If your film is to be perfectly realistic, then a NASA-like design makes sense- but then the anthropomorphic aliens and the floating islands don’t make sense, because they’re not realistic.

If you want a realistic sci-fi film, have realistic (non-anthropomorphic) aliens and worlds.

If you want to admit these unrealistic elements, give your humans more fanciful looking technology- it puts the film in the realm of space opera/fantasy, where our laws of nature don’t necessarily apply.

Personally, I’ve seen a hell of a lot of space opera on screen, and very little hard sci-fi. I’d like to see some of the latter for a change.

By the way, solar sails are a real-world concept. They’ve been exaggerated in some sci-fi, and may never be practical, but the physics is there.

I’m pretty sure the native Na’vi were the ones wearing the tribal outfits- and they’re anatomically identical to the avatars, as near as I could tell.

Is this a space fantasy or a hard science fiction film? The realistic human technology, and the unrealistic environment and aliens are at odds with each other. That’s my problem.

I’m not sure the market for hard sci-fi would be so small- science fiction has become immensely popular and profitable. And hard Sci-Fi isn’t necessarily ABOUT the science, it just respects it. Those who don’t know the science wouldn’t necessarily know the difference.

If it’s pure fantasy, then it’s “Space Magic” and you don’t need to explain it. If it’s SCIENCE fiction, you’ve got nothing. Superconductors repel from magnetic fields- it would have to be Pandora itself (not its parent planet) that had a strong magnetic field to cause superconducting islands to float. But you run right into the law of unintended consequences. To levitate massive islands like that, the magnetic field would have to be so intense as to dramatically effect any ferrous metal on the planet. Any machinery would be dragged toward the nearest magnetic pole- I suspect it would also rip spacecraft right out of orbit.


You raise some interesting points- allow me to think about this out loud.

My feeling about the supposed disparity within the production design can be summarised as this- While I havent seen the finished film, I feel it is primarily a fantasy film, which uses Sci-fi to ground it. A pure fantasy film (especially one so conceptual- and this is) can be inaccesible to a lot of people, unless u have something relatable to anchor it. Does that make sense?

Edit: I just read MasterZaps post after mine and damn if he expresses what I cant:
“Imagine you literally found Alice’s world behind the looking glass”
" If I was taking my steam powered hovership blimp to the floating island, it would be completely unremarkable"

that is exactly the point, exactly.
Star wars has consistent style because its a space opera, Avatar wil work because it begins by grounding it in real, conceivable science, then begins showing you these fantastical elements which occupy the same universe. It sells the concept so much better! Otherwise it just becomes another high-fantasy world where anything can happen and magic abounds and yatta yatta yatta


Actually, I think this exact “collision of style” is Camerons point.

We have our clunky real-worldy totally un-fantasy space technology, totally grounded in the real, and we end up on Pandora, which is like every fantasy world imagined - but it’s there. The “cognitive dissonance” which I think you are feeling isn’t just for us - it’s for the characters in the movie itself; it causes even them to be amazed by the discrepancy.

And I think that is exactly what Cameron is aiming for. If I was taking my steam powered hovership blimp to the floating island, it would be completely unremarkable, but if I actually had to take my Apache helicopter (and use my oxygen mask due to the altitude), it would be much more fantastic.

Imagine you literally found Alice’s world behind the looking glass. And then the army came and wanted to take it away from you. :slight_smile:

[Besides, room temperature superconductivity really could explain the floating island situation, as could any number of exotic natural phenomenon we simply don’t get or even know about due to our narrow minded and limited “science”. The “similar anatomy” could be explained by “life everywhere was seeded by comets” theory, or any other variant that makes us their “very distant cousins” for whatever reason]

Besides, I thin the Mech’s fall on the wrong side of your argument. Mech’s are fantasy, not reality. Mech’s don’t make sense in exactly the same way that blue antropomorphic aliens don’t make sense.

A typical movie-style Mech has so many flaws and logical flaws it’s not even funny. If they can remote control a Na’vi, why can’t they remote control a mech? Seems much more lo-tek :slight_smile: And why two legs and arms that hold a weapon? That’s just ridiculous, and not “real wold tech” at all.

A “real” Mech would be much more like a hybrid between a tank and the submersibles from the Abyss, only most likely remote controlled (why put yourself in harms way?). And certainly, weaponry wouldn’t be “held in it’s arms”, it would be mounted separately.

So you could argue that the existance of Mech’s already put it into “fantasy” territory.



Maybe I was out of line, I don’t know. But for some reason these words seemed a little more then a “review”:

The mechs- well, this is just personal opinion, but I’ve seen hundreds of more interesting, realistic mech designs.

And the aliens are, disappointingly, anthropomorphic to a fault.

they look like Disney characters, only in the flesh.

The ones in “Avatar” would probably fall into the cliché of “Petting Zoo People”:

James Cameron now has the most advanced, revolutionary filmmaking technology at his disposal- he’s spent years talking about how this will let filmmakers create whatever they can imagine- and he gives us aliens that are only SLIGHTLY more different from humans than Klingons are. I am disappointed, to say the least.

I look forward to seeing how that plays out, even if I find the visuals disappointing.

I think its just the fact that I don’t believe James Cameron is sitting there himself drawling these characters and idea’s up. Seems like designers, CG artists etc come up with idea’s from their creativity and wait for approval. Maybe I have my thoughts totally off and I apologize if I do but it just seemed more critique then warranted.


I found these comments on YouTube. They seem legit but let’s remain sceptical… I Found them there, it’s basically a review of Avatar Day: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GyZ21z5TGYE

I’ve got a buddy working on this and he’s said that the security on the footage in-house is ridiculous. No one knows if what they’re compositing is going to be used or not, but that there are at least two different versions of each set of rendered footage he’s worked on, a “shiny” version and a “matte” version.

The “shiny” version is what we saw on Preview Day, and what he’s worked on. He hasn’t seen any “matte” footage, but has heard that photorealistic is an understatement.

James Cameron is holding back. He said the new renders look stunning from when they started. He also said that no one has seen the new renders yet. The film is holding back big time…

The rumor that the new renders are even better is not false, it comes from this interview with James Cameron: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/herocomplex/2009/08/james-cameron-the-new-trek-rocks-but-transformers-is-gimcrackery.html

And it’s a tribute to how much Weta Digital down in New Zealand has been able to evolve the state of the art beyond their own expectations at the beginning of the film. In fact we’re seeing a difference now between some of the first stuff they turned in a year ago and what we’re getting now. What we’re getting now is actually better.

GB: Your reputation is as a perfectionist, does that mean you need to re-do some early stuff?

JC: No I don’t think you’ll ever feel the diminishment as you go through the movie. But we’ll see a scene that was an earlier scene in process and they look great, but a newer stuff is stunning. And that stuff we haven’t even showed anyone yet. We’re just getting it in now. I’m about to head over to a Weta review right now, I’ll probably spend the next four hours in there reviewing stuff, and I look forward to it every day. When we unpack these shots, sometimes our jaws just drop at the verisimilitude to the actors. And that’s what thrills me most. I’m kind of over all the design stuff. That was the first two years. I’m kind of used to that stuff now, the floating mountains and thousand-foot trees. But when I see Sam Worthington captured exactly at a critical-performance moment – that still gets me.


Simon thanks for the Youtube links.
I’m a little drawn back by such a tech emphasis. Seemingly many feel that’s whats key or most important in the trailer. So I’ll ask - CG for the sake of CG?

I would really like to believe Cameron will switch gears soon and focus on disclosing an equally impressive if not epic story to match the CG 3D tech promotions. I feel like some of those youtube reviews border on talking about the latest CryTech or Id Tek5 engine. Do I need to upgrade my video card before I see this movie and is 8 GB enough system memory? :smiley: Ok jk. 4 months to go. Anything can happen.


In all honesty, I’m pretty confident that it’s going to be a great movie with a nice story. I like James Cameron’s films. I know that people just talk about the CGI but unfortunately it’s one of the selling points for this movie… People, myself included, tend to be interested by visual effects when photorealism is the desired goal. It’s simply appealing.

We’re the video games generation, that made us graphics whore…:smiley:


let’s see if he can top titanic, terminator 2 and aliens…


What’s pointless is insulting people for discussing and criticizing films (and the visual effects they contain) in a forum dedicated to doing exactly that.

No, the primary point of these forums is not to discuss and criticize films. This forum is for doing the side point you have in brackets.

Good entertainment combines exciting action with inventive visuals, and compelling characters and situations.

No, good entertainment is whatever it is to each individual.

There’s a quote by movie reviewer James Rocchi that applies here: “I can’t shut my brain off and have fun, anymore than I could rip out my tongue and enjoy a meal, because my brain is where I feel fun.”

That’s a silly statement. ‘Shutting off your brain’ has nothing to do with turning off your ability to think. In this context it has to do with accepting a film (and it’s universe) for what it is. In other words, you let the avatar universe define what’s true (and accept it), not you define what’s true for the Avatar universe. Obviously there are limits to this, but someone who ‘shuts off their brain’ is someone that generally gives the universe being presented the benifit of the doubt.

But NASA-like spacecraft, floating islands, and uncannily anthropomorphic aliens don’t seem to belong in the same universe with each other.

Yeah, sorry, I’m not convinced by your reasoning. You sound like a guy who has simply set a bunch of expectional flaming hoops for this film to jump through, and whatever the rules are that define those hoops, they seem to be down to your personal preference more than anything else.



I’m not going to ask again. This isn’t a bloody kindergarten, people.


Yeh, I’d say he has little to worry about if his biggest competitor is himself.


Well, i’m excited to see the 15min preview as well as the whole film, but im still underwhelmed and a bit shocked by this trailer.

And if, as JC claims, the REAL renders look so much better then im a bit perplexed as to why he wouldnt show them. Or at least some of them. I mean, hes bigged this film and its cgi so much, then releases a half assed trailer…i dont get it.

What’s the point of putting (non cgi) people off a film 4 months before it comes out. My fiancee was excited about Avatar since i went on and on about it. And when she watched it she said , “…this looks rubbish”…And i have a feeling a LOT of people thought the same thing last friday.

But since so many people have said that it looked amazing on IMAX and the fact that JC is a fantastic filmmaker, i still am positive that it will be an amazing experience.

This trailer was not good though. Not in my opnion at least. All i could think of was Delgo all the way through.


If any of you missed out the preview, here’s the chance for redemption:

But it won’t beat a IMAX screen, that’s for sure.


Actually he said the recent renders looked better.

Now the quetion is, if they make a breakthrough, quality wise, do you think they will go back and re-render already finalled shots? I really doubt this. I mean, look at the clock. There are only so many days left…



I saw the 15 minutes preview and i’m not impressed. i think it’s the worst animation i ever saw. i could imagine the hard work from all the people involved but the results are painful. polar express blows this graphics out of the water. and it’s a 5 years old movie. i think the navi look like they have down syndrome or something like that. the face movments are stiff and unnatural, the body mocap a complete failure.

 I saw the 15 minutes preview and i'm not impressed. i think it's the worst animation i ever saw. i could imagine the hard work from all the people involved but the results are painful. polar express blows this graphics out of the water. and it's a 5 years old movie. i think the navi look like they have down syndrome or something like that. the face movments are stiff and unnatural, the body mocap a complete failure.

LOL,…i’m not sure we’ve looked the same 15 minutes.
The polar express reference made my day.
Funniest post ever.


Exactly… In case anyone would like to know, the movie begins

[spoiler]with a dystopian version of the Earth about 180 years into the future - an overpopulated, overpolluted, dying, grey planet. Even the human technology’s appearance is designed to fit into this dull, grim setting, with no energy weapons or space travel at light speed - in order to create a contrast with the wonders of the navi’s world.[/spoiler]


Damn! James Cameron, Weta with some already legendary guys on the team…
So I do know there ain’t no solid reason for those aliens/matrix APU gears, those “WOW generation” aliens…
I really wonder what the story line is about. All we see in this trailer is not there for no intelligent reason hun? I’m very impatient (actually have been waiting like 4 years or something? ^^) to finally see the movie. That makes me even more curious about the film. Like it is a real surprise, not what an old school fan could expect. Which is really cool!

So why? Why did they chooses this way, this style… ???

Is something around this : real/unreal, virtual world, immersion like in the Fahrenheit451 book - Avalon movie… Or will it be a bounce after Abyss statement? Or just a one more marines against extraterrestrial entertaining killthemall sequel? Nah… must be something. Damn I’m so curious!

Wonder how it’ll work with 3d view system. =D At least better than The Creature from the Black Lagoon ^^


Just one thing…

[spoiler]Actualy, they are using the same tech to control the mech, which is why the mech has the same number of limbs and a separate weapon.[/spoiler]


Are you kidding, it looks like the whole story is in the trailer!

(the list below is only based on the trailer, I haven’t read anything about the movie)

[li]Humans land on new planet (like Columbus in America), main character is in wheelchair.[/li][li]They catch some local “animals”, main character has his mind transferred to one of them (hence the title Avatar)[/li][li]Running around as an alien, main character falls in love with female local[/li][li]Main character sides with aliens, as human military invades planet[/li][/ul]Only remaining questions are, who dies, and do they fight off the invasion…

Planet Terra meets Pocahontas.

  • jonas