‘Avatar’ fans run through the jungle

Aug. 22, 2009 | 2:22 p.m.

Fans around the world were shown 16 minutes of “Avatar” footage Friday night in a unprecedented promotion that director James Cameron and 20th Century Fox hope will further stoke interest in the film, which doesn’t arrive in theaters until Dec. 18. Hero Complex correspondents Juliette Funes and Kate Stanhope covered it in two sites, and both were hard-pressed to find fans who didn’t like the footage. Their blended report is below; Stanhope shot video in South Gate and Funes wrote up the reactions of some fans at the Bridge cinema in Westchester. We want to hear you reaction too; please leave a message in the comment section. 

Well you can’t say James Cameron isn’t trying.

After screening 20 minutes of his coming sci-fi odyssey “Avatar” at this year’s Comic-Con International and unveiling the trailer for the film on Apple on Thursday, Cameron went above and beyond the call of duty Friday with a free 16-minute sneak peek featuring never-been-seen scenes from the first half of the film. Screening on Friday at 6 p.m. and 6:45 p.m. on Imax screens across the country.

“Avatar Day” took place at 342 screens in 58 countries, with 102 3-D and 3-D Imax screens here in the States, including the Bridge in Westchester, which filled up all 320 seats in each of its four screenings. 
The film, starring Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, is like a cosmic “Dances With Wolves” on acid, in which a tribe of tall, blue indigenous humanoids, called Na’vi, clash with humans invading their strange and beautifully vibrant planet, Pandora.

At the Bridge there was relative calm outside but a lot of action inside, where hordes of moviegoers waited in line to get inside and grab the best seat in the house.
Eric Robbins, 22, sat in front of his computer for two hours trying to make reservations for the screening and, after he had the confirmation, searched online for “the best Imax theatres” to be able to watch the much-talked-about preview of the movie he’s been anticipating for a year.
“I am a huge James Cameron fan. There’s not one movie of his that I don’t like,” the USC film student said. “For me personally, I like seeing the technology being pushed to the boundaries and James Cameron does that … and effortlessly blends the technological aspect of storytelling with a really great story.”

Robbins persuaded his friends to join him at this year’s Comic-Con, where the footage made its public premiere, and then signed them up for the screening, including Erika Edgerlay, 24.   
“He’s really good with storytelling, and I can’t wait to see how good this story turns out to be,” Edgerlay, from Texas, said.
The two-minute online trailer has broken records, with more than 4 million downloads since its release, but some Friday night viewers had steered clear of watching it to preserve the big-screen surprise. Brady Beaubien, 30, was one of them and he was dazzled by what he saw.

“It’s sort of hard to take in,” the San Diego native said. “It was the first time I was watching a 3-D movie where I actually forgot I was watching a 3-D movie. It was totally immersive.”
Many were also impressed with how realistic the animation was.
“I really liked it. It was a lot cooler on a 3-D screen,” Edgerlay said. “It looks really realistic compared to other movies with CGI.” 
Ashley Maria of Los Angeles had a different take. “They made a blue man hot,” she said, referring to Worthington’s transformation into an Avatar. “If that’s a way of saying it’s good, then it’s good.”

The 23-year-old Maria had watched the online trailer and been left confused about the plot, but she said the visuals on the big screen were impressive. “It’s like you’re actually a part of the scenes and action, and when they’re running, you’re running with them,” Maria said. “Each five minutes of segments really developed the characters.”
And when the montage of scenes was flashing by, Maria said she and the group around her grew exasperated.
“We knew the end was coming and we were like, ‘No. We want more,’” she said. “It kind of got me mad that they showed the preview. Now I have to wait until it comes out.”

— Kate Stanhope and Juliette Funes



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“Avatar” coming to a theater near you . . . and sooner than you think

James Cameron brings “Avatar” to Comic-Con

VIDEO: “Avatar” interviews with Sigourney Weaver and Jon Landau

The hype machine for “Avatar” is starting early

Peter Jackson: Movie fans are fed up with the lack of original ideas

VOTE: “Avatar”? “Star Trek”? Which fanboy film has Oscars shot?

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34 Responses to ‘Avatar’ fans run through the jungle

  1. Joerg says:

    These people are either blind or paid to praise the movie becuase it's a real disappointment. After so many years in development, all the hype that James Cameron created in his interviews… where is that never seen before ultra-photorealistic CGI in 3D, uh ?
    Avatar looks like an average 3D cartoon thing like many others released every single year.
    Whoever denies that it's either paid to do it or on drugs. The CGI rendering is awful, Playstation3 videogames have better rendering than most of the scenes seen so far for Avatar. $300million and 10 years for this?

  2. Patty Ptacek says:

    Avatar preview was astounding for its technological look, but the plot points revealed in the 16 minutes made it look like Eragon meets Apocalpto. Story had a "been there, done that feel." Does anyone remember JarJar Binks? That is what the lead characters look like.

  3. Bill says:

    I'm confused – this doesn't look anything like the Nickelodeon show I remember.

  4. Steve says:

    Joerge – You're a friggin' idiot. No PS3 game's rendering comes close to Avatar… If you aren't impress that's fine. I was impress with the trailer, I'll be blown away when I watch it at the IMAX 3D.

  5. Maria: "It kind of got me mad that they showed the preview. Now I have to wait until it comes out."
    DUHHHHHH!! So dont go to a preview if you are going to be irritated afterwards that they showed a preview, dingbat. Man, where do they dig these people up at, the local strip mall?

  6. Ralph Simpson says:

    Is it me or does this film look like a CGI version of Fern Gully!

  7. Mike Jennette says:

    Saw film snippets at AMC 18 at Virginia Beach, VA.
    The 3D digital picture was jaw-dropping.
    I felt as though I were totally immersed in the scenes.
    It seems to be another "heros quest" type of movie, but
    the use of technologies are stupendous. Each scene had
    realistic depth and a feeling of surroundness.
    The five different film clips were heavy into action.
    The creatures inhabiting the planet Pandora seemed
    physically viable and both beautiful and terrifying at
    the same time.
    I really enjoyed the bonding scene between Jake, the
    protagonist, and the flying dragon.
    Can't wait until December, when this is released.
    Want to see how Jim Cameron glues all this together.
    Excellent work, JIM.

  8. ak says:

    Patty this is A DIFFERENT MOVIE you need to look at M. Night Shyamalan's The Last Airbender. It is based on the Nickelodeon show.

  9. Steve says:

    Saint – Dude she's saying that cuz the movie got her more anxious in watching the movie in December meaning that she's mad cuz she's gotta wait… You don't need to be so harsh on her for that.

  10. xbox says:

    This statement is a contradiction of terms. Avatar uses server farms to generate the CGI video. Avatar is rendered with hundred or thousands of processors and workstation machines with terabytes of memory. There is no way a PS3 could render avatar on the fly with 1 CPU and 1 GPU. Obviously a Playstation marketing stunt.
    > The CGI rendering is awful, Playstation3 videogames have better rendering than most of the scenes seen so far for Avatar

  11. Seltzer says:

    "in a unprecedented promotion"
    Which Joss W. did for Serenity… 5 months before the release they showed the film, in it's un finished, un polished glory, with the actors in attendence at the 5 initial preview screenings. And it was the whole film.
    Hardly unprecedented…

  12. Jay West says:

    re: reaction to “AVATAR Day”
    What follows is not a scene by scene analysis… nor do I delve into too much detail or minutia about the 15 minutes worth of scenes shown of James Cameron’s AVATAR on the one-day-only preview billed as “AVATAR Day” and shown in 3-D in select IMAX theaters on Friday, August 21st (so as to keep this as “spoiler free” as possible), rather, this reflects my general reaction in seeing the footage shown.
    I’d like to preface this first by saying that when I saw the online teaser trailer the day before this, I really enjoyed seeing the highly stylized merging of sci-fi and fantasy designs and elements that were parlayed in the trailer — and I was actually a bit in awe. My initial thoughts were that Cameron had delivered a very unique and exhilarating fantasy world filled with some spectacular imagery.
    Yet , when I watched the IMAX 3-D preview, oddly enough — I had a bit of a different reaction. Though given the ideal viewing experience of having the eight stories tall, immense canvas of the IMAX screen surrounded by 12000 watts of pure digital surround sound — I found myself strangely “removed” in watching the scenes chosen for this exclusive preview. Indeed, it was a bit of an “uncanny valley” type of experience — truly, I would not classify this as a live-action film whatsoever — but rather, it is definitely more so an animated feature. Given the abundance of CGI animation — it seems odd that Cameron then just didn’t go ahead and make this a fully animated feature — as Robert Zemeckis has been doing with movies such as THE POLAR EXPRESS (2004), BEOWULF (2007), and the upcoming A CHRISTMAS CAROL.
    It was indeed clear that it’s a visually immersive and majestic world that one enters into for the story of AVATAR — the 3-D is multi-layered, and the scenery is vibrant and ornate; yet it all looked and felt very familiar (and artificial) at the same time — there’s a scene with the rounding up and debriefing of soldiers which occurs much in the same way that it did in Cameron’s 1986 ALIENS (and “power-loader suits” are seen later that are also very similar to those seen in Cameron’s ALIENS)… and then there’s an expedition in a jungle whereas the group encounters ferocious, dinosaur-like creatures such as in the original (1933) and contemporary (2005) versions of KING KONG (not to mention the original THE LOST WORLD (1925) and the JURASSIC PARK sequel (1997) that shares the same name), then there’s the quintessential breaking-in and taming of one’s steed sequence — done here with flying a winged alien creature the likes of which has been seen in the animated movies HEAVY METAL (1981) and FIRE AND ICE (1983) — and there’s even a FERNGULLY: THE LAST RAINFOREST like moment (as in 1992 animated feature) where the blue-skinned alien female Na’vi named Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) shows the Jake Sully character (Sam Worthington) the ways of nature on her planet — which also echoes memories of Pocahontas showing John Smith the ways of “her land” in Disney’s 1995 animated feature POCAHONTAS.
    All of this ultimately is presented with imagery that conjures up memories of CGI creatures and worlds created by ILM for George Lucas’ STAR WARS movies: ATTACK OF THE CLONES (2002) and REVENGE OF THE SITH (2005) — in particular, the creatures from the CLONES arena battle could just as easily be inserted into AVATAR’s world of Pandora, and vice versa — and Pandora’s lush, forest filled world could easily be swapped with the alien world of “Utapah” and the Wookies’ home planet of “Kashyyyk” as seen in SITH.
    Granted, these scenes represent just the tip of the “iceberg” (no pun intended), so it’s a bit too early to have a final opinion until one has seen the entire film… and even Cameron himself appears at the beginning of the footage stating that he is only showing scenes in the preview that occur in the first part of the movie so as not to divulge too much — yet nevertheless, from these carefully selected 15 minutes worth of scenes — I wanted more…. and I wanted that WOW factor that would signify the incredible “watershed” of things to come… something fresh and remarkable to validate the incredible claims spun in the trumpeting-like PR announcements of this movie’s “photorealistic” characters and environments that represented the next level of CGI — where we would see incredible worlds, characters, and situations never before seen.
    Instead, unfortunately, I felt I’d been privy to a tremendous hype campaign, rather than an engaging and unique cinematic experience.
    Ultimately, this movie is being done a huge disservice by being billed as, and sold as, having “reinvented the wheel” in CGI — that’s setting an incredibly high and unachievable bar for it — and the results simply do not reinforce those claims — in fact, the scenes show commonplace (yet excellent) CGI that audiences have been used to seeing over the past many years.
    One thing I’ve always admired about Cameron’s sci-fi and special effects work — such as in his first and second TERMINATOR films and ALIENS film — was his never-ending ability to create scenes and moments of wonder from “matchsticks” and “cloth” so to speak. Cameron’s technical prowess, gut instincts, and creative abilities have allowed him to turn the most raw of elements into technical marvels in the past — tricking the eye with the simplest of materials at his disposal and fashioning them into iconic, cinematic moments and marvels — yet still giving them “heart and soul” in the process. That type of auter-like cinematic craftsmanship felt sorely absent here.
    I’m still certainly looking forward to seeing AVATAR — but now that I have seen this 15 minutes of what to expect — my expectations have definitely been lowered (but again, only because of the way that this movie has been hyped and “sold” to us for so long). Ultimately, I’m looking forward to seeing a highly stylized, sci-fi animated adventure movie during the holidays — with the promise that Cameron has saved “the best for last” in revealing the full excitement and wonder of his opus when AVATAR hits theaters on December 18th.
    – Jay West
    editor/writer – http://www.alienexperience.com

  13. Roman says:

    i like Steve, wish there were more people like him

  14. Christopher says:

    I thought the footage shown in theaters was phenomenal! It was unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The online trailer doesn’t do the movie justice. It truly needs to be experienced in IMAX 3D. Kudos to James Cameron for doing such an amazing job making this film.

  15. A.Q. Smith says:

    What infuriates me is the people commenting who have NOT seen the Avatar Day footage in true IMAX 3D. Because, honestly, you really have no idea what you're talking about. Period. You can't say how it "looks" or "what you think." If you want to knock it after seeing the preview, fine, but you CANNOT base your opinions off of the teaser. There's a reason Cameron only sneaked this in IMAX 3D theaters…
    I'm absolutely in love, and cannot wait. Furthermore, I think the CGI WAS almost photorealistic. Sadly, because of the incredibly fantastical images on screen, every viewer was continually reminded that they were indeed watching digital rendering of giant blue "aliens."

  16. Ken says:

    The hype campaign is out of control on this one. Fox flunkies are everywhere on the net. From a purely technical standpoint… The CGI was jerky and cartoony and the stereo 3d headache inducing. I hope they clean up all those occlusions especially in the cliff scene from the preview before the film is released. Nobody will sit through 3 and 1/2 of vomit inducing 3d. I hope Fox is busy designing Avatar Barf bags.

  17. Camron says:

    jar jar binks the Movie. That's all I can say. Looks terrible.

  18. Manny says:

    I work for a NASDAQ listed firm called NaviSite / i am NOT kidding!!!

  19. ZP says:

    Joerg ur an idiot. I saw the 15 min preview and it was a million times better than the trailer. For most part everything looked photoreal. I think alot of us geeks/film students have the wrong idea about avatar. Its not supposed to be virtual reality!!! I think we only makes such a small percent of the audience and the general public who have no idea this movie will be coming out will be blown away by its intelligent use of 3d. Nevertheless 3d is used as more to draw you in the surroundings which Im sure it will once u engage more within the characters!
    I cant believe so many people have jumped on camerons back!! Everyone thought titanic was gonna suck and it didnt!! The trailer for transformers looked amazing yet the movie was ordinary! Once again the general public will make this movie a hit or not! not a few of us discussing it 4 months out

  20. John A, Reese says:

    First of all I have to say that the 16 minute was simply amazing. Words cannot describe how spectacular it was. I was some excited for Avatar and I waited on my computer for about an hour, but it was worth it. I saw the footage at AMC 20 in Newport, Kentucky. As first trailer was a little underwhelming for me, but that changed when I went to the theater. As soon as I put on the 3d glasses on, I knew I was in for a treat. The footage came on and I was blown away. The CGI motion capture aspect is perfect. James Cameron has truly perfected this. film making technique. I can't wait to see this beautiful film in December.

  21. Chris says:

    I've watched the trailer in 1080 HD on a 42 inch flatscreen about 20 times now and I am happily stunned by it's gorgeousity every time I watch it. The music and sounds, the lab scene where Jake sits up are astounding and spectacular! If it looks slightly CGI, then so what! When Titanic was sinking parts of it looked clearly like a model and oh no! So what? How else is Cameron supossed to realize his imagination? Build the flying ships for real and film in the Costa Rican rain forest for a year with the actors walking around on stilts with prosthetics on their faces and yellow contact lenses in their eyes?

  22. steviegbcool@hotmail says:

    looks like battlefield earth 2

  23. Michael says:

    Maybe James Cameron is "King of the World".
    The footage shown was incredible. Unlike the Star Wars prequel which featured actors in front of a cartoon background, Cameron has created a real world with Pandora.
    The 3-D effects are spectacular and most amazingly not gimmicky. 3-D is used to immerse you in the film's world, not to have things jump out of the screen at you.
    Can't wait until December. Now I just find the closest REAL IMAX screen. IMAX lite doesn't cut it.

  24. Jim Krisvoy says:

    I was pretty much blown away by the footage I saw (at the Imax Universal City) and on-screen, everything looks real….and the scenes play well – so this should be around for a long time (by theatrical release standards) and, at least from the advance look, probably will have a lot of repeat viewings in its' release and when it comes to Blue Ray 3D sometime next year. I have also seen some of the 3D TV's currently available – with 3D content – awhile back, which do look good, and "Avatar" should show off these new TV's to their very best advantage.

  25. LLNYRN says:

    I will say that Live-action in 3D still has that blurry, double vision effect to it. And can the IMAX/theaters/studios start replacing those flimsy, BIG frame glasses with the Ray-Ban style ones used for Digital 3D presentations?
    The world of Pandora looked like a70s Roger Dean/YES album cover mixed with Black-Light effects. That was absolutely STUNNING in 3D IMAX.
    Floating Islands…ROGER DEAN!!!
    But I still feel that Cameron has a hard time directing simple human interactions unless said characters are in extraordinary situations.
    And the "guy who's a fish-out-of-water" in a "savage land" meeting warrior woman who speaks in mono-syllables" is getting really old.
    That said,
    "AVATAR" looks GREAT.
    I'm a Cameron fan (except "TITANIC").
    And I will be there on Dec. 18th.

  26. Frank says:

    Well, I liked what I saw at the start, up until the blue people showed up.
    The main issue, and maybe they will fix this in editing and CGI as it gets closer is that much like the first Hulk, the people look fake. Again, the story might be good, the acting may be as well, but if I feel like I am looking at claymation over a movie, it turns me off.

  27. Richard D. Taken says:

    I for one cant wait, but as someone who works (Manager) at a movie theater I will say that they need to do all they can to get the 3D service charge taken off the tickets. If they don't then they will have a lot of people who don't want to pay an extra fee to see the movie. Trust me when I say that our theater losses a lot of customers who are coming to see a movie and then find out that its in 3D. Now our theater is a $2.50 service charge but I know that other "bigger" theaters have a higher charge that reach up to $4.00. I'm not trying to say anything bad about the movie, I think its going to be amazing and I would pay the fee for 3D. But with other people out there who don't have a lot of money to go to the movies find out that there is a service charge they will turn around an go home. So I don't know what I can do, but some how we need to make a protest to drop the 3D surcharge that the movie will have. Spreed the word, and maybe James Cameron and 20th Century Fox will see our requests and get it dropped to a normal ticket price.
    Other then that, Can't wait!
    Richard D. Taken

  28. joe says:

    looks like poo. and whats with the blue jar jars? This kiddy mumbo jumbo hollywood regurgitated junk is what all the fanboys want i suppose… Hey look everyone, this could be real, it's so immersive, i do believe i do believe in fairies!!!!!!!!!

  29. steve says:

    looks alot like the phantom menace. some eco movie about blue people in a forest and evil nasty army types. yawn. it may just clear 100 million but that's about it.

  30. Damon says:

    Hey Joerg, don't let the door hit you in your cynical butt on the way out.

  31. Rockrodflobo says:

    Let me put this as honestly as I can: it looks overworked and boring.
    When's Hollywood gonna realize there's not a proportional relationship btn budget/graphics and emotional weight.

  32. Rob says:

    I think Avatar looks good, and the planet looks good, with detailed CGI, but the aliens don't look detailed at all, and they look cartoony. I think Avatar would have been better if it looked more realistic and less cartoony. I also think it would have looked a lot better if it had a much higher frame rate.

  33. Jim Hartley says:

    It ticks me off that my good friend Roger Dean does not seem to be given any credit for the artwork in the promotion of the film Avatar. It's clear to all who are even remotely aware of his work on albums for Yes, Asia, Uriah Heep and many others, that the movie set is a near replica of his imagery. You can see what I mean by going to http://sfae.com/index.php?action=gallery&stat… and to http://www.rogerdean.com
    Is this a blatant rip off? What do you think?
    ReportReplyEditMore ▼
    Logged in as jimhartley

  34. realleigh says:

    The World of Roger Dean has been recreated for the backdrop of James Cameron's characters. My fear? What has been an extremely creative and humble man's life work will not be recognized as such. Roger Dean since the 1960's has been painting, drawing and sketching his magical worlds that bands were lucky enough to use for the Album Covers and the stage sets of world tours. Those lucky bands are YES, Asia & Uriah Heep. Please see his artwork and you will see where the inspiration for this film came from: http://www.sfae.com/index.php?action=gallery&…

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