Saturday, December 19, 2009

Avatar


Avatar
Director : James Cameron
Writer : James Cameron
Length : 2.5 hours (approximately)
Rate (by me) : 8/10

The humans discover a valuable substance on planet Pandora inhabited by a primitive race called the Na'vi, who are rich with their own culture and beliefs. The expensive substance that the humans are after lies beneath the home of the Na'vi, the hometree. The humans have either to gain their trust and make them leave the hometree, or they have to drive them away by force. Thus the human scientists invent the Avatar, a remote-controlled Na'vi figure genetically grown by mixing human's DNA and the Na'vi's. Jake Sully's mission was to use his Avatar to bond with the natives, study them and find a way to drive them out of their home.

The last time I watched a nice film like this was like years ago. Story/script well-written (with moderate sense of humour), good directorship, and excellent actors. I like that the Pandora and the Na'vi race was designed to the very detail, the animals and plants, the culture, the bliefs, the hometree etc. I feel that it's a beautiful culture and religion.

And they had portrayed well the humanity issue. That it isn't the right thing to do to kill people for money, even when the people are not your own species/race.

I know the story doesn't sound impressive or anything. But you can tell that they actually put in enough effort to make the film and you can feel the characters are alive. And I've totally enjoyed the whole 2.5 hours in the cinema.

Other feedbacks I heard:
- Some of the scenes and the animals resembles those of Final Fantasy X. No comments. Never played that game.
- The human interface machanical gunner thingy resembles those of Matrix 3. Totally agree.
- It steals the matrix concept. Man plugs into machine, man wakes up with a different body. Yeah, kind of. But that doesn't make Avatar a bad idea/story and moreover, it's quite a different concept.
- It shares the same storyline as Pocahontas. Pfft... What the hell? It's two totally different things!!! How can anyone compare a James Cameron's and a Disney??? It's like comparing an apple and a house!!! And I certainly cannot explain how an apple and a house is different pfft... The only thing about Avatar is that, humans discover wealth in a place and they want it for themselves, thus exists war. But this happens EVERYWHERE, not just in Pocahontas (pfft...). I mean, it's something you see from everyday's life. If wanna say like this then Avatar resembles A LOT of other films actually. Well like I said, the originality of the story is not impressive or anything but what has caught us glued to our seats is the sincerity we feel from the crew who made the film (i.e. not like "cincai" made just to earn money from us, the people).

P.S. Individuals views/comments are respected.

21 comments:

Horng Yih said...

i din say cincai la

im just saying, got a whole new world, the beliefs is remarkably similar to harmony wif nature thingy, communion wif animals (except maybe the hair-tail connection, which is quite original) which, the American Red Indians have

Im surprised that James Cameron, the director who gave us Terminator, and Titanic, and Aliens (all very original stories, with very little similarity to wat we have ever experienced) cannot be original here in Avatar, a story he said he wanted to do since 20 years ago, right after Terminator was finished produced

Horng Yih said...

another word about the actors/actresses:
1) Jake Sully - nothing extraordinary (not Johnny Depp level)
2) Grace St. Augustine - sig weaver's best iconography was as the macho marine holding a machine gun against Alien Queen. Nothing she has done after that quite reach back to that level.
3) Norm - totally carafe.
4) Colonel Quadritch - the military role never seem to deviate much.
5) the aliens - face it, nobody is expecting them be different when their name is blue-skinned alien (although pls la, female/male, animals, plants? how come no tri-gender thingy? how come no flying biospheres, ppl living in floating cloud-creatures?)
6) Best of all - Priestess of the Moon at the end! too bad cannot summon starfall. Might as well bring a demon-hunter in with twin-blades.

ethan said...

i like the starfall idea!! anyway human is superior!! vote for the humane way.. burn that tree!

Horng Yih said...

i was half-cheering for the colonel when he jump out of the crashing plane. and he can hold his breath and shoot straight! talk about thinking out of the box...

Horng Yih said...

interesting idea: how about if we switch roles, and we have a Alien-type alien that debate about our skyscrapers, and decide our buildings and homes are in the way, right on top of their hive's prime location, with lots of Energon below that they consider valuable. and then they 'squelch' in their super-bio-building-eater-virus to eat and digest that skyscraper?

and after that they pat each ohter on the back, say good job, and go back to their base for a cup of gooey-coffee-juice? definitely more original than blowing things up with same-old same-old explosives and firecrackers, with crying natives (complete wif bows & arrows) watching in horror. At least in this version, ppl will be calling their loved ones on bb, iphone and handphone say they are safe, etc etc, oh, and covered wif ash n soot.

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

if roles are switched, and humans become victims, how could that have any originality in it? when almost ALL disaster movies are like that? look at "invation" (starring nichole kidman)... there are like, so many old movies about humans being the victim and earth invaded by aliens etc etc... talking about originality... pfft... ppl are using this idea in the movie industry (especially hollywood) ever since i can remember la... and that's the whole new idea about avatar, for the very first time, humans are actually invading other natives on another planet, instead of being the victims, as usual...

as for the characters, i said they're well-developed, is because when i was watching the movie, i could feel what they feel... i mean, it isn't like, for example, "district 9", i actually felt nothing for ... the main character whose name i forgot ... it's like, he can just go die or whatever i couldn't careless (it could be because of the documentary way of story-telling)... it's different in avatar because the characters were slowly formed with their own unique and clear personalities, that the audience could easily grasp... but of course, that would mean their characteristics have to be on the extreme side, you know the good guys are totally good they'd sacrifice themselves for the Na'vi; while the bad guys are totally bad the commander was like insane and could stop at nothing to obtain wealth that eventually won't belong to him... but then again, that also make the audience feel for them, because of the clear/extreme personalities of each character... and isn't that the most important thing in a story? for the audience to feel what the characters feel?

and yes, the living things on pandora are not beyond out imagination... in fact, they resemble creatures on earth... even the Na'vis, they actually look like humans... but if they don't, the idea of avatar couldnt be use then could it? i mean, if the aliens have eight legs and two heads, wouldnt the remotely-controlled avatar would be difficult for humans? and what would the hybrid avatar look like, if the Na'vi look so much different from a human being? as for the animals/creatures/plants, they look like those on earth because the conditions on pandora is similar to earth (despite there's a toxic gas that humans can't breathe, but still, similar)... so i guess it's only natural they look alike...

Horng Yih said...

Invasion was about the drama of being invaded. quite different way of portraying the usual alien invasion story.

Humans invading other kinds of quasi-humans (wif language and clothes; y cannot telepathy? or hive mind? y advanced biochemical talk, rather than normal sound-wave talk? that would have been a distinct advantage to help them win the battle), face it: it's history.

ever since alexander the great - invade india (din expect elephants),
julius caesar - invade europe, reclaim greater persia (din expect betrayal),
genghis khan - invade europe and greater asia (din expect 1 generation empire),
crusader - invade jerusalem and middle east,
spanish - invade americas
british - invade north america (pocahontas story here)

human invading aliens stories dun exist, yes. but the aliens in avatar, aren't exactly aliens is it?
1) they got language
2) they wear clothes
3) they ride horses and kill animals
4) they got bows and arrows
5) they got female/male and on top of that, arranged marriages some more
6) they got the whole family unit - father mother children grandparents
7) they cry and laugh in exactly the same way we do
8) toxic gas is such a childish difference. if i put u live wif the himalayan tribes that wander around in high mountain altitudes, u'd probably suffocate from the scarcity of oxygen too. same when they come down to sea-level, they feel constricted with the air pressure.
9) they wear feathers on their heads

and wat did u mean by avatar must be two leg-two hand - one head is only possible for remote control? if the consciousness is one person to one unit (no matter how many arms or legs), it's possible yah?

conditions of pandora is similar to earth, wow. that's perfect. so by right, south africa shud have kangaroos and platypuses too? conditions are the same wat? better yet, they shud have pandas in europe and giraffes in venezuela.

characters are well developed? more like stereotypes that we instantly recognized than really any development at all... somehow i knew Jake Sully was going to end up shagging the girl, is that developing a character?

since u take the no-name guy from district 9 as example, i'll use the character to illustrate.

u first see that no-name guy, and i tell u, everybody in the theatre is expecting him to die like nobody or carafe in the movie. end up, he become hero, and we almost cheer out loud when he grab that missile being shot at the alien shuttle. from a nobody we will feel anything for, to an unlikely victim-turn-hero. Now that is character development.

now take the soldier guy in district 9 and compare wif colonel quadritch? any difference in the attitude? yes. i like that difference. but both also gonna blow everything up and enjoy killing wat. we knew that from the moment we saw the character. any development? nope. no need.

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

"invasion" is nothing but a commercial film of a used-many-times-idea about alien invade earth... much similar to "independence day" minus the big UFO and white house scene and bombing effects... a film that no one remembers after 5 hours watching it...

and yes, avatar is nothing but a movie about invasion... and yes, invasion is in the history... like i said, i'd rather watch a not-so-original-story but well-told (e.g. avatar), than a original story but under-developed (e.g. district 9)...

and who decides that aliens must look different than humans? that aliens must have 3 legs, 4 eyes, and shaped like a ball, like those of disney's "monsters inc."? like that only can be considered as alien? like that only can say yes, the creator has originality, is creative, has taste? you know humans have yet to explore the whole universe... maybe, just maybe, there's a planet out there, somewhere in the universe, that looks exactly like earth, and they have another shinloo, another ho horng yih, exist in another planet... talking about wild imagination huh...

and well did u see giraffes on pandora? no you see a fierce ugly black leopard-looking creature... but are they leopards? no! therefore you don't see giraffes in north pole... and do u see elephants on pandora? no you see huge birds bigger than choppers... do you see this kind of birds on earth? no! thus you don't see pandas in europe...

as for "district 9", i personally don't feel anything at all when he grab that missile being shot at the alien shuttle... he's still a nobody to me, even at the end... anyway that's just my personal opinion...

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

and you certainly don't see natives riding a big bird on earth...

Anonymous said...

Oh, you are saying Terminator, Titanic and Aliens are very original movies? Please recall the content of these movies; Terminator l is listed in most lousy movies in history. Titanic is rojak of some old school love story and conventional disaster scenes, just only they spend a million USD to present them,so u saying is original ideas. Aliens is original idea? Maybe you never read sci-fic novel. Honestly say, nowadays there are no such thing as originality because you can always find the ideas actualy coming from others media. In Avatar, we can see several ideas adopted in, such as Na'vi appear simlar as elf, gunners from Matrix 3, environment scenes from FF series, air-crafts from ST series,invasion idea from any sci-fic novel available in the market. But Avatar still can be considered as a great commercial movie. James Cameron reveals a new world for us in the screen, a complete world. A planet with intelligent race, geography, botany,animals. The intelligent race equiped with complete social structure, living style, religion, myth, culture, and military force.

The concept of Na'vi strongly believe was taken from elf. When saying harmony with nature of Na'vi copying culture of Red Indian, that means J.R.R.Tolkien also a copy cat?

LOTR is a great movie because it created a world, completed with its own history, calender, languages, races, myth, religion, culture and life style. James Cameron is following Peter Jackson's foot steps. One step advance, he created Pandora by his own, while P.J. extracted from original novel which was written in 12 years and expressed in 9 hours.

When saying why alien creature similar as human, by biology point of view, if habitat of animals are same, they should have similar characteristics. Eg. animals living in cold zone have thick fur and fats; insects in rain forest have colorful appearance. So do earth and pandora, creatures will evolve in similar pattern if living environment almost identical. By rational, come on, this is just a commercial movie, if human and Na'vi not similar, how to attract audience? Just like no point asking why Orc looks similar as human. Btw, why alien in Alien series looks so similar as kangaroo, why dont it have 10 legs and 6 heads?

Lastly, do anyone think J.C. is DOTA fan and purposely put priestess of the moon in movie?

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...

Wow a long debate :P - Just read review that gives a good ratings for this movie though haven't go tonton yet

Horng Yih said...

wow!

alrighty-o.

SL: originality = creative =/= taste. some ppl like to see movies with soul, e.g. time traveller's wife.

2ndly, i think on that other world, we'd probably be brothers & sisters, and we will kill each other before age 12.

Anon.:
(this is gonna be long one.)
1) Termi Central theme (Robot kills human, nvm the future time travel thing - similar to Matrix 1: action is more central than the philosophy) - where's the precursor idea?

2) Aliens Central theme (Alien kills human) - H.R. Giger's design.

3) Titanic. Okay bad example. How about the Abyss? water alien, multi-morph, with wonder and mystery and exotica mixed in!

ur complete world, minus the bright lights, minus the blue skin and ponytail, minus the dragons (whoops, hmm dragon-riders seem very original), minus the gaia-neural-network-downloading-mind scheme seem remarkably like the Americas (both north & south) before the whites went to colonise it.

LOTR... first of all, elves, dwarves, hobbits, golems, all existed in disparate myths and fairy tales. Tolkien did a humongous job of distilling the essence of each, giving each race a language (he was a professor of literature and linguistics if i recall correctly), and a colorful history and pantheon that's as complicated as Homer's pantheon of Olympian Gods. Im not saying LOTR is a bad movie. I regard it, however, as the audio-visual companion to the books, which carried more of the brilliance of Tolkien anyway.

Horng Yih said...

as for the alien habitat thing. haih... first alpha centauri is a double star. the other star orbits the bigger star as close in as jupiter, and as far away as pluto in a big ellipse. any planets nearer than Jupiter to the bigger star would have been torn into asteroids by the smaller star that oscillates in and out of the system like a huge, burning comet. with that kind of environment, (whether right outside the double star orbits, or inside it - double sunrise, phewit!) are u telling me the environment is going to be the same?

alright we all take poetic license anyway. in which case i'll put up an alternative alien culture for u here:
a) my aliens are tri-gender, live in mud, have no arms or legs, but just ooze around in swamps and water. whenever they need to manipulate things, they extend a shape out of their mud-bodies, e.g. strong hand for carrying lumber/etc, or delicate, articulated fingers for fine work/writing/painting
b) they live in mud hives that are covered with artwork bigger than angkor wat, and 10x more complicated in detail and beliefs
c) they are not connected to nature in that they have to kill for food, more like they absorb nutrients from the water, and decaying matter that lies in the swamps/rivers, but they are connected to it, and they believe they are the guardians of nature by making sure everything is recycled properly when they die.
d) when they die, they require the double sun to rise together so some invisible energy liberates them out of their mud bodies, and they transform into their ultimate form, gaseous form.
e) the gaseous bodies, also congregate, but they have the freedom to soar anywhere in the world, connected by thin wisps of electromagnetical energy that makes use of whatever gas molecule they absorb and excrete. they sculpt amazing transient cloud-formations and cultivate aerial flora in secluded locations.
f) they communicate via electrochemical pheromones delivered thru water, which is mirrored by electromagnetical discharges (i.e. ligtning) in their gas form.
g) they will digest humans if they die, to protect their natural habitat, and they die from fighting and defeating the microorganisms we have in our dead bodies.
h) they dun fight, why shud they? they are not claiming territory for more food, or more resources. the rivers bring them their food, their mud, the rains also provide some mud and the ecology lives and dies, providing more food. how do u shoot mud? explosive? but they converge back again into one body anyway. it is via biological attack. but that only works on the mud-form. the gas form can fire lightning on u guys. so not totally invincible, but can give a fight.

Horng Yih said...

in fact, nukes probably won't work on the gas forms.

but in avatar's pandora, if i were a human looking for USD20 milliong per kg mineral, who's built an expensive space travel transit to mine and bring home that mineral, i'll be sure to bring in nukes and nuke the hell out of those blue-skinned monkeys and radioactive-proof suits and machines to mine my minerals.

the story is crap. the fx superb. the story-telling competent. but the story is crap.

Horng Yih said...

oh, and the best part is: the humans come in to mine the mineral, but their science team is moderately successful in their mud-avatar program, where the mind-meld is difficult enough already, trying to merge a neural network into a very alien nervous system that seems to be just electrochemical signals that controls, absorbs and disposes of various mud material.

they only succeed in the mud-version, and nobody knows if mud-forms can talk wif gas-forms, but apparently they do, when comes to war. even communication wif mud forms is difficult, as they seem like insects, but they will congregate in gargantual halls, or go dating in swamps, or have a astronomy club in the local mud observatory.

some mud forms befriend the humans, and teach them how to communicate via electrochemical messages, so no talking alien language nonsense back at the avatar lab, even Dr. Augustine's smoking habit will be much more understandable, the stress of trying to understand these aliens.

my message? humans only see commodity as wealth, and when faced wif something they can barely understand, they usually resort to violence to be understood, (get the natives to go away and let humans mine the mineral where the aliens are living on top of). anybody can see there is a valuable technology if ppl understood how the mud-forms transform into gas-forms. maybe more valuable than the mineral.

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

robinson, yes it's a long debate... although some of it actually carry not much point... the argument just repeat and repeat... especially towards the end... the ending comments basically are the repetition of the earlier comments...

anyway you just go watch it and tell me what you think la... hehe... hope u like it... it's kind of worth it to watch in cinema la i feel...

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...

Finally just watched the movie today : Awesome!! Initially had made the movie as "provision for doubtful watchable"..Just like being in a fantasy imaginary world of 3D.

Glued to the movie from first 10 minutes onwards..Nice esp toward the end of the movie -LOTR, The matrix , Star wars likes....

Question : How did the Navi get the modern weaponry for the war? Open tender system? (Just joke)

Lastly, if not mistaken, Jake "transformed" his "soul& mind" to his avatar, right?

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...

Finally, just like the idea that "red Indian" Na'vi triumph over the " western cowboys"...:D

thE gEOgrAphicAlly blind said...

haha glad u like it !!! and yes, in the end jake transfer his mind into the avatar la... my friend said the hair is like a USB port, can plug in anywhere hahahaahahahah...

MODERN ROBINSON CRUSOE said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MRC said...

Thx to shin loo - Avatar's going to surpass Titanic in Box-office's collection....Perhaps it's time for shin loo to negotiate with James cameron on commmission / referral fees