Avatar Sneak Preview: ML3D

Posted by under *ambivalent, Movies, Technology | Join The Discussion |

avatarA few months back, Kevin got us in to see a 15 minute preview of the new James Cameron film Avatar.  The event was similar to the Dark Knight preview we saw a few months before that premiere, but I have to say this was disappointing by comparison.

The problem I had with the preview was that none of the five scenes we were shown were in any way complete.  We saw enough to get the idea: the human military has some interest in a strange alien world, they send in operatives who have uploaded their consciousnesses into the bodies of the indigenous people, mayhem ensues.  The main protagonist appears to be a disabled marine who is made able to walk again in this new body and serves as the viewers’ guide to the alien world.  However, without any real context for the scenes, it was hard for me to get into.  The preview for The Dark Knight gave us the full bank heist scene, and I think anyone who saw it was completely on board for what to expect.

The real showcase for this event was the 3D IMAX technology used to produce the film.  It looks gorgeous when things aren’t really moving around, but the action scenes fell apart.  I struggled a bit having prescription glasses under the 3D goggles, but eventually found a configuration that worked.  Although it was amazing to see the way the scratches and imperfections of my lenses were intensified.

It was kind of interesting to see Sigourney Weaver (Aliens) and Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) working with James Cameron given his success directing properties that made them sci-fi stars.  This movie may be great, but I wasn’t convinced enough to buy advance tickets for the December 18th opening as we walked out.

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REVIEW: Terminator Salvation

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So Termination Salvation is fine I guess. It’s a hard film for me to be enthusiastic about for whatever reason. McG incorporated some ideas that I think are pretty inventive and other ones that don’t make much sense to me.

Bryce Howard and Moon Bloodgood as is typical of these types of movie have very little to do in the film. Star Trek’s Anton Yelchin and Sam Worthington are stuck carrying most of the acting load and I think they get by.  Though for some reason Worthington kept reminding me of John Cena in the Marine and you’d think that would be a bad omen. Christian Bale’s role is less than you’d expect from John Connor and I spent the whole film wondering what the intense emotional scene was that led to his famous diatribe.  I think I missed that scene. Must have blinked.

I think part of the problem with the film is its lack of a specific villain. Skynet is a vague entity that sends lots of robots out to kill or round up humans. Unlike the previous Terminator films, there’s no specific new terminator more dangerous than ever actively stalking the humans throughout the entire film aiming to kill them. When the baddest terminator in Salvation finally shows up, I had to wonder why he was attacking John Connor alone given the setting of the fight.

And while I think the idea of the character Marcus in the film is kind of interesting, in the end I just never felt that invested in him as a character. Plus they ruined the twist surrounding his character in the film’s trailers. Thanks Warner Brothers’ Marketing department. You guys rule.

The film’s nods to the previous Terminator movies came across to me as heavy handed especially a particular musical cue. Though I did enjoy John constantly consulting audio cassette tapes left behind by his mother for guidance.

A large part of the appeal to this particular Terminator sequel is that we finally get to see mankind’s future war versus the machines that has been discussed since the first film. A major problem with this angle is that the future war was just done better on the Terminator: the Sarah Conner Chronicles. In the tv series, the humans were living underground like vermin fighting for their very lives. In Salvation, somehow the humans are maintaining air fields and utilizing futuristic planes. If the humans could create such planes, why aren’t the air fields prime targets for the even more futuristic flying robot Skynet terminator-plane-weapon-thingies? There’s a vague reference to the rebel base being surrounded by a minefield and some sort of magnet but it hardly seems like it could stop an aerial assault. Salvation’s humans are just too well armed for my tastes. Actually seeing the future war reminds me of finally seeing the Clone Wars in the Star Wars prequels. How much of a let down was it to realize the clones were all Boba Fett’s dad and basically prototype storm troopers? The future war was just better served by being shown in short glimpses in the previous films rather than under the steady spotlight of Salvation.

Some of the effects in Salvation are stunning but just as many were distractingly poor in my opinion. In the climax of Salvation, I think you get a little of both amazing effects like we’ve never seen before and cheesy CGI all in the rendering of the Terminator that Playmates at least is calling a T-RIP. One other highlight is that the giant f-ing robot terminator in Salvation is way cooler looking and easier to follow visually than any of Michael Bay’s stupid gymnastic Transformers. I’d like to think in 2009, however, we’ve moved past the point where we as an audience are impressed by the animation that studios can conjure up on a Mac.

And I’m no doctor, but the science behind the film’s concluding moments seems mighty convenient.

So in the end I think Salvation is hands down the worst film in the Terminator franchise, but it’s still better than a lot of science fiction films. It’s kind of a shame Salvation came out a week after Star Trek though, because it pales in comparison.

Also, I think trying to write basically spoiler free reviews of films is an effort in futility.


Come with me if you want to live

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Got to see an early screening of Terminator: Salvation tonight, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I went in with a lot of concerns and trepidation, but I think this is a solid chapter in Terminator mythology.

Nothing contradicted or detracted from the previous film installments, and even the cancelled Sarah Connor Chronicles weren’t completely rejected (nor were they embraced on any level). Kevin had read/heard a rumor months ago about a possible ending to the film that would ruin the franchise, and I can thankfully say that it did not prove true.  Not knowing the details of that rumor until our post-game wrap-up, I did have a fun time speculating on what it might be as I watched everything unfold. Thankfully, none of my wild Terminator Baby scenarios came to pass either.

It was a real treat to see the post-Judgement Day world after the glimpses given in the first three movies. I have to say though, having a story set entirely in that world makes for a far different experience compared to the previous chapters.   That’s not to say it’s necessarily worse (or better), just different.  It’s hard to say whether a casual viewer will dig it, but I’d easily see this again and I think fans will enjoy.