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August 22, 2009

Impressions/Synopsis of the Avatar Sneak Peak

For the most expensive movie ever, only the most overboard marketing campaign could suffice. In order to pitch James Cameron's next biggest budget blockbuster to theater going audiences they've pulled out all the stops, setting up 15 minute sneak peaks on IMAX 3D screens across the country.

I was one of the many who fought my way past Fox's completely destroyed website in order to get tickets to see this event. First I'll give you a break down of exactly what I saw, and then tell you just what I thought of it. So here's goes:


There wasn't much plot involved in this preview except that of the first scene. We see a wheelchair bound man make his way to where a military general is explaining to a roomful of troops about the dangers of the world they are now on. That world is Pandora, and apparently the beasts that live there will tear you to pieces.

After this encouraging speech it cuts to a scene of the wheelchair man, whom at some point is referred to as Jake for the first time, climbing into a tanning bed-like pod. Sigourney Weaver makes snarky comments about his intelligence and flips on the machine.

Jake's mind is then transported into the body of one of the Na'vi creatures, a blue skinned humanoid race that sports tails. He proceeds to enjoy his new legs way too much and cause a scene in the hospital.

After this we get a series of action scenes. Jake in a jungle running from some sort of sabre tooth tiger with no eyes. Jake getting saved from black coyote-ish creatures by a scantily clad female Na'vi. And Jake attempting to ride a winged creature who doesn't particularly like being rode.

Afterwards the preview wraps up with essentially the same ending to the trailer. The part with the dramatic and repetitive music. And that's about all we saw.


It's been quite awhile since I've seen anything in 3D. I actually think the last thing was when I took my niece to Spy Kids 3D. Needless to say, wow, things have gotten MUCH better.

Still, despite the impressiveness of this 3rd dimension, the action scenes were sort of hard to focus on with it. It was amazing to see the world this way, but when things in that world were jumping all over the place in order to escape some monster I had trouble following it.

The best example I can give is when Jake was trying to tame the flying creature. He's flung all over the place and almost falls off the cliff, at which point it cuts to another Na'vi who is laughing at him. The guy laughs for maybe 5 or 6 seconds, and it took me about 4 to get my eyes to bring his face into focus.

I'm all for this new batch of 3D movies, but maybe action scenes aren't so great for it? Perhaps we should make some sort of exploration movie where we can see crazy new worlds and places, but not always be fraught with danger. Either way it's a small gripe, but it's something I'd like to see explored.

What little of the story we were given in the preview seemed good. I am looking forward to hearing more about where this planet is, how the humans got there, what the back story of the Na'vi is, etc. etc. Hopefully it goes much deeper then just, crazy alien planet, monsters attack things, people fall in love.

What I'm left most confused about with this movie, is whether they will be able to sell it to the public to the tune of the 500 some million its cost to make. The CG looks really good, the best I've ever seen to be sure. But with the main characters being blue skinned people with tails, it still could give the impression of a kids film to the average film viewer.

Obviously film geeks know this could be an amazing film for adults, but a lot of people who don't follow movies online, might write it off as childish looking. We clearly haven't escaped the uncanny valley just yet, and that could hurt this movies chances at making its ridiculous budget back.

That said, I think that Avatar Day was probably the smartest marketing decision for convincing people to see this movie. I'm much more excited to see it now than I was from initial pictures and the trailer. I'm just not sure if it was effective for the average movie watcher that they clearly need to win over.

Despite my viewing having been sold out, there were still at least half of the seats left empty. I don't know if this was a result of movie geeks reserving the tickets and then being turned off by the trailer, or people casually clicking for some tickets and then forgetting about it. Maybe the site being down so much left a lot of people unsure if they had actually gotten the seats they requested.

I hope this isn't a bad sign for the movies success, as I'd like to see big projects like this continue to get green lit. It's only after trying over and over that we'll be able to eventually pull ourselves out of that valley and have an amazing CG movie that looks as real as the back of your hand.


Luis_Logic said...

i really don't like the trailer at all. it shows nothing of the actual plot, i can't tell what's going on and there s so much stuff flying across the screen that i can't even enjoy watching it.

to be honest, i was never excited even a little for this movie, but after the trailer, i'm definitely for sure not interested.

Alex R. Cronk-Young said...

Yeah, I had barely heard about it so I wasn't excited or anything. Then the trailer came out and it further confused me as to what exactly this was going to be.

The absolute best way for them to put butts in seats is this sneak peak thing. I will probably go see it now just because of that. Problem is, how many people who were on the fence like me fought through their website and all of its flooded servers?

I only did so because I wanted to be able to write about it on the site, and also be a little more educated about the movie in general just in case something comes up with it that I'd want to write about. But how many people that went to the sneak peak were already obsessive and would have gone to see it? Probably everyone else.

The only other way I can see this movie working is for them to pour money into making people see it. Going to sporting events or other places where movies geeks might not be and handing out tickets for a sneak peak there. Playing the sneak peak to people that just go to any other imax movie.

It's going to cost them tons to sell this movie. And in order to make back that 500 million on top of the marketing budget? Thats gonna be tough.

yanglyn said...

I think it's really hilarious when in the theater and this trailer begins to play because half of the theater is saying "Oh! This is Avatar!" And the other half of the audience is like, "Oh shoot, The Last Airbender?!"

Anywho, I agree, I'm not excited at all about this movie.

ATC 1982 said...

I realize something about this movie. I saw no vegetation in this preview. You know like cucumbers or even cucumbers that have turned into pickles for people to eat for food. Really how do people in this movie eat?

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