There haven’t been many movie experiences in my life that I’ve been able to tell much of a difference, technologically speaking, in the way the movies have been made. For the most part, movie making has been fairly seamless in the advances in technology. Of course there are exceptions, the development of the digital movie camera, movies shot entirely in front of a green screen, and motion capture technology. What I’ve experienced recently has been nothing short of a revelation and a quantum leap ahead of anything else that’s been attempted. After twelve years in the making, Avatar blew me away. Now, this doesn’t mean that I think this is the best movie that’s ever been made. Far from it, but in terms of the movie going experience, I have never been so completely immersed in a movie before in my life.
A lot of movies recently have been going the 3D route, and honestly I don’t think I’ve seen anything in 3D since the last 30 minutes of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in IMAX a couple of years ago. That was pretty cool. Things seemed to be closer and a few things appeared to come towards you. Frankly, I wasn’t all too impressed with that 3D attempt. Avatar was more like being a part of a simulation. I felt like I was a part of the movie, playing a part in the development of the story and being an active participant in the battles. There were numerous times that I felt like I could grasp the things around me, feel the suns beams and wind on my skin. This is movie making that is going to change the way we think of what it means to go see a film and how we expect to experience it.
Of course, a movie is not solely about the effects. In fact, a movie should be enhanced by the effects and not over whelmed by them. Honestly, Avatar was on the verge of this happening. I was so amazed by what I was seeing and experiencing that I was getting lost in the experience itself and not the story. This isn’t to say that the story of Avatar isn’t interesting or any good, it just seemed to be the vessel through which we traversed this world. The story involves humans traveling many years from Earth to look for a rare metal, “unobtainium” (yes, that’s what it’s called, silly I know). They’ve found it on a planet that is a six year journey from Earth and is home to the Na’avi people. The humans try to work with the local people so that the metal can be mined and taken back home. Needless to say the natives aren’t very cooperative and drastic measures must be made. This is where the Avatar comes in. We’ve developed the ability to genetically create a Na’avi person that can then be controlled from a remote location by the humans. These Avatars can then interact with the locals and hopefully gain their trust so that we can get what is needed and then leave. Needless to say, things are never as easy as we hope. Battles ensue.
One interesting aspect that Cameron has in his story and history of the world he has created is that the Na’avi people, the animals on the planet, and the planet itself are all connected. The natives and the animals are able to connect to one another through an organic kind of network cable. They are able to read one another’s thoughts and therefore work as one when they are connected. This allows the Na’avi people to be able to ride land traveling and flying creatures as if they were the creatures themselves. I thought this was a great commentary on our own world and how many people here feel completely disconnected from each other, the plants and animals and the planet itself. Cameron seemed to be giving a lecture through film expressing his own thoughts of how we should be more environmentally conscious.
I haven’t talked much about the acting as of yet, and that’s primarily because the acting takes a back seat to the visuals and experience of the film as a whole. I’m not saying that the acting is bad or second rate. The actors have been so seamlessly integrated with their Avatars that you can look past the fact that Sam Worthington and Sigourney Weaver are the actors starring in the film and just focus on the story being told. The technology used to capture their facial expressions, gestures and movements is so far advanced that you can see the originating actor’s performance through their Avatars. If the technology for motion capture is this good now, I can’t imagine what it will be like in future films.
Having only seen this movie once, I’m sure that I’m forgetting some things to mention, as my brain was in sensory overload throughout the two hour and forty minute trip through the world of Avatar. I look forward to seeing this film many times more and pray that when it’s on Blu-ray that I can view it in 3D some what close to my experience in the theater. Whatever you do, if you go to see this film, pay the few dollars more to see it in 3D. Trust me, it’s a movie-going experience you’re not likely soon to forget.
quantummechanix.com is marketing a cool new poster demonstrating how the Cylons evolved.
As you’ll notice the second and third images depict androids as seen in the pilot episode of “Caprica”, which the SyFy channel launches its new show January 22.
In case you didn’t notice, if you’re counting, the last Cylon depicted is Six. Things that make you go “hmmmmmmmm.”
Have a closer look here.
“Caprica” launches on Syfy Jan. 22.