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A bit of reality for your Monday

October 29th, 2012 No comments

The next time you see a Hollywood scene that takes place under running fire sprinklers, remember that THIS is what the water sitting in those pipes looks like.

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And this:

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And just because I have a new iPhone, this:

And it smells like burnt rubber, or maybe diesel fumes. You’re welcome

James Cameron, perp or vic?

January 7th, 2010 No comments

Spoilers in the last paragraph.

After leaving Avatar last night a thought occurred to me. I’m no movie geek so this question might cause great pains to some out there, but it seemed reasonable to me.

Why is James Cameron so well regarded when Michael Bay isn’t? They both tell pretty bad stories buoyed by visual effects, so why is Bay in the dirt and Cameron in the clouds? Is it the technical innovations that Cameron’s movies seem to drive? Because, really Avatar’s blue cat people really don’t look THAT much better than JarJar Binks. Especially when sharing the frame with real people. They have convincing facial expressions, but so do the living sock puppets of 9 and the Wild Things. The bioluminescent flora of Pandora could have been high quality blacklight paint. Does this give Cameron respectabilty over Bay’s towering fireballs? The answer my girlfriend and I came up with is Cameron’s characters feel more human than Bay’s. We weren’t satisfied with it, but it worked.

I admit that I haven’t seen all of Cameron’s movies. In particular I haven’t seen The Abyss which seems to be held in high esteem by most people I know that have. I, of course avoided Titanic like a second circumcision. I’m seemingly alone on the planet in my hatred for T2. Really, Jimmy? A Terminator swearing it won’t kill anyone. To a kid? What the…?

Anyway.

Avatar is NOT a good movie. Specifically it’s not a good story. I’m not talking about the premise or plot, but the story the movie tells. Star Wars proves you can tell a simple story well. But Avatar isn’t simple, it’s simplistic and heavy handed (like the Prequels). This is what I’d expect a kid to make, not a supposed grand master of movie making. The hero wins over his angry boss, saves the pretty jungle and scores the hot chick. Awesome! Where’s the guitar solo? Even the specific item he uses as inspiration is a 14yo’s wet dream.

Then I read about an early treatment of Avatar on chud.com (worth a read if you have strong feelings about the movie one way or another. Even with CHUD’s terrible white text/black background. The treatment itself can be found here I can’t find where I d/l’d it from. I have the PDF if you want it.). The closing line of the article is telling, that in a big budget (although I’d call the cost of this movie monstrous rather than big, but for categorization…) the story goes out before the CGI.

I must admit the viewing public is swayed by what computers can do, even when they fail to be truly engaged emotionally by the spectacle (witness 2012, or ID4 for the earliest case I can recall). However, bringing up the budget, CGI is expensive while the story comes with a good script. So why not buy some blacklight paint?

But to the point. Judging from the early treatment Cameron can conceive a good story, even though it doesn’t appear in Avatar. But is he the perpetrator of this schlocky expensive nonsense, or the victim of his price tag? I honestly don’t know. Either way, Avatar: not good. I’m hoping there’s a lot of integrated deleted scenes on the DVD.

Spoilers below.
There were only three moments I can recall being impressed. The biggest was Grace dying. I fully expected the soul transfer to work. The second is not showing Jake catching the dragon. We’d seen him catching the bird, one avian rodeo was enough, WTG, JC. Third, and this is WAY HELLA GEEKY, showing Pandora not to be a single climate. I’m sick to death of desert planets and ice planets and jungle planets and city planets. Bleagh.

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