Avatar opening weekend has finally arrived and James Cameron definitely did not disappoint! Avatar is an amazing film that grabs you immediately and doesn’t let go until well after the end credits. There are no boring parts. The 3-D is used well, not throwing things at you all the time but giving you depth perception that brings the computer generated world to life. Everywhere you look there is something new to discover; it’s almost too much to absorb on the first try.
The story in brief is about a marine, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who travels to the planet Pandora to join the Avatar project team. His mind is connected to a genetically compatible test tube body that is to all effects, a body of a native Na’vi. This allows him to interact with the local tribe as he becomes increasingly entwined with his new surroundings. The problem is that Jake’s human friends are on the planet to exploit it, and the Na’vi are in the way. Yes, this type of story has been told before but it doesn’t drown in clichés like I was afraid it would and it adds unexpected twists.
Our blue Latino warriors Zoe Saldaña (as Neytiri) and Laz Alonso (as Tsu’Tey) really brought it and even though they were playing computer generated characters, the motion capture in 3-D truly made their facial expressions shine through. Also, the voices were all theirs and when they spoke the Na’vi language (a complete language created by USC professor Paul Frommer) they were absolutely believable. Kudos to the language coach (Carla Meyer appears as the dialect coach on IMDB) for giving the non-natives a noticeable accent and making the Na’vi actors appear fluent. And thank you subtitle font people for using Papyrus when Na’vi was spoken. It was as pretty as the language.
Our non-blue warrior chica Michelle Rodríguez (playing Trudy Chacón) kicked ass and was a favorite (at least in my theater) judging by the applause she got. Trudy is a helicopter pilot, part of the group of mercenaries on Pandora. She becomes an important part of the inevitable rebellion, and I’mpleased she had such a prominent role that wasn’t computer generated andan actual Latina character. Latinas on Pandora FTW!
On the science fiction side, this movie has enough creatures, glowing plants, weapons and technology to satisfy any sci-fi or fantasy fan. There is plenty to dissect here and obsess over, my fellow geeks! It is jaw-dropping gorgeous and with the 3-D even more so. Hi-tech labs, fantastic myths come to life, and heart-stopping battle scenes round out this film to make it an absolute must-see.
On Friday, August 21 director James Cameron blessed the eager masses with a sneak peek at his latest film, Avatar. I was one of those impatient moviegoers, especially after not being able to see the Comic-Con preview everyone was buzzing about. I got tickets (thanks Tecnetico.com!) for the screening and boy was I happy. Later I found out via Twitter that Zoe Saldaña (Uhura from Star Trek) would be there since she was on the island filming The Losers.
Once everyone was seated, Twentieth Century Fox marketing people introduced Zoe Saldaña (the ñ sounds like the gn in lasagna), and she read a very boring Fox blurb about the movie. It was interesting hearing her read in Spanish though, since I hadn’t heard her speak it before. Zoe grew up in the Dominican Republic and the U.S. so she speaks Spanish quite well, although she falls back on English when she doesn’t know the right words. She made up a couple of words during the Q&A, but everyone got what she was saying so it’s all good (we speak Spanglish too here).
Zoe introduced the approximately 15 minute screening and sat down to watch it with us. We had our 3-D glasses on and really enjoyed ourselves. The scenes have been extensively covered elsewhere, so I’ll just briefly go over them.
James Cameron had a brief on-screen introduction and let us know we were going to see scenes from the first half of the movie.
We see a colonel warning his soldiers about the crazy dangerous inhabitants of the Planet Pandora, where the movie takes place. A soldier (Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington of Terminator Salvation) enters the room on a wheelchair.
Jake is on an operating table. Somehow they connect his mind to an avatar, a tall blue creature with a long tail. How they got this blue body isn’t clear from what I saw. Jake is so happy to be able to walk that he disrupts the lab, especially with his tail.
We see a lush jungle with an avatared Sigourney Weaver (she plays one of the lab doctors) facing a dinosaur that looks like a triceratops/velociraptor hybrid. Another dinosaur runs after them.
The same jungle but at night. Jake and Neytiri (Saldaña) confront small doggish creatures and Neytiri gets pissed off because they had to kill them. When Jake asks why she helped him, Neytiri says that he has “a strong heart.” I must say that despite the distraction of this cheesy line, the jungle was absolutely gorgeous- jaw dropping in fact. It was nighttime but some of the plants were bioluminescent. It was beautiful in all its 3-D splendor.
Sam must choose a dragon type creature to bond with. He learns how to fly it. More beautiful shots. I can’t say enough about how amazing this movie looks.
The last bit of the screening was a series of quick shots showing either a war with heavy machinery or perhaps a forest clearing. Neytiri was crying.
I think the movie will be absolutely beautiful to look at, but I am afraid the dialogue and plot isn’t going to be all that wonderful. It seems another picture where the non-native infiltrates the natives, realizes that his people are mistreating the natives, and ends up saving his new friends. I admit Disney’s Pocahontas flashed through my brain a couple of times, although the 3-D eye candy made it easy to forget. I really, really hope I’m wrong about the plot.
After the screening Zoe answered some questions. One of them was about her physical preparation. She said she grew up riding horses and practicing archery and dancing. She mentioned that she had to learn how to run, because as a dancer, she glides (her words).
I was able to tape the other answers so here’s a link. Zoe answered partly in Spanish so I subtitled those bits in English. One thing that was left out from the videos that I think is important: after a question to Zoe about her geeky roles, the 20th Century Fox marketing director was quick to point out that Avatar was not specifically geared to geeks. He said it was a movie of emotions and feelings, and just like Titanic was not a disaster movie, this was not a sci-fi movie. So… the official line is that Avatar is not a sci-fi movie? Oh, Fox. You make me want to bitch-slap you.