Home

Exceptional Effects Eclipse Tired Tropes

image by Veronica V. Jones

Visual Wizardry Elevates Avatar Above its Collective Clichés

The free-spirited tribal princess and native hottie, Neytiri. Avatar-driving Jake and his reluctant tutor Neytiri. The ultimate Deus Ex Machina, the Planet Pandora.

Heralded as the harbinger of cinema’s new age of enlightenment, James Cameron’s 3D extravaganza Avatar is a feast for the eyes and a light snack for the spirit. The script’s primary ingredients of corporate greed, military zealousness, indigenous spirituality, and flawed heroes going native are nothing new, but this thematic skeleton is given flesh and blood through the masterwork of over ten visual effect studios that have made the tall blue aliens and the fantastic flora and fauna of their world Pandora come alive.

The understated 3D effect was a subtle boost to immersion, but the meticulously detailed, flawlessly animated Na’vi and Na’vi-Human hybrids were the true saving grace of this otherwise lackluster story. The creature designs were also exceptional, but the effects studios long ago mastered the art of providing convincing critters.

Early concerns that the vivid computer-generated characters would not blend well with the “real life” cast were completely unfounded. In fact, the subtle stylistic unrealities are what saved the Na’vi from the uncanny valley, and allowed moviegoers to fully appreciate their alien beauty and intricate expressions without an overly critical eye.

Laundry list of tired tropes aside, Avatar is an engaging, entertaining experience, that may only afterwords pose a few thorny questions: Do blue half-human clones — self-aware or otherwise — have no rights in the future? Has Ripley’s great-granddaughter atoned for Sigourney Weaver’s hand in the death of Hicks and Newt?

Only time can tell, as a sequel is certainly in our future.

Written by in December of 2009. Last edited September 2014.

Related Features

Universal Delays Our Serenity

The Serenity above a cloudy planet, The Serenity logo.

Mark Zug

A small woman with wild brown hair and leather skins crouches. A desert nomad with blue on blue eyes crouches. A young woman with long black hair and a shotgun stands. An orc in a trench coat and a bowler hat smokes a large pipe.

Chronicles of Narnia Will Restore Your Faith… in Disney

Georgie Henley as Lucy, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, William Moseley as Peter  and Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie. Tilda Swinton as the White Witch. Georgie Henley as Lucy, Skandar Keynes as Edmund, William Moseley as Peter  and Anna Popplewell as Susan Pevensie. A big ol' friendly lion named Aslan.

Jean-Paul Mavinga

A small cyborg child sits in a red rock landscape. A shapely woman crawls out of a very small tank. Two children fly though a desolate urban region. A woman with blond hair and a white cowboy hat casually stands. A young woman with a puzzle-cut head stares serenely.

Vampires Done Right in 30 Days of Night

Josh Hartnett in 30 Days of Night. Melissa George in 30 Days of Night. Danny Huston in 30 Days of Night. Megan Franich in 30 Days of Night.

Comments

Be the first to comment!