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By duxup (Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 12:40:53 PM EST) (all tags)
I saw the movie.  It is stupid.  Just as stupid in 3D.


You know from the trailer what the story is. Brutal earth people oppressing enlightened native earthy people and cross species romance. The graphics are ok.

Avatar is basically a tech demo and I’m sure from a technical standpoint the graphics are outstanding but I still say well done miniatures with a bit of special effects look better. Avatar suffers from the usual CG problems. A world made of one very specific color pallet, and painfully derivative elements. The entire planet is just a bunch of deep sea earth like plants and mishmash of earth animals.

What was nice was that they did seem to work on using different physics or graphics light processing techniques on elements in the background of scenes or in shadows. In one scene a ship landing on the planet shakes up some trees in the lower frame and really those trees moved nicely felt like they really were in a shadow of the ship and changed accordingly. This however wasn’t maintained in the film as despite being in the jungle everything is lighted exactly the same in day or night mode nearly all the time.

The 3D is pretty tiresome. Most of the time there are maybe four levels of depth so yeah there is some depth but it feels very obviously layered. A few scenes they put extra work in and had what looked like many layers of depth, but they were rare.

The plot, oh lord the plot. It is exactly what the trailer promises. Greedy earth people want natural resources, earthy enlightened people resist, cross species romance. There are no surprises in this plot. NONE. There are several baseline concepts that setup the conflict that prove to be totally false when the plot requires it with no explanation. The difficulty in killing the tribal earthy people is explained several times in the film. This difficulty is never demonstrated, but when time comes to kill the tribal earthy people it proves to be VERY easy. The earthy people’s weapons are demonstrated to be unable to penetrate the human armor, 15 min later with no explanation they are able to do so.

The dialogue is the worst of it. Particularly toward the end you can pretty much predict it word for word after a line or two starts a scene. George Lucas would have been proud.

I give it 1 out of 3.14. Nice tech demo but like much CG in movies today more focus seemed to be on various features or bits rather than the work as a whole or artistry.

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You gave it pi? by technician (2.00 / 0) #1 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:01:13 PM EST
I liked it. Visually, it was an amazing flick. The best thing that can be said about the story, though, is that it didn't get in the way of the visuals.

I compare it to seeing Star Wars for the first time: just a whole new visual thing, with a trite story and shallow characters.

It got in the way for me by duxup (4.00 / 2) #2 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:07:09 PM EST
I had to keep myself from groaning out loud.

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[ Parent ]
for some reason... by gzt (4.00 / 1) #4 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:23:24 PM EST
...one of the hacks at The Onion AV Club thought that the politics of the film were revolutionary (in the good way, not, like, inciting revolt). The only thing in the article that I missed was that the destruction of the Navi's tree recalls the 9/11 imagery except in reverse. But, still, it doesn't make it anything but stupid clunky agit-prop. For good agit-prop, see Eisenstein.

[ Parent ]
He was serious? by duxup (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:47:24 PM EST
Dear gord!

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[ Parent ]
you can't tell with the onion. by gzt (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:48:37 PM EST
I mean, you really can't tell. I think so? If so, he's an idiot.

[ Parent ]
Me too! by muchagecko (4.00 / 2) #7 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:35:47 PM EST
I wanted to get up and demand a refund, but I got into the movie for free.

I couldn't help but think the sequel should feature the Na'vi hanging out with the Ewoks.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
and the wookies! by gzt (4.00 / 2) #9 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:39:56 PM EST
on Life Day!

[ Parent ]
GAH by technician (2.00 / 0) #23 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 05:30:01 PM EST


[ Parent ]
thanks for writing this by MillMan (4.00 / 2) #3 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:22:55 PM EST
I'm not going to bother seeing it.

"Just as there are no atheists in foxholes, there are no libertarians in financial crises." -Krugman

I wrote a similar review, by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #5 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:29:51 PM EST
but I'm having trouble with the Mac I wrote it on.

The only thing I'd like to add is that the graphics aren't anything different than what is done in any movie today.

I went with a friend and 3 theaters full of people from the game company he works for. Nobody was impressed. My friend does stuff just like the effects in the movie everyday.

Schlock. Avatar is just more of Cameron's schlock. He hypes is own work pretty hard so that folks that don't know any better are impressed.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

I disagree on the graphics by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #27 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 03:26:13 AM EST
I trundle along to pretty much every special effects movie thast's showing, and while it might not have had any technical breakthroughs, Avatar seemed to use the normal 3D, animation and motion capture much better than most.

The facial expressions and character movement seemed to me way more naturalistic and realistic than the stiff poses and robotic movements in Beowulf or Spider-Man. The swirling fronds in the forest were similar but seemed to have a greater detail than in Up. The anatomy of the monsters and insects seemed consisently designed, for instance the torso breathing orifices. The vehicles and dragons had a real sense of weight, unlike the erratic now-its-heavy-now-its-weightless physics of the suit in Iron Man.

The effects seem to me to be exceptionally good, not novel but much better handled than in any other recent movie I can think of.

I think James Cameron's always been good at handling movement. With Aliens his best move was simplifying the Alien suits and putting dancers and athletes in them who could move with an eerie precision: he realised that the technical effects were less important that the movements within them. I wonder if he did similar things with the motion capture in Avatar: not doing better motion capture, but capturing better motion.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
I was in a full theater of 3 full theaters by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #28 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 04:45:28 AM EST
filled with 3D animation professionals. After the movie was over there was plenty of 'eh'. Not a single 'wow' or 'omg'.

If the effects were amazing, wouldn't folks in the industry be excited?

The friend I went with is a world artist. He was especially unimpressed.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
Not necessarily by TheophileEscargot (4.00 / 1) #29 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 05:23:02 AM EST
They might not have enough aesthetic judgment to tell the difference between effects used well and effects used badly.

The cinema I went to was packed. The Avatar effects have really struck a chord with lots of people that previous movies haven't. If the "professionals" can't see why, they may just be in the wrong profession. Especially in a growth industry you can often get a lot of mediocrities sucked into a trade. Back in the dot com boom I saw passionless, talentless programmers who couldn't tell good code from bad code but thought they were professionals and were making a living at it.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?

[ Parent ]
These guys make incredible games. by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #32 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 02:33:59 PM EST
There's nothing mediocre about the company. They've made games that you would have loved if you played games. These guys are the best and brightest with great knowledge of what's going on in the industry.

My friend creates amazing world environments. It's incredible how he's able to create such a vast variety of environments.

Avatar's environment lacked variety. It used the same color palette throughout. Should the whole world have been neon? They would have been smart to give our eyes a break.

I think that non-professionals can be more easily impressed wtih something that they are told is great. Cameron has been hyping Avatar as a milestone in movie history. There are many people that will believe him before even seeing the movie.

The 3 packed theaters of industry professionals were unimpressed with Avatar. It could be that the movie wasn't made to impress professionals. Just flashy enough to impress the general populace.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
Cheeseburger Brown by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #33 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 02:51:45 PM EST
Just posted an interesting analysis. It's not flashy at all, going for a realistic flatness for long distance shots. Possibly your friends wanted flashiness and didn't get it. But games aren't movies: they may just not understand movies or cinematography very well.
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
Link broken, try by TheophileEscargot (2.00 / 0) #34 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 02:59:02 PM EST
http://cheeseburgerbrown.blogspot.com/2010/01/stereoscopic-experience-in-avatar.html
--
It is unlikely that the good of a snail should reside in its shell: so is it likely that the good of a man should?
[ Parent ]
He's only reviewing by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #35 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 03:06:37 PM EST
the 3D technology use. He makes no judgement on the 3D modeling or animation or story.

Maybe the 3D effects were good, but I could care less about that technology since the rest of the movie (3D modeling and animation and story) were either ordinary or abysmal.

I was forced to see 'Alvin and the Chipmunks: the Squeakquel'. Add some flashy 3D to it, make the audience wear glasses, and it's still a crappy movie.

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
the neon pallette was repetative, by garlic (4.00 / 1) #49 Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:24:14 PM EST
but they didn't really show us much beyond the jungle environment. Lucas does the obligatory here's 3 planets with 3 environments shots, and that's not necessary.


[ Parent ]
I'm not a Cameron fan by lm (2.00 / 0) #36 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 04:07:06 PM EST
And I haven't seen Avatar. (Nor do I intend to.)

But might not the reaction of the folks you saw the movie with be a case of penis budget envy?


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Doubt it. by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #38 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 09:51:40 PM EST
If I said the name of the company - you'd know it. They're big.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
Even by the standards of the big shops by lm (2.00 / 0) #40 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 10:05:56 PM EST
Avatar's estimated price tag of half a billion tops the charts.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
I think the issue is by duxup (4.00 / 1) #31 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 08:22:16 AM EST

The break thru was IMO that the facial animation that wasn't garbage. Like going to a restaurant that is OK, the fact that it isn't garbage despite the accomplishment that gets it there isn’t that big a deal when you’ve got the equivalent or better (actual faces) right next door.   Also when it is just boring grilled chicken on a plate (crappy story) it doesn't help.

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[ Parent ]
I agree with this by garlic (4.00 / 1) #48 Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:22:30 PM EST
the 3d was unnecessary, but the CGI was the best I've ever seen.


[ Parent ]
wat? by nightflameblue (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:35:20 PM EST
The plot, oh lord the plot. It is exactly what the trailer promises. Greedy earth people want natural resources, earthy enlightened people resist, cross species romance.

You got all that from the trailer? I got, "whoah, blue stringy people, some dude with no legs, mecha, trees, that one dude that's in that one show, um, yeah" Unless there was a very different trailer than the one I've seen thousands of times. Well, and that one with the little kid blowing out candles magically or whatever.

The nice thing about a movie like this is that, for the most part, nobody's going into it expecting some epic plot and then being disappointed by a lack of it. I like funky visuals, and will go just for that aspect. But only once unless something REALLY blows me away. I'm done with multi-views on movies in the theater.



To decide if you want to bother with Avatar - by muchagecko (4.00 / 3) #8 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:37:44 PM EST
ask yourself "Do I love Ewoks?"

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
Enough of the ewok hate. by nightflameblue (4.00 / 4) #10 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:42:46 PM EST
Teddy Bears that can fucking kill you while doing a slapstick routine are awesome.

[ Parent ]
indeed. by garlic (4.00 / 1) #50 Sun Jan 03, 2010 at 08:26:05 PM EST
ewoks will kick any of our asses.


[ Parent ]
It is a sci fi flick by duxup (4.00 / 1) #13 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:49:26 PM EST
So the earthy people are always oppressed and good and some non earthy person will join them.
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[ Parent ]
Except in a Boy and His Dog. by nightflameblue (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 01:56:13 PM EST
Then the earthy people are just really, really weird.

[ Parent ]
I like the South Park take on it . . . by lm (4.00 / 2) #15 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 02:13:04 PM EST
. . . ``Dances with Smurfs''

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
normal cgi problems by aphrael (4.00 / 1) #16 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 02:22:55 PM EST
i disagree, in at least one aspect: the cgi creatures move much more naturally than they did in the lord of the rings movies.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
They move nice by duxup (4.00 / 1) #17 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 02:54:41 PM EST
But it isn't a big deal.  Lord of the Rings had stuff that IMO made the CG flaws not as a big deal, a story, some action you cared about.  Avatar provides none of that.


It is one of those deals where CG is still so weak that it seems like when folks overcome a hurdle people expect that it alone is supposed to earn a lot of praise when the overall effort still is pretty weak.  

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[ Parent ]
remember The Titanic by lm (4.00 / 1) #18 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 03:06:16 PM EST
I'd never heard of Avatar before I saw the first extended trailer on some cable channel or the other. My first thought was, `this is going to blow worse than Titanic.' Reviews suggest I'm not wrong.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Titanic was good in the theater. by wiredog (2.00 / 0) #30 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 08:16:51 AM EST
Saw it twice with the gf. It sucks on DVD and blu-ray. It really needs a big screen and film resolution.

Earth First!
(We can strip mine the rest later.)

[ Parent ]
Just another thing, by muchagecko (4.00 / 1) #19 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 03:26:25 PM EST
have you run into people that really liked Avatar?

I've got a couple of friends who thought it was wonderful. They were offended that I thought it was schlock.

I mean offended like I'd said their baby was ugly offended. One kept trying to convince me that my opinion of Avatar was wrong.

Maybe there was kool-aid in the lobby that most everyone drank before they went into the theater?

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

None in person by duxup (4.00 / 1) #20 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 04:05:44 PM EST
The person I went with (sister in law's fiance) seemed to think it wasn't so bad.  He is a very affable guy so he might have been just agreeing with me for the sake of doing so but he accepted my points about where it stank.


I gotta think the big Avatar fans just really want some CGI and to turn their brains off from there or something.  Their expectations for movies might be just that?  I duno, it is hard to imagine someone seriously thinking Avatar is a "wonderful" film.  An alright CGI fest sure, but beyond that there isn't anything there.

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[ Parent ]
well, more than just cgi by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #41 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 10:50:37 PM EST
Motion capture for that many characters, not just a single Gollum, is also very impressive.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Impressive by duxup (2.00 / 0) #42 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 11:04:15 PM EST

Capture of wooden, boring, unremarkable characters doing nothing of interest, rather being painfully predictable. So it just ends up being a neat tech demo you're expected to stare at for several hours.
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[ Parent ]
i guess we just disagree then by infinitera (2.00 / 0) #43 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 11:07:02 PM EST
Because that's what every cool action movie is.

[…] a professional layabout. Which I aspire to be, but am not yet. — CheeseburgerBrown

[ Parent ]
Not at all by duxup (4.00 / 1) #44 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 11:14:46 PM EST
The sad part is how little it takes to add something, anything to an action flick to avoid those flaws.

From the same dude I note Terminator 2.

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[ Parent ]
That's the odd thing by lm (4.00 / 1) #45 Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 01:35:06 PM EST
I really liked Cameron's work in Aliens and the first two Terminator movies. But, to be fair, he also did Pirana 2: The Spawning so YMMV.

There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
Indeed by duxup (2.00 / 0) #46 Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 03:46:38 PM EST
I don't know what is up with this film when it comes to that.  Perhaps it is a George Lucas deal where he has all the control he could want and there isn't anyone to save him from himself.    I just don't know

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[ Parent ]
I think Joss Whedon had a good insight into that by lm (4.00 / 1) #47 Sat Jan 02, 2010 at 04:15:36 PM EST
There was an interview he did regarding Firefly where he thought it was some of his best work to date and part of what led to it being his best work was that he had to operate within constraints set by FOX.

One could argue that Cameron and Lucus did excellent work when operating under those same sorts of constraints but when handed carte blanche, things began to go astray.

This view is heightened by observing the rise and fall of Guns `N' Roses. Appetite for Destruction, which was produced under fairly normal constraints was an amazing album. As runaway success led Axl Rose to unconstrained freedom, the output of Guns `N' Roses suffered considerably.


There is no more degenerate kind of state than that in which the richest are supposed to be the best.
Cicero, The Republic
[ Parent ]
i really liked it. by aphrael (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 04:06:37 PM EST
yeah, sure, the story was predictable and formulaic. but sometimes well-executed formula is enjoyable ... and well-executed formula plus spectacular effects is a lot of fun.
If television is a babysitter, the internet is a drunk librarian who won't shut up.
[ Parent ]
I agree with aphrael by toxicfur (2.00 / 0) #22 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 05:10:53 PM EST
I enjoyed it immensely. Was it high art? Of course not. Was it derivative? Of course it was. But it was tremendous fun, and exactly what I wanted to watch this week. I'm glad we saw it at the IMAX 3D theater and didn't wait until later.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
Since we seem share an by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #24 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 07:24:52 PM EST
interest in the same comic books, I'm surprised that you enjoyed Avatar.

I was ready to walk out when the Na'vi held hands, swayed and hummed to revive Sigorney. It was the final straw of ridiculous, in my book.

What did that scene do for you?

A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
I thought the scene was over-the-top, by toxicfur (4.00 / 3) #25 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 08:25:35 PM EST
but just one over-the-top scene in a movie filled with them. I didn't let that ruin my enjoyment of the film as a whole. However, I would've been just as happy if they'd treated this movie like a documentary of another planet, and not had any of this "plot." As much as I enjoyed this movie, I (much like how I feel about Star Wars and almost all porn) feel that the plot was just an excuse to show the good stuff. And there was lots of good stuff, IMO.
--
The amount of suck that you can put up with can be mind-boggling, but it only really hits you when it then ceases to suck. -- Kellnerin
[ Parent ]
LOL by yankeehack (4.00 / 2) #26 Thu Dec 31, 2009 at 09:55:50 PM EST
Star Wars and Porn mentioned in the same sentence, but no Wookie.
"...she dares to indulge in the secret sport. You can't be a MILF with the F, at least in part because the M is predicated upon it."-CBB
[ Parent ]
Most of my friends liked it by MostlyHarmless (2.00 / 0) #37 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 07:15:33 PM EST
many of them have seen it several times.

I disagree with you on the graphics. I think they did a phenomenal job, not just in the quality of the animation, but the details of the scenes. I definitely have my quibbles. Got tired of the Neon palette, and glow-in-the dark everything.

What really drove me nuts was constantly being browbeaten with The Message. To steal a phrase from the McClockies "Subtle. Like an anvil to the head." There was no depth to the plot, or even surprise. I've seen characters with more depth in a TV ad. I literally face-palmed when they said they were mining 'unobtanium'.

That being said, I'll probably go see it again. Hopefully in IMAX.

I may take my iPod though, just to have something to listen to while I soak up the CG Pr0n

-mh
--
[Mostly Harmless]

[ Parent ]
I couldn't torture myself by muchagecko (2.00 / 0) #39 Fri Jan 01, 2010 at 09:54:42 PM EST
with it again.

Good luck with the iPod.


A purpose gives you a reason to wake up every morning.
So a purpose is like a box of powdered donut holes?
Exactly
My Name is Earl

[ Parent ]
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