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16 posts from January 2010


AVATAR’s Neytiri: Oscar-Worthy Acting or Just CGI?

Neytiri CGIThe debate rages over whether AVATAR's performance capture is true performance for the Oscars and other awards. Cameron's actors had to work hard to make AVATAR's action look real, but it wasn't enough to impress the Screen Actors Guild, which didn't even nominate AVATAR actors this year. Maybe SAG is just worried that the increasing use of CGI will put human actors out of work, but to be fair, the most-threatened jobs may in fact be makeup artists and costumers.

And still… though Avatar has been nominated for numerous awards, and won several already, its stars have been pretty much ignored by Hollywood. “I don’t think they understand that we don't embellish or make up portions” said James Cameron, referring to critics. He feels that Zoe Saldana, seen in the film only in computer-rendered Na'vi form, is especially worthy. "Every second of the performance is Zoe. If you think about it, she did many things for this role, from mastering an accent and learning a language to intense physical training, [these] are the kinds of things that earn people Oscars. And she did it all in a blank room."

Sasha Stone of Awards Daily isn't buying it: “I appreciate [the] sentiment but what we saw with Saldana was [an] unprecedented combination of technology and performance capture—but in the traditional sense, it is not acting… Zoe Saldana makes for a moving and beautiful Avatar—one of the most memorable characters of the year. But no can say for sure that it is 100% her and not this beautiful technology along with it.”

Regardless, AVATAR remains heavily favored for the best-picture Oscar, especially since many Academy Awards voters are from more technical disciplines than acting.

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What do you think – are Zoe and Sam acting or is technology doing the magic? Are they worthy of a Best Acting Oscar?


AVATAR: Biggest Movie of All Time

Avatar yell It's official: Avatar is now the highest-grossing movie of all time in dollar sales, breaking Titanic's previous record of $1.843 billion on Monday. It's gotten a big boost from more expensive 3-D screenings and is still going strong, leading industry observers to say $2 billion or more is possible—particularly since Avatar made its first billion in just 17 days. How'd Cameron pull it off? Four elements: Romance, craftsmanship, good beating evil, and buzz creation.

What do you think - how big can AVATAR get?


AVATAR and the Trouble with Pirates

Avatar-pirate Know someone who's pirated AVATAR? You're not alone. In fact, AVATAR is the most pirated movie in history. Director James Cameron had predicted that the film’s 3D technology would deter online theft, but almost one million pirate copies were downloaded within seven days of its release.

But there are some drawbacks (besides the obvious legal and ethical issues). Illegal copies tend to be low-quality and hard to see, not to mention that you've usually got to watch them on your computer, not your home entertainment center. Pirating may get you in hot water with your school or get you arrested. Also, a big AVATAR draw is its 3-D immersiveness, which doesn't translate well to handheld footage from some guy's minicam.

The good news? As with music, it’s possible these pirate downloads may actually be helping at the box office, and it looks like even pirates will wait for quality, i.e. the home DVD.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

AVATAR pirates – are they crazy for missing out on the 3D or are they just fans who can't get enough?


The AVATAR Effect: Who Loves/Hates It?

2 faces It's interesting seeing who does and does not like AVATAR. The Vatican was lukewarm—thought it was clichéd and overly sentimental even while admitting its extraordinary visual impact. But some think it slams the U.S. military, others say it's a straight send-up of the Iraq and Afghan wars, a few see lukewarm future-hippie idealism, and the kooks think it promotes tree-worship and Marxism or is out-and-out anti-American.

Meanwhile, some liberals have labeled the film racist because the human is Sam Worthington and not Will Smith. Russians are calling for Cameron's arrest, claiming the film stole the story line of a popular series of 10 novels published in Russia in the '60s. And the Chinese have pulled the 2-D version of the film from theaters saying it is taking too much market share from Chinese films and drawing unwanted attention to the sensitive issue of forced evictions. Even critics that once loved it, are falling off the AVATAR bandwagon when it comes to the Oscars.

On the other hand, environmentalists love it, especially when they tweak haters about the hidden eco-terrorism conspiracy that AVATAR contains. Others find it a spiritual story - rich with symbolism and representing the ongoing struggle between spiritual principles and human flaws. And of course, moviegoers love it. With awards coming in left and right, AVATAR's worldwide total is now $1.836 billion to Titanic's current $1.842 billion record.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

Anti-war, eco-conscious, Anti-American, pro-religious, racist… do you think Avatar has a socio-political message or is it just a great movie?


The Complete AVATAR Script Online

Avatar growing2 Fox has taken the unusual step of posting the entire AVATAR script online (PDF), allowing fans to see what was cut (the already-notorious Jake-Neytiri sex scene) as well as some boozy male bonding and stereotypes of NRA members that have drawn right-wingers' attention. At one point Tsu'tey has his ponytail—and thus his connection with Pandora—cut off by an RDA soldier, and asks Jake to kill him.

Some scenes from the script were shot and might make it into the DVD, such as Jake Sully's pre-Pandora life. Other highlights from the script including details about Neytiri's sister (Silwanin) here. And if the Vatican hates AVATAR now, just imagine how much they would have liked the original version of the movie that included pre-marital tentacle sex! Relevant parts of the hookup are excerpted here.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

Will you read or have you read the AVATAR script?


AVATAR: Too Big in China?

Avatar china 3 AVATAR's latest nemesis is Chinese bureaucrats who worry the movie may incite unrest, since Chinese viewers may link the Na'vi's plight with that of property owners facing eviction by unscrupulous real-estate developers—a link that Chinese bloggers and official press made from the start. Chinese officialdom is already primed to see insults where none are intended, so it's not too surprising that 2-D screenings will end January 23, not January 28, while 3-D screenings may proceed on China's modest number of 3-D screens.

The only consolation for Chinese viewers is that a biopic of Confucius starring Chow Yun-Fat will move onto all those screens.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

What do you think - will banning AVATAR in China stop the fans or just encourage pirated copies?

James Cameron to Oprah: "I See You"

Ladygagabluecrop James Cameron appeared on Oprah last week (short clip here) and you know you've impressed Oprah Winfrey when she actually sees your movie in a theater—which she hasn't done since the '90s. To repay this kindness, Cameron's effects artists created an Oprah Na'vi. (Too bad, Lady Gaga: Cameron beat you to the paint-yourself-blue punch.)

After exchanging a greeting in Na'vi, Oprah asked Cameron if he's a spiritual person since the Na'vi greeting "I see you"  is a phrase with a deeper meaning along the lines of "I understand who you are." Cameron replied, "I guess I must be, because this film represents a lot of ideas and feelings I have as an artist," he said, "… and the idea that we are all connected to each other as human beings…. When I became a scuba diver, I really realized how great nature's imagination is. This film was an attempt to kind of bottle that."

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

What does "I see you" or Oel ngati kameie mean to you in AVATAR?


AVATAR Wins Big at Golden Globes

Avatarglobes AVATAR made a big splash with the notoriously picky Hollywood Foreign Press Association, winning a best-drama Golden Globe and netting James Cameron best-director honors (just like another Cameron movie you may recall). Not that Cameron lacked confidence or anything, although he humbly said he had the best job in the world. It's nice timing for a movie looking to get on the Oscar ballot although Hurt Locker's wins at the Critics' Choice awards mean there's no sure thing in Oscarland. Still, AVATAR snagged best sound, visual effects, art direction at Critics' Choice—and it never hurts to head into the Oscars with half a billion in domestic box-office.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

What do you think - will AVATAR win big at the Oscars too?


The Cure for AVATAR Blues

Hebrides copy Did you find yourself in a funk after watching AVATAR? It might not just have been a side effect of wearing 3-D goggles—CNN has been reporting that some viewers “experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.” Film Junk calls the entire concept “either really sad or really good marketing.” John Graham-Cumming believes that the idea is “stunningly ridiculous,” mostly because CNN reported a front-page story based on a thread in which “50% [of posts] are the work of 10 people.” And the story was actually already reported—on a blog not cited by CNN, says The Sly Oyster: “CNN just about whole sale ripped off the story without attribution from a Cynical-C post six days ago.” Hmmm. Real or not, James Cameron has some advice for those who yearn for a world more beautiful than their own: "Take a walk in the woods. Reacquaint with the nature we have right here."

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

Have you felt the AVATAR blues or do you find the movie inspiring?


Awesome AVATAR Fan Art

Neytiri fan art Avatar has inspired hundreds of artists to recreate Pandora and the Na'vi. Images of Neytiri are overwhelmingly popular, with Jake a distant second (although he's the star of this half-human, half-Na'vi charcoal as well as a striking white-tiger Na'vi). There are also images of Jake and Neytiri in combat in full Cartoon Network style among 24 other stunning images. There are also images of some sequel-worthy spacecraft and fighting ships, as well as RDA propaganda posters that show you life on Pandora is more than a desk job.

Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning full HD with the Panasonic VIERA HD TV.

What's your favorite AVATAR art – or what would you create?