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Avatar 2 - The Way of Water Dec 2022


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39 minutes ago, Treble said:

None of them set in Avatar's boring universe, either.

There's loads of potential for great Cameron films in the Avatar universe. If it just sticks to the antics of the tribe from the first film then it's an opportunity squandered.

 

 

 

 

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To be fair, we haven’t seen enough of the universe to declare it out and out boring. If Star Wars stopped at the first one, it wouldn’t have had the cultural impact it did; it would be remembered as a pretty cool but silly sci-fi romp from the seventies set in a desert. On release, Avatar was huge - it was the highest-grossing film of all time for ten years, don’t forget. And while the film itself was flawed in some areas, it was an interesting concept, and it was incredible to experience on the big screen.
 

Ultimately, I’d rather him make four or five films of something he’s passionate about, rather than a True Lies sequel and a few other unrelated action movies. I’ll always give James Cameron the benefit of the doubt.

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On 05/10/2019 at 17:56, Loik V credern said:

 

I loved Valerian, you can just go through that film and jot down all its ideas, which some choose to ignore as though it's trying to be anything more than cartoony irreverent fun, like a 90s Saturday morning cartoon. But it was imaginative and was fun. Avatar was marketed as the future yet came after a decade of videogames doing way more interesting future worlds. With James Cameron attached, reading about its story, after playing Metroid Prime and especially Echoes 6 years before i expected more. To generate money it mostly needed to be an event film which it became, you gotta see what everyone else is to stay 'in'. But Cameron wanted to do a love story no one cared about, he clearly thought he needed that following on from Titanic to draw in the non sci fi nerds. I guess we'll never know.

 

Remember people at the time saying they wished they lived in Pandora. I just thought; it's a jungle. With some fluorescent flowers. Star Trek kind of touched on different types of societies and how they're structured, i even like K Pax for that. I hope for more from an alien world than a jungle with some jaguars, exotic flowers and six legged horses. Gotta try harder, and all the concept art suggests they did try in that American way of hours worked and as the best concept artists do making mechanical logical sense of everything, but all within narrow parameters. Take the synopsis, slash the budget to 1 million, hand it to a Japanese filmmaker, that's the film I'd rather see. 

 

My dad has the art book and swears by its creative brilliance, and can't fathom why anyone would dislike it. 'I thought everyone thought it was top?', said in a way like his heart was breaking....how to explain some art is inspired and most isn't. 'Nah I'm not having this!'

 

yeah..be genuinely creative and not overlong and boring, is all i hope for. 

 

Ahh some Valérian love at last! Whilst this isn't the thread to wax lyrical on the film's amazingness, it's good to see some appreciation of it here.:wub: I would say though that comparing it to Avatar is a little unfair. Stylistically they are poles apart and Avatar could never hope to emulate in one film the genius that Mézières created over many many years. I certainly wouldn't call Avatar creatively bad. Personally, I feel they simply wanted to create a more grounded hard aesthetic, within a single coherent world/climate. And I think they did that very well. The problem with the movie was the script was just pretty hokey, imo.

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3 hours ago, monkeydog said:

There's loads of potential for great Cameron films in the Avatar universe. If it just sticks to the antics of the tribe from the first film then it's an opportunity squandered.

 

The only things I remember being unique to the Avatar universe are the blue people with sex niblets, Unobtanium and Pandora itself. If you're saying it might be a good universe in future because he'll bring in different elements then...well...yes, like if they introduced alien beings to the Die Hard series, or banned firearms in the John Wick universe. They could do it; they might make it work, but there's no hint of it in the existing material and would be a radical departure.

 

So sounds like you're basically saying, 'If they add a load of new stuff that hasn't already been hinted at, make the characters interesting and sideline what's already there including the Pandorans, it might be good!'

 

3 hours ago, Paulando said:

1. To be fair, we haven’t seen enough of the universe to declare it out and out boring. 2. If Star Wars stopped at the first one, it wouldn’t have had the cultural impact it did; it would be remembered as a pretty cool but silly sci-fi romp from the seventies. On release, 3. Avatar was huge - it was the highest-grossing film of all time for ten years, don’t forget. And while the film itself was flawed in some areas, it was an interesting concept, and it was incredible to experience on the big screen.
 

Ultimately, I’d rather him make four or five films of something he’s passionate about, rather than a True Lies sequel and a few other unrelated action movies. 4. I’ll always give James Cameron the benefit of the doubt.

 

1. See my answer to Monkeydog. Just to be clear, when we're talking about 'universe' in script terms, we don't mean 'the physical entirety of existence, full of planets and stars'. We're talking about the Avatar fictional universe, i.e. what Cameron has created so far in terms of story, action and character.

 

2. Yes it would. If we imagine Lucas got frustrated after 1977 and refused to direct a sequel or licence the rights, people would to this day be trying to acquire them, or create a remake, or a TV show. The original SW was a legit cultural phenomenon that sat in theatres for months, making over $3 billion dollars adjusted for inflation. If you're struggling to agree, think of how embedded the phrases, 'ET go home', 'Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn' or 'I'm the King of the world!' are, or how many song titles or lyrics from The Sound of Music come to mind. None of those top tenners of all time had sequels either.

 

3. ...and left almost zero cultural footprint. It made as much money as it did because it was a visual event that showcased 3-D. It's more like a theme park attraction (ironically, like Galaxy's Edge) than a film, or something like Cinerama. Everything about the story was mediocre. Avatar was a great showcase for a film-making process, and little else.

 

4. This is where I agree with you, though: he's pulled it out of the bag so many times - even when the signs aren't great - that he deserves to be given a chance. I honestly think he'll have to put something up on screen as awe-inspiring as the T-1000, or the CG Titanic, or Avatar's 3-D though, but completely new and unseen. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Treble said:

. See my answer to Monkeydog. Just to be clear, when we're talking about 'universe' in script terms, we don't mean 'the physical entirety of existence, full of planets and stars'. We're talking about the Avatar fictional universe, i.e. what Cameron has created so far in terms of story, action and character.

 

You missed setting as being part of any story, and that's what I was talking about.  Fairly hard sci-fi near future, resource hungry Earth .Vs relatively plusable  Gaia-esk, maybe sentient gas giant system.  Loads of fun to be had playing in that setting.

 

Whether we get fun film's, who knows. 

 

Cameron's certainly read enough good sci-fi to rip off some fantastic never seen before ideas.

 

 

 

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On 22/10/2019 at 21:16, Nick R said:

Interesting that he comments that he could use HFR "sparingly"... how is that possible? Can the cinema projectors instantly switch between 24fps and higher framerates partway through a film (say, just for those lateral panning shots that he mentions)? Or would the projector be running at its high framerate throughout, but the sections shot in 24fps would duplicate frames? It's hard to imagine how swapping framerates wouldn't be more distracting then sticking to one throughout.

 

I've seen a proof-of-concept for the idea years ago from a European production company, it works fine. You get the benefits of HFR on the otherwise jerky blur-tastic high motion action sequences and for the low motion scenes you are only seeing the standard lower unique frame mode.

 

They do this sort of shit on TV programmes these days, where they mix pre-recorded content which is authored at 25fps and live stuff running at 50fps the rest of the time, though that may be more noticeable to some people.

 

TVs which have a 24fps mode don't actually refresh at 24Hz either, they usually refresh at a multiple of that to avoid problems. The cinema projectors do something similar already with 24fps material, so you could easily display more unique frames per second, though mixing 60fps and 24fps footage seems a bit more technically difficult as you usually do a multiple of whatever the base frame rate is.

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Has he been working on these since around the time of the first? If so what the hell has he been doing, if these films have taken so long to make they are at least going to make your eyeballs pop out with what must be at least hitherto effects.

 

 

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He did a whole load of shilling for the terminator sequels that came out, presumably to ensure he got all the money he could to develop these. After watching the making of the first one I got the impression there was a certain amount of using it to promote the tech he made and also keeping everything simple so the fact people were watching all cg giant cat people for the majority of it wouldn't clash with much of a plot.

 

At least I hope so anyway, he definitely knows how to tell a story so with any luck, with three of them it can be a bit more involved. 

 

He will also have made a load from avatar land at Disney I'm sure and presumably they would want this to help cross promote that and let him do his own thing. 

 

My main concern would be that they end up being a bit too safe but with great visuals or he gets really carried away with something like 4DX and the like, which although quite entertaining, are more gimmicky than anything else and obviously don't lend themselves to home viewing etc. 

 

I'm still quietly confident though, he's no Michael bay and also isn't quite as hit and miss as the likes of Ridley Scott as another director who is amazing at the visual and actual direction side of things. 

 

Then again, we'll probably get an announcement that kurtzman and orci are somehow involved as well as Chris Terrio :(

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While it's a shame he's spent over two decades on this folly, Cameron has never made a bad film and I doubt he's about to start now. I bet this ends up being genuinely spectacular, but I have no idea what to expect.

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I thought it was incredibly boring, with some terribly wooden acting (hi, Sam!) and I didn't even think the aesthetics were particularly interesting.

 

Admittedly I didn't watch it at the cinema, but in 3D at home - though if it was only really any good on the big screen (which I think was a view held by some in this thread all those years ago), that's not really a glowing recommendation.

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On 14/05/2020 at 15:33, CarloOos said:

Some of the script is incredibly cringe but Cameron nails the fundamentals of framing, pacing and storytelling like few others working today. Even if you completely ignore the visual effects, it's exceptionally well crafted in terms of direction.

 

I feel like that kind of classic coherent filmmaking on a blockbuster scale is a massively underrated talent these days.

 

Yes, it's solidly made. I don't think there's much about it that you could criticise as incompetently executed. You can criticise the story for being derivative and unoriginal, and indulging in problematic white saviour tropes... but with the exception of Worthington's performance, the craft is outstanding.

 

It's just that for all its spectacle, and despite a few really cool action and character moments, overall it's somehow missing the flair that makes Cameron's other films so rewatchable. IMO it shares many of its sci-fi mind/body separation concepts with The Matrix (and also with Cameron/Rodriguez's subsequent Alita Battle Angel) - but why do I find Avatar's version so much less consistently interesting?

 

In December the YouTube movie video essay channel The Royal Ocean Film Society did a retrospective video about Avatar. At the end (spoilers!) he revises his Letterboxd rating of the film up from one star... to two stars. His old one star rating for it seems extremely harsh; IMO that should be reserved for the most actively annoying, tedious, or hateful movies. Even if you're one of those strange people who uses a "positive rating system" for their Letterboxd/IMDb/RateYourMusic ratings (where everything gets 0.5 stars by default and then has to earn more by being good, rather than thinking of it as most reviewers do by starting off with an "average" mark of 2.5 or 3 out of 5), I still think it deserves more than one or two stars!

 

 

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Another YouTube channel that recently did a video on Avatar was the music theory channel Sideways. His video was about how James Horner and the film's ethnomusicology consultant Dr Wanda Bryant started off with the intention of creating a score made up of sounds that audiences had never heard before; a new kind of music that would stay consistent with the Pandoran worldbuilding lore they'd come up with (e.g. the concept art of Na'vi musical instruments). They wanted to mix together enough aspects of musical styles from unfamiliar real-world cultures that people hearing it wouldn't be able to recognise exactly where a given element had come from.

 

... Except they they found that it's really hard to mix together wildly different and incompatible folk musical traditions, let alone mix all those exotic microtonalities with a Hollywood orchestral score, and James Cameron kept rejecting their demos because mere earthlings in Middle America wouldn't be able to relate to them. So they ended up making a traditional Hollywood orchestral score with very few of the world music elements they'd worked on. :doh:

 

 

 

The irony in the video title is explained at 16:10: "In other words, this score is kind of like... if you, like, took something from a group of people without really asking for it, and then repurposed it beyond recognition in order to make money. ... A guy spearheading a project sponsored by a massive corporation decides, either directly or indirectly, to hire a doctor who specialises in a field where their work might help legitimise the project's intentions. But at every opportunity, for the sake of profit and easy accessibility, this guy undermines the doctor and her work, such that she is effectively forced out of the project and is only able to comment on the legitimacy of their actions from afar." :lol:

 

 

His main sources for the video are this interview with that doctor of ethnomusicology, and this essay she wrote in 2012 about working on the film with Cameron and Horner:

 

https://ethnomusicologyreview.ucla.edu/journal/volume/17/piece/583

 

Quote

In our initial phone conversation, Horner asked me to find unusual musical sounds that “no one has heard before,” by which he really meant sounds not readily recognizable by the average American movie-goer as belonging to a specific culture, time period, or geographical location (Horner 2007a). Our new sounds would represent the music culture of Cameron’s Na’vi race. At our first face-to-face meeting, Horner, music editor Jim Henrikson and I were guided to the moon of Pandora by producer Jon Landau. We saw images of the Na’vi for the first time and began to ponder the types of music that these big blue creatures would produce. Landau told me, “It was important that James’ score evoke that sense of music belonging as part of a culture.” My job as an ethnomusicologist was to help create an integrated and logical music culture for these creatures. Prior to our demo recording sessions, Horner and I considered the nature of the Na’vi and their world from an ethnomusicological perspective. He usually chooses the instrumentation first and then lets the melodic material evolve from there. “For me, what comes first is what the colors are, what my palette of orchestral instruments is going to be. . . . Then I’ll decide what the melodic lines are going to be” (Adams 1998:40). So one of our first decisions was the instrumentation of the Na’vi soundscape. We felt that it would be appropriate in this aboriginal culture to utilize voices, idiophones and membranophones as the primary instruments, with ornamentation and atmosphere added by aerophones.

 

Horner and I pondered such aspects as the physical nature of the people, their environment, spiritual beliefs, social structure, important cultural traditions, and the function of their music. For example, the creatures’ four digits had suggested a pentatonic scale to Avatar’s artists and production designers, but Horner and I immediately vetoed that concept as being too recognizable as Asian, African, or Native American, and too limiting for him in terms of developing a full film score. Several other aspects of production design also raised our concerns. The artist’s rendering of the Blue Flute (the clan totem) was not a flute, but organologically speaking, a trumpet. Another sketch showed a chordophone reminiscent of Harry Partch’s kithara. A drawing of a drum mentioned a “complex rhythmic structure which features multi-layered elliptical time signatures derived from the orbital patterns of their solar system.” I realized that there was a disconnect between the artistic concept and the ethnomusicological/organological perspective. They were drawing interesting pictures; I was looking for musical logic. Months after the film was released, I discovered that Cameron himself was aware of similar issues. He justified these concerns by explaining that on occasion, a detail or two may have been overlooked or consciously ignored in the interest of storytelling.2

 

 

Quote

Through a process of elimination we came up with 25 workable possibilities, including examples of Swedish cattle herding calls, folk dance songs from the Naga people of Northeast India, Vietnamese and Chinese traditional work songs, greeting songs from Burundi, Celtic and Norwegian medieval laments, Central African vocal polyphony, Persian tahrir, microtonal works by Scelsi, the Finnish women’s group Vârttinä, personal songs from the Central Arctic Inuit, and brush dances from northern California. None was an exact blueprint of what we were seeking, but each had at least one interesting musical device or characteristic that we could utilize. In some cases, it was a timbre that we might hope to mimic; in other cases, it may have been a song structure, an ornamentational style, or interesting intonation.

 

Horner then met with Jim Cameron for his input on our musical ideas. Cameron is a very hands-on director and wants to be kept in the loop about all major decisions. Most of the ideas we presented were dismissed by Cameron out of hand, rejected with appropriately blue language as either too recognizable (“Oh, that’s Bulgarian”) or just “too fucking weird!” Half a dozen examples were approved as possibilities. Our next step was to begin creating alien music that was informed by the timbres, structures, textures, and styles of those samples. In today’s world, there are few musical cultures that have not been heard by outsiders. Musically uneducated ears can now readily identify Bulgarian singing or Indonesian gamelan. Faced with this increasing awareness of global cultures, we realized that no one musical culture would work. Instead, we created a library of musical elements and performance techniques that would eventually be melded into a global mash-up, fusing musical elements from the numerous world cultures we had explored into one hybrid Na’vi style. Combining unrelated musical elements could evoke the “otherness” of the Na’vi without bringing to mind any specific Earth culture, time period or geographical location.

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Ha, that's really interesting and also quite reflective of the evolution the rest of the film seemed to go through. That said, I do think the finished score is really good, even if it is a bit of a James Horner Greatest Hits package. There's some very similar cues to A Perfect Storm.

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20 hours ago, Gabe said:

I thought it was incredibly boring, with some terribly wooden acting (hi, Sam!) and I didn't even think the aesthetics were particularly interesting.

 

Admittedly I didn't watch it at the cinema, but in 3D at home - though if it was only really any good on the big screen (which I think was a view held by some in this thread all those years ago), that's not really a glowing recommendation.

Fwiw I watched it at the cinema and had exactly the same experience as you describe. I have no idea what the general public thinks of it though, maybe it's like Transformers where I think those are really bad and boring movies while at the same time each one is massively popular. 

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