Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar

Avatar / Avatar. US/GB (c) 2009 Twentieth Century Fox / Dune Entertainment. P: James Cameron, Jon Landau. D+SC: James Cameron. DP: Mauro Fiore - source format: HDCAM SR (1080p/24) - Fusion Camera (dual-strip 3-D) - digital intermediate 2K - released on a) D-Cinema 3-D 1,78:1 - b) 70 mm IMAX dual-strip 3-D etc. - c) 35 mm anamorphic 2,35:1 etc. FX: BUF, Blur Studio, Framestore CFC, Gentle Giant Studios, Giant Studios, Halon Entertainment, Hybride Technologies, Hydraulx, Industrial Light & Magic, Lola Visual Effects, Pixel Liberation Front, Stan Winston Studio, The Third Floor, Weta Digital. PD: Rick Carter, Robert Stromberg. COST: Mayes C. Rubeo, Deborah Lynn Scott. Makeup designer: Rick Findlater. AN: Aldo Gagliardi. M: James Horner. S: Christopher Boyes. ED: James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin. CAST: Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine), Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch), Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon), Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge), Joel Moore (Norm Spellman), CCH Pounder (Moat), Wes Studi (Eytukan). 164 min. Released in Finland by FS Film. The 3-D viewing with Finnish subtitles only by Topi Oksanen. Viewed as D-Cinema 3-D at Tennispalatsi 1, Helsinki, 18 Dec 2009 (day of Finnish premiere).

The biggest cinema of Finland was sold out, and we sat in the front row, which was perfect. It was a sight to see the full audience with their 3-D glasses on. There was an applause after the picture. The film is long but I never glanced my watch. Technically, the 3-D screening was perfect.

The credits of this film fill 23 pages of the Internet Movie Database.

First impressions of the most expected film of the year.
1. This is an auteur film essential to James Cameron.
2. There is a deep concern for the ecological catastrophe (the Cousteau connection).
3. The film follows the classical hubris / nemesis structure (as did Titanic).
4. This is another essential cyberpunk film from James Cameron, creator of The Terminator.
5. Avatar is one of the great dystopian science fiction films, deeply critical of the military-technological complex, as were the Alien films (Cameron directed Aliens).
6. Sigourney Weaver plays one of the leads in Avatar. Cameron favours strong female characters.
7. The story is about the guerrilla war of small tribes with inferior weapons against an overwhelming aggressor (as in the Rambo films, where Rambo curiously resembles a Vietnamese guerrilla; Cameron wrote Rambo II).
8. The novelty is that the overwhelming aggressor is "us" and the guerrilla are "them", but there is a switch in the middle of the story.

From familiar ingredients Cameron has created something new and strange. Through virtual reality Jake Sully transforms into a creature from another planet. He rejects mankind, what is left of our race dying because of the ecocatastrophe on Earth.

Final Fantasy (2001), the first mainstream photorealistic all-computer-generated feature film, was technically impressive but not really moving. Avatar is better, more gripping, but I miss strong performances such as those in Titanic.

300 (2006) and Beowulf (2007) displayed interesting steps of photorealistic digital animation, and Avatar goes further in this promising and fascinating development.

I had been annoyed by the Avatar trailers, thinking, "do I have to see that". Still I'm not fully convinced by the digitally animated aliens. The colour scheme is artificial, with an emphasis on purple, blue, and cold green. It is the look of a computer game, of virtual reality. Awesome but not entirely convincing.

Anyway, Avatar is a great James Cameron film and a great science fiction film.

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