avatar trailer review: dances with beowolves


So I found out a little too late about last week’s free, worldwide IMAX screening of a fifteen minute preview of James Cameron’s upcoming AVATAR (for those who aren’t super nerds, AVATAR is basically Jim’s first movie since TITANIC and will be out this winter in 3D).  I tried to get tickets the night before the event but the website told me every theater was totally and completely 100% for sure  sold out.  Luckily, Darth Mojo correspondent (and 3D stereo whiz kid) Jim Carbonetti was there and kindly offered to share his thoughts on what he saw…

DATELINE – AUGUST 21, 2009, 6pm – Santa Anita iMAX:  This is sold out??  The theater was only HALF FULL, contrary to the website stating all showings SOLD OUT. Probably 80 people total, mostly male geeks/fanboys except for maybe 6 shemale fangirls. No one sat toward the front, all toward the back. My seat was 3 rows from the back, centered, about as optimum as possible for the larger-than-standard screen. First, Cameron appears in 3-D to speak about this being just a teaser from the first half of the film only, so no “spoilers”.


I’m calling the film “Dances With BeoWolves”: That’s the sense one gets from the story, dealing with the lead character acclimating and blending into an entirely alien culture. Couple that with the motion capture gag and there you have it. Textures, lighting, and the character animation reminded me of “Gollum” from Lord Of The Rings. Technically great. Certain environments had nifty day-glo fluorescent colors. Live action looked good….although I was noticing some rectification issues with the left and right cameras [no I don’t know what that means either – Mojo]. Also, the fast cutting was a little jarring in 3-D due to the rapid handheld motion and convergence changes.

Lots of hype and big curiosity factor will fill the seats in December. January, who knows….not sure if it will have the broad appeal for all segments of the population like that last little boat picture he made.

Since I didn’t get to the “sold out” screening, I’ve now decided to avoid all trailers and spoilers and plan to walk into the theater as green as possible.  Because of this, I didn’t want to look through too many pictures from the movie to fill this post with, so I just grabbed the first few AVATAR images I found.  To be honest, I’m a little surprised – I thought this was supposed to be a serious sci-fi movie!  These images make it look more like a kid-friendly anime film.  I guess we’ll find out in a few months…

Thanks to Carbo for his Johnny-On-The-Spot report.  Were you at the preview screening?  Let us know what you thought in the comments section!




25 Responses to “avatar trailer review: dances with beowolves”

  1. 1 unknowntheartist
    August 24, 2009 at 3:39 am

    Umm, you do know those pics are from the Avatar cartoon on Nickolodeon, right?
    ‘Cos if not, then you are really in the green :D
    M Night Shymalan is doing this movie as The Last Airbender because James Cameron is using Avatar for his movie…

  2. 2 Chops
    August 24, 2009 at 3:46 am

    Okay, I finally figured this out. There are three productions involved:

    1) “Avatar: The Last Airbender” – An anime TV show that ended last year. That’s what you have pictures of.
    2) “Avater” – The James Cameron movie coming out this year.
    3) “The Last Airbender” – A motion picture adaptation by M. Night Shyamalan (the first in a potential trilogy) coming out next year.

    Source: http://www.slashfilm.com/article.php/20070108shyamalanavatar (No spoilers for “Avatar” here, since it’s a 2007 article)

  3. August 24, 2009 at 4:19 am

    Your pictures belong to the Anime “Avatar – The Last Airbender”, which is also coming up as a movie, “The Last Airbender”, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. Has nothing to do with Camerons Movie.

  4. August 24, 2009 at 5:00 am

    Well, these pictures are not from James Cameron’s “Avatar,” but from “Avatar: The Last Airbinder” :)

    “Avatar [2009]”:

    “Avatar: The Last Airbender [2005] (TV Series)”:

    “The Last Airbender [2010] (Movie)”:

  5. 5 Sastrei
    August 24, 2009 at 5:45 am

    I’m pretty sure you’re joking, right? Not that Avatar, the other Avatar. :)

    Cameron’s Avatar seems underwhelming, The Last Airbender I am looking forward to, given the praise heaped on the cartoon.


  6. August 24, 2009 at 6:24 am

    Wait, this is Cameron’s Avatar, not the Last Airbender, right? So, why the pix? It’s confusing enough already.

  7. 7 doubleofive
    August 24, 2009 at 6:37 am

    Nothing is more confusing than James Cameron’s “Avatar” and the anime “Avatar: The Last Airbender” or the upcoming live action adaptation from M. Night Shamalan (which they retitled “The Last Airbender” to alleviate some of the confusion).

    Then there’s Peter Jackson’s “District 9”, the CGI “9”, and people were confused when I went to see the RiffTrax for “Plan 9”.

  8. August 24, 2009 at 8:39 am

    Well after reading the image rectification article on wikipedia I still don’t totally understand what it is, except that it probably leaves you feeling like you’ve got a hangover if the whole movie’s like it.

    Anyway, I’m not familiar with Avatar, but James Cameron’s got me intrigued enough to want to see it anyway. The effects in the trailer were fairly impressive, though they didn’t feel as fresh and innovative as I was expecting from the all hype. I suppose the 3D factor will play a big role, but a lot of it felt like snippets of movies I’d already seen. Hopefully there’s a great story at the heart of it and it’s not just a bunch of distracting gimmicks.

  9. 9 andywhitto
    August 24, 2009 at 9:15 am

    lol not sure if i know ur joking or not but you know they are pics from Avatar the cartoon ? Nothing to do with the movie at all lol.

    Anyway, i missed to preview screening but watched the trailer, at first it was a little different from what i expected but the more i watch the trailer the more epic and amazing i think this film will be.

    I sort of thought it looked “cartoony” on my first watch but i think thats because of the vibrant colours used, since now to make things look real most movies just make everything grey and dull lol.

    Cant wait for this to come out, going to watch in IMAX (first time! since its like a 1 hour drive away lol) so looking forward to it.

  10. 10 Bert Hayling
    August 24, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Hey, Mojo!

    Seriously lovin’ the Trek, BSG, and associated FX eye candy. :-P

    Re: Avatar — having now seen two drastically different Avatar trailers, I’m confused as hell myself. The first one, seen in the theater last week, was for the “Last Airbender” Avatar, which is indeed based on an Anime series following the exploits of the bald-headed air-bending kid and his similarly element-controlling kid cohorts (water, fire, etc).

    This latest James Cameron Avatar trailer — the one with Sam Worthington? Dunno *what* that’s all about, other than it appears to involve the escapades of giant blue elven folk.

    I’m wondering if this isn’t an unfortunate case of two films with very similar titles coming out at about the same time?

    Ahhh, okay — the live-action film version of the animated series is from M. Night Shyamalan:

    The “planet of the blue elf people” one with Worthington — the James Cameron one — is this’n:

    Having watched the Anime series with my Airbender-crazy nephew, I’m actually more likely to see the Shyamalan one than the Cameron one! :-[

  11. 11 Sean Stephenson
    August 24, 2009 at 9:23 am

    Isn’t JC’s Avatar different from MNS’s the Last Airbender? just wondering about the pics…



  12. August 24, 2009 at 9:58 am

    You should Netflix Airbender. Its one of those shows that was surprisingly good, especially considering that it aired on Nickelodeon. Shymalan’s currently raping it and is planning the first installment for next year under the name The Last Airbender. As for Cameron’s Avatar, I’ve only seen the 2D trailer, and it seems like a decent, if prototypical scifi movie: visually stunning, but no District 9 or Moon. But seriously, watch Avatar: The Last Airbender.

  13. 13 Michael Llaneza
    August 24, 2009 at 9:59 am

    I’ll assume you’re kidding and really do know all about the “other” Avatar property.

    Failing that, you’ll find yourself flooded with urgent missives filled with information and glowing reviews.

  14. 14 ScottA
    August 24, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I’m going to ASSUME that you know the images you posted are from the cartoon “Avatar: The Last Airbender” and have absolutely nothing to do with James Cameron’s “Avatar”. The alternative possibility is just too funny to believe! :-)

    Yes, I was one of the people who made it to the “Avatar Day” (really stupid name) 15-minute preview. I live in Portland, OR and saw it at the Bridgeport Village Stadium 18. My experience as far as the crowd size was similar, though supposed sold out I’d say the room was only 2/3 to 3/4 full. However, at my showing I’d say the male to female ratio was roughly 1:1. There were LOTS of interested female-types, including my wife and what looked like a lot of girlfriends.

    The footage blew me away.

    I’d say at least a dozen times during the preview, I muttered words like “wow” or “holy shit” or “that’s amazing”. People all around me were stunned when the lights went on. Everyone I spoke to said that they would DEFINITELY go see it, and in 3-D, and in IMAX when it came out.

    This was not my first 3-D experience, having seen “UP” in 3-D and also having seen the newest Harry Potter movie in IMAX, where the first 15 minutes or so was in 3-D. But “Avatar” just blew me away. I can’t wait to see the whole thing, can’t believe that it will be another two months before it comes out.

    I’d describe the footage I saw as a cross betweeen “Aliens” (militaristic/scientific types dealing with aliens), “Jurassic Park” (exploring an unknown wilderness with giant beasties who just want to eat you) and “Dances With Wolves” (western man integrating with native population and learning their ways). But of course, as per Cameron’s introduction, the scenes we saw took place in the first half of the film. I’d be willing to bet big money that Cameron is leaving some big surprises for us.

    And I for one am willing to trust the writer/director of “Aliens”, “The Abyss”, the first two (and only good!) “Terminator” films, and, yes, “Titanic”, that he knows what he is doing storywise.

  15. 15 Fuddster
    August 24, 2009 at 11:38 am

    Avatar: The Last Airbender is a live action movie based on a kid-friendly anime TV series.

    It also has nothing to do with Jim Cameron’s Avatar, other than the obvious source of confusion.

    Two completely different animals.

    Oh, and thanks boatloads for the FBDO soundtrack!

  16. 16 DarthBo
    August 24, 2009 at 1:10 pm

    You are kidding right, with the Avatar – the last airbender pictures?

  17. 17 darthmojo
    August 24, 2009 at 1:39 pm

    wait a sec, y’all mean to say that James Cameron is NOT directing a 250 million dollar animated spinoff of a Nicolodeon cartoon? Thanks for clearing that up. Now I need to figure out how to operate this computer thingy so I can make the corrections. Dag gone it, can anyone help me learn how to computer use? I no know how. Is hard. No can type neither. Me berry dum.

    Dssstrkl: I sure hope this movie is nothing like DISTRICT 9, I want it to be good…

  18. 18 Colonial Warrior
    August 24, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    Hmm, Confusing titles, is this REALLY the next phase in the industry? Not sure that’s a good idea.. I found out about JC’s “AVATAR” about a year ago. Checked out the trailer on YouTube that looked good albeit not in 3D of course but still looked good. I like his work and I’d wager that this will live up to the hype based on what his trailer shows so far. If you go to YouTube make sure you search under Cameron AVATAR, not just AVATAR. There’s some good stuff out there on it. Some good concept artwork etc, and yes for the gamers out there there is a game based on this as well that JC has been overseeing to ensure that it stays in line with the movie and should also if all goes well be coming out for the holidays.

    This for the time being does look promising on several fronts. Legacy Effects has been working on AVATAR since 2006 and they are rather well established company with really impressive stuff. They’ve worked on the Terminator Salvation and currently Iron Man 2 as well. I’ve heard but have not confirmed it yet that JC’s AVATAR uses some new technique requiring 197 cameras all at once for shooting. Hope none of this technical stuff is in the zone of spoiler if so I apologize. But nevertheless AVATAR is headed for a groundbreaking feature.

  19. 19 darthmojo
    August 25, 2009 at 1:12 am

    WARRIOR: Ultimately, no matter how much technical prowess in involved in making AVATAR, none of it will matter unless it’s a good movie. I don’t care how many camera were used or who’s doing the effects or if they got people with real blue skin to act in it, unless it has interesting characters we care about and a story that engages the viewer no one will be interested in seeing it in 1D, let alone 3D.

    That being said, Cameron is no stranger to strong characters and an engaging story, so I have faith that we’re in for more than a technical achievement. I especially want it to do well so that Hollywood realizes 3D movies can be more than animated kid flicks!

  20. August 25, 2009 at 2:40 am

    I’d *hope* Cameron still has the spark. Aliens set the bar and tone for MilSF movies 23 years ago. In a lot of ways, it out-Troopered Starship Troopers long before Verhoven found a copy with half the pages missing. From the material I’ve seen so far, it looks like Halo and World of Warcraft had babies, but I don’t see that as a dealbreaker. Brilliant Sci-Fi from the 21st century used a lot of dark environments as much to cover production sins as to engender drama. In a lot of ways, that’s probably shaped what we think of as “scary”. Stroboscopic flashes of an advancing horde down a narrow corridor? Eeek McSqueak. But seeing the same bugs in the open field, lit by broad daylight? Not so scary.

    CGI is a storytelling tool. If it doesn’t have a story to tell, then it’s just hollow spectacle. I think everyone here know that. I’m guessing that the preview didn’t give much acting, characterisation or any of that good stuff away because it wasn’t mentioned. I’ll continue to keep in mind that Jim Cameron’s always known how to tell compelling stories with three-dimensional characters, even on a 2D screen with no CGI. I just hope he kept it in mind, too ;)

  21. 21 Josh Patel
    August 25, 2009 at 3:07 am

    I also want to see AVATAR. The name sounds a little Indian. Shyamalan also has some contribution in ths movie.

    Just stumbled and submitted your site to Viralogy. Hope you get some great traffic from it. Your blog is here http://www.viralogy.com/blogs/my/71804

    – Josh

  22. 22 Master Prudent
    August 25, 2009 at 6:44 am

    I suspect that a lot less people would be so deeply interested in this if James Cameron had just come straight out and said, “I’m doing an SF remake of Pocohontas.” (Just my take on the synopsis.)

    I would be interested if someone actually wanted to make a movie about the real complexities and horrors of colonialism instead of reducing it to the level of war, which while often part of colonialism is hardly its defining characteristic. it would also be interesting if film makers didn’t go for the usual binary opposition of conceited, domineering warmongers vs noble savages. Cliches like this don;t do anyone favors.

  23. 23 Snafu
    September 8, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    What I wonder is if there is any chance of Cameron getting the Titanic female demographics with this. Will he be the one who manages to do the first blockbuster love story with 3D glasses and synthespians?

    (About the Avatar cartoon: even if Animé-like, it’s an American production (Nikelodeon). And a very successful one)

  24. 24 besarta
    April 17, 2010 at 3:13 am

    katara <3 avatar e love zou

  25. October 28, 2010 at 8:36 am

    daca e super e super

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August 2009

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