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29 posts from December 2010

12/27/2010

Best DVD Movie Releases of 2010

Avatar MMO It’s the time of year when critics and fans alike release their best-of lists, and the lists of the best DVD movie releases of 2010 are now hitting the web. Not surprisingly, AVATAR features prominently on lots of these lists. It was the top-selling DVD of 2010, selling nearly 10 million copies (it was also the most pirated movie of 2010, with 16,858,000 downloads on BitTorrent alone, followed by Kick-Ass and Inception). What about critics’ lists? AVATAR is #2 on Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers’ Best-Of DVD and Blu-Ray movies of 2010 (at #1 is Inception, another favorite on lists this year). Travers writes, “The computerized creation that is Pandora overflows with beauty and terror.”

NextMovie places the AVATAR Extended Collector’s Edition at #7 on its Best DVDs lists, saying it “blows away the barebones versions released earlier this year.” The AVATAR Extended Collector’s Edition also makes FILMDetail’s top list. And Television Without Pity writes of the AVATAR Extended Collector’s Edition, which is a part of their Holiday Guide, “You'll know who needs this new, extended edition of AVATAR--it's the person silently weeping while holding their hastily purchased bare-bones AVATAR DVD from a few months ago. Spare them a second trip to the store, and the shame.”

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What were some of your favorite DVD release of 2010?

12/26/2010

AVATAR vs. Tron – How they Stack Up

Tronvsavatar Last year’s big 3D movie with fans was AVATAR—this year some are saying it’s Tron: Legacy. There’s actually a Tron vs. AVATAR website: “We want to encourage TRON fans everywhere to watch TRON Legacy more times than they saw AVATAR. So if you saw AVATAR once, see TRON Legacy twice. If you saw AVATARfour times, see TRON five times.” Well, how do the films stack up? LA Weekly presents an infographic pitting the two against each other. Cinedork.com says that Tron’s visuals are better: “Unlike AVATAR where every shot was made specifically for you to drool over, Tron’s visuals are much more intelligent and sophisticated and aid to the dark story tone throughout the film… Move over James Cameron, Disney kicked your **s in originality and visuals and dare I say… 3D.” The Moviefone Blog compares the films by story, characters, and 3D technology, and finds that the winner is… “AVATAR is the better moviegoing experience, and the better movie.

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Did you see Tron? How do you think it compared to AVATAR?

12/23/2010

AVATAR: How to Learn Na'vi

Jake arrives on Pandora AVATAR fans like to casually use phrases from Na'vi (kaltxì for hello, oel ngati kameie for "I see you"), but there's lots more to the language than just the niceties of saying "hi" or "goodbye." James Cameron commissioned USC communications professor Paul Frommer to construct an entire, grammatically consistent language for Avatar's Na'vi to speak, then teach it to seven of the film's actors, as Frommer told USC News. The fan community has picked that language up with remarkable speed.

Consider that it took many years for Klingon to become popular and well-resourced (the Times of London notes an iPhone app, a language institute and even a Klingon version of Hamlet). Na'vi resources, in contrast, sprang up almost overnight, and today the most popular spot for Na'vi on the Web is Learn Na'vi, which includes links to both a concise Na'vi-English dictionary (PDF but also available as an iPhone app) and Na'vi in a Nutshell (also PDF).

Nutshell can look intimidating at first, but start reading it and you quickly discover some simple distinctions; tsmuk is the word for "sibling," but give it the masculine "an" ending and you get tsmukan or "brother." Similarly, the feminine "e" ending gives you tsmuke or "sister."

Sound good so far? Then you might want to proceed to the Learn Na'vi Forums and especially the Introductions board, where a remarkably well-organized group will get you started reading, writing and speaking Na'vi. There's even an activity book (PDF).

Speaking of speaking, you can begin listening to the language now at Tirea Radio as an aid to your practice, including chats among Tirea members, spoken-words by Paul Frommer, and music from the film. For a 16-second clip of Na'vi dialogue that centers on encountering a giant carnivorous plant, see the New York Times.

As they say on Pandora, Ke zene win säpivi. ’Ivong nìk’ong—Take your time, don't rush; slow is fine.

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Have you tried to learn Na'vi? And what's your favorite phrase?

12/22/2010

More AVATAR Gift ideas

Avatarcalendar This year, James Cameron gave a blue Toyota Prius to each of the principal actors in AVATAR. That might be a little beyond your budget, but if you’re still shopping for the AVATAR fan on your holiday list, here are some ideas for AVATAR-related gifts. Amazon has a wide variety of AVATAR Na’vi collectible figures—including Neytiri ($28.99), the Leonopteryx ($38.99), Dire Horse ($26.99), and, of course, Jake Sully ($19.10). There is also Colonel Miles Quatrich—he’s only $5.70. To win the AVATAR Board Game, you have to be the first Na’vi warrior to collect eight Woodsprite tokens before the RDA destroys the Tree of Souls ($19.95). Fans can see images from AVATAR every day—even at the office—with the AVATAR 2011 Wall Calendar ($8.36 on Amazon), while kids will like the AVATAR reusable sticker book ($6.99). And finally, if your AVATAR fan has been really good, there’s the AVATAR Arcade Pinball Machine, priced at $4,477.50 on Amazon. But it includes free shipping!

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What AVATAR gifts are you giving or getting this year?

Something Blue: AVATAR Weddings

Jake ready for battle Come on, you know you’ve always wanted to have an AVATAR-themed wedding…oh, you haven’t? Well, some fans have. Recently, there came this news: “Enterprising events organisers in natural beauty spot Wu Lingyuan, southern China, are cashing in on the fact that James Cameron used their stunning mountain range as the inspiration for his fantasy planet's floating peaks.” “Every time I look at that photo I chuckle,” writes Slashfilm. “Not only because people actually paid for it, but because the one Na’vi isn’t looking and the other seems to be throwing a gang sign while three pretty girls just smile totally unaware of the fame they’re about to receive.”

So have any of these AVATAR-themed weddings taken place stateside? Earlier this year, Daughter of Design wrote about her Avatar-inspired wedding ideas: “Your officiant would ask you to bond hair-to-hair at which time the groom reveals his ‘ponytail’ from the back of his tux jacket and the bride, maybe have a small strand tied under her hair-do that you can easily release and then recite to each other: ‘Oel ngati kameie’…Supplies: For the ponytail you can either go to a wig shop or costume shop and get one of those Manchu queues or use a strand of black rope. Then just fray the tip a bit and spray paint it white at the one end. Then you need to adhere somehow a strong magnet to both ends so that during the bonding ceremony they'll connect.” Okay. Yeah!

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If you do this at your wedding, let us know!

AVATAR on the iPhone

Avatariphone If AVATAR is the iPhone of movies, the AVATAR iPhone game is the AVATAR of iPhone games.

Not that James Cameron wants people to watch AVATAR on an iPhone—he really, really doesn't, blogs the Huffington Post—but presumably he's been cool with people playing an iPhone game on an iPhone. So here it is: Avatar for the iPhone (and iPod Touch).

The game takes place two decades before the Avatar movie and centers on Capt. Ryan Lorenz, a human who becomes the first AVATAR and, as Macworld tells us, gradually shifts his allegiance toward his new blue buddies. Rest assured that 16 levels leave a lot of room for banshee-versus-Scorpion shoot-'em-ups; see the demo videos here.

Reviewers have given it largely positive reviews, with IGN blogging that the world is richly drawn but the combat a bit one-note and IntoMobile writing that the game's many checkpoints are a lifesaver—literally—in case you need to stop playing suddenly. Pocket Gamer initially disses the game as "Smurfs for adults" but then thoughtfully categorizes the game's strengths (enormous variety) and weaknesses (the iPhone user interface can make accurate jumps difficult, a common reviewer complaint).

AppSpy says frame rates can be low but that's a worthy tradeoff for some of the 3D visuals you'll experience. Gamer Limit has a harder time ignoring the frame-rate slowdown but says the iPhone version is still better, pound for pound, than its console counterpart. iPhone Gamer Blog wrote that you get a ton of content and the action within it is a lot of fun.

AppConsumer has a video review that familiarizes viewers with game set-up and training, saying that there's a lot of running, riding (of direhorses) and flying to be done in this game—and closes by raving that the iPhone game is as epic as the movie.

Have you checked out AVATAR on the iPhone?

12/21/2010

AVATAR Name Generators: Find Your Real Na'vi Name

Wakeup Looking for your real Na'vi name, and not just an adopted Pandora handle like Tsu'tey and Neytiri? Luckily there are some Na'vi name generators out there to help.

There are two kinds of generators, the random kind and the non-random kind. Rum + Monkey has one of the random ones, the Na'vi Name Generator; type in a name like "Paul," enter your gender (Tutean = male while Tutee = female), and the will of Eywa generates the appropriately AVATAR-ish name Tsyal. But the name is linked to its meaning; "Paul" means "small" and if you enter "small," you get Tsyal as well. (See the BabyNameAddicts site to figure out your name's meaning.)

The names are definitely Na'vi-sounding but the assignments are fairly random, rather than Pig Latin plays on people's names; witness that "Obama" becomes Bakteyo and "Bush" becomes Tzmukan. Exception: "Cameron" becomes Taronyu (that's "hunter" to us English-speakers).

This name generator wasn't good enough for Omatikaya, a.k.a. artist Carolyn Rogers, who created the Better Na'vi Name Generator. (It's also hosted on Rum + Monkey—that's the business R+M is in, they're the name-generator generator.) Now when you type in "Paul" you get Aka'ula, which is cooler-sounding if only because it has an exotic-sounding glottal stop.

Neither of these name generators gels yet with the Concise Na'vi Dictionary (PDF here) at Learn Na'vi, which seems pretty authoritative considering they're pushing a Learn Na'vi app. For instance, look up hufwe (Na'vi for wind) in the dictionary, enter "wind" in either name generator above, and you get back either Wor'itan or Adhiguna.

The bottom line is that these are great idea generators without necessarily being ready to translate at a United Nations level of accuracy. Have fun!

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What's your Na'vi name and how did you find it?

More Favorite Avatar Movie Quotes

Avatar trailermash There are lots of memorable Avatar movie quotes. And the more often you see AVATAR, the more quotes you'll find that stay with you. Here are some fan favorites from the original version of the movie – plus a few new ones from the extended cut.

"I told myself I can pass any test a man can pass."—Jake, in voiceover at the start of AVATAR, giving the first hint of the inner toughness that will help him face Pandora's challenges.

"It's my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed. Not with all of you."—Col. Quaritch telling the group of new arrivals (including Jake) that Pandora is an extremely hostile environment.

"You should see your faces!"—Trudy Chacon, flying Jake and Norm on their first tour of the Hallelujah Mountains. Haven't they ever seen million-ton slabs of rock floating in midair before?

"Out there, beyond that fence, every living thing that crawls, flies or squats in the mud wants to kill you and eat your eyes for jujubes."—Col. Quaritch, getting more specific.

"What about this one? Run? Don't run? What?"—Jake, in his avatar body, looking for guidance from Grace. Having just faced down a charging titanothere by standing his ground, Jake turns to find a much more dangerous thanator—and it's ready to pounce.

"Run, definitely run!"—Grace's reply.

"How will I know if he chooses me?"

"He will try to kill you."

"Outstanding."—Jake asking Neytiri how to tell if the ikran (mountain banshee) he's chosen is really his or not. Little does he realize the wrestling match that's about to take place. ...

"Shut up and fly straight!"—Jake to his ikran a few moments later, as he tries to get the hang of communicating with a mountain banshee.

"Today we made a kill, and I ate it. At least I know where that meal came from."

"Other body. You need to take care of this body."—Jake, fresh out of his avatar, being forced to eat packaged food by Grace. [From the extended cut]

"What did happen at the school, Grace?"—Jake, asking why the humans' school for Na'vi was closed. [From the extended cut]

"They set the AMP suit on fire. Driver's toast."—Lyle, describing a Na'vi attack on a mining party. [From the extended cut]

"You're not the only one with a gun, bitch!"—Trudy Chacon, in appropriately Pandoran war paint, as she turns her AT-99 Scorpion gunship against Quaritch's fleet as it attacks Hometree.

"Sometimes your whole life boils down to one insane move."—Jake, just before seeking out a great leonopteryx and becoming toruk makto.

"The aliens went back to their dying home. Only a few were chosen to stay."—Jake in voice-over, as the defeated humans march toward the ship that will take them away from Pandora—for now.

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What's your favorite line from AVATAR and who said it?

12/20/2010

Ultimate AVATAR Fans

IGGY - Neytiri AVATAR enthusiasts take their fandom seriously. Where some fans list their home base as San Diego, others like Ney Taronyu may just assert they live on Pandora. Fans like vee sweat the details of the upcoming sequels. And then there's the makeup, as MTV showed on these New Zealand fans in February 2010.

But possibly the most committed fan of AVATAR is IGGY, a.k.a. Mr. AVATAR, of Edmonton, Alberta and a member of this site. He's also known as the AVATAR Tattoo Guy, and with good reason: He has at least eight AVATAR-related tattoos on him, six of which are Neytiri, according to Geekologie. His license plate reads "NEYTIRI" as well, and the back gate of his pickup sports a montage of AVATAR scenes.

Unreality interviewed IGGY—who with his shirt on looks like anyone else you'd see on the street, and is actually named Raymond Knowles—and found that he's seen the movie over 40 times and counting, and is headed to the gym to sculpt better spaces for future tattoos. That's what total commitment looks like.

Sometimes fandom leaps off the Internet (or your truck) and into society at large, according to Metro: Forestry officials in Hunan Province, China began offering Pandora-themed tours and weddings in the Wulingyuan area, whose peaks inspired AVATAR's Hallelujah Mountains. Unfortunately one of the brides thought the visiting Na'vi (actually forestry workers in costume) were pathetic, according to Digital Spy. Meanwhile, By: Beckett mistakenly thought the two Na'vi in this photo were grooms and wondered where the third woman's husband was.

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How do you like to show the world you're an AVATAR fan?

12/19/2010

AVATAR on Earth: Inspirations for Pandora

Avataronearth You may have noticed that Pandora is a bit like Earth but with lots more neon blue, as the New York Times did. But this alien planet didn't just spring full-formed from James Cameron's imagination; it took lots of inspiration from exotic places on Earth as well—the Congo, New Zealand, Indonesia and elsewhere, as Cameron himself wrote on Parallel Universe.

Cameron also told MTV that growing up in rural Canada and catching anything that moved to study it sparked his interest in the beauty of animals and plants. And thanks to his interest in scuba diving and all things undersea, Cameron is exceptionally well-versed in places and creatures most of us only glimpse in National Geographic.

To see some of those earthly critters, Thewondrous.com has over a dozen side-by-side comparisons of Pandoran fauna and their earthly counterparts—see thanator, think black panther, see helicoradian, think Christmas tree worm.

But let's stay focused on landscapes. There's wide agreement that China's Huangshan mountains inspired AVATAR's Hallelujah Mountains—so savvy tourism officials in Hunan province re-named one of their peaks AVATAR Hallelujah Mountain, blogs DOGONews, while Amusing Planet has some great photos of the spire in question.

The AVATAR Blog posts a photo of someplace on Earth that may have inspired Pandora, but then left us guessing where it is. Luckily io9 reveals it's somewhere in Scotland, which is packed with its own exotic landscapes. Meanwhile Mongabay features a Borneo rainforest photo that's remarkably Pandora-like, especially if you recall the shuttle landing during AVATAR's opening sequence.

Finally, if you thought bioluminescence was just for Pandoran life-forms, Ecorazzi blogs that you should try a night swim in Vieques, Puerto Rico to see how billions of glowing microorganisms light up the night, or head to Angel Falls in Venezuela to see a landscape that looks remarkably like where Jake and Neytiri approach the Banshees.

Click Here Sponsored by Panasonic VIERA. Return to the world of AVATAR in stunning 3D with the Panasonic VIERA Full HD 3D TV.

What places on Earth remind you of Pandora?