Friday, December 18, 2009

AVATAR thinks this film is a sure-fire almost for BEST DIRECTOR, BEST PICTURE.

Director James Cameron has meticulously researched and created the world of "Pandora" (a new planet), for "Avatar," just as he did when he re-created the ship, for his movie "Titanic."

The $300 million that has been spent on thousands of special effects, and a new simulcam tool enabled Cameron to see his actors, as they acted in grey space, while he shot the computer-generated (CG) scenes that comprise about 60% of the finished film.

The cast, in body-suits covered with markers that the 102 cameras on the ceiling recognized, wore skullcaps rigged with tiny cameras that imaged their faces. They appear in the film as their alien counterparts.

Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington play the leads -- Worthington as ex-Marine "Jake" struggles for survival on Pandora, where a tall, blue, humanoid species (the Na'vi), try to destroy anyone who migrates there.

Jake, transformed into an Avatar so he can breathe the noxious air on Pandora, falls in love with a Na'vi woman, and lands in the center of the humans versus Na'vi battle. Click and you'll see the romantic pair.

You can watch the movie as escapist entertainment, but to me it seems to be a dire warning about humanity's current path. In any case, Cameron's vision of the future is a stunning environment -- flying jellyfish, bio-luminescent forests, fan lizards and big-eyed, giant cats.

Will Avatar be a boxoffice hit?

Well ... it's one more of those innovative, blow-your-mind theatrical films that tend to bore me.

In the movies about "Triffids," body-snatcher pods, the un-dead, the man-eating blob -- there are leading actors who get me tensely involved. Others, like "ANTZ" with the Spielberg CG creatures fighting other CG creatures -- even with the voices of Woody Allen, Sharon Stone, Gene Hackman, Sylvester Stallone, I found myself eating my popcorn and restlessly checking my wrist-watch.)

"I Robot" fascinated me at first -- but 30 minutes into the plot I knew where the Robots were heading. And the final attack scenes -- the amazing trapeze arts of Will Smith with the camera zooming, flying with him were very exciting, but whether Will and the girl survived was sort of ho hum for me.

I think the scare that's on us -- about killer poisons, bombs, terrorists, what's happening to the polar bears, icebergs. dolphins, the staving masses of people, the distortions of the truth about safety in the air, in cars, the prison shows, serial killers, child predators, supremacists, assassination T shirts ... it's hard to be concerned about the fantastical, unreal-looking people in the spectacular environment of "Avatar."

Hurray for the director, for doing all that he did -- frame by frame meticulously pushing his mind and imagination beyond where he (or any other filmakers) have been before.

But I need to care, and I can't identify with what's before my eyes in "Avatar."
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