Avatar earns $232.2m in opening weekend

2yll3tl.jpg That's the biggest ever for a non-sequel. It earned $73m in the U.S, the rest abroad. The LA Times points out that many on the east coast were snowed in by the worst blizzard in a decade, and that it's yet to open in China and Japan. Subhead of the day, however, goes to Reuters: "BLUE PEOPLE WOW CRITICS."


  1. Looking forward to seeing this and enjoying the visuals, although I don’t expect to be surprised by the storyline at all.

  2. I enjoyed it, visuals and polish of the movie are really something.

    The story is good enough to not bring the movie down.

    This is the 2001 A Space Odessey for my generation, just wish I had some LSD

  3. Wow, that’s a whole lot of numbers and verbage that leaves my brain feeling tired… without telling me anything I want to know about this movie.

    Kind-of like those political stories that have everything to say how about how rich the candidates are, but nothing to say about their ideas.

    C’mon, BB- isn’t there someone out there who can say something substantial about Avatar without spoiling it? This is the kind of story I expect to find in USA Today.

    1. I found the characters and story of Avatar completely engaging, in addition to the sumptuous visual feast. No, it is not going to surprise you with the plot, but it does tap into classic archetypes without feeling trite or overplayed. Cameron does an excellent job of merging fantasy with action to make a film that I found moving and thoroughly enjoyable.

  4. There’s nothing much else to say about Avatar:
    1 – Expect trully amazing visual experience
    2 – Don’t expect much from the plot

    What BB brings is that the world audience is loving Avatar, because of what the movie is: groundbreaking!

  5. I haven’t seen it, not sure that I care to. Feels too fantasy and not enough sci fi (it almost feels like stormtroopers vs ewoks). Are there any theatres showing it in non-3d (or can you watch the 3D without the glasses without that weird blue/red halo effect?)? For one thing, I imagine the ticket will be cheaper for a regular 2D showing, and I’ve read, the 3D effects actually induce nausea in some people (also 3D in films is just silly, oh look they’re reaching out at the audience, oh duck they’re shooting lasers at us, meh)

    1. (also 3D in films is just silly, oh look they’re reaching out at the audience, oh duck they’re shooting lasers at us, meh)

      The 3D is actually done more “tastefully” (if that’s the right word) than traditional gimmicky 3D movies…it’s just used to give a feeling of greater depth going into the screen, I didn’t notice any examples of things seeming to break the “wall” of the screen and pop out at the viewer, at least not to any significant degree. A lot of the time I completely forgot I was watching a 3D movie.

      The plot wasn’t anything special but it was engaging, along the lines of other fun popcorn sci-fi movies like Jurassic Park or the original Star Wars trilogy. And there was so much detail put into the alien world that it had a really immersive feel (also, the motion capture technology totally captured the nuances of the actors’ performances, often my brain was tricked into thinking I was watching actors in prosthetics…this may be remembered as the first mocap movie to escape the uncanny valley, although part of that may have been that they used humanoid aliens rather than trying to create CG humans like in all those Zemeckis movies)

  6. Took my daughter to see it today. The 3D was the best I’ve ever seen, period. The visuals were fantastic, and occasionally awe inspiring. The plot was nothing new, but still enjoyable.

  7. I thought it was a great example of the minimum you need to do to make a great movie. The characters weren’t that complex, but they were complex enough to be believable. The plot was simple, unsurprising and straightforward and moved along in a believable, logical manner. The action scenes were great, nothing new but they were exciting and easy to follow. Basically all the supporting bits were there, competently done and nothing was so jarringly bad it took me out of the movie. Then you take that and smother it in the delicious, delicious gravy of the most jaw dropping visuals I’ve ever seen on film; scenes that are complex without being cluttered, fantastically designed without feeling fake, a 3D element that was the first I’ve seen that truly added to the experience and with just enough emotional connection to give them a real hook into your gut- That adds up to a great movie.

  8. Does anyone remember the 1993 computer game “Quantum Gate”? The basic idea seems quite similar to Avatar; human soldiers battle a primitive culture on an alien planet to get some rare mineral.

  9. http://io9.com/5422666/when-will-white-people-stop-making-movies-like-avatar?skyline=true&s=x

    The above article expresses exactly why I do not plan on seeing Avatar. So far, every fan of it has told me “ignore the story; what matters is the CG.” Sorry, but I don’t spend money at the theatre to see a tech demo, especially one that’s based around the same racist fantasy Hollywood has churned out over and over again. I’ll wait until something well written makes good use of the technology developed for this one.

    1. I keep seeing “Dances With Wolves in Space” bits, but having never seen that, I walked out of the theater thinking that it was like Princess Mononoke in space. A little different, but I think it gets the dynamic between humans and aliens a bit better than the Dances With Wolves comparison.

      But at the same time, there is no original plot waiting to be plucked up. It’s all about how you tell the story. I think of it as being similar to Harry Potter. Sure, the dialogue is filled with cliches and the major plot points can be seen coming miles away (I think I actually knew everything that was going to happen in Avatar in the first thirty minutes). Regardless, if you tell that story in an entertaining fashion, people will enjoy it. Avatar just has this incredible enthusiasm behind it (just like Harry Potter, really), and it really shows in the performances and direction. It’s not Citizen Kane, but it’s an absolutely wonderful popcorn movie. I had fun, and I had forgotten how much fun you’re supposed to have when you’re watching movies.

      The 3D made me a little nauseous, though.

  10. I thought it was visually stunning, and the 3D was done really well, even if I did get the occasional loss of scope due to having astigmatism. Remember those disk picture viewers you may have used as a little kid- exploring underground or fairy realms, etc? The 3D was more about depth into the picture rather than stuff shooting out at you. The animation quality was so nearly perfect that you forgot at times that it was all CG.

    I would have done the end a little different, because I think that in the final conflict the blues would have been a little smarter about how they approached their enemy (especially in some scenes), but it did propel the story forward as needed.

    1. Re: how do the 3-D glasses work with regular glasses

      I’ve been told that in some larger metro areas, there are special versions available that go over regular glasses. If they don’t have these available in your area, be prepared for a world of pain (in my experience trying to watch Coraline in the theater).

      1. Avatar was awesome…

        Reply to #19: The 3d glasses use circularly polarized light to block each eye a bunch of times per second. You can tilt your head or whatever. The parallax effect doesn’t depend on how far away from you the glasses are, although it probably won’t really work if it’s not covering enough of each eye. You can probably just put them over your glasses however they’ll fit.

        To #21: There isn’t anything using this 3d online because crts and lcds don’t have the ability to use circularly polarized light yet. Somebody could probably develop something, but there’s nothing yet.

      2. Well depends on the glasses. The ones I got for Coraline were small disposables, and didn’t fit too well over my current glasses. But Avatar used larger reusable heavy ones, with bigger lenses to boot, sat well comfortably for the 3 hour session.
        Also to the guy who says he isn’t watching it because of the plot, I’m guessing isn’t having much fun since nothing is deep enough for him.

    2. They worked well with my glasses (complete surprise on a couple levels, because I didn’t even realize I was paying admission into a 3D movie until they handed me the plastic glasses — it was a very pleasant surprise).

  11. A mate wore his glasses over his normal glasses and had no complaints. That is in Oz.

    And yes, the flick is a bit like one of those stereoscopes.

  12. I really didn’t care for Avatar at all. The plot was trite and predictable, the characters were rehashed from earlier James Cameron movies. The special effects were unnecessary and the 3-D made me nauseated.

    It goes without saying that I didn’t actually go SEE it, but I’m not going to let that stop me from having a strong opinion about it…

  13. The eye candy was awesome. The character development was a little weak…at one point the antagonist accuses the protagonist of losing perspective because he got “a little tail”, and the protagonist doesn’t say anything. I got the impression of “well, yeah”. That and the fact that he could run and jump and fish. That being said, I thought the romance was tasteful and believable. There is a bit of deus ex machina at the end, but it’s not too bad. Overall, very polished, good flow, and a phenomenal experience in 3D. My friend has a fear of heights and felt too nauseous to continue watching once the aerial scenes started, and had to leave, which was too bad. I suggested some meclizine/dramamine and he’s going to try that and try to see it again in the theater. Definitely a movie to see in the theater vs. renting or downloading.

  14. i’ve managed to see it twice already, once 2d and once 3d, and the 3d is definitely immersive and not gimmicky. either way, though? fucking. gorgeous.

    also, yes you can see the plot points coming long before they happen. on the second viewing, though, i of course knew the whole film with certainty, and nothing struck me as glib or foul, stultifying or preachy. all played out like clockwork, and that’s okay.

    i don’t know that this kind of spectacle-centric filmmaking is a good candidate for subtlety in story. can’t a thing be pretty sometimes? i don’t feel like every film that fails to fully tickle the brain ought to be viewed as some kind of wasted opportunity.

  15. I can’t do the 3D glasses – because of a short muscle in my right eye that pulls it in, gives me a sort of double vision.So 3D isa headache inducing waste of time for me.

    Sounds like this movie, at a cost of 300 mil to make, has yet to break even. That, and the trailer looked like every WoW and elf styled fantasy game Ive ever seen. So not into that.

  16. I really liked it. So the plot doesn’t contain any “OMG Tyler Durden IS the other guy!” But I think the context, the fictive universe, is actually REALLY well thought out, I can’t remember any flaws or discrepancies, which is really rare when such a big epos is filled from sratch, I really like how the difference between human air and alien air coincides with the rendered/filmed barriere, The whole avatar concept is an exceptional synergy between contents and form. The moment in Avatar where they walk out of the spaceship and this slightly different more blueisch air comes into the ship was a very nice illustration of this. And then the world itself, with such a consistent set of anatomy and linguistics and geography. A masterpiece I think. And the story is straight and big and Greek in magnitude. And the 3d just sucks you right in.

  17. Are there any theatres showing it in non-3d (or can you watch the 3D without the glasses without that weird blue/red halo effect?)?

    Movie theaters haven’t used red/blue style 3D since the 80s. All the 3D movies shown in theaters since about 2003 have used circular polarization glasses, which don’t have the same weird color flicker as the red/blue glasses.

  18. is it too much to ask for something that’s an alleged technological breakthrough to not phone in the story? I mean, “Unobtanium?” That’s the best you can do? Listening to NPR review the story aspect made my skin crawl.

    Also, it would be much easier for me to let a bad story slide if James Cameron didn’t feel the need to talk up his own awesomeness every chance he gets.

  19. I went to watch it in IMAX on the second night with my wife and sister in law.

    Visually it’s absolutely beautiful – but – IMAX 3d had some serious issues keeping up with the action. What I mean is, during fast paced action scenes things would blur together a bit and leave you unable to focus on the screen (IMAX has ghosting issues). This was an issue because much of AVATAR involves fast-paced action. This might not be as much of an issue in REALD or dolby 3d, I haven’t tried them with this movie (although if they are “clearer” I would highly suggest watching the movie there instead of an IMAX). Honestly it was enough to break the spell for me, I was having a hard time being sucked in when everything went blurry every time someone started running fast.

    That said, plenty of the movie was fine and absolutely beautiful unlike anything I have ever seen.

    The plot though? Ferngully. I swear, Ferngully. Watch ferngully before you go to this movie and you will quite literally laugh at the similarity, the only thing it’s missing is the tarry smokey monster. It’s almost the same exact movie, only with marines and 10 feet tall blue people (instead of 10 inches tall). It’s like James Cameron took fern gully and said “look, I want to spend 300 million dollars remaking this movie in live-action, and just-different enough that we won’t get sued doing it”.

    MINOR SPOILER AHEAD (nothing really said, but I dont want anyone annoyed at the slightest hint of plotline here)

    I also might be the only one who feels this way, but toward the end I was kinda rooting for the bad*** marine. The movie takes a very anti-human stance and I was getting a bit sick of it toward the end. I had a hard time sympathizing with the blue people while they are ripping off human heads, even if we did start it.

  20. I thought it was great. A couple of things that have already been addressed:

    1) Science fiction? No, really more fantasy/space opera in the Star Trek sense; the actual science is minimal and Cameron feels free to abandon it in favor of cool visuals. How do the floating mountains float? Is it all the unobtanium in them? Who cares? It looks really, really cool. Similarly, don’t ask how the (unexplained) transmissions between the original bodies and the avatars work in that floating-mountain range where no other signals can penetrate. The movie sort of dares you not to suspend disbelief.

    2) The plot is basically on the level of The Lion King, but serviceable.

    1. “2) The plot is basically on the level of The Lion King, but serviceable.”

      More like Space Pocahontas:

  21. They wanted to call it Xeni, but they couldn’t get clearance. Hence, unobtanium.

    I believe this film takes place in the same universe as Aliens and The
    Company will prove to be Weyland-Yutani. Awesome film.

    My next visit will be to the 2D screening. I thought the 3D was great, but it
    distracted me from the story a few times

  22. This movie is a visual orgy. you can watch it 5 times over and see some small detail in the background that you didn’t see before. The way a plant reacts when touched or walked by, the way they use the computer consoles, skin texture and lighting, all this was done in great thought and detail.

    The Story line is standard but at the same time there is not one part that you will find yourself bored wondering how much longer is the movie. They managed to keep the story going for the full 2 hours and 40 minutes.

    It is hard to discribe this movie without giving out spoilers, even explaining visiual effects is a spoiler for this movie. The best thing to do is go watch it, there is bound to be somthing for everyone to enjoy about it.

  23. South Park totally ruined this film for me. I just can’t bring myself to watch it without thinking about Cartman and Smurfs and their SmurfBerries.

  24. (possible spoilers ahead?)

    I’m absolutely amazed that people like this movie. Seriously, I know the visuals were great. Video games have great visuals. I go to MOVIES because I want to experience a story, and I’ve seen this particular story in whole or part at least a dozen times. If you’ve played Halo or seen the Matrix or spent time with any sort of Japanese cartoons, you’ve seen all the army toys… if you’ve seen Dances with Wolves or The Last Samauri, you know the plot… You’ve seen this particular depiction of “the native folk” – their body language, their rituals, their clothing, their makeup, their intonation, their coming-of-age rituals, their witch doctors, their social structures, their male-controlled “choose-your-woman” gender relations, their one-with-natureness, their fundamental helplessness and need to be saved by a white man – in every Hollywood movie ever… All the animals Cameron created with the much-hyped hiring of a team of biologists follow fundamental earth archetypes – wolves, lions, horses, lemurs… um… dragons – and just add some extra legs/eyes/nostrils/wings. You’ve already seen the montage where someone learns how to do something incredibly difficult and complicated that takes a lifetime of study in about 12 minutes (or three months in real time, which still isn’t very long). The flora was amazing, but I don’t usually go to action movies for the flora, and anyway, I live in Costa Rica, and we’re not short of amazing flora. OK, I’m being harsh. Maybe I’m overreacting. “It’s just a movie,” etc. ad nausium. But I would not be writing this if there were not so many respectable movie critics raving about this warmed-over, derivative piece of mediocrity. I think what really bothers me is that there are creative people out there that could do mind-blowing things if you gave them 10 years and a blank check. But for some reason, our culture has decided to swallow the marketing and absolutely gush over this… garbage. Remember Titanic? yeah, me neither. In five years, no one’s going to be talking about Avatar either.

  25. “unobtainium” just filtered through my brain. That alone is so god- awful that I think I will never see this movie if I have a choice. Simply put, that’s the kind of thing that seems clever for about 3 seconds- after which time it should be thrown out of a window for the sake of all.

    And definitely anything touted as being “the future of movies” shouldn’t have that sort of hackery in it. Pretty much portends bad, bad things in the rest of the writing. Best CGI in the world won’t make bad writing any less glaring in my book (Transformers had good CGI as well. It’s writers should all hang their heads in shame though)

  26. Did anyone else think Jake Sully’s avatar looked like Brendan Fraser? I found that so distracting.. and weird.

  27. Saw this beautiful movie at the Camarillo Imax and didn’t want it to end. Reminds me of DMT and Little Big Man.
    After the movie ended and tears were dried, I heard viewers attempting to intellectualize the story sounding absurd and overwhelmed- everybody’s a critic-defending and containing their inner child.
    Watch the movie and let go.

  28. “unobtainium” was the one clunker in the whole 2 hours 40+ whatever minutes. I’m not into movies for effects or fight scenes, but this was a whole new level of immersive film. Whatever you might say, this film has set the new standard of 3D films and everything now will be rated against it.
    …At least until Alice in Wonderland 3D comes out next year which happened to be trailered at our screening of Avatar … now I’ve seen the trailer in 3D I understand where it’s coming from… and can’t wait!!

  29. “This is the 2001 A Space Odessey for my generation”

    If Avatar is your generation’s 2001, then in my humble opinion, you got robbed.

  30. Really? Genocide and corporate terror campaigns are “passibly” interesting, “tired”, “serviceable” plot elements? Nice.

  31. My opinion? Great movie. The plot was a little trite and could have been handled with more subtlety and complexity, but there was nothing really wrong with it. The marine guy was over the top, but was really entertaining.

    The movie, with a little imagining and reading-between-the-lines, was actually pretty hard SF – consciousness uploading, planet-wide biological networks, etc.

    The CGI wasn’t perfect, but it was easily the most expressive and realistic I’ve seen in such quantity. The Na’vi successfully avoided the uncanny valley problem and were engaging, individual characters.

    The 3D was impressive. Mostly very subtle with no “comin’ atcha!” gimmicks – just a realistic, immersive experience (particularly in IMAX 3D). At one point, I stopped noticing it was in 3D – it just became normal in some sense. Like, “Of course the movie has depth, just like real life.”

    The plot was certainly derivative of lots of literary SF, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing – at least he ripped off (or covered the same ground as) the good stuff, from John Carter of Mars, through Tarzan, Dune, Elfquest, Titan, Speaker for the Dead, The Live Ship Traders and Soldier’s Son books by Robin Hobb, and many others.

    To a friend who dismissed it as Dances With Wolves, I said that I liked Dances with Wolves and Avatar was Dances With Wolves with spaceships, alien planets, cool creatures, battle armor, dragons fighting gunships, floating mountains, and exploding things and all in glorious 3D – what’s not to like?

  32. Also, ‘unobtainium’ didn’t bother me a bit and, judging from the number of my acquaintances who have already seen in multiple times while stoned or under other mind-altering substances, the “2001” analogy may not be far off…

  33. Watching 2001 while stoned does not make it equivalent to Avatar any more than listening to a Beethoven symphony while stoned makes it equivalent to Britney Spears.

    I’m not passing judgment on Avatar, which I haven’t seen. But I know enough about it to know that it’s a space opera that relies heavily on whiz-bang eye candy. If that’s what people like, that’s OK by me.

    But if it’s your generation’s 2001, then in my humble opinion, you got robbed.

    2001 was intellectual speculation on the grandest scale. Not space opera.

    1. I knew what you meant – that was a joke on my part.

      2001 remains one of the best “real” science fiction movies ever made, but compared to the wealth and depth of ideas in written science fiction, even it’s pretty simplistic. The plot and most of it’s implications can be summed up in a paragraph.

      I’m not saying Avatar approaches that level of SF, but it’s much less space opera than Star Wars. It is eye candy wrapped around a set of archetypical plot elements, but the ideas are at least somewhat mentally engaging and it doesn’t require a total suspension of disbelief to enjoy. Above all, it is enjoyable if you don’t become some jaded and cynical that you can’t enjoy it.

      Certainly the “science” in Avatar’s SF is better than Star Trek (pretty much any of the incarnations) or Battlestar Galactica (thanks to the sucky conclusion that screwed up the SF cred it had established). That said, BSG (and Trek, for that matter) certainly handled more complex personal, social, political, and theological issues in a more thoughtful manner. There are always tradeoffs.

      On a scale of 1-10, I’d give it an 11 for ambition, a 10 for spectacle and entertainment value, and a 9 for total execution.

    2. But if it’s your generation’s 2001, then in my humble opinion, you got robbed.

      –pulls pin–

      2001 is just a movie about a manic spaceship.


    3. The people who lay scorn on the film, and then go on to claim that the income this film has earned is evidence of the low standards and intelligence of the populace at large are, honestly, just being brazenly arrogant and misanthropic. The need shown here to feel, and deliberately present oneself as, being inherently superior to the majority of moviegoers is a lot more of a problem than how much money an interesting and pretty film earns.

      “words words words words words you are inferior to me words words words words” … is that really necessary? Why bookend that with criticism at all? Cut to the point of the comment and just talk about how awesome you feel you are to save space?

  34. You know, just once I’d like to see a movie which depicts the primitive people as *people* – people lacking in social technologies, who therefore have a 30% rate of violent death, forced marriage, high infant mortality, silly superstitions, and women dying during labour.

    Yes, yes, colonialism was racist and evil – we get it. But pretending that racial group X has a culture that’s inherent to their blood, and that it’s natural for them to live on reservations with stone age technology, is just as racist and possibly more damaging.

    Also, Unobtanium? Lick me.

    1. I didn’t notice any primitive people in Avatar. The Na’vi are clearly quite advanced, with a clear and realistic understanding of the world they live in and an intentional social structure and belief system designed to create and encourage a specific lifestyle.

      It reminds me a bit of the wizened old forest shaman I saw on a nature show. He as much as said that a very big chunk of what he did was for show, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t an important part of their culture, which in turn was critical to keeping them alive.

  35. So far I’ve heard this compared to “Lion King”, “Pocahontas”, “Dances with Wolves”, and “Fern Gully”. Given those aren’t quite the same, I’m guessing that while the basic idea may not be original, it’s not exactly one particular plot that’s been done before. I’ll have to wait until I have a chance to see it to find out for sure, of course.

  36. Dances With Smurfs.

    “They must stop killing the trees, or the sun will eat our air.” – from The Forbidden Dance (1990).

    What this movie needs is moar Lambada. And Sid Haig. The latter is true of any movie.

  37. I enjoyed it. I could see the plot coming before walking into the theater, and given the huge amount of good sci-fi material that’s been written I’d rather have seen a better story (maybe a derivative of the Uplift series would work well with this technology), but honestly, most movies I’ve seen that are vaguely sci-fi have a weak plot and rely on visual effects, action or horror to make them interesting. So a movie with fantastic visual effects and great action that also has a solid plot, even if it’s a recycled Hero’s Journey, is okay with me.

    I thought the Unobtainum reference was a funny lampshade. The name and the grand total of about 5 seconds of screen time tell you that it’s background, an externality the details of which are unnecessary to story at hand. If it were a novel, a TV series or a long mini-series they’d have to explain why it was so important to Earth’s survival, but that would take screen-time away from more important elements.

    I would like to have gotten more background on what had happened to Earth to put it in such a desperate situation.

    Also I thought the movie didn’t do a good job of showing how the natives securing of the planet was going to affect Earth, or why Earth wouldn’t be able to drop rocks on their heads from orbit to sterilize the place. Presumably the supply of Unobtainium is critical to Earth’s ability to do major space missions (it’s central to inertia-mitigating technology?) and so, having lost control of the supply they’d have no way to mount an offensive of sufficient strength to retake the planet.

    I hated 2001. Boring, slow, and very unsatisfying. Worse than a Stephen King novel; at least you can hold a door open with those. I’d rather suffer through Creepazoids or Terror Vision again than have to sit through 2001.

  38. Were you impressed by the dialogue in Terminator? It only got worse in 2. God help me for wasting two hours watching 3. Titanic? Aliens? The Abyss? Rambo 2? The man is all about special effects at the expense of sympathetic characters and rich plot development.

    Then again, a $232m opening weekend tells me that a pile of movie-goers don’t give a rats ass about watching a truly good movie.

    Anon@3: I didn’t think I’d live long enough to see Kubric compared to a hack like Cameron as though they are somehow equals. They’re not. If you’re making this comparison, then you probably haven’t actually watched 2001 or any other Kubric movie.

    1. I didn’t watch Terminator 3 because it didn’t look very interesting to me but I do know that it’s unfair to blame Cameron for the shortcomings of a movie he didn’t write, produce or direct.

      Then again, a $232m opening weekend tells me that a pile of movie-goers don’t give a rats ass about watching a truly good movie.

      If you watched all the movies you’re bitching about then you’re as much a part of Cameron’s success as any of us.

  39. The problem with the 3D technology used in Avatar can be easily explained to anyone who understands how cameras work (versus the human eye).

    The human eye sees infinite depth of field, akin to a camera’s f/22 aperture setting or so. That means you can choose to focus your eye on any object from right in front of your face on out to infinity. If you focus close, the things in the background become fuzzy. But if you want to focus in the distance, you just readjust your eyes and boom, whatever’s in the distance is in focus.

    Avatar could have been shot in the equivalent of f/22, but it wasn’t. Instead, the cinematographer used a blend of older camera techniques with the new 3D technology. And that blend didn’t work at all.

    By choosing to set the camera to a wide open aperture, like f/2.8, in many scenes the cinematographer brought the subject of into focus, while throwing the things that were too far away or too close out of focus. Unlike with the human eye, the recorded image is permanent.

    What that meant was that while you might have a sharp view of the actors in the middle distance, whatever 3D effect (such as a magic seed pod) that happened to be floating right in front of you *would be out of focus*. No matter how you adjust your eyes, the magic seed pod remains out of focus, because it was recorded out of focus to begin with.

    This is not how the human eye actually works and thus it (a) gave me a headache and (b) seriously interfered with my enjoyment of the movie. Moreover, any time the editor decided to make a quick cut, the lag time necessary to identify what *distance* as well as what *sector* of the screen to look at for the action was often greater than the amount of time that scene would take to play out. As a result, you’re always looking in the wrong place, and half the movie winds up being viewed out of focus and fuzzy. This was especially problematic during the battle scenes any time something came “close” to the viewer. (When the action is all off in the middle distance, these problems recede because everything is basically in focus).

    If a movie were to be filmed in true 3D, the cinematographer would need to abandoned the old pull-focus techniques and just shoot in f/22 or tighter the whole time, letting the audience decide what object to focus on. While it might cost something artistically, it would make the 3D experience more immersive and above all less annoying.

    Finally, the lenses used in the cheapo throwaway glasses are really crap. With fine optics, like $200 sunglasses, a hell of a lot of research goes into making the lens optically correct, so it will not distort the image from one side of your vision to the other. The glasses I received in the theater were the equivalent of $5 gas station cheapies and everything was swimmy as a result–like looking through an old windowpane.

    Bottom line: the technology may be there, but the glasses must be improved, and the cinematographers need to adapt, before 3D will become truly viable.

  40. We saw the movie over the weekend. I absolutely loved it, IMO it’s a magnificent movie. The plot isn’t one that would stun a person, but it balances well and is enjoyable. The planet they created is astounding, absolutely astounding. If you do not go see it I firmly believe you are doing yourself an enormous disservice.

  41. Visuals: 5/5
    Story: 2.5/5

    “Dances with Smurfs” anyone? Also, they could have spent some of the $300 million to teach Sigourney Weaver how to use a pipette. Hint: it’s not held sideways like a gangsta scientist. And that’s not mentioning that the pipette she used in the movie (set in 2154) is exactly like pippettes from 2009.

  42. Just saw Avatar. What a leaden, offensive bore. Visually, it’s packed with self-conscious details designed to show off how “creative” the filmmakers are with their fancy 3D technology. I very rarely found myself awed by this over-designed movie. The lead actor’s a bore, and even Sigourney Weaver gives a flat performance.

    The plot is predictable, racist, pseudo-liberal Hollywood claptrap. White guy comes in to show the pure, unspoiled natives how to fight back; this is supposed to be an “anti-war” movie? If it’s anti-imperialist, why not show the evil empire (U.S.A.) destroying the forest and bombing the natives? That’s how it happens in real life. The natives never win, they just get decimated. But I guess a deeper story with real bite would make it a lot harder for American viewers to ignore their own complicity in the ecocide and imperialism the movie is supposedly condemning.

    For my money, every Pixar movie does a better job of world building than Avatar, and with so much less pretension. God, what a director like Peter Jackson or Alfonso Cuaron could have done with this material…!

  43. Ack! I just noticed I had replied to Kibble, but didn’t mean to.

    I wasn’t singling any one person out, and Kibble’s comment wasn’t even related to what I meant to say. Sorry Kibble!

  44. I saw the movie and could honestly say this is one of the best science fiction movies a had ever seen today love it!!… Very entertaining good story good action , i just like it a lot … it was worth every single penny and dollar i spend… i recommend every one of you o see it.. Its to good to explain it just see it..you wont regret it!!

  45. Someone mentioned “Dances With Wolves”.
    My favorite review of that movie went along the lines of ..”the most expensive movie ever made about native americans turned into a love story between two white people…”

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