Feb 16 2010

What Avatar did right.

Published by at 11:39 pm under Uncategorized

As one of the few people in the civilized world who hadn’t yet seen Cameron’s Avatar, I finally broke down and went to see it this past weekend. I wasn’t expecting much in the way of original story (Dances with Smu…er, Wolves meets Disney’s Pocahontas), I went because people like my friend Wil McCarthy, who knows how to tell a story, said it was still worth seeing for the 3D visuals. He was right.

One of the details — the kind of thing that lends a subconscious feel of verisimilitude — that I appreciated was the 3D pictures within the picture. Computer displays, photographs taped to a locker, etc, were each themselves in 3D. That’s non-trivial. It’s reminiscent of the myriad display screens visible in many of the scenes in 2001: A Space Odyssey. That’s the kind of throwaway detail that adds richness to a movie, or a story. Avatar was visually wonderful. I can hardly wait until someone applies the technology, both the 3D and the motion-capture animation, to a film with a plot worthy of it. (Niven’s Ringworld, perhaps?)

One comment so far

One Response to “What Avatar did right.”

  1. Brad R. Torgersenon 19 Feb 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Oh man, can you imagine taking all of Avatar’s money and movie magic, and using it on a good Ringworld script?? Or something like The Integral Trees?? (drool)

    I agree, they did get a lot of small-detail stuff very right. I liked that the big shuttles had heat tiles not too dissimilar from the existing shuttle. I also liked that the humans used projectile and missile weaponry, not ray guns or ‘blasters’ like in Star Wars. The ‘copter planes, the ‘mechs, there were some seriously cool toys in this movie, none of them a huge stretch from today’s technological starting point, except for (of course) the FTL ship in orbit.

    Or maybe it wasn’t FTL at all? Is Pandora a moon in the Alpha Centauri system? The movie never says. Though they do say it took years for the ‘sleepers’ to reach Pandora’s orbit.

    As I noted on my blog, my first and biggest question for James Cameron is: if Unobtainium is found on Pandora, how about on the several dozen other moons that orbit that huge jovian we see in the Pandoran night sky? Just go mine those, and let the xenophiles go play with the blue cat indians via Avatay bodies.