James Cameron's Avatar

Cthulhu

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Yop
Also, the reason for a massive number of sequels immediately has to do with the way Avatar is filmed, edited, and assembled being VERY unlike any other traditional filming process. Because of the performance cap, James Cameron gets the performance he wants, and then actually goes back into the digital space with that performance and gets the shots that he wants after the fact. Basically with the techniques that the first film used, they can do something and get as much content as something like LotR did all in one bulk period, with an even easier time doing so, so it won't occupy actors' time nearly as long as four films typically would.
TBF I really don't think that's a big argument in this case - a lot of movies (including The Hobbit) are mostly CGI, as was Avatar; I doubt the amount of time actors have to spend shooting it has that big an impact on e.g. budget. Not when hundreds of millions are being spent on CGI, or double a film's budget on marketing. They don't even need actors, just some anonymous body actors for getting realistic motion data.
 

jazzflower92

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There is a big reason why people latched onto the villain rather than the main protagonists, because it's the same archetypes we've seen before in those kinds of movies.
Did anyone really latch on to the villain? I mean, like any good villain, he stood out for all the archetypical villainous reasons. If anything, I still find Neytiri to be closer to the main character, even though we don't experience the story through her eyes. As well as the character I most enjoy from the film.

The problem is Cameron made the aliens too perfect to identify with them, and they are never portrayed as wrong or really nuanced as a group of people.
I'd disagree with this pretty strongly. I never thought of them as perfect at all. The tensions between Jake & Tsu'tey about his role within the Omaticaya Clan as an outsider specifically helped to give some depth to the Na'vi as a group of people especially in terms of their nuances on how they have differing views of the Humans and Avatars and the varying relationships that they've had with them since they arrived on Pandora.


'Tis a good point. I've seen the observation made before (maybe it was here, maybe it was tumblr) that for a movie that made so much money and was seen by so many people, our pop culture is oddly lacking in memes or other references to the thing. I've heard a grand total of one, and that was in person rather than on the Internet.
I have speculation here, but I don't have a lot of evidence other than the lack of evidence that you mention. I think that Avatar really broke out as a film experience more than anything else, which was in some ways helped by the fact that its story was incredibly simple and not like a lot of scifi things that have a bigger barrier of entry for their settings and plots. Avatar was accessible, and the sort of thing that, when it was released HUGE word of mouth got around as it being something that you NEED to see in the theater, moreso than I think probably any other film's ever had.

For good or bad, the setting and the experience of BEING on Pandora that the theater experience delivered wasn't like anything that came before it, and while 3D is much more of a staple in films these days, VERY few other films have really crept into that space of inhabiting the space behind the screen as well as Avatar did (although I'd personally put Dawn of the Planet of the Apes in that category as a close second – again, the work with Performance capture and transmutive performance here is a HUGE factor).

As such, it's not like Star Wars where you're quoting scenes or talking about ships and things, and it's not like other films where you're pouring over the nuances of the story, but it definitely made an impact in a VERY different way, but one that doesn't really serve itself to being shared or discussed in the same way we usually discuss films.

Again, I think that a LOT of this comes down to the mechanics of how the film was intentionally shot and assembled to be that kind of experience. The Performance Capture technology combined with the virtual cameras letting him pick shots in ways that literally aren't possible with traditional filmmaking AT ALL is something that you can't really properly sum up in discussion (a lot like trying to describe using really good VR after the fact).





X :neo:
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheNativeRival

Thing is Tsu'tey is the perfect archetype of the Native Rival, which is a common feature in these kinds of stories. Also he was rightfully mad at Sully for porking his fiance, which would make anyone mad.

As said before, this movie plays out those "Dances With Wolf" and "Pocahontas" tropes so straight, that it lacks any self-awareness about it.

Also yeah they really did latch onto the villain, due to identify with him more even though he had committed many atrocities during the movie.

Even if a story is simple, the execution of it can endear itself to people. However, they never really adds anything in, and it becomes one big cliche. Cameron could have done something more than just a by the numbers piece, and maybe actually make it more of a Grey vs Grey situation instead of the Black and White one.

For Neytiri, she has also all the typical native love interest tropes you have seen in media. She's the daughter of the chief, who doesn't get along at first with the hero until they gradually grow to have feelings for one another. She's not that really interesting as a character, and everything that's not related to Sully is usually pushed to the background.
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
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X
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TheNativeRival

Thing is Tsu'tey is the perfect archetype of the Native Rival, which is a common feature in these kinds of stories. Also he was rightfully mad at Sully for porking his fiance, which would make anyone mad.

As said before, this movie plays out those "Dances With Wolf" and "Pocahontas" tropes so straight, that it lacks any self-awareness about it.

Also yeah they really did latch onto the villain, due to identify with him more even though he had committed many atrocities during the movie.

Even if a story is simple, the execution of it can endear itself to people. However, they never really adds anything in, and it becomes one big cliche. Cameron could have done something more than just a by the numbers piece, and maybe actually make it more of a Grey vs Grey situation instead of the Black and White one.

For Neytiri, she has also all the typical native love interest tropes you have seen in media. She's the daughter of the chief, who doesn't get along at first with the hero until they gradually grow to have feelings for one another. She's not that really interesting as a character, and everything that's not related to Sully is usually pushed to the background.
Yes, Tsu'tey is definitely an archetype – but he's not perfect, which is what your earlier statement was that I was arguing. Also, I'd argue that this is the same as basically every Disney villain ever – they're "more interesting" than the main characters in stories that are plainly black and white, solely because the entire conflict revolves around their actions. You don't NEED character self-awareness of tropes and introspection upon those roles.

I'm not at all arguing that the whole story and its characters aren't incredibly formulaic – it is & they are. I just don't see that as a fundamental issue with the film, because they're all fine for the delivery of what they're needed for. Generic ≠ bad, especially when you're looking at the success of the film, and the general barrier of entry around most scifi stories and settings, this actually seems to've worked out to its advantage, rather than detriment.

Will the sequels need to have stronger stories? Absolutely.

That being said, Avatar's in the unique situation that – because of that – they can kind of do anything that they want, because the first film established everything about the setting that they could've possibly needed, and the story can grow in any direction without anyone feeling too bothered about where it goes from here, simply because the original was so vanilla with its plot and characters.




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Flare

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I think the 'vanilla' story and characters (and the simple black and white conflict) is probably why I lost interest in the movie over time, actually. When I first watched it everything was a visual wonder and the planet just sucked me in, it's so gorgeous and I loved the look of everything on it. <3 But I think in subsequent watching the characters and story just fell flat to me. o.o It felt like it's all been done before and pushed that story of 'how bad most humans are to natives/aliens' and I want more variety than that. XD

Because I like the world it's all set in, I wouldn't mind seeing a much better (and maybe morally grey) story and characters, and if I'm getting that impression then I may very well watch it.
 
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He shoulda made something of the plot, I agree, I have seen most of the tropes in play from the start. The world and lore is beautiful and has potential, and I'm looking forward to the sequels of Avatar: The Last Airbender 2 and 3.
 

Cthulhu

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Yop
Yeah, the making of e.g. the Tintin movie is interesting in that regard, in that all the filming was done in a studio with all the scenes being made out of some movable platforms (moved by hand too, no hydraulics or whatever involved), some pipes and nets. They can duct tape the whole thing together and make new set pieces / props within minutes if need be.
 

X-SOLDIER

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X
Apparently all of the main cast is wrapped, and now they're filming a bunch of stunts for the films. I really can't get over just how CRAZY different the filming process is for both the original film, as well as the sequels. It's SO interesting to me.


Also, I heard a comment somewhere (wish I could remember where) that was talking about the original Avatar film's success and they made a really interesting point. When you look at the traditions that books and films arose from, it's storytelling. The job of a storyteller was often to tell a well-known story, but to make it interesting and engaging. If you look at that particular measure, it makes it clear that James Cameron is an absolutely AMAZING storyteller, because despite Avatar being an incredibly well-worn story structure he still made something properly phenomenal out of it.

I haven't really been able to describe why I liked the original film as well until I heard that (aside from my proclivity towards being deeply intrigued by thorough world-building over story complexities).





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lithiumkatana17

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I just want to know what was so special about the... Unobtanium? that they were looking for.

I'm looking forward to the sequels. The original film was great imo, although I knew a lot of people back when it was released that didn't understand the intricacies of its simplistic narrative. Need to give the first film another watch soon. It's just a gorgeous film to behold.
 

X-SOLDIER

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X
It was supposed to be a room-temperature superconductor – something that James Cameron's referenced before in Terminator as a way for Skynet to be as fast-growing and advanced as it was. It's something that actually makes sense to've been called "unobtainium" because those sorts of things are mostly a concept for thought experiments where the term "unobtainium" originated, and if discovered this might as well just own that name (which is the explanation for why it's called that in the film, since that has actually happened a few times in real life as well). As a material with incredible physical properties, a room-temperature superconductor would be so ridiculously useful it's difficult to adequately judge the scope of impact it would have on just about everything technologically-speaking.

As a quick example, if you have a closed system that's built solely with a superconductor, there is ZERO loss of energy. This is a great, quick, tl;dr



It's also supposed to be part of why the world has all of those huge magnetic fields and floating islands and whatnot that we see on Pandora. Also, if I had to hazard a wild guess, I'd bet that it's also related to things in the planet on a deeper biological level for things like why they're able to store their collective consciousnesses in Eywa after they die – especially given that the mineral deposits are directly underneath the sacred trees that they use to communicate with Ewya.




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Carlie

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Chloe Frazer
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Lulcielid

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Avatar's biggest legacy is having been the highest grossing film of all time that's not a sequel to another film nor part of a franchise, a reminder that you can successed in (blockbuster) film industry with original intellectual properties...and then the MCU came with Endgame to remind us that we like the confort of prestablished ideas.
 

X-SOLDIER

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X
It was so full of overused tropes and clichés that no amount of high-tech CGI could prevent me from yawning :monster:
There's a reason that tropes and clichés exist though. Even if it makes things predictable, they're things that are widely relatable by an audience and thus reused frequently in storytelling. If you're gonna try to run away from everything that's been done to try and discover a new story, that's fine – but there's also nothing wrong in the structure of simple & familiar stories being told exceedingly well. Lots of mythology and other famous stories all came from people taking existing successful story structures and changing things to make them more relatable to their personal audience, which is how they became popularized. Basically Disney's entire film library is literally that, and why doing animations and kids' stories removes them of the need to search for intellectual high ground.

I think that with science-fiction being often dedicated to the idea of exploration of new ideas, and venturing into the strange and unknown, there's in impulse to fight something about the narrative when its stories feel too familiar – but that's also what usually keeps science fiction from being a setting where we see stories that are as widely embraced. Star Wars balances that by being a space fantasy and hits the same niches that Lord of the Rings does in a lot of ways, especially in audience overlap, but science-fiction is still a pretty niche genre all things considered. The MCU is familiar, but it's a different kind of familiarity, and one that's more widely accepted.

I think that the REASON that Avatar was successful is specifically because you're looking at how much wide general audiences actually want simple stories that just feel relatable and familiar, but show you something that's simultaneously fantastical but feels real, and Avatar delivered on that the way nothing else really has. That's why it feels both memorable and forgettable, and so many people seem to not really understand why that's a recipe for overwhelming success vs. something totally new.



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Glaurung

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@X-SOLDIER I'm not saying that other movies did it better (MCU and other franchises are guilty of that too to some degree), but the tale of Space Pocahontas on which the 'murican space marine has to arrive and resurrect ancient techniques only used by the natives' forefathers and get the princess is rather facepalming to me (the fact that he's inhabiting the body of a native is irrelevant), especially when it's advertised as a groundbreaking novelty (the director forgot to mention that the groundbreaking part was only the CGI).

You will have to bear with me on this one. Had James Cameron not overflooded all media with constant advertisement of his nifty, shinny movie I might not roll my eyes at the mere mention of the word "avatar". Yes, it's a very beautiful movie, but, had the director been just like any other normal dude in the industry, I might have enjoyed that movie more, but I'm that strange, the more you compell me to do something, the less I want to do it, and when I do, be sure as hell that I'll do it kicking and screaming.

As I said, it was a pretty movie, but told me nothing new. It happened too with Titanic (coincidence?). All the girls at school were starstruck with that movie, and when it ended I was just "And THAT'S the ending? WTF, dude!?" The money I spent on the ticket still stings to this day.

Nevertheless, sorry to butt in the thread just to be a Debbie Downer :monster:
 

Carlie

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Chloe Frazer
Avatar's biggest legacy is having been the highest grossing film of all time that's not a sequel to another film nor part of a franchise, a reminder that you can successed in (blockbuster) film industry with original intellectual properties...and then the MCU came with Endgame to remind us that we like the confort of prestablished ideas.
Highest grossing doesn't mean highest viewed, Avatar was only the highest grossing film of all time because of the overpriced 3D tickets. More proof that these things should be looked at by the number of tickets sold not the price.

Honestly I'd hardly call Avatar an original intellectual property considering how much it took from Dances with Wolves and Pocahontas. Two movies that were hardly original themselves.
 
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