather than a classic movie.

I went in wary, perfectly aware that I am often unimpressed with movies everyone else loves. It's probably why I don't hate it.


Suppose Clint Eastwood wants to do another Dirty Harry movie or Harrison Ford wants to do another Indiana Jones movie. Now imagine that they don't have to look old in the movies.

There are rumours of a fifth Indy in the works, but so what if he looks old in it? Humans age. By preventing us from seeing a character do that, aren't we succumbing even more to the modern worship of youth? Yeah, he can go back to fighting Nazis instead of Commies, but I'd rather see Harrison Ford real than Harrison Ford all Uncanny Valley-ed with CGI.

tofu
2010-Jan-19, 09:37 PM
I rewatched Dances With Wolves today, and the parallels are even closer than I remembered. The plot is not an unusual one, of course, but the structure of the two movies is awfully close as well.

In Dances with Wolves, as with Avatar, the outsider is initially an emissary. Part of Dunbar's mission, as he sees it, is to establish good relations with the native people. But then he falls in love one particular tribe, the Sioux, and when they're attacked by the Pawnee tribe he has to make a decision. If he sides with the Sioux, he can protect them, but he'll have to kill Pawnee warriors and that violates his mission to establish good relations.

It's a good scene, and it's a very clear demarcation between Act I and II. That sort of structure is the mark of well-made movie.

In Avatar, exactly when does Jake make a decision? The first time he directly acts against the humans is when he disables the bulldozer. But I don't see him making a decision there so much as just waking up, there's a bulldozer on top of him and he jumps on it. It's as though the decision was already made but the movie forgot to show it to us. Later he goes to the Na'vi and tries to talk them into moving. So wait, he hasn't made a decision? He's still helping the humans? I'm confused.

Then he's put in jail and someone breaks him out and he runs away. That's not a decision. That's going with the flow.

And the movie sort of just goes on like that for three hours. Simplistic. Shallow. Great CGI, but not much more.

The bulldozer scene could have been really pivotal. He should have heard them coming and tried to explain it to the girl. She should get mad right there and threaten to leave (or maybe actually leave). Then he makes his decision - he chooses his side. We get to see him have an internal struggle, if only for two or three seconds. That would have been a much better movie.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-19, 09:49 PM
In Avatar, exactly when does Jake make a decision?
He decides only after he has been exiled, when he decides to try and tame a dragon to unite the tribes. Up until that point, he's just trying to get things to go peacefully, and in an ever increasing state of confusion about which side of his life is "real".

I thought this was plainly Jake's the first moment of mental clarity in the film, and without mental clarity how is a "decision" even possible?

The first time he directly acts against the humans is when he disables the bulldozer. But I don't see him making a decision there so much as just waking up, there's a bulldozer on top of him and he jumps on it. It's as though the decision was already made but the movie forgot to show it to us. Later he goes to the Na'vi and tries to talk them into moving. So wait, he hasn't made a decision? He's still helping the humans? I'm confused.
You're confused? He's confused. He's just reacting rather than acting.

He just doesn't "get it", until after he loses everything.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-19, 10:03 PM
There are rumours of a fifth Indy in the works, but so what if he looks old in it? Humans age. By preventing us from seeing a character do that, aren't we succumbing even more to the modern worship of youth?
Indiana Jones movies don't get made to win accolades at Sundance, they get made to try and appeal to a popular audience. So if we can't freshen up Harrison Ford, then we try to sell it with Shia Lebeouf...or some other compromises.

But what if the writing came first, and then the technology could just make it happen? Wouldn't that be better?

Like I said, you could have an entire cast of Benjamin Buttons. Meaning, you could have stories where the characters are shown across many years.

Yeah, he can go back to fighting Nazis instead of Commies, but I'd rather see Harrison Ford real than Harrison Ford all Uncanny Valley-ed with CGI.
That's the big deal about the perfection of this technique. It's crossing the uncanny valley.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-19, 10:07 PM
The bulldozer scene happens the next day after several key events.

To say more would require a spoiler tag.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-19, 10:11 PM
As a completely out-of-the-blue comment:

I notice that everyone picks up on the line, "I'd die to get some samples...", but not the lines, "What are you going to do--shoot me?" and "I was hoping for a plan that didn't involve self-martyrdom."

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-19, 10:33 PM
Good call.

tofu
2010-Jan-19, 11:48 PM
To say more would require a spoiler tag.

Yes, because someone who hasn't yet seen the movie is going to read 14 pages of people talking about, then get mad when they read something about the movie.

Gigabyte
2010-Jan-20, 12:14 AM
Or, the people complaining will realize what happened, and it would spoil their ability to complain.

What about that?

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 01:09 AM
Indiana Jones movies don't get made to win accolades at Sundance, they get made to try and appeal to a popular audience. So if we can't freshen up Harrison Ford, then we try to sell it with Shia Lebeouf...or some other compromises.

Or, you know, we assume that an audience is mature enough to accept that humans age. You know, try to improve the audience instead of dumbing down the film. It's got Indiana Jones; they'll go see it.


But what if the writing came first, and then the technology could just make it happen? Wouldn't that be better?

But the writing doesn't come first. The least-appreciated figure in the film industry is the screenwriter. Films are made to pander to the baser instincts of the masses--you think Michael Bay cares about writers?


Like I said, you could have an entire cast of Benjamin Buttons. Meaning, you could have stories where the characters are shown across many years.

And that's better than using other, talented actors to you. Okay.


That's the big deal about the perfection of this technique. It's crossing the uncanny valley.

Nonsense. It isn't perfect; I was never for a minute in doubt that these were CGI creatures. All right, that was in part because they were just inhuman-looking enough to be Aliens. But the technology to integrate CGI Harrison Ford into a scene seamlessly because you haven't the intellectual depth to accept an older hero isn't there.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 03:01 AM
Or, you know, we assume that an audience is mature enough to accept that humans age. You know, try to improve the audience instead of dumbing down the film. It's got Indiana Jones; they'll go see it.
You think it's possible to "improve the audience". Got it...

But the writing doesn't come first. The least-appreciated figure in the film industry is the screenwriter. Films are made to pander to the baser instincts of the masses--you think Michael Bay cares about writers?
...or maybe not. You think it's impossible for writing to be appreciated.

Or maybe it's just that you don't think writing matters unless the audience has "intellectual depth". Which seems to mean accepting everything you say they should accept instead of seeing expanded possibilities.

And that's better than using other, talented actors to you. Okay.
Yes, I think that it's better for the same actors to play the same characters at several different ages. At the very least, it's better to have the option.

Some actors are so iconic that it really isn't desirable to have someone else portray his/her character. Robert Deniro. Robin Williams. Jim Carrey...any number of others.

I liked that Brad Pitt played Benjamin Button throughout the film, instead of casting a bunch of different actors. But then, I suppose that's an example of lacking "intellectual depth".

Did it at all occur to you that maybe the actor appreciates the option of playing the character despite differences in age/appearance?

Nonsense. It isn't perfect; I was never for a minute in doubt that these were CGI creatures. All right, that was in part because they were just inhuman-looking enough to be Aliens. But the technology to integrate CGI Harrison Ford into a scene seamlessly because you haven't the intellectual depth to accept an older hero isn't there.
Ah, if you say it then it must be true.

James Cameron claims that the quality is there to do exactly what I say, and based on what I've seen in Avatar compared to other performance capture movies, I believe it. I believe what he has to say about special effects technology than you.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-20, 03:16 AM
"Theater's dead, Thorny."

korjik
2010-Jan-20, 03:34 AM
Or, you know, we assume that an audience is mature enough to accept that humans age. You know, try to improve the audience instead of dumbing down the film. It's got Indiana Jones; they'll go see it.



But the writing doesn't come first. The least-appreciated figure in the film industry is the screenwriter. Films are made to pander to the baser instincts of the masses--you think Michael Bay cares about writers?



And that's better than using other, talented actors to you. Okay.



Nonsense. It isn't perfect; I was never for a minute in doubt that these were CGI creatures. All right, that was in part because they were just inhuman-looking enough to be Aliens. But the technology to integrate CGI Harrison Ford into a scene seamlessly because you haven't the intellectual depth to accept an older hero isn't there.

exhibitA: Patrick Stewart at the end of Wolverine

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 03:53 AM
You think it's possible to "improve the audience". Got it...

Yes, I think talking down to people can be avoided and maybe get a better class of audience actually willing to go to the theatre again.


...or maybe not. You think it's impossible for writing to be appreciated.

No; writing isn't appreciated.


Or maybe it's just that you don't think writing matters unless the audience has "intellectual depth". Which seems to mean accepting everything you say they should accept instead of seeing expanded possibilities.

Yes, that's exactly what I said.


Yes, I think that it's better for the same actors to play the same characters at several different ages. At the very least, it's better to have the option.

And if they don't want it?


Some actors are so iconic that it really isn't desirable to have someone else portray his/her character. Robert Deniro. Robin Williams. Jim Carrey...any number of others.

Well, I'd be quite happy if Jim Carrey would just go away, but that's different. But you know, Robert DeNiro played young Marlon Brando in one of his most iconic roles. Is Marlon Brando not iconic? Come to that, in the beginning of Last Crusade, Harrison Ford was deftly portrayed by River Phoenix, and doubtless someone else would be portraying young River Phoenix today, had he not died so foolishly.


I liked that Brad Pitt played Benjamin Button throughout the film, instead of casting a bunch of different actors. But then, I suppose that's an example of lacking "intellectual depth".

I wouldn't know; I haven't seen it yet. I do think the Academy needed to make up its mind if it was makeup or special effects.


Did it at all occur to you that maybe the actor appreciates the option of playing the character despite differences in age/appearance?

Did it occur to you that they often do, only using makeup?


Ah, if you say it then it must be true.

James Cameron claims that the quality is there to do exactly what I say, and based on what I've seen in Avatar compared to other performance capture movies, I believe it. I believe what he has to say about special effects technology than you.

If James Cameron says it, it must be true, then? Personally, I think motion capture is a cheat for techniques requiring more skill. And since he didn't use that technology--Sigourney Weaver's CGI face was the most distracting visual in the movie, so far as I was concerned--it clearly isn't there. Or do you think it's impossible that he's just trying to hype himself a bit more?

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2010-Jan-20, 04:38 AM
I do think the Academy needed to make up its mind if it was makeup or special effects.

It was both, actually. Makeup was used for small changes in age, and CGI for major.


I liked that Brad Pitt played Benjamin Button throughout the film, instead of casting a bunch of different actors.

That depends on how you define "played." Pitt was certainly providing the voice of Button throughout the movie, but Button's elderly face was an animator's interpretation of Pitt's facial expressions in the ADR booth; they didn't use motion capture and Button's body in those scenes was performed by different actors.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 06:54 AM
It was both, actually. Makeup was used for small changes in age, and CGI for major.

In that case, I stand behind my assertion that Hellboy should have won for makeup.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 03:17 PM
Yes, I think talking down to people can be avoided and maybe get a better class of audience actually willing to go to the theatre again.
I see, you simply see yourself as superior and don't like the idea of inferiors actually enjoying themselves.

There are plenty of art films made, and your "better class of audience" is perfectly free to patronize those films in the theatre if they want. Why should you care if the unwashed masses enjoy movies also?

There's nothing inherently wrong with seeing yourself as superior in some ways--it could be perfectly true. For example, I consider my knowledge of space science and technology to be superior to the average person...not that this is any great feat.

But it's just mean-spirited to deny others their entertainment just because it doesn't suit your "superior" tastes.

But you know, Robert DeNiro played young Marlon Brando in one of his most iconic roles. Is Marlon Brando not iconic? Come to that, in the beginning of Last Crusade, Harrison Ford was deftly portrayed by River Phoenix, and doubtless someone else would be portraying young River Phoenix today, had he not died so foolishly.
So what?

You are the one who insists things can only be done one way--the way you approve.

I'm saying it's good to have the option. If the film-makers want to have two different actors play a role, that's fine. If they want to have a dozen different actors play a role, that's fine. But technology now gives them the option to do it with just one actor.

I do personally prefer it if one actor protrays the same character, but I do not insist that everyone else--including the film-makers themselves--prefer the exact same things I prefer.

I wouldn't know; I haven't seen it yet. I do think the Academy needed to make up its mind if it was makeup or special effects.
I don't care what "the Academy" thinks about anything.

Did it occur to you that they often do, only using makeup?
Umm...so what?

I'm not the one being a Luddite about special effects technology. So apparently using makeup is okay, but computer graphics is not. I'll make sure to note that on your approved/not approved list.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-20, 03:27 PM
Cameron, I am pretty sure, is feeling one step closer to the director's ultimate fantasy: actors who don't talk back, never show up late, always know their lines and never, never, never use their own resources to interpret a role, thus interfering with the Grand Design. Dark Design. Whatever.

Ilya
2010-Jan-20, 04:05 PM
I'd rather see Harrison Ford real than Harrison Ford all Uncanny Valley-ed with CGI.
Couple weeks ago I realized something -- "Uncanny Valley" does not seem to exist for me. I used to accept endless claims that not-quite-human CGI faces and robots like Repliee Q2 (http://images.google.com/images?hl=en&rlz=1R2ADFA_enUS358&q=Repliee+Q2&um=1&ie=UTF-8&ei=uyZXS7SsCcGplAf78qX5Aw&sa=X&oi=image_result_group&ct=title&resnum=8&ved=0CDQQsAQwBw) are "creepy" until it suddenly hit me -- "Since when??"

I see absolutely nothing creepy or disquieting about Repliee Q2 or Roxxxy (http://news.cnet.com/8301-17938_105-10432597-1.html). Not that I find either of them particularly attractive, but neither do they give me any unspecified negative feelings. And I find many obviously CGI people, like characters in "Beowulf", very beautiful.

I wonder how common my (lack of) reaction really is? Perhaps "Uncanny Valley" is one of those memes everyone says are true only because everyone else says so.

Mr Gorsky
2010-Jan-20, 04:06 PM
I think it is a game-changer. It cements the future of stereoscopic 3d, which is a change in how films will be viewed, and pioneers at least two important techniques--perfecting the stereo 3d cameras and fully realistic performance capture.

Well, maybe that is my problem. Since I don't have (nor am I ever likely to regain) stereoscopic vision I really and truly don't care about that, because it changes my moviegoing experience precisely not at all.

mike alexander
2010-Jan-20, 04:28 PM
What says it all for me is the equating of acting with 'realistic performance capture'. Like how 'homemade bomb' became 'improvised explosive device'. Why use three syllables when eight will do?

Motion pictures have been doing 'realistic performance capture' for about a century now. They put an actor in front of a camera and let him 'act'.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 04:31 PM
I wonder how common my (lack of) reaction really is? Perhaps "Uncanny Valley" is one of those memes everyone says are true only because everyone else says so.
There is debate over whether the "uncanny valley" actually exists.

I don't think I feel an "uncanny valley" effect. When something gets close to human-looking, I may have a negative response...if the human it's getting close to looking like has characteristics I find ugly. In which case it's not a "valley" because the curve is just going to keep on going negative all the way to "fully human".

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 04:36 PM
What says it all for me is the equating of acting with 'realistic performance capture'.
Did someone do that?

mike alexander
2010-Jan-20, 05:19 PM
I did.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-20, 06:03 PM
There is debate over whether the "uncanny valley" actually exists.

There is? It certainly affects me.


I don't think I feel an "uncanny valley" effect. When something gets close to human-looking, I may have a negative response...if the human it's getting close to looking like has characteristics I find ugly. In which case it's not a "valley" because the curve is just going to keep on going negative all the way to "fully human".

But I do. When a figure looks human enough, but it subtlety does not act human or isn't quite there, this causes an uncanny effect. It's a mistake to assume "It doesn't effect me personally" means "It doesn't exist at all for anyone else".

It occurs in normal humans as well, if they don't "learn" the proper social graces we take for granted. For instance, one of my friends has extremely bad vision as a result of being an albino, and as a result, he's legally blind. So he doesn't really get the concept of "eye contact"; he tries for it anyways, because it's only polite, and ends up "staring people down" because he never "learned" that you look away after you get the right social "cues".

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 06:06 PM
I see, you simply see yourself as superior and don't like the idea of inferiors actually enjoying themselves.

No, I think others can enjoy themselves perfectly well with more intellectual fare than the film industry thinks them capable of. I realized recently that there was not a single comedy which I was aware of this year which wasn't based on nothing but drinking humour, bodily humour, or sexual humour. However, a hundred years ago, everyone was perfectly capable of watching--and, presumably, understanding--Shakespeare.


There are plenty of art films made, and your "better class of audience" is perfectly free to patronize those films in the theatre if they want. Why should you care if the unwashed masses enjoy movies also?

Oh, for heaven's sake. If more intellectual films get made and actually become popular, surely that would be a sign of a more educated populace, a thing I'm sure we can agree to be desirable.


There's nothing inherently wrong with seeing yourself as superior in some ways--it could be perfectly true. For example, I consider my knowledge of space science and technology to be superior to the average person...not that this is any great feat.

But it's just mean-spirited to deny others their entertainment just because it doesn't suit your "superior" tastes.

Expecting better writing is "deny others their entertainment"? There are some action movies and some horror movies I've liked because they are also intelligent. You'll note I believe that more intelligent films will do well, which they wouldn't were it all film snobs and elitists. I think something intelligent could have been made of Avatar, and I think it would still have done very well if it were. It would well have been possible to encourage thought in the audience while still having the shiny and the explosions.


So what?

You are the one who insists things can only be done one way--the way you approve.

No, I'm saying there's no reason to assume such a thing will sweep the industry or that the iconic stars will suddenly jump at the chance to play twelve-year-olds when they can, in the cast of dear Ralph Fiennes in Harry Potter, get their nephews to do it. Or young, aspiring actors such as, well, Robert DeNiro.


I'm saying it's good to have the option. If the film-makers want to have two different actors play a role, that's fine. If they want to have a dozen different actors play a role, that's fine. But technology now gives them the option to do it with just one actor.

Yes, but so far, not well.


I do personally [i]prefer it if one actor protrays the same character, but I do not insist that everyone else--including the film-makers themselves--prefer the exact same things I prefer.

Filmmakers covers a wide range. There are a lot of people involved in making films who would never have the choice. The three issues here are actors, directors, and producers. In my opinion, few actors--few people--really remember childhood well enough to be convincing children. Directors . . . . Hitchcock famously said actors should be treated as cattle, and he was hardly alone in that. Kubrick did literally dozens of takes in order to drain all the emotion out of his performers except what he wanted out of them. They may well like it because, as mentioned, it gives them even more control and keeps "actors" from complaining. As for producers, well, what's cheap?


I don't care what "the Academy" thinks about anything.

I'm sure you don't; that was grousing not entirely aimed at you. The point, though, is that "new" is not always "good."


Umm...so what?

So new technology doesn't always mean shocking changes.


I'm not the one being a Luddite about special effects technology. So apparently using makeup is okay, but computer graphics is not. I'll make sure to note that on your approved/not approved list.

Computer graphics can do very well. The abovementioned Ralph Fiennes has bits of his head digitally shaved off for playing Lord Voldemort. However, he's supposed to look inhuman. It takes a great deal of work to make an adult face look like a child's; in my own high school yearbook, there was a collection of the baby pictures of about two dozen people from my class, and people were constantly guessing that I was, in fact, David Vielmutter. (I think that's how he spelled his name.) Imagine if that effort were put into other things instead of spending budget on special effects when just casting a child would be simpler and cheaper.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-20, 06:07 PM
I have to wonder if Isaac Kuo ever looked up the term "Strawman Argument"? Maybe he has, and has fallen in love with it...

Still, it's fun to see this whole "Vive la Revolution!" argument.

Jim
2010-Jan-20, 06:16 PM
I see, you simply see yourself as superior and don't like the idea of inferiors actually enjoying themselves. ... Why should you care if the unwashed masses enjoy movies also? ... it's just mean-spirited to deny others their entertainment just because it doesn't suit your "superior" tastes. ... You are the one who insists things can only be done one way--the way you approve. ... I'm not the one being a Luddite about special effects technology. ... I'll make sure to note that on your approved/not approved list.

IsaacKuo, this looks a lot like a personal attack, a violation of Rule 2. This is a warning.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 08:17 PM
No, I think others can enjoy themselves perfectly well with more intellectual fare than the film industry thinks them capable of.
That's an entirely different argument than saying that more intellectual fare will "get a better class of audience actually willing to go to the theatre again."

Oh, for heaven's sake. If more intellectual films get made and actually become popular, surely that would be a sign of a more educated populace, a thing I'm sure we can agree to be desirable.
Plenty of intellectual films get made. Whether they are popular in the narrow sense of box office returns is another matter. I say box office returns because we're talking about audiences who are willing to go to the theatre.

I think something intelligent could have been made of Avatar, and I think it would still have done very well if it were. It would well have been possible to encourage thought in the audience while still having the shiny and the explosions.
Eh, I thought the plot of Avatar was adequate. Not many movie plots stand out to me, sci-fi or otherwise. So I don't expect every movie to be The Prestige.

No, I'm saying there's no reason to assume such a thing will sweep the industry
That's the first I've heard this argument. I thought the argument was something like "By preventing us from seeing a character do that, aren't we succumbing even more to the modern worship of youth?"

To me, that sounded more like a lament about what Hollywood will continue to be like, rather than a prediction that Hollywood would resist the temptation to use technology to "improve" the appearances of the actors.

Yes, but so far, not well.
If Star Wars level effects were already the norm before Star Wars, then Star Wars wouldn't have been a game-changer either.

The point, though, is that "new" is not always "good."
It's not always bad, either.

So new technology doesn't always mean shocking changes.
Being a game changer doesn't necessarily mean shocking changes. For example, Star Wars was a game changer. Did it result in any shocking changes? I don't think so.

Imagine if that effort were put into other things instead of spending budget on special effects when just casting a child would be simpler and cheaper.
This is why automating special effects can change the game. If you make it cheaper, if you mass produce it, you make it an accessible option for other film-makers.

That's actually what I think of when I think of James Cameron. I think of him as someone who can take a lavishly expensive special effect and figure out how to cost effectively mass produce it. Instead of one Alien, you have a horde of aliens. Instead of a few short scenes with a water being, you have a liquid metal extravaganza.

When I see Avatar, what I see is mostly a bunch of bits and pieces of things from his previous movies which previously had to be doled out in the tiniest amounts. The big battle scene looks like what he wish he could have made in The Terminator...but in The Terminator it was only possible to have one short scene with the humans fighting the giant robots. And Ripley's big brawl with the Alien Mother? Mass produce that also. And the heavily armed transports in Aliens...they never even got off a shot. Cameron gets to do what he wished he could have with them also.

I see Avatar as a special effects vehicle. The plot came second; it's an excuse for cramming in all of the cool effects Cameron has clearly been wanting to do for years.

But I don't complain about this, because I doubt the plot would have been improved significantly had Cameron put more priority to it.

Besides, if Avatar had a better plot, then so what? You can't export a better plot to other films. But the SFX technology and talent developed and supported by Avatar can be.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 08:22 PM
It's a mistake to assume "It doesn't effect me personally" means "It doesn't exist at all for anyone else".
Sure, but that's not what the debate is based on.

For example: http://www.lirec.org/biblio/1435

"There is considerable anecdotal evidence for the uncanny from film, CGI and sculpture, but this does not in itself support the valley model. Four hypothesises are proposed; considering the role of presence, mismatch of cue realism, the contribution of the eyes and cultural habituation. Future research aims are then described in order to experimentally test the Uncanny Valley."

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-20, 08:32 PM
Sure, but that's not what the debate is based on.

For example: http://www.lirec.org/biblio/1435

"There is considerable anecdotal evidence for the uncanny from film, CGI and sculpture, but this does not in itself support the valley model. Four hypothesises are proposed; considering the role of presence, mismatch of cue realism, the contribution of the eyes and cultural habituation. Future research aims are then described in order to experimentally test the Uncanny Valley."

Okay?

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 08:46 PM
That's an entirely different argument than saying that more intellectual fare will "get a better class of audience actually willing to go to the theatre again."

Both are true, frankly. If you expect more of your audience, not only will they live up to it, I hope, but people who've written off movies--and I've essentially written off modern comedies--will start to change their minds.


Plenty of intellectual films get made. Whether they are popular in the narrow sense of box office returns is another matter. I say box office returns because we're talking about audiences who are willing to go to the theatre.

And if you add intelligent bits to movies which appeal to the masses, maybe films like Frost/Nixon (which I thought was very funny) will do better as people realize it's okay to think.


Eh, I thought the plot of Avatar was adequate. Not many movie plots stand out to me, sci-fi or otherwise. So I don't expect every movie to be The Prestige.

Oh, good; The Prestige wasn't as good as it thought it was, either. It relied on a lot of the same kinds of cheats as Cameron tends to.


That's the first I've heard this argument. I thought the argument was something like "By preventing us from seeing a character do that, aren't we succumbing even more to the modern worship of youth?"

Which is also true. So what if Harrison Ford has gotten a little wrinkled? He's still a very attractive man--who had to lose maybe fifteen pounds to fit into his original costume. However, I'll also note that very few women are still stars in middle age, and most of the ones who do are expected to undergo a ton of plastic surgery. Yeah, maybe they'll be able to avoid the surgery if it's all done by CGI instead, but it would be nice to think that maybe people will get back to "it's okay to get older."


To me, that sounded more like a lament about what Hollywood will continue to be like, rather than a prediction that Hollywood would resist the temptation to use technology to "improve" the appearances of the actors.

Hollywood won't resist that temptation unless the general public changes, and by making it that much easier, there's no reason for that to change. A woman like Sigourney Weaver is still attractive, and she's nearly a senior citizen so far as the US government is concerned. If putting digital youth on people catches on, a lot of the character will be taken out of her face. (Which, again, was proof so far as I was concerned of the Uncanny Valley--having her real face on that creature was disconcerting and off-putting.)


If Star Wars level effects were already the norm before Star Wars, then Star Wars wouldn't have been a game-changer either.

There's a lot more to Star Wars and its impact on film culture than just the effects.


It's not always bad, either.

No, but that's no reason not to evaluate the pros and cons.


Being a game changer doesn't necessarily mean shocking changes. For example, Star Wars was a game changer. Did it result in any shocking changes? I don't think so.

Then you really don't know much about film.


This is why automating special effects can change the game. If you make it cheaper, if you mass produce it, you make it an accessible option for other film-makers.

But will that actually improve the medium? I acknowledged, and you ignored, that there are times when it's better. Ralph Fiennes needed to look a certain unnatural way to play Lord Voldemort, and I don't think conventional makeup techniques would have succeeded so well. On the other hand, the makeup for Hellboy is done the old fashioned way, and it looked more real than what I've seen of Benjamin Button. Making it cheap also means you're giving people another way to skip effort.


That's actually what I think of when I think of James Cameron. I think of him as someone who can take a lavishly expensive special effect and figure out how to cost effectively mass produce it. Instead of one Alien, you have a horde of aliens. Instead of a few short scenes with a water being, you have a liquid metal extravaganza.

Instead of plot, you have shininess, and people call him an innovator for it.


When I see Avatar, what I see is mostly a bunch of bits and pieces of things from his previous movies which previously had to be doled out in the tiniest amounts. The big battle scene looks like what he wish he could have made in The Terminator...but in The Terminator it was only possible to have one short scene with the humans fighting the giant robots. And Ripley's big brawl with the Alien Mother? Mass produce that also. And the heavily armed transports in Aliens...they never even got off a shot. Cameron gets to do what he wished he could have with them also.

On the other hand, most of the actual really good monster movies almost never show the monster, because it's a better way of building suspense. And, you know, that sometimes comes because of failures of technology. Ask the crew on Jaws.


I see Avatar as a special effects vehicle. The plot came second; it's an excuse for cramming in all of the cool effects Cameron has clearly been wanting to do for years.

But does that actually make it a worthwhile movie? And, given how long he worked on it, couldn't improvements have been brought to the script? Frankly, I find it depressing to think that there's a time when the plot comes second, because if I didn't want plot, I'd just watch River Tam Beats Up Everyone.


But I don't complain about this, because I doubt the plot would have been improved significantly had Cameron put more priority to it.

Which tells you a great deal about James Cameron, doesn't it?


Besides, if Avatar had a better plot, then so what? You can't export a better plot to other films. But the SFX technology and talent developed and supported by Avatar can be.

But if it had both a better plot and shiny effects, wouldn't that set the bar for a good movie a little higher? After all, it's possible to have intelligence in your action movies. The Dark Knight, for example, was a lot of things going boom--and a lot of philosophy about the nature of man. It wasn't exactly an overlooked film, either. Seventy years ago, one of the greatest blockbusters of all time (if, as is intellectually honest, we adjust for inflation) was more about the plot than the special effects, even though it had one of the most striking sequences captured on film to date. Movies used to do both. Now, we don't expect them to. And this doesn't depress anyone else?

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-20, 08:58 PM
Is Bladerunner remembered as a classic because of its special effects, or its plot?

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 09:39 PM
Both are true, frankly. If you expect more of your audience, not only will they live up to it, I hope, but people who've written off movies--and I've essentially written off modern comedies--will start to change their minds.
That sounds a lot better than if you claim to be part of a "better class". There are plenty of movies I avoid, but I consider this to be merely a difference in personal taste.

And if you add intelligent bits to movies which appeal to the masses, maybe films like Frost/Nixon (which I thought was very funny) will do better as people realize it's okay to think.
I do not believe there is any such correlation. I believe that if "intelligent bits" are added to mass appeal movies, it will have no impact on the success/failure of other films.

I think the basic problem with "intelligent movie" box office success is that home theatre is such a good alternative to going to the theatre.

I don't know if my and my wife are typical, so I won't pretend this is a scientific theory--I'm just using us as an example.

We watch "intelligent" films, but we generally watch them on video or even when they reach basic cable. We don't watch many movies in general, which is why even movies we're interested in seeing often make to the "basic cable" stage before we catch them. We only go to the theatres to see big flashy SFX flicks which are worth the effort to go out to the big screen. (Well, almost--some very few movies are ones we can't wait for.)

And sure, we know we're "part of the problem". Even though we appreciate "intelligent" films, we don't financially support them where it matters the most to the decision-makers in Hollywood. But that's the way it is, and adding "intelligent bits" to mass appeal movies isn't going to change it one way or the other.

However, I'll also note that very few women are still stars in middle age, and most of the ones who do are expected to undergo a ton of plastic surgery. Yeah, maybe they'll be able to avoid the surgery if it's all done by CGI instead, but it would be nice to think that maybe people will get back to "it's okay to get older."
Which was never, when it comes to actresses.

Hollywood won't resist that temptation unless the general public changes, and by making it that much easier, there's no reason for that to change. A woman like Sigourney Weaver is still attractive, and she's nearly a senior citizen so far as the US government is concerned. If putting digital youth on people catches on, a lot of the character will be taken out of her face.
I'll wager it will have less of a harmful effect than botox (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/botox-is-destroying-holly_b_173086.html).

Instead of plot, you have shininess, and people call him an innovator for it.
Why not? No one claims Cameron is an innovator of plotlines.

On the other hand, most of the actual really good monster movies almost never show the monster, because it's a better way of building suspense. And, you know, that sometimes comes because of failures of technology. Ask the crew on Jaws.
It would be better, IMHO, if this were because of a purposeful choice on the part of the film-makers rather than an accident of circumstance.

But does that actually make it a worthwhile movie?
I think so. I don't need a movie to excel in all areas to be worthwhile.

And, given how long he worked on it, couldn't improvements have been brought to the script?
I do not think so, because Cameron is a control freak and he thinks the story was awesome. Like it or not, he thought the story was more or less perfect and I can't imagine an alternate history where someone else could have forced plot changes on him.

Note--I do not think much of Titanic's plot. I thought it was adequate. My wife disagrees, as do many others I gather...according to others the plot and characters of Titanic were beautiful. I don't see it myself, according to my personal opinion. So I perhaps have a lower expectation of the sort of storyline Cameron could produce.

But if it had both a better plot and shiny effects, wouldn't that set the bar for a good movie a little higher? After all, it's possible to have intelligence in your action movies. The Dark Knight, for example, was a lot of things going boom--and a lot of philosophy about the nature of man.
The Dark Knight is what I'd consider a bar-setter for a "good movie". That doesn't mean I can't also enjoy Iron Man.

Actually, it almost does...I'm glad Iron Man came out before The Dark Knight.

Seventy years ago, one of the greatest blockbusters of all time (if, as is intellectually honest, we adjust for inflation) was more about the plot than the special effects, even though it had one of the most striking sequences captured on film to date. Movies used to do both. Now, we don't expect them to. And this doesn't depress anyone else?
I don't recall a time when there weren't lots of dumb silly SFX movies. It's just that they get forgotten soon enough (and this is no tragedy).

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 09:45 PM
Is Bladerunner remembered as a classic because of its special effects, or its plot?
It's remembered as a classic because of its visuals. Its visual look has cast a long shadow of inspiration across Sci-Fi. The plot? Not so much.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-20, 10:07 PM
Really now.

Glom
2010-Jan-20, 10:22 PM
The vistas and the characters were where the film's production values distinguished themselves. The battle was like many battles we've seen before. Lots of explosions. Maybe the effects are better than previous stock battles, but it's not like we really have the opportunity to appreciate such fine value in such a sequence.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-20, 10:32 PM
If Star Wars level effects were already the norm before Star Wars, then Star Wars wouldn't have been a game-changer either.

It's not always bad, either.

Being a game changer doesn't necessarily mean shocking changes. For example, Star Wars was a game changer. Did it result in any shocking changes? I don't think so.
You're apparently missing that Star Wars wasn't a game changer because of the special effects, but because it brought the storytelling of epic fantasy to science fiction movies.

It wasn't the effects but the writing that was revolutionary, in fact the total opposite of Avatar where the effects are revolutionary and the writing is pedestrian.

The result of Avatar will that it helped drive down the price of doing those effects so they'll be added to the palette of options when people want to visualize a story.

Star Wars changed what stories could be told.

Glom
2010-Jan-20, 10:42 PM
You're apparently missing that Star Wars wasn't a game changer because of the special effects, but because it brought the storytelling of epic fantasy to science fiction movies.

It wasn't the effects but the writing that was revolutionary, in fact the total opposite of Avatar where the effects are revolutionary and the writing is pedestrian.

The result of Avatar will that it helped drive down the price of doing those effects so they'll be added to the palette of options when people want to visualize a story.

Star Wars changed what stories could be told.

That's why everyone was so shocked at how the prequels turned out. The original Star Wars was a darn good yarn. It all flowed so freely.

But I think the Star Wars effects were quite revolutionary though. That opening shot with the star destroyer barrelling overhead was pretty wowing for the audiences of the time. I think Lucas pioneered a technique of shooting different models separately and then compositing them together allowing for the vast scale of the star destroyer to be appreciated by comparing it to much smaller ships.

I don't know if what Star Wars added to the toolkit changed what stories could be told, but Avatar doesn't. It seems takes the toolkit one step further. It's evolutionary, not revolutionary. Lord of the Rings, now that was revolutionary. We'd never seen vast ten thousand strong armies assaulting each other or had a photo-realistic CGI character take centre stage among real actors.

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-20, 10:44 PM
Is Bladerunner remembered as a classic because of its special effects, or its plot?
Because if its cinematography.
There are more things to movie visuals than special effects.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 10:45 PM
You're apparently missing that Star Wars wasn't a game changer because of the special effects, but because it brought the storytelling of epic fantasy to science fiction movies.
[...]
Star Wars changed what stories could be told.
I honestly feel like the effect on visual effects was more important. Sure, there were some Star Wars immitators in terms of epic fantasy but off the top of my head I can't think of any that were any good. Perhaps I'm just not familiar enough with the relevant epic fantasy sci-fi movies. Could you list some examples?

Of course, any highly successful movie is going to have immitators; nothing shocking about that.

It wasn't the effects but the writing that was revolutionary, in fact the total opposite of Avatar where the effects are revolutionary and the writing is pedestrian.

The result of Avatar will that it helped drive down the price of doing those effects so they'll be added to the palette of options when people want to visualize a story.
I see Star Wars as having had much the same effect.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-20, 10:51 PM
Lord of the Rings, now that was revolutionary. We'd never seen vast ten thousand strong armies assaulting each other or had a photo-realistic CGI character take centre stage among real actors.
For better or worse, The Phantom Menace did both.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-20, 11:35 PM
That sounds a lot better than if you claim to be part of a "better class". There are plenty of movies I avoid, but I consider this to be merely a difference in personal taste.

Bluntly, when it comes to awareness of the nuances and history of film, I am better than average. That's because I work at it. And most of the movies I avoid, I avoid because they're "entertainment for the masses" and therefore dumbed down.


I do not believe there is any such correlation. I believe that if "intelligent bits" are added to mass appeal movies, it will have no impact on the success/failure of other films.

Film history suggests otherwise.


I think the basic problem with "intelligent movie" box office success is that home theatre is such a good alternative to going to the theatre.

I don't know if my and my wife are typical, so I won't pretend this is a scientific theory--I'm just using us as an example.

We watch "intelligent" films, but we generally watch them on video or even when they reach basic cable. We don't watch many movies in general, which is why even movies we're interested in seeing often make to the "basic cable" stage before we catch them. We only go to the theatres to see big flashy SFX flicks which are worth the effort to go out to the big screen. (Well, almost--some very few movies are ones we can't wait for.)

And this is an issue as well; last year, when I went to see Frost/Nixon, I was asked why I was spending the money on a film of "two men in a room." Now, there was more to the film than that, but as I said at the time, if people don't go to that intellectual level of movie, they'll stop making them and instead make, well, one of the movies we saw a preview for in that theatre--Dance Flick.


And sure, we know we're "part of the problem". Even though we appreciate "intelligent" films, we don't financially support them where it matters the most to the decision-makers in Hollywood. But that's the way it is, and adding "intelligent bits" to mass appeal movies isn't going to change it one way or the other.

So you don't care if they stop making them because you won't financially support them?


Which was never, when it comes to actresses.

I do so wish you'd stop making statements outside your knowledge base.


I'll wager it will have less of a harmful effect than botox (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/johann-hari/botox-is-destroying-holly_b_173086.html).

Physically, yes. However, botox is also a joke, whereas just dumping actresses as they age is not.


Why not? No one claims Cameron is an innovator of plotlines.

You don't think so? People claim Avatar has an innovative plot line.


It would be better, IMHO, if this were because of a purposeful choice on the part of the film-makers rather than an accident of circumstance.

Everything in film can be said to be an accident of circumstance, and the word "serendipity" exists for a reason. The point is, the film was made better because of a lower level of technology.


I think so. I don't need a movie to excel in all areas to be worthwhile.

Perhaps "worthwhile" was a bad choice of words on my part. "Deserving"?


I do not think so, because Cameron is a control freak and he thinks the story was awesome. Like it or not, he thought the story was more or less perfect and I can't imagine an alternate history where someone else could have forced plot changes on him.

Perhaps one where he himself thought of a better plot?


Note--I do not think much of Titanic's plot. I thought it was adequate. My wife disagrees, as do many others I gather...according to others the plot and characters of Titanic were beautiful. I don't see it myself, according to my personal opinion. So I perhaps have a lower expectation of the sort of storyline Cameron could produce.

I haven't bothered with Titanic (film titles go in italics), because the plot sounds really stupid. But it's hardly as though Titanic was the man's only film.


The Dark Knight is what I'd consider a bar-setter for a "good movie". That doesn't mean I can't also enjoy Iron Man.

Ah, but Iron Man also had a well-developed plot! It bothered with characterization. It cared about more than pretty.


Actually, it almost does...I'm glad Iron Man came out before The Dark Knight.

I enjoy both of them, and continue to enjoy both of them.


I don't recall a time when there weren't lots of dumb silly SFX movies. It's just that they get forgotten soon enough (and this is no tragedy).

Yes, well, you're young. As am I, of course, but I know about film history in great detail. It used to be that a movie which existed solely for its special effects was generally considered bad for all it sold lots of tickets.


I honestly feel like the effect on visual effects was more important. Sure, there were some Star Wars immitators in terms of epic fantasy but off the top of my head I can't think of any that were any good. Perhaps I'm just not familiar enough with the relevant epic fantasy sci-fi movies. Could you list some examples?

But you're wrong. You may not be aware of it, but Star Wars changed a lot behind the scenes about how movies were made and marketed, and there's a reason it still has cultural impact all these years later. As you yourself have acknowledged, silly special effects movies disappear from the cultural landscape awfully quickly. There is more to Star Wars, and that's why anyone still cares.


Of course, any highly successful movie is going to have immitators; nothing shocking about that.

True. Jezebel was an imitation of Gone With the Wind which came out before Gone With the Wind did.


I see Star Wars as having had much the same effect.

That's because you don't know much about film history.

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-21, 12:44 AM
Perhaps one where he himself thought of a better plot?



He did. (http://chud.com/articles/articles/21969/1/PROJECT-880-THE-AVATAR-THAT-ALMOST-WAS/Page1.html)

clint
2010-Jan-21, 12:45 AM
Suppose Clint Eastwood wants to do another Dirty Harry movie or Harrison Ford wants to do another Indiana Jones movie. Now imagine that they don't have to look old in the movies. You don't need multiple actors to play a character at different ages. You could have an entire cast full of Benjamin Buttons.

That might come in handy for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator V, too :lol:

Talking about Harrison Ford: I always thought the Thrawn trilog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrawn_trilogy)y would make for some great movies.
However, the actor is starting to grow too old for even an elderly General Solo... (i.e. without artificial "age-tuning")

Delvo
2010-Jan-21, 12:51 AM
There's another movie which this one reminds me of, not for similarity in the plot or the novelty of its visual effects, but for similarity in the frame of mind that I believe is most applicable to it. So I wonder if one's opinion of Avatar is correlated to what that same person would think of this other movie, because of people generally watching movies in the right frame of mind for this type, or the wrong one.

The movie I'm thinking of is Hatari! (1962, starring John Wayne). It was about a team of guys in Africa whose job was to capture live animals to be shipped to zoos around the world. Its various scenes mostly just showed samples of the life and work of the animal capturers over some months. They were not used to build up any single big story with beginning-to-end structure. Certainly, lots of stuff happened, and things were a bit different by the end from the way they'd been at the beginning, but it still didn't exactly have much of a plot. That would not have been what the movie was really about. In fact, that would have detracted from it by taking time and attention away from the actual subject. It was simply an experience of an exotic (to its audience and one of the characters) environment and the people who lived and worked in it. It was what I'll call a "discovery movie", a movie in which "character (and/or audience) discovers and gets deeply absorbed into new exotic setting/culture" is the story.

But really sinking oneself into things which are so different from one's own experience like that is an intellectual activity that one must be in the right frame of mind to do. It might even require a certain broad personality type to be able to get into such a state of mind. And of course the stimulation that one is using to have the experience must be done well enough to facilitate it. To look in a discovery movie for some other kind of presentation, with plot twists or philosophical lessons or complex scheming of adversaries, is to simply miss the point... whether due to an arrogant condescending attitude that declares discovery movies unworthy and dismisses their audiences' intellectual involvement as somehow not counting, or lack of intellectual ability to engage with the movie in that way, or visual or auditory impairments, or just not having the personality to get into a discovery movie frame of mind and enjoy it as it's intended instead of trying to judge it by some other type's standards, or some other cause I haven't thought of. (But supercilious and hypocritical derision toward those who accept it for what it is really makes the former seem to be the most likely.)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 01:24 AM
I have no problems with movies exploring an environment or a character, provided they aren't claiming to do anything else.

peter eldergill
2010-Jan-21, 03:07 AM
Gillian..just out of curiosity (no bearing on the thread)

Did you enjoy Pitch Black and The Bourne Identity? (Heh..movie titles in italics!!)

Pete

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 05:13 AM
Gillian..just out of curiosity (no bearing on the thread)

Did you enjoy Pitch Black and The Bourne Identity? (Heh..movie titles in italics!!)

And bless you for it!

Actually, I haven't seen Pitch Black--I don't think it's my thing, honestly--and while I'm pretty sure I've seen one of the Bourne movies, I couldn't tell you on a bet which one. It was okay, I guess.

Jens
2010-Jan-21, 05:33 AM
Now it occurs to me that Pandora is strikingly similar to the worlds that the Hipgnosis Studio [England] designed for album covers of Rock bands [like Yes], with its flying mountains, dragons and spirals.

In and around the lake, mountains come out of the sky and they stand there... - Yes

Nitpick: While it is true that Hipgnosis designed some of the Yes album covers, I think you're thinking of the ones by Roger Dean.

Jens
2010-Jan-21, 05:38 AM
It's remembered as a classic because of its visuals. Its visual look has cast a long shadow of inspiration across Sci-Fi. The plot? Not so much.

This may make me look like a simpleton, but I liked the dialogue (mainly Batty's lines, I mean).

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 05:48 AM
This may make me look like a simpleton, but I liked the dialogue (mainly Batty's lines, I mean).

That's because they are, in many places, very good. Batty gets one of the most beautiful passages in science fiction history toward the end of that movie, and I promise you I wouldn't have liked it as much as I did were there no plot to hang the visuals off of.

Atraveller
2010-Jan-21, 06:12 AM
That might come in handy for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator V, too :lol:

Talking about Harrison Ford: I always thought the Thrawn trilog (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thrawn_trilogy)y would make for some great movies.
However, the actor is starting to grow too old for even an elderly General Solo... (i.e. without artificial "age-tuning")

Hey The Gubenator will be out of a job at the end of the year.

Arnie might just need to go back to his other career as the Terminator once again - but it will be a much older and very much wiser terminator who "Will be Back"....

HenrikOlsen
2010-Jan-21, 07:02 AM
He did. (http://chud.com/articles/articles/21969/1/PROJECT-880-THE-AVATAR-THAT-ALMOST-WAS/Page1.html)
That reads disturbingly like Speaker for the Dead in some of the parts that were cut out, that may have been part of why they were excised.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-21, 07:38 AM
That's because they are, in many places, very good. Batty gets one of the most beautiful passages in science fiction history toward the end of that movie, and I promise you I wouldn't have liked it as much as I did were there no plot to hang the visuals off of.

Ah, but Isaac doesn't like the movie so much for the lines, so it must not be that important!

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-21, 07:40 AM
Hey The Gubenator will be out of a job at the end of the year.

Arnie might just need to go back to his other career as the Terminator once again - but it will be a much older and very much wiser terminator who "Will be Back"....

Please, no Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminator movies. The first was okay, the second was really good, but the third... does not exist.

Glom
2010-Jan-21, 08:12 AM
He did. (http://chud.com/articles/articles/21969/1/PROJECT-880-THE-AVATAR-THAT-ALMOST-WAS/Page1.html)

Yuk. Makes me glad Cameron did do what he did.

Sounds like Ferengi syndrome. Roddenberry created the Ferengi to be a negative embodiment of capitalism, but went so over the top, that they just looked stupid (hence why they needed to invent the Borg).

Similarly, that dying Earth they would have shown sounds so cartoonish, who would buy it? Yellowstone turned into a condo development? What a joke! A megalopolis extending down the entire Eastern seaboard? Sounds cool, but also a joke because who would be inhabiting it? What were they thinking the global population would be at that time. No doubt some shockingly high number that is just stupid. The world population is expected to peak at around 9-10 billion around the middle of the century and then start declining to around 7-8 by the end of the century. The reason: the poor countries that are driving the population growth become less poor.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-21, 03:23 PM
He did. (http://chud.com/articles/articles/21969/1/PROJECT-880-THE-AVATAR-THAT-ALMOST-WAS/Page1.html)

Yuk. Makes me glad Cameron did do what he did.
I had the same reaction. It's certainly different from the finished version, but I like the finished version much better. More importantly, I don't see anything in the early scriptment that elevates it above the basic plot formula.

Also, the early version has a "throw-against-the-wall" moment; thankfully the finished version does not. I'm talking about the idea that it's so expensive to transport metal workers that it makes sense to go through a ridiculously expensive and time consuming indigenous slave training program...but it's not too expensive to transport the millions of tons of refined metal they produce back to Earth? Really?

Sounds like Ferengi syndrome. Roddenberry created the Ferengi to be a negative embodiment of capitalism, but went so over the top, that they just looked stupid
Yeah, though at least the Ferengi were an attempt to do something interesting. The evil villains of the early Project 880 scriptment are just one dimensionally evil.

Similarly, that dying Earth they would have shown sounds so cartoonish, who would buy it? Yellowstone turned into a condo development? What a joke! A megalopolis extending down the entire Eastern seaboard? Sounds cool, but also a joke because who would be inhabiting it?
Showing that modern man will destroy the Earth and turn it into an environmental wasteland has an appeal to a certain audience with a particular political ideology. To them, I'm sure this early Project 880 scriptment is better than the final version.

But you know what? Been there, done that. There are plenty of depictions of dystopic future Earth ruined by modern man. Avatar would only have been worse for wasting time on depicting yet another one.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-21, 03:25 PM
That's because they are, in many places, very good. Batty gets one of the most beautiful passages in science fiction history toward the end of that movie, and I promise you I wouldn't have liked it as much as I did were there no plot to hang the visuals off of.
Surely this requires an adequate plot, but would you say that the plot is the reason Blade Runner is considered a classic?

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-21, 04:12 PM
Bluntly, when it comes to awareness of the nuances and history of film, I am better than average. That's because I work at it. And most of the movies I avoid, I avoid because they're "entertainment for the masses" and therefore dumbed down.
I still see that as merely a different set of preferences, rather than one of a better/worse class.

Are "entertainment for the masses" movies dumbed down? Maybe some, maybe not others. I honestly think Michael Bay isn't talking "down" to his audiences, he's talking "sideways". I may not agree with his sensibilities, but I think he really creates movies he really loves. Similarly, I think George Lucas and James Cameron and any number of other film-makers talk "sideways" to the audience.

Some movies may be "dumber" than you like, but are they "dumbed down"? You lament the stupidity in today's comedies...but are they dumb because the writers are trying to cater to a dumber audience or are they dumb because that's the sort of humor they like themselves?

(I don't know what comedies you're lamenting; I don't keep up with them. The last comedy I saw was Burn After Reading.)

So you don't care if they stop making them because you won't financially support them?
We don't care enough to change our behavior. Movies as a whole aren't a big part of our lives.

You don't think so? People claim Avatar has an innovative plot line.
Really? If I heard someone claiming that, I'd just laugh it off. I certainly wouldn't start hating Avatar in revenge for someone's plainly ridiculous claims.

Perhaps one where he himself thought of a better plot?
As I said, I don't really think he would have.

I haven't bothered with Titanic (film titles go in italics), because the plot sounds really stupid. But it's hardly as though Titanic was the man's only film.
Do any of the others showcase an exceptional plot? Of the ones I've seen, I thought the plots were mostly adequate; The Abyss was a bit thin. If there was any strength in the writing, it would be that there were some memorable characters and some really fun dialog.

Ah, but Iron Man also had a well-developed plot! It bothered with characterization. It cared about more than pretty.
Sure, but the plot had so much less going on than The Dark Knight. It wasn't so ambitious. Iron Man was basically all about one character and having a lot of fun with him.

When I saw Iron Man, I thought it was the greatest comic book superhero movie I had ever seen. I wouldn't have thought that if I had seen The Dark Knight first.

Yes, well, you're young. As am I, of course, but I know about film history in great detail. It used to be that a movie which existed solely for its special effects was generally considered bad for all it sold lots of tickets.
I thought that was still the case.

But you're wrong. You may not be aware of it, but Star Wars changed a lot behind the scenes about how movies were made and marketed,
I had thought it was Jaws which created the modern "blockbuster", and the eternal chase for the next one.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-21, 08:45 PM
Yellowstone turned into a condo development?

Who in their right mind would live there? Leaving aside the possibility or not of the supervolcano, there certainly are an awful lot of earthquakes all the time.


Surely this requires an adequate plot, but would you say that the plot is the reason Blade Runner is considered a classic?

I think a true classic has to be very good on multiple levels, so in a way, yes. Yes, it is. As are the visuals. I wouldn't call most of them special effects, really. But Blade Runner is a classic because multiple aspects of the film show higher quality than the average. That's what a classic is.


I still see that as merely a different set of preferences, rather than one of a better/worse class.

You're welcome to that opinion.


Are "entertainment for the masses" movies dumbed down? Maybe some, maybe not others. I honestly think Michael Bay isn't talking "down" to his audiences, he's talking "sideways". I may not agree with his sensibilities, but I think he really creates movies he really loves. Similarly, I think George Lucas and James Cameron and any number of other film-makers talk "sideways" to the audience.

Michael Bay, I will not talk about for fear of violating rules against insulting people. Suffice it to say that, yes, he's making movies he likes. So is Uwe Boll.


Some movies may be "dumber" than you like, but are they "dumbed down"? You lament the stupidity in today's comedies...but are they dumb because the writers are trying to cater to a dumber audience or are they dumb because that's the sort of humor they like themselves?

The former. A little poking around in film archives shows that a lot of intelligent plots are thrown out on the premise of "the audience wouldn't understand it." For heaven's sake, the name of the first Harry Potter book was changed in the US from its original British title on the premise that American audiences are too ignorant to get the reference to a Philosopher's Stone and would think the story was radically different because of that single changed word.


(I don't know what comedies you're lamenting; I don't keep up with them. The last comedy I saw was Burn After Reading.)

And Coen brothers movies are, in general, worth seeing--though Burn After Reading was not exactly their best--because they make assumptions about the intelligence of their audience. However, their movies don't get anywhere near as large an audience as, say, Adam Sandler as a hairdresser who fights Palestinian terrorists or Jim Carrey as, well, some guy with a rubber face who does cheesy impersonations.


We don't care enough to change our behavior. Movies as a whole aren't a big part of our lives.

But if they were better . . . .


Really? If I heard someone claiming that, I'd just laugh it off. I certainly wouldn't start hating Avatar in revenge for someone's plainly ridiculous claims.

Where did I say that I hate Avatar? I think it's overhyped, but I don't hate it. I think that it's mistakenly referred to as being "revolutionary" (check practically any review), but I don't hate it. I do dislike that it took viewership away from Sherlock Holmes, a superior movie made on a much lower budget.


As I said, I don't really think he would have.

And that's a problem with him as a filmmaker.


Do any of the others showcase an exceptional plot? Of the ones I've seen, I thought the plots were mostly adequate; The Abyss was a bit thin. If there was any strength in the writing, it would be that there were some memorable characters and some really fun dialog.

The dialogue won't really be good with James Cameron writing it--but therein lies my problem. He's a pretty good director, but he will persist in writing his own screenplays instead of hiring people who have talent in that field.


Sure, but the plot had so much less going on than The Dark Knight. It wasn't so ambitious. Iron Man was basically all about one character and having a lot of fun with him.

I don't dispute that. I'm just saying it was hardly mindless.


When I saw Iron Man, I thought it was the greatest comic book superhero movie I had ever seen. I wouldn't have thought that if I had seen The Dark Knight first.

I didn't think that because Batman Begins had come out first, but that's neither here nor there. A movie doesn't have to be the best ever to be intelligent and entertaining; if that were true, very few movies would be made.


I thought that was still the case.

Go check out the ratings for Avatar and get back to me. Or the fact that tedious Transformers movies, which get terrible reviews, still make a fortune at the box office and, alas, have people trying to convince me that they're really good after all.


I had thought it was Jaws which created the modern "blockbuster", and the eternal chase for the next one.

It's true that Jaws (what did I tell you about italics?) is the first modern blockbuster, actually making it possible for movies to start outgrossing Gone With the Wind. (Though, if you adjust for inflation, they arguably still haven't.) However, how many toy Richard Dreyfusses have you seen? Mark Hamill got it in his contract that he gets one of every Star Wars toy ever made, and he's almost certainly running out of room. Empire showed us that you could have a twist ending in a blockbuster and still get repeat business, for heaven's sake!

Glom
2010-Jan-21, 09:50 PM
Ah yes, I really enjoyed Sherlock Holmes. I didn't think it was a great movie in an objective sense, but I really enjoyed it. RDJ's performance was really enjoyable to watch. Slightly off kilter in a charming way but not straying into clown realms.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-21, 10:12 PM
I think a true classic has to be very good on multiple levels, so in a way, yes. Yes, it is.
In the case of Blade Runner, do you consider the plot to be one of the levels in which it is very good? Does it matter which version we're talking about?

As are the visuals. I wouldn't call most of them special effects, really.
Sure--no one was claiming Blade Runner's exceptional quality to be its special effects.

But Blade Runner is a classic because multiple aspects of the film show higher quality than the average. That's what a classic is.
Higher quality than the average may be faint praise, especially if you think the average is so awful.

Michael Bay, I will not talk about for fear of violating rules against insulting people. Suffice it to say that, yes, he's making movies he likes. So is Uwe Boll.
Sure. The difference is that Michael Bay movies are profitable because many millions of people enjoy Michael Bay movies, while Uwe Boll movies are profitable because he can budget a movie to make a profit regardless of how few people will enjoy it.

For heaven's sake, the name of the first Harry Potter book was changed in the US from its original British title on the premise that American audiences are too ignorant to get the reference to a Philosopher's Stone and would think the story was radically different because of that single changed word.
For better or worse, "talking down" to the audience is required for the children's market.

And Coen brothers movies are, in general, worth seeing--though Burn After Reading was not exactly their best--because they make assumptions about the intelligence of their audience.
In which direction did they make assumptions about the intelligence of their audience, and how did this harm the product?

I just thought of Burn After Reading as a really funny character driven movie with a lot of stupid people doing stupid things--the twist being that these stupid people are all perceptive of how stupid everyone else is while being blind to their own stupidity. Does that make it a "smart" movie or a "dumb" movie? I don't know...but I do know that I enjoyed watching it.

I also liked Zoolander, and I'm pretty sure that's a "dumb humor" movie.

However, their movies don't get anywhere near as large an audience as, say, Adam Sandler as a hairdresser who fights Palestinian terrorists or Jim Carrey as, well, some guy with a rubber face who does cheesy impersonations.
I don't see this as a problem. If audiences enjoy it and come back for more, why not?

Hmm...come to think of it, the only Jim Carrey movies I've seen are The Truman Show and parts of whichever awful Batman movie he was in (neither of these are comedies). I'm only familiar with his comedic work from In Living Color.

All I've seen of Adam Sandler outside of SNL--which I did not like--is 50 First Dates and parts of Click. I didn't think either movies were particularly "dumb", especially compared to his schtick on SNL.

But if they were better . . . .
In our case, supply already vastly exceeds demand. We don't see many movies. By the time we get around to watching a movie, there are a half dozen newer movies we'd like to see.

So no, even if movies were better, we wouldn't care more about them.

The dialogue won't really be good with James Cameron writing it--but therein lies my problem. He's a pretty good director, but he will persist in writing his own screenplays instead of hiring people who have talent in that field.
Well then...enough of this talk of alternative histories where Cameron might have given us a better Avatar plot. It just was not in the cards.

I didn't think that because Batman Begins had come out first, but that's neither here nor there.
I liked Iron Man more than Batman Begins because it had a fresh (to me) attitude. Iron Man was all about that one particular uber-upbeat ego-centric attitude...almost to the point of being one-note. Batman Begins, while being very good all around, was retreading over territory that was all too familiar to me.

Go check out the ratings for Avatar and get back to me.
Like I said, I don't care what others think about anything. I form my own opinions about how good/bad a movie is.

There are quite a few movies which I like, which as far as I know are regarded very poorly--I liked Ultraviolet (never saw the original theatrical release version) and found Doom enjoyable enough. I know there are some movies which I like which everyone else thinks are awful, so that's why I form my own opinions.

SolusLupus
2010-Jan-21, 10:32 PM
In the case of Blade Runner, do you consider the plot to be one of the levels in which it is very good?Yes. As well as character appeal and intelligent dialogue.


For better or worse, "talking down" to the audience is required for the children's market.

Tell that to Rocky and Bullwinkle, which was just as entertaining for adults as it was for children. Exempting the god-awful movie, which actually did "talk down" to its audience.

djellison
2010-Jan-22, 12:03 AM
I didn't enjoy Avatar. It was spectacular, but I demand more at the cinema.

The ENTIRE plot, sub plots, key character roles, were obvious from the first 5 minutes.

Sequels are obvious, so the key two characters couldn't die - so they were NEVER in actual peril. SOMEone had to die, so it was obvious S.W's character would take the hit. Furthermore, Humans were the 'baddies' and the baddies don't win, so the survival and 'victory' of Smurfs was always going to occur.

'Unobtanium'. Really? REALLY? Is that all you've got? Not even Kryptonite?

'Their skin is bullet proof' she tells us. 'They'll be back later to save the day' thinks I.

And they were.

There were sections shot-for-shot and line-for-line stolen from other movies, not just plots, sub plots and characters and character developments.

The entire cast of creatures was either humanoid, or lifted with barely any alteration from the deep sea or dino fossil record.

I've had it with the 3D technology that gives you depth, but you can't LOOK at the depth because of focus causing things outside the specific interest of the director to be blurred thus giving me an epic headache. Especially when the plot and script are so poor - I'm GOING to be looking around at little floaty things etc - but they're out of focus so my brain thinks I've got short sighted.

If this is the future of cinema....I'm out.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 12:11 AM
In the case of Blade Runner, do you consider the plot to be one of the levels in which it is very good? Does it matter which version we're talking about?

Yes, the plot is one of the levels, and yes, it matters which version--some are merely quite good.


Sure--no one was claiming Blade Runner's exceptional quality to be its special effects.

Granted.


Higher quality than the average may be faint praise, especially if you think the average is so awful.

True. It is faint praise. I will also note that I'm certainly not claiming that all old movies were better. Some were pretty lousy, even in the Golden Year. I just think the trend is to head downward, especially in comedy.


Sure. The difference is that Michael Bay movies are profitable because many millions of people enjoy Michael Bay movies, while Uwe Boll movies are profitable because he can budget a movie to make a profit regardless of how few people will enjoy it.

You do realize the second clause there is nonsense, right? There was a movie which came out relatively recently which averaged something like $17 per screen per showing in ticket sales. There are no numbers missing there--seventeen dollars. Uwe Boll's budgets are a lot more exorbitant than you seem to realize, but leaving that aside, even Uwe Boll couldn't make a profit on the take from Delgo.


For better or worse, "talking down" to the audience is required for the children's market.

Wrong, and even if it weren't, it was specific to the American children's market. Just a couple hundred miles north of me, they went with the original British title.


In which direction did they make assumptions about the intelligence of their audience, and how did this harm the product?

You misread my sentence; it didn't. Other things did. However, the Coens assume that their audiences are reasonably intelligent and able to follow, for example, the overlapping plotlines of Fargo or the insane studio machinations of Barton Fink.


I just thought of Burn After Reading as a really funny character driven movie with a lot of stupid people doing stupid things--the twist being that these stupid people are all perceptive of how stupid everyone else is while being blind to their own stupidity. Does that make it a "smart" movie or a "dumb" movie? I don't know...but I do know that I enjoyed watching it.

It's a Coen brothers movie; it's a smart movie. Yes, the characters are dumb, but it's not necessarily their stupidity we're laughing at as in most modern comedies. It's their belief that only they are intelligent--Malkovich even gets a rant on the subject, but context makes it pretty apparent that he's just as stupid as the rest of them. Well. His character is smarter than Brad Pitt's.


I also liked Zoolander, and I'm pretty sure that's a "dumb humor" movie.

Assuredly.


I don't see this as a problem. If audiences enjoy it and come back for more, why not?

There has always been a place for stupid comedies; there will always be people who go see them. However, they shouldn't be the only choice. I'll also note that Adam Sandler seems to be going the "extremely offensive" route for comedy these days, always such a good idea.


Hmm...come to think of it, the only Jim Carrey movies I've seen are The Truman Show and parts of whichever awful Batman movie he was in (neither of these are comedies). I'm only familiar with his comedic work from In Living Color.

Well, Batman Forever arguably was a comedy, and it's certainly a guilty pleasure on my part. (Though I've never actually seen Batman & Robin and don't intend to.) His comedic work is pretty much all the same. If you've seen In Living Color, you've seen the best of it.


All I've seen of Adam Sandler outside of SNL--which I did not like--is 50 First Dates and parts of Click. I didn't think either movies were particularly "dumb", especially compared to his schtick on SNL.

Really? His schtick on SNL was often quite intelligent, though it fell down in places as well. However, I suggest you look into I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.


In our case, supply already vastly exceeds demand. We don't see many movies. By the time we get around to watching a movie, there are a half dozen newer movies we'd like to see.

So you're not exactly an expert on the subject, then?


So no, even if movies were better, we wouldn't care more about them.

Alas.


Well then...enough of this talk of alternative histories where Cameron might have given us a better Avatar plot. It just was not in the cards.

So it's okay that I don't much care for it because the plot was dumb?


I liked Iron Man more than Batman Begins because it had a fresh (to me) attitude. Iron Man was all about that one particular uber-upbeat ego-centric attitude...almost to the point of being one-note. Batman Begins, while being very good all around, was retreading over territory that was all too familiar to me.

And that's fine; intelligent conversation can be had based on opinions. You have, however, deleted my point, which was that Iron Man didn't have to be the best superhero movie ever made to be worth watching.


Like I said, I don't care what others think about anything. I form my own opinions about how good/bad a movie is.

Admirable, but you've deleted my point again. You said you hadn't heard that people were calling Avatar innovative. I suggested you read some reviews, because many of them do. You express views about public opinion, but you are here admitting that you don't know anything about it.


There are quite a few movies which I like, which as far as I know are regarded very poorly--I liked Ultraviolet (never saw the original theatrical release version) and found Doom enjoyable enough. I know there are some movies which I like which everyone else thinks are awful, so that's why I form my own opinions.

I'm sure. However, an important distinction to me is "guilty pleasure." Batman Forever is a bad movie. Its plot is shaky, its script is weak, its portrayal of its villains is terrible. By objective standards, it's a bad movie. I like it anyway, but that doesn't mean I blind myself to its faults.

Van Rijn
2010-Jan-22, 12:41 AM
You do realize the second clause there is nonsense, right? There was a movie which came out relatively recently which averaged something like $17 per screen per showing in ticket sales. There are no numbers missing there--seventeen dollars. Uwe Boll's budgets are a lot more exorbitant than you seem to realize, but leaving that aside, even Uwe Boll couldn't make a profit on the take from Delgo.


Yes, but he has had, well, interesting financing. From Wikipedia:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uwe_Boll#Financing


Boll continues to find investors who wish to acquire the rights for future video-game-to-movie adaptations. His investors are mostly German. He acquires the rights for potential future adaptations and personally oversees preproduction work, filming, and post-production.

Movies directed by Boll have always performed poorly at the box office in the United States. House of the Dead (budget: $12 million) broke $5.73 million on opening weekend,[8] Alone in the Dark (budget: $20 million) made over $5.1 million,[9] and BloodRayne (budget: $25 million) topped $2.42 million.[10] The least profitable commercial performance of his career was In the Name of the King: A Dungeon Siege Tale, which made barely $10 million worldwide at the box office on a $60 million budget.

Until the law was changed in 2005, Boll was able to acquire funding thanks to German tax laws that reward investments in film. The law allowed investors in German-owned films to write off 100% of their investment as a tax deduction; it also allowed them to invest borrowed money and write off any fees associated with the loan. The investor was then only required to pay taxes on the profits made by the movie; if the movie loses money, the investor got a tax writeoff.


By the way, I tried watching the "In the Name of the King" (I had liked the game Dungeon Siege) when it was on cable, but couldn't make sense of the story. I later learned that is normal with his movies.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 01:34 AM
Yes, but he has had, well, interesting financing.

Still, a tax deduction is not the same, technically, as a profit.


By the way, I tried watching the "In the Name of the King" (I had liked the game Dungeon Siege) when it was on cable, but couldn't make sense of the story. I later learned that is normal with his movies.

Yes. Graham watched that--I left the room in rather a hurry and missed most of it, except in the sense that "missed" implies I'd wanted to see it--and even he thought it was terrible. Penny Arcade says it's because he hates video games, gamers, and movie audiences.

peter eldergill
2010-Jan-22, 04:53 AM
I'm quite enjoying this discussion! Thanks!

Since you're talking about comedies...some of my favorites from the 60's/70's are

The Party
Annie Hall
The Pink Panther
Slapshot

With Barbara Streisand...Funny Girl?

I was in University when I saw Slapshot and The Party for the first time. I <couldn't > stop laughing!

Pete

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 05:55 AM
Not a Woody Allen fan, myself. But I'll continue the rest of my thought over in Film Buffery.

Glom
2010-Jan-22, 08:11 AM
I've had it with the 3D technology that gives you depth, but you can't LOOK at the depth because of focus causing things outside the specific interest of the director to be blurred thus giving me an epic headache. Especially when the plot and script are so poor - I'm GOING to be looking around at little floaty things etc - but they're out of focus so my brain thinks I've got short sighted.

If this is the future of cinema....I'm out.

Exactly. The lack of ability to choose what you're focusing on screws up the whole illusion of immersion.

djellison
2010-Jan-22, 11:21 AM
I've made and enjoy hundreds and hundreds of Mars anaglyphs - but because the whole of the image is in focus - I don't get that same headache. 3D cinema however - I'm not interested. I'm going to give it one more go in a different cinema to the one we usually attend just in case it's something to do with the setup there - but how I understand the problems to occur isn't going to go away even with a different cinema. We'll see.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-22, 03:53 PM
Yes, the plot is one of the levels, and yes, it matters which version--some are merely quite good.
How many versions were you thinking there were? I was thinking there were three versions--the original, the (so called) Director's Cut, and The Final Cut.

Anyway, since the version matters, let's just talk about the original version. I would say the original version was a classic. Regardless of whether the other two version were ever made, the original is the one which cemented Blade Runner's legacy and cast its long shadow of inspiration across SF.

So, you either consider the original version of Blade Runner to have a very good plot or a "quite good" plot. What do you consider to be exceptional about it? To me, the plot of Blade Runner is adequate, but what's important in the script is how its mood integrates with the visual look rather than the plot itself.

As an example of the sort of answer I'm looking for, I'll say what I like about the plot of The Prestige:

I love the plot of The Prestige because it's so taut and it fits its pieces together like a fine watch's clockwork. There is little waste, and the plot twists aren't telegraphed too blatantly.

I'm not looking for a thesis, just some brief explanation of what's exceptional about the plot of Blade Runner, because I don't see it.

even Uwe Boll couldn't make a profit on the take from Delgo.
Whatever you want to call it, technically, Uwe Boll's business model worked and it didn't require audience cooperation.

Wrong, and even if it weren't, it was specific to the American children's market. Just a couple hundred miles north of me, they went with the original British title.
Which really doesn't prove anything. Do you think that the Canadian children's market is full of books that assume the audience has the same level of education as the author?

There has always been a place for stupid comedies; there will always be people who go see them. However, they shouldn't be the only choice.
Since I don't keep up with comedies, I don't know whether this is a problem or not. Whenever my wife and I are in the mood to see a comedy, there's no shortage of them--but of course we don't see movies very often so even a limited supply is enough for us. At some point, we'd like to watch The Invention of Lying; hopefully it's good. By the time we get around to watching that one there will likely be more comedies to satisfy our limited demand.

So it's okay that I don't much care for it because the plot was dumb?
Sure. Why not?

And that's fine; intelligent conversation can be had based on opinions. You have, however, deleted my point, which was that Iron Man didn't have to be the best superhero movie ever made to be worth watching.
Which I never disagreed with, so I don't see the big deal.

Admirable, but you've deleted my point again. You said you hadn't heard that people were calling Avatar innovative. I suggested you read some reviews, because many of them do. You express views about public opinion, but you are here admitting that you don't know anything about it.
I express that I don't care what the public opinion is about Avatar, and I still don't. But I don't need to know that in order to know what people think about Michael Bay movies.

[edit: added:]

Oh wait, now I see what you're talking about. When I said "no one" was saying the innovative thing about Avatar was its plot, I meant no one in this discussion thread. Not "no one" in the world.

I'm sure. However, an important distinction to me is "guilty pleasure." Batman Forever is a bad movie. Its plot is shaky, its script is weak, its portrayal of its villains is terrible. By objective standards, it's a bad movie. I like it anyway, but that doesn't mean I blind myself to its faults.
I let myself just go with a movie on its own terms, and this may or may not let me ignore the flaws and enjoy the strengths. So I do actually go out of my way to blind myself to a movie's faults, or at least not care about them at the time.

djellison
2010-Jan-22, 05:02 PM
Has anyone, anywhere, described Avatars plot as innovative? If they have - they're wrong.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 06:02 PM
How many versions were you thinking there were? I was thinking there were three versions--the original, the (so called) Director's Cut, and The Final Cut.

Anyway, since the version matters, let's just talk about the original version. I would say the original version was a classic. Regardless of whether the other two version were ever made, the original is the one which cemented Blade Runner's legacy and cast its long shadow of inspiration across SF.

So, you either consider the original version of Blade Runner to have a very good plot or a "quite good" plot. What do you consider to be exceptional about it? To me, the plot of Blade Runner is adequate, but what's important in the script is how its mood integrates with the visual look rather than the plot itself.

The original is the worst. It's still very good, and doubtless it would still be a classic if the less dumbed-down (yes, that's why the changes were put in) versions hadn't been put out, but if it had a completely bad plot, it wouldn't be as good a movie. That's how things like this work--an integration of parts come together to make a classic, and changing any one part for the worse makes it less likely to be a classic. And the combination of plot--which I'm not saying is bad, just not as good--dialogue, visuals, acting, and so forth do make it a classic, and it would be a classic regardless. That doesn't mean the plot doesn't matter.


As an example of the sort of answer I'm looking for, I'll say what I like about the plot of The Prestige:

I love the plot of The Prestige because it's so taut and it fits its pieces together like a fine watch's clockwork. There is little waste, and the plot twists aren't telegraphed too blatantly.

Oh, dear. You thought that? I enjoyed David Bowie as Nikola Tesla, and then I was done.


I'm not looking for a thesis, just some brief explanation of what's exceptional about the plot of Blade Runner, because I don't see it.

I'm quite sure you don't. Whereas I, and others on this thread, are struck by how the story portrays the nature of humanity. (Feel free to correct me, others on this thread.) Yes, it can be broken down to something very simple, but really, all plots can. At its heart, Blade Runner is the story of a man who is unsure of himself, and that's why everyone can relate to it. (Which is not, of course, to say that everyone would like the movie.) He falls in love, and the woman he loves is not what she thinks she is. It's futuristic noir, really, but it's the other details which come forward and why the first version isn't the best. The juxtaposition of Deckard and Roy Batty, the uncertainty in ourselves as to who and what Deckard is, Rachael and all she signifies. Yes, it can be broken down to "Man hunts Replicants," but again, any film can be made that simplistic. It's all the details.


Whatever you want to call it, technically, Uwe Boll's business model worked and it didn't require audience cooperation.

I don't understand why you think that. Regardless of issues, in order to open on so many screens at all, someone has to be going to those movies.


Which really doesn't prove anything. Do you think that the Canadian children's market is full of books that assume the audience has the same level of education as the author?

Educational level? No. Raw intelligence? Yes. And so is ours. The issue, here, is that they didn't think we'd be capable of looking it up or looking outside our expectations. For heaven's sake, the publishing company essentially wanted the thing rewritten so it was set in New England--and Tom Sawyer is a character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie because, without an American, audiences wouldn't know who to root for.


Since I don't keep up with comedies, I don't know whether this is a problem or not. Whenever my wife and I are in the mood to see a comedy, there's no shortage of them--but of course we don't see movies very often so even a limited supply is enough for us. At some point, we'd like to watch The Invention of Lying; hopefully it's good. By the time we get around to watching that one there will likely be more comedies to satisfy our limited demand.

It isn't. If you enjoy it, though, more power to you. But I really think you need to stop making pronouncements on a subject you admit to limited knowledge on.


Sure. Why not?

Earlier, you told me that I hate it, and the implication was that it was for no good reason.


Which I never disagreed with, so I don't see the big deal.

You said you were glad Iron Man had come out before The Dark Knight, because The Dark Knight was better. Which honestly assumes that all film is on an upward trajectory, because otherwise, you'd never be able to enjoy anything you saw without its being better than everything else you'd seen.


I express that I don't care what the public opinion is about Avatar, and I still don't. But I don't need to know that in order to know what people think about Michael Bay movies.

Yes--"they go boom."


[edit: added:]

Oh wait, now I see what you're talking about. When I said "no one" was saying the innovative thing about Avatar was its plot, I meant no one in this discussion thread. Not "no one" in the world.

The world goes beyond this thread. Opinion about the movie goes beyond this thread. We are hardly a reasonable cross-sample, and I see no good reason to limit discussion of the movie to the views of people here. If we did, though, mostly what you'd get is "shiny but not, in the end, interesting."


I let myself just go with a movie on its own terms, and this may or may not let me ignore the flaws and enjoy the strengths. So I do actually go out of my way to blind myself to a movie's faults, or at least not care about them at the time.

I'm sorry.


Has anyone, anywhere, described Avatars plot as innovative? If they have - they're wrong.

They are, yes, and they have, alas.

Grey
2010-Jan-22, 06:02 PM
Yes, but he has had, well, interesting financing. From Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uwe_Boll#FinancingThis sounds like The Producers in real life. ;)

Gillianren
2010-Jan-22, 06:41 PM
This sounds like The Producers in real life. ;)

It's a trick that could work . . . once.

sarongsong
2010-Jan-22, 07:31 PM
That might come in handy for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator V, too :lol: ......without Cameron! http://www.bautforum.com/images/icons/icon10.gif
January 4, 2010
...In an @ The Movies interview prior to the release of "Avatar," Cameron was proud to note that none of the film's reported $300 million budget went to waste -- a problem he would certainly encounter if wanted to do another "Terminator" film.
"People ask me why I didn't want to get involved in trying to re-capture the rights to 'Terminator,'" Cameron said. "For one, who wants to spend $50 million on the rights [currently up for bid (http://www.slashfilm.com/2009/12/04/halcyon-expects-a-terminator-buyer-by-february-2010/)], and then another $25 million or $30 million on actors? By the time you get to it, how much do you actually have to make the movie? That's robbing the audience."
Cameron wrote and directed the original "Terminator" in 1984 and its first sequel...
thebostonchannel.com (http://www.thebostonchannel.com/entertainment/22117521/detail.html)

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-22, 08:43 PM
Also, the early version has a "throw-against-the-wall" moment; thankfully the finished version does not. I'm talking about the idea that it's so expensive to transport metal workers that it makes sense to go through a ridiculously expensive and time consuming indigenous slave training program...but it's not too expensive to transport the millions of tons of refined metal they produce back to Earth? Really?

Yeah, really. Spend billions on the Avatar program, to get it up and running to have indigenous workers who don't have to be shipped, who can eat Pandora-native plants and animals, can breathe the atmosphere, are stronger than people etc. etc., or you can spend an open ended amount measuring into the astronomical trillions to keep shipping human workers, their food (or the infrastructure to grow it on Pandora) and other consumables.

Unobtanium, as per the movie, is worth twenty million a kilo. Every corpsicle they have to ship back to Earth is taking up reaction mass and space that could be used to ship product. Cuts into profit, don't ya know; corporations hate that.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-22, 09:01 PM
The original is the worst. It's still very good, and doubtless it would still be a classic if the less dumbed-down (yes, that's why the changes were put in) versions hadn't been put out, but if it had a completely bad plot, it wouldn't be as good a movie.
But if it had a plot which was merely "adequate", wouldn't Blade Runner still be considered a classic on the strength of its visuals, dialogue, acting, and so forth?

That's how things like this work--an integration of parts come together to make a classic, and changing any one part for the worse makes it less likely to be a classic. And the combination of plot--which I'm not saying is bad, just not as good--dialogue, visuals, acting, and so forth do make it a classic, and it would be a classic regardless. That doesn't mean the plot doesn't matter.
Nor does it mean that the plot is the reason Blade Runner is considered a classic.

Whereas I, and others on this thread, are struck by how the story portrays the nature of humanity. (Feel free to correct me, others on this thread.)
Thanks for the explanation.

At its heart, Blade Runner is the story of a man who is unsure of himself, and that's why everyone can relate to it. (Which is not, of course, to say that everyone would like the movie.) He falls in love, and the woman he loves is not what she thinks she is.
The question of self-identity and false memories is one which Dick explores to great effect in a number of stories, but the film Blade Runner just gives a glimpse of the issue and then drops it. There was the potential for an exploration of the nature of identity, but this potential is passed on by. Instead, the only relevant difference between the humans and the replicants is that the latter is a race of illegals to be hunted down and killed.

It's futuristic noir, really, but it's the other details which come forward and why the first version isn't the best. The juxtaposition of Deckard and Roy Batty, the uncertainty in ourselves as to who and what Deckard is, Rachael and all she signifies.
As I see it, any metaphysical tension in Blade Runner is deflated by Rachel's Voight-Kampff test. It establishes that the Nexus 6 replicants are human for all intents and purposes...except one, which is their status in society.

This reduces the "is Deckard a replicant?" question down to the mundane issue of whether someone else is going to be sent to hunt him down. And even this question isn't so important in the end--whether or not Deckard and/or Rachel are let go at the end of the film; whether this question is even answered...either way, the film works.

Educational level? No. Raw intelligence? Yes. And so is ours.
Taking care to provide extra explanation due to a lesser knowledge base is one way to "talk down" to your audience, not just making particular assumptions about the "raw intelligence" of the audience. Anyway, children don't have the same "raw intelligence" as adults either.

The issue, here, is that they didn't think we'd be capable of looking it up or looking outside our expectations. For heaven's sake, the publishing company essentially wanted the thing rewritten so it was set in New England-
Which would have been a silly effort, but I don't see that even that would have caused the story to be adversely affected. As things turned out, the edits were inconsequential to the story.

-and Tom Sawyer is a character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie because, without an American, audiences wouldn't know who to root for.
That movie is such a train wreck that whether or not Tom Sawyer was added or why seems entirely inconsequential.

You said you were glad Iron Man had come out before The Dark Knight, because The Dark Knight was better.
Yes, I enjoyed Iron Man more than I would have had I seen it after The Dark Knight rather than the other way around.

Which honestly assumes that all film is on an upward trajectory, because otherwise, you'd never be able to enjoy anything you saw without its being better than everything else you'd seen.
I never said I wouldn't have enjoyed Iron Man had I seen it after The Dark Knight, I (indirectly) said that I wouldn't have enjoyed Iron Man as much.

To explain, had the release dates of Iron Man and The Dark Knight been swapped, I would have been thinking about how shallow the villian is in Iron Man and how limited the interaction was between hero and villian in comparison to The Dark Knight. I know it's not fair to Iron Man to have been spoiled this way, but I know that's how I would have reacted.

Conversely, I wish the release dates of Deep Impact and the-bad-astronomy-movie-which-shall-not-be-named were swapped. I would have appreciated Deep Impact more for what it got right rather than mentally nit-picking it.

(I previously stated that I try to take each film on its own terms, but I know the limits to which I succeed.)

Yes--"they go boom."
The appeal of Michael Bay movies goes beyond just the explosions. I do not appreciate his sensibilities on a subjective level, but I can comprehend them as an observer of fellow humans.

For example, a common theme in Michael Bay movies is anti-intellectualism. Scientists, professors, experts, and other authority figures are cartoon know-it-alls who are almost always wrong and get their come-uppance from the spunky average Joe heroes. This is popular because it affirms audience attitudes toward smarty-pants intellectuals.

Another example--argument by yelling really loud. Lest any of the heroes start to look too intellectual, arguments are carried out by vocal volume instead of eloquent persuasion. This method of debate is, in Michael Bay movies, effective. This is more or less a form of fantasy fulfillment.

There's more to Michael Bay movies than just explosions. I don't like those things myself, and I the pervasiveness of those negative (to me) aspects prevent me from enjoying most of his movies (I can watch The Rock). But I can, in a detached way, comprehend how those aspects appeal to others.

BTW, the reason I know this at all is because I've been subjected to most Michael Bay movies by friends/family during social gatherings.

The world goes beyond this thread.
Sure, I'm just saying that I was refering only to people in this discussion thread, which I now see was a point of confusion.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-22, 09:08 PM
Yeah, really. Spend billions on the Avatar program, to get it up and running to have indigenous workers who don't have to be shipped, who can eat Pandora-native plants and animals, can breathe the atmosphere, are stronger than people etc. etc., or you can spend an open ended amount measuring into the astronomical trillions to keep shipping human workers, their food (or the infrastructure to grow it on Pandora) and other consumables.
The food and consumables for human steel workers is still peanuts compared to the millions of tons of steel they produce.

Unobtanium, as per the movie, is worth twenty million a kilo.
Yeah, but this early 880 scriptment doesn't have Unobtanium. The movie does. You need Unobtanium to eliminate that "throw against the wall" moment.

Score +1 for the movie version. (Faint praise.)

SkepticJ
2010-Jan-22, 09:19 PM
The food and consumables for human steel workers is still peanuts compared to the millions of tons of steel they produce.

Yeah, but this early 880 scriptment doesn't have Unobtanium. The movie does. You need Unobtanium to eliminate that "throw against the wall" moment.

Score +1 for the movie version. (Faint praise.)

Eh?

In the scriptment, the unobtanium is in the Hallelujah Mountains. It's what makes them fly; superconducting materials can levitate in strong enough magnetic fields.

IsaacKuo
2010-Jan-22, 09:45 PM
Eh?

In the scriptment, the unobtanium is in the Hallelujah Mountains. It's what makes them fly; superconducting materials can levitate in strong enough magnetic fields.
Ah, okay. I didn't read it far enough.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-23, 04:02 AM
But if it had a plot which was merely "adequate", wouldn't Blade Runner still be considered a classic on the strength of its visuals, dialogue, acting, and so forth?

No.


Nor does it mean that the plot is the reason Blade Runner is considered a classic.

It's not the reason. It's one of the reasons. However, it's an important element.


Thanks for the explanation.

You're welcome.


The question of self-identity and false memories is one which Dick explores to great effect in a number of stories, but the film Blade Runner just gives a glimpse of the issue and then drops it. There was the potential for an exploration of the nature of identity, but this potential is passed on by. Instead, the only relevant difference between the humans and the replicants is that the latter is a race of illegals to be hunted down and killed.

To be honest, I've not actually read any Dick; science fiction is not reliably my thing, though I do enjoy some, and I've no reason to assume I wouldn't enjoy the original. However, I strongly disagree that the movie drops it; in the better versions (in other words, not the original), it's half the point.


As I see it, any metaphysical tension in Blade Runner is deflated by Rachel's Voight-Kampff test. It establishes that the Nexus 6 replicants are human for all intents and purposes...except one, which is their status in society.

And why one has higher status than the other isn't metaphysical to you?


This reduces the "is Deckard a replicant?" question down to the mundane issue of whether someone else is going to be sent to hunt him down. And even this question isn't so important in the end--whether or not Deckard and/or Rachel are let go at the end of the film; whether this question is even answered...either way, the film works.

Well, no, it doesn't. The philosophical and metaphysical nature of Deckard is the driving issue, because if he's a replicant, his whole life is a lie and he isn't who he thought he was. It's important to empathize with the characters to get the point.


Taking care to provide extra explanation due to a lesser knowledge base is one way to "talk down" to your audience, not just making particular assumptions about the "raw intelligence" of the audience. Anyway, children don't have the same "raw intelligence" as adults either.

The psychiatric community disagrees with you on the latter; just because they aren't as versed in using it, it doesn't mean they don't have it. Heck, children are better than you or I at learning, because their brains are still developing in ways yours and mine aren't. However, while books for a certain age level do use shorter, simpler words than books for a higher age level, a good book for whatever age level will assume that, if the child can't work out meaning from content, they'll look it up. Some extra explanation may be there, but if it's a lot, it's talking down to the kid.


Which would have been a silly effort, but I don't see that even that would have caused the story to be adversely affected. As things turned out, the edits were inconsequential to the story.

As things turned out, yes. But you don't see moving everything to America so American kids don't have to think about other countries as dumbing down?


That movie is such a train wreck that whether or not Tom Sawyer was added or why seems entirely inconsequential.

That's because you're ignoring my point. Yes, there are a lot of reasons the movie is terrible, but a lot of them go back to the same--documented--belief. Americans aren't considered bright enough to follow the plot, and we have to be walked through it.


Yes, I enjoyed Iron Man more than I would have had I seen it after The Dark Knight rather than the other way around.

Don't see Citizen Kane.


I never said I wouldn't have enjoyed Iron Man had I seen it after The Dark Knight, I (indirectly) said that I wouldn't have enjoyed Iron Man as much.

And yet you take every movie on its own merits.


To explain, had the release dates of Iron Man and The Dark Knight been swapped, I would have been thinking about how shallow the villian is in Iron Man and how limited the interaction was between hero and villian in comparison to The Dark Knight. I know it's not fair to Iron Man to have been spoiled this way, but I know that's how I would have reacted.

And yet you don't think of the failings of movies as you watch them.


Conversely, I wish the release dates of Deep Impact and the-bad-astronomy-movie-which-shall-not-be-named were swapped. I would have appreciated Deep Impact more for what it got right rather than mentally nit-picking it.

I saw Deep Impact many years later, and I'd only watched Armageddon the once. I was able to see its merits and flaws just fine.


(I previously stated that I try to take each film on its own terms, but I know the limits to which I succeed.)

Clearly.


The appeal of Michael Bay movies goes beyond just the explosions. I do not appreciate his sensibilities on a subjective level, but I can comprehend them as an observer of fellow humans.

Oh, I see what they are just fine--because I listen to what other people say about films.


For example, a common theme in Michael Bay movies is anti-intellectualism. Scientists, professors, experts, and other authority figures are cartoon know-it-alls who are almost always wrong and get their come-uppance from the spunky average Joe heroes. This is popular because it affirms audience attitudes toward smarty-pants intellectuals.

Yup. On the other hand, the excellent Hepburn-Tracy film Desk Set lets us see that intellectuals are interesting and funny--and, yes, confused and troubled. People like us, not people to look down on.


Another example--argument by yelling really loud. Lest any of the heroes start to look too intellectual, arguments are carried out by vocal volume instead of eloquent persuasion. This method of debate is, in Michael Bay movies, effective. This is more or less a form of fantasy fulfillment.

By seeing smart people as bad.


There's more to Michael Bay movies than just explosions. I don't like those things myself, and I the pervasiveness of those negative (to me) aspects prevent me from enjoying most of his movies (I can watch The Rock). But I can, in a detached way, comprehend how those aspects appeal to others.

But not why they're bad things.


BTW, the reason I know this at all is because I've been subjected to most Michael Bay movies by friends/family during social gatherings.

My friends know better.


Sure, I'm just saying that I was refering only to people in this discussion thread, which I now see was a point of confusion.

Especially because the points I'm making are broader. But that's okay; you'll just edit them out of your replies.

jokergirl
2010-Jan-25, 10:02 AM
Personally, I think that the plot for Blade Runner is merely adequate. The premise, however, is brilliant and unique, as are of course the visuals, and music. And it's highly quotable, even so.

Doesn't stop me from quoting it as my favourite movie :D

;)

Glom
2010-Jan-25, 12:37 PM
I wasn't that keen on Blade Runner. Of course, the time I saw it was on an aeroplane PTV, so probably not the best viewing experience.

sarongsong
2010-Jan-26, 12:08 AM
(film titles go in italics)...
...(what did I tell you about italics?)......depending on what style guide one is following:
We use AP Style here...Use quotes around all composition titles. This includes CD titles, song names, novel titles, article titles, movie titles, etc.
... “Ocean’s Eleven” is correct...
sophia.smith.edu (http://sophia.smith.edu/blog/sophian/ap-style-notes/)
...According to the Modern Language Assn Handbook, film titles are underlined OR italicized. (MLA Handbook, 6th ed., sections 5.9.9c and 5.8.3) Other style guides may differ...
answers.yahoo.com (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070602200624AAFD2UV)

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2010-Jan-26, 12:30 AM
The "AP Style" is for mouthbreathers that can barely tie their own shoes, much less understand written language. The MLA, CBE, and Chicago Manual of Style style guides all use italics (or underlining, if italics are not available) for titles.

Gillianren
2010-Jan-26, 02:14 AM
Really, no one wants me to talk about what's wrong with AP Style. Or at least, they'll want me to stop before I'm actually done.

PetersCreek
2010-Jan-26, 02:35 AM
The "AP Style" is for mouthbreathers that can barely tie their own shoes, much less understand written language.

Disagreeing with a style manual is no good reason to engage in name-calling... not on this board, anyway. Avoid infractions by avoiding those kinds of insults.