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James Cameron’s Avatar brings the SEXY back to Hollywood

Jan 21, 2010 by Douglas McBride

This is it ladies and gentleman. Here’s our very own Avatar spectacular review. So cue the bullhorn–Twice. You’ll get our review of the film, and the latest on the film’s reported links to depression, and record breaking box office tallies.

As a bonus, since you’re reading this review on Travelin’ Local, we’ve also got the true story of the film’s hush, hush, Hollywood premier. Folks, we’re not talking about the well-publicized red carpet premier that was held on Dec 20th. No, no, people. This screening went down secretly on Dec 18th, and James Cameron was present as part of a Q+A panel alongside Sigourney Weaver, Sam Worthington, and Producer John Landau. Think big money, and a privately sponsored event to push the new awards focused, L.A. Times spin-off publication, The Envelope. Are you ready for this? If you want all the dirt on the film, you’ve got it right here, so… read on, sexy reader, read on!

Avatar’s Secret Showing

Imagine a packed house, comprised completely of industry types, and other assorted lucky bastards, inside the Mann’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The theater was filled to capacity, with additional film goers lining the walls and aisles of the theater. Fire hazards be damned, these people wanted seats. No audience on the planet had yet seen Avatar, and everyone present knew who was going to speak afterward. So, needless to say, polite smiles, and courtesy were cast aside. An anything goes sort of attitude took over. Dark pairs of 3-D glasses were slipped quickly onto faces, as people tried to stake their claims for a place at the screening. As if they were all part of some ridiculous club.

Michelle Rodriguez as Trudy Chacon

Has James Cameron found a way to bring the SEXY back to 3-D glasses also? Or was he just trying to cause a brawl inside a multiplex? SAG members and VIP guests flashed each other dirty looks, struggling to reach the few remaining seats inside the theater. Then, seconds before the curtain rose, the lights started to dim. The searching faces glanced up, the theater darkened, and then it all happened.

For well over two and a half hours the audience sat transfixed. At times the crowd cheered out loud by majority, some clapping in the middle of scenes, while others quietly wept during others. Sounds a little crazy right? Yeah, I thought so—a whole lot of crazy!

Zo‘ Saldana is Neytiri

Well if you haven’t already heard, there’s a new CNN article– that talks about the particular type of crazy Avatar has inspired. The film has apparently brought out some strong emotions in people, causing some filmgoers to suffer depression like symptoms. Word is, a number of those have considered suicide, looking for support in chat rooms and online forums. Maybe the 3-D glasses have enhanced things in a big way, or maybe it’s just the film. Sure, people already have their own issues, but it’s all worth pointing out. Make of that what you will, but when the credits rolled that night, the audience broke into uproarious applause.

Cameron’s Entourage

Then Cameron and Co. walked out onto the stage, and suddenly the theater was standing room only. As the audience found their seats once again, a moderator went through a Q+A session with the group, and the audience remained transfixed for another half hour. For an experience that lasted nearly four hours–all told– the whole event seemed to fly by at breakneck speed. Rarely do you find an audience willing to sit for that long, let alone willingly. Towards the end of the Q+A, when the film’s Director was asked about his future projects he joked, “Well, first we’ve got to make some money on this one.”

Cameron’s Laughing all the way to the Bank

Cameron’s hopes of making money on his new film have now become an absurd reality. Avatar has grossed nearly 1.7 billion dollars at the box office to date. That’s probably a monstrous weight off the man’s shoulders, considering the film cost a reported $300 million to produce, plus an extra $150 million for marketing and promotional costs. There are only three other films in all of cinema history that can touch those kinds of cost totals. In release for just under a month, Avatar has already come close to breaking the all time box office record set by Titanic at 1.8 billion dollars.

James Cameron at the Golden Globe Awards

To Cameron, it may very well feel like he’s bringing the sexy back to blockbuster filmmaking. Blockbusters aren’t always welcomed as critical successes, but Avatar might be one of the few exceptions to the rule. The Director’s other little movie –you know the one about the boat- was the biggest exception to that particular rule, ever. Without peers at the box office (until maybe now), Titanic won Golden Globes for Best Picture, and Best Director. The film also swept the Oscars with eleven wins, including Best Picture and Best Director.

The new, crazy brand of SEXY is back in Hollywood

For a blockbuster film, stealing awards away from the rest of the critical frontrunners is fairly unique.  Some might even call it audacious.  Since James Cameron seems to have gotten his Mojo roaring back with Avatar—whether he ever lost it may be subjective, but I digresswe might even be talking about some new, crazy brand of SEXY.

Indeed—we are and it is, and now the word and film, Avatar, is part of our national lexicon. Go figure………………..

The Colonel

Avatar compared to Titanic

So, is Avatar so good, that it’s worth getting depressed and suicidal over?  The answer is no.  Not even close.  But no movie is.  Don’t let any of this film’s haters or critics fool you though.  Avatar is an immensely entertaining feature, in spite of any arguable flaws it might have.  The film is worth seeing, and it’s also a worthy awards candidate.  Cameron’s latest is best caught inside a theater though, while the catching is still good.  So, what does that mean? 

Titanix

Well, let’s put it this way.  It might be hard for future generations to understand what all of the hubbub was about back in 2009 and 2010.  That’s because Avatar is the most visually stunning version of a CGI film yet, with the key word being ‘yet.’  That obviously won’t be the case ten or twenty years from now. 

3-D the NEW NEW SEXY Movie Craze

3D movie theater

But for the time being, Avatar is aesthetically new and powerful, and it’s worth seeing in a theater now, for that reason alone.  The 3-D effects only enhance the experience.  If you’ve got serious issues with depression, the bummer might come from the fact that real life seems a little lame after seeing Avatar in a theater.  Consider yourself warned.  As for everyone else, if you’ve got the chance to see it in 3-D, take it.  As an aside—yes Hollywood did experiment with 3-D 40 years ago:

Avatar the Movie, the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

The fact that the eye-popping visuals tend to distract viewers from the film’s possible weak points is worth a mention.  So let’s talk weaknesses.  Avatar has got compelling characters, but there are some questions that can easily be posed about the film’s originality. In certain key moments, the plot is a little hard to swallow, as well.  To break it all down, we’ll need to give you some hints about what happens in the film. 

So here’s your Spoiler Alert, and a Warning

Don’t let the film’s few flaws stop you from enjoying the film for what it is: an entertaining, and visually breathtaking film.

War on Pandora

With all that in mind, let’s get to it.  First up is the originality issue.  Without even having seen the film, you’re free to glance at the photos within this article.  See all of those interesting looking blue creatures, in the photos?  Well, according to Avatar, those creatures are known as the Na’vi.  To make a long story short, the Na’vi seem a little too reminiscent of all those cute little Ewoks from Return of The Jedi

Their saving grace is that they look completely different, of course.  We’re just talking about a few too many parallels here, with a film that quite a few people have seen, that also happened to launch the empire of George Lucas, another film and special effects pioneer for the movies. 

Another mentionable Weakness comes in the shape of a Plot Twist

Yeah, things go wrong. Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington), is the main character of Avatar, and he inhabits two roles–he’s leading a double life, of sorts.  In one life, he’s got the use of his legs, is agile, strong, and free.  In the other life, he’s the prisoner of his own limited body, and duties as a soldier.  This involves heavy plot description, so to cut to the chase:

When the Chips are Down, and all seems Lost, our Hero tries a last ditch Solution

Again here’s your spoiler alert…our hero finds the biggest, baddest, bird in the sky and tames it. Then he flies into the makeshift Na’vi village on the bird, and expects everyone to be impressed–all this after he’s caused the deaths of numerous Na’vi, destroyed the tribe’s village and way of life, and triggered the near destruction of the entire planet. 

Neytiri

Frankly, it’s all a bit too much to take—really–especially considering that it seems like our hero just rode in, on what amounts to a new horse—one that’s out of control.  New horse, new car, new dragon, new bird, you get the idea. None of it seems all that inspiring; at least, not enough to lift an entire race from the most crushing disaster they’ve ever witnessed, to defeat their oppressive, technologically advanced, human enemies.  This one’s bigger than the last flaw, for sure. 

To be sure, Cameron is making a statement about society, but who the hell cares when you’re having so much fun, right?

Technicality, it’s a weakness that’s explained away by way of the tribe’s folklore.  Within the impressive scope of the film though, it amounts to another flaw worth mentioning, without getting too carried away.  Technically, Cameron’s got it covered, even if that plot point doesn’t seem to work on an emotional level to the degree and kind that other types of movies do.  Oh well, such are the idiosyncratic motif’s of the movies.

Get while the Gettin’ is good—go to the Movie Theatre and see Avatar

To reiterate, Avatar’s weaknesses aren’t over-the-top, but the film’s visuals and box office tallies definitely make that grade. In terms of mass appeal, Cameron is the ‘King of the Hollywood World,” once again.  The man knows how to connect with filmgoers, and there’s an undeniable strength to that, whether you’re a fan of his work or not. 

Avatar does pose some interesting questions about sustainability, war, and human wastefulness to viewers, in addition to being entertaining.  Without the Director’s ability to connect with those viewers though, the messages within the film, however blunt they might seem, would remain undelivered and the film unwatched.

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

The critical attention the film has garnered, in addition to the box office shattering numbers it carries, will inevitably lead everybody and their brother to compare Avatar with Titanic.  The two films are vastly different though.  We’ll let every Tom, Dick, and Harry, analyze that! But for now, Avatar is the best that CGI, and blockbuster filmmaking have to offer. 

Again, this movie is a visual spectacle worth seeing sooner, rather than later.  The points I made about the plot and its originality are worth making, but the flaws are not glaring, and this film is no throw away.  I recommend, as do my fellow film critics, that Avatar is worth seeing inside a theater, despite its obvious inherent weakness’. Provided you can find a seat, though. If you can successfully find one without getting into a fight for that seat, you might even feel SEXY wearing the special 3-D glasses made for watching the movie.

If you’ve got any thoughts on Avatar, Cameron, or your own interpretation of what cinematic SEXY is or should be, then leave us a comment.  We’d love to hear your thoughts or forever regret you didn’t speak up!

Just sayin’………..Travelin’ local had fun reviewing this Film and its writer, Douglas McBride’s sense of humor suits the extraordinary kind of SEXY and CRAZY that Avatar embraces.

[UPDATE] FILM NEWS: Avatar officially crushes Titanic with $1.859 billion in 41 Days!

If you haven’t gotten the scoop yet, James Cameron’s Avatar is now the highest grossing film of all time. The film’s new total of roughly $1.86 billion, has blown Cameron’s other little boat movie out of the water, and into the number two slot. Sure, it only seemed like a matter of time. But Cameron’s new flick managed to conquer all challengers in just 41 Days! Let’s say it again…41 days!That means it took Avatar less than a month and a half to beat the $1.843 billion racked up by Titanic (right along with the box office totals of every other film in the history of cinema).

Just think: Cameron could have fixed health care in the United States with the profits from either one of his last two flicks. Now if we can just get J.C. and Barack together for dinner at the White House, maybe we can finally fix this thing, once and for all, right? In all seriousness though, this is kind of crazy, isn’t it? Or maybe it’s just seriously crazy.

If you’ve got some thoughts on Avatar and it’s audacious box office totals we’d love to hear from you. We’d also like to know how far you think the film will actually fly into the box office stratosphere. Do you think Avatar can break $2 or even $3 billion dollars at the box office? To ignore the question, would be like trying to ignore the proverbial elephant in the room. In this case, the elephant is more like a blue, six hundred pound, gorilla, with a black question mark painted on his furry chest. He looks your way and grunts. You can see that he’s guarding all the Avatar cash. And all you’ve got to do to take the cash is guess how much the film will make all told. He grunts again, and sniffs at you. It’s almost as if he’s daring you to guess. Just don’t call him James or Cameron. He really doesn’t like those names.

Send us your comments!!! We want to hear your thoughts AND your guesses on the film’s final box office tallies!!!

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12 Responses to “James Cameron’s Avatar brings the SEXY back to Hollywood”

  1. Avatar2010 says:

    I do believe that the film was very sexy and I just don’t mean in the way that the character Neytiri made me feel. Who at times made me question why I was so aroused at the thought of her, all 10 foot of her lanky blue-self coming towards me in some sort of 3-D sensuality that I could not take my eyes away from. No other film in Sci-Fi history has made more men rub one out like James Cameron’s “Avatar” creation – Neytiri, the blue native warrior princess with quite the bod and a** for days. It’s not just her, it’s the entire film that is stunningly beautiful, sleek and almost erotic by nature of it’s vividly colored planet and it’s never been seen before inhabitants. Maybe, I’m reading into it all a bit much and when it’s all said and done that in the long line of films that are chosen every so often by the masses to hail greatness upon, that “Avatar” will just be another of Cameron’s billion dollar successes. But, I have a feeling this epic based on spiritual power versus monetary evils will stand up and takes it’s place in the annels of groundbreaking Hollywood films, as it rightly should.

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    Movieman Reply:

    I loved “Avatar” and even though it cost $500,000,000 to bring to life and it will surely turn out a monstrous profit as it approaches the $2 billion dollar mark, isn’t there a point where even though a studio is making money off of a high budget film – that spending that much money on entertainment is kind of disgusting, I mean come on people…!?!? Let a huge portion of “Avatar’s” profits rebuild Haiti…!!!

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  2. Doug McBride says:

    I’m feeling all the sexy reader love, people! Thanks for chiming in with all the comments on the piece. You can always find me here, ready to chime back with a reply, sooner or later. ;)

    As for the Haiti, thing, you’d hope that Cameron and all the studios will donate in a big way to the relief fund. With the key word being ‘big,’ right?

    As for Neytiri, she’s definitely a sexy lady. She’s also a kick-ass female character, all around. So that makes her a great addition to Cameron’s cinematic canon of strong, sexy, ass kicking ladies. Think Ripley in the Aliens series, and Sarah Connor in the Terminator films.

    For all his detractors, Cameron probably doesn’t get enough credit for creating so many rockin’ female warrior types. They tend to inspire consistent interest for both men and women, and that’ no easy feat. Cameron also deserves credit for not letting those lovely ladies languish on the fringes of his films. He puts Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Neytiri at the very heart of the action. That’s actually something pretty unique, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear future critics give Cameron, along with Tarantino their just due respectively, for doing so.

    So, riddle me this readers: WHO WOULD WIN IN A SERIOUS SMACK DOWN BETWEEN RIPLEY, SARAH CONNOR, AND NEYTIRI?

    [Reply]

    Hector Reply:

    @Doug McBride,
    Truly a great review !!
    couldn’t have put it any better . I would love to hear what you have to say about a few other films . I will check back in for any other reviews you might post .
    well written !!!

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    Doug McBride Reply:

    Hah!!! Did this guy even read the review? He’s clearly crazy!

    Just kidding Hector. Thanks for the love. Seriously.

    OK, so enough of the sexy talk….

    As for the smack down between Ripley, Sarah Connor, and Neytiri, I’m gonna answer my own question and see what you all think. I’m going with Sarah Connor. Truth be told I like Ripley the best, but Sarah Connor is a single mom, and you don’t want to tussle with a single mom. She always seemed to have shitloads of guns lying around too. So, I’m guessing she comes in guns blazing and the fight ends pretty quickly.

    Any protests on my theory? Speak now, or forever hold your peace.

    [Reply]

    David Reply:

    @Doug McBride, Personally, I don’t find science fiction creatures attractive. For me, Ripley is to Amazon. But Sarah Connor is hot.

    BTW, you’ve got a wicked sense of humor.

  3. Doug McBride says:

    David, you just made my f____in’ night with that compliment.

    No joke.

    So what does that say about me?

    You know what. Don’t answer that…

    But I’m right there with you. Sarah Connor was and still remains kick ass hot. She was kind of punk, kind of gorgeous, and all kinds of fierce. All that, plus the fact that her 80’s hair do would flop around a little, every time she pumped her shotgun or fired it. If memory serves, she only needed one hand to pump and fire.

    If that’s not kick ass sexy, I don’t know what is.

    Thanks for the comment David! Come on back anytime, and together we’ll somehow convince everyone that I’m funny. You just might have to do most of the convincing though.

    Speaking of which…readers… If you disagree, or feel that I’m a complete idiot, that’s cool too. Drop us a line.

    As for Sarah Connor, Ripley and Neytiri, it looks like S.C. is getting the love so far. So who’s the sexiest, and who’s the toughest in your eyes? Who’d win in a serious smack down? Give us a shout? I’m saying…SAAARRRRAAAAAAAHH!!!!! OOOO…ARGH…ARGHH….ARGHHHH,,,,

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    Avatar2010 Reply:

    Uh, Neytiri is like 10 feet tall and has some spiritual mojo fist and bow and arrow action that Sarah and Ripley can’t even come close too. Also, she rides dragons and in a one on one duke it out brawl there’s no doubt in my mind that she’d leave blue imprints all over those two (Sarah and Ripley). I actually like Ripley’s character the best as well but I don’t believe she or Sarah has the chops to lay out Neytiri. Anybody disagree – bring it…!?!?

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    Doug McBride Reply:

    You’re right about the fist fight thing. Neytiri would win, hands down. I won’t argue with that. But Sarah’s got the guns, and guns go bang-bang.

    I guess if Sarah gets to keep her guns though, Neytiri should get to shoot her arrows from her flying dragon, and Ripley should get to fight in that big robot thing of hers. Fair is fair, right? Then you’d have one hell of a smack down too.

    Sarah still gets my vote for sexiest of the bunch though. I wouldn’t count her and all those guns out too quickly in a fight either. ;)

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    Doug McBride Reply:

    Oops. Forgot to mention..,

    Thanks for the comment Avatar2010. It’s very much appreciated.

    Avatar2010 Reply:

    Yeah, that’s a tough toss up to who’d win…hmmm. It looks like Ripley is the one with the most disadvantages. I would be interested to hear what some other folks thought out there? Come on people, what’s the word. I still go with Neytiri but I see how Sarah Connor is quite the bad-ass.

  4. jamescameronhater says:

    I’m glad Cameron got snubbed at the Oscars this past year. No matter how nice he appears to be or act, you just know he’s a ego-maniacal, doucher behind closed doors. Avatar 2 is going to be lame and all about money at this point.

    [Reply]

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