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Many Beheld AVATAR Yesterday!! 5 Reviews Make Hand Party Here! And One? Not So Much (Sorta)...

Merrick here...
...with some looks at AVATAR, which is currently enjoying a 92% "Fresh" rating on over at Rotten Tomatoes (HERE).
AICN reader Gilius Thunderhead got a look at the film, then shared thoughts with us...
Hey AintitCool. Long-time reader, first time writer. I just got out of a screening of a movie called Avatar, ever heard of it? Kidding, of course. Well, after months and months of mixed to negative fanboy rants, jokes about "Thundersmurfs," industry insiders hinting that the movie sucks, the mixed reaction to the trailers, and whatever else all the naysayers and haters had to bitch about, I am happy to report that Avatar simply kicks ass. Believe the hype. As some of the Talkbackers say, "it will fuck your eyeballs!" And ears too. I went in with medium expectations. I too thought some of the trailer footage seemed video game-ish, but there's a big difference between seeing it on a computer screen versus seeing it blown-up in all of its ReadD 3-D glory. Don't care for the design of the Na'vi? About 20 minutes into it, you won't give a fuck what they look like--because they're living, breathing beings on screen. It's quite simply some of the most dazzling and realistic motion capture to ever grace the silver screen. Cameron set out to make them real and believable and he knocked it out of the part. People can bitch about the story and call it "Dances with Aliens" all they want. Has this story been told before? Yea, sort of, but not told like this, and definitely not like this visually. You'll leave the theater wishing you can book a ticket to Pandora. I think Cameron's best film is Aliens. This movie is still too new and fresh in my mind to say that it is better than Aliens, but after a few days of digesting the film, who knows, it might. I know, sacrilege, right? The performances by the real actors are solid as well. Sigourney kicks ass, The relationship between Jake and Neyteeri is believable, and one of the thing I was afraid wouldn't work, but it did. Surprisingly, there's a lot of emotion sprinkled throughout the film, and I at times felt myself getting a little choked up, again, something I wasn't expecting from CG characters but there are moments in this film that are breathtaking, heartbreaking, and amazing. And the death scenes for a certain few are really effective. Have you ever felt like shit watching a tree get blown to shreds? I never have, but in Avatar, you just might. I detected and heard sniffles throughout the theater during various moments of the film. There are moments of bad assery and cheer too. Remember the feeling you got when you first saw Aliens and you get to that scene when Ripley emerges from the cargo dock in the power loader? There are plenty of those moments. In fact, there's one fight towards the end that mirrors the Queen Alien versus Power Loader, only in reverse. This time you're cheering for the alien and you want the asshole in the robot to die hard and good. I guess that's all I have to say for now. The movie delivers on all levels and has very minor flaws and James Horner's score is just the icing on the cake. I will for sure see it again in theaters, next time in IMAX. The movie currently has a 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, it probably wont stay that high for long since there's always a hater, but I'd be shocked of this ranked below an 80% fresh rating. We live in a time where everything seems to be a remake. A film like Avatar may have a story that's familiar, but it's set in a world that was built from scratch, visualized in a way that is gorgeous, epic and breathtaking, and made by a director who is a true visionary. I hope everyone goes out to see this film, and 3-D is a must. It deserves every dollar it can get and I hope it doesn't tank. It's a beautiful film. If you decide to post this review, call me Gilius Thunderhead.

Here's the perspective of an AICN masked man called The Lone Ranger, who uses the phrase "brilliantly insane" to describe the movie (which I think is quite fitting).
Avatar By The Lone Ranger Not content to be King of this World, James Cameron has become a god of his own world in "Avatar", a giant, bugfuck masterpiece of obsessive detail, thundering clichés, and jaw-dropping action. Most of the story you know from the trailer. Basically "Dances with Smurfs" amped to the max, Sam Worthington is a crippled Marine who mindmelds with a bioengineered alien body on a distant, Earth-like planet, falls in love with the local warrior princess, goes native, and leads The People in a war against his own people. If you’re looking for an original story, "Avatar" is not it. Despite Cameron’s obsessive attention to detail, he conveniently leaves large gaps of logic when it suits him – such as a multi-trillion, Earth-hangs-in-the-balance effort, that’s presided over by a junior manager, a colonel, and one scientist instead of the phalanx of Vice-Presidents, Generals, and Nobel-chasing researchers that would be swarming over the planet. And just where is all the water coming from that falls from the floating islands in the sky? Anyway, you get the idea. Cameron wasn’t about to let story or logic get in the way of what he really wanted to do – create a dense, life-like world completely within a hybrid camera-computer system and have it be virtually impossible to tell what’s real and what’s not. Cribbing heavily from his own undersea travels, Cameron’s Pandora is a mix of rain forest, Jurassic-era plants, undersea transplants, and fantasy animals all rendered with stunning realism. Even the computer-generated Navi, who really are avatars since Cameron’s system maps the actors’s actions and expressions to them, quickly stop being animated creatures and just become giant blue actors. The 3D effects are outstanding too – part of what makes Pandora so real is the depth of field you feel looking at each scene – everything looks natural to the eye even though nearly everything in the movie is fake. There’s been a lot of speculation as to how well the movie will do – I still have no idea, but I think Fox’s bet is safe. "Avatar" builds to one of the most amazing climaxes you’ve ever seen – a balls-out air and land battle between a fleet of gunships and hordes of natives and animals that’s not going to be topped for a long time to come – if ever. Along with the battle of Minas Tirith in "The Return of the King", this is one of those times in cinema where you just sit and watch in awe and wonder at what you’re seeing. Cameron may not be the most original film maker in the world, but he’s one of the most visceral – I don’t think there’s a better action film maker today. "Avatar", like Cameron, is brilliantly insane filmmaking. If there’s a downside to it, I don’t see how Cameron’s ever going to top this and he may go nuts (and bankrupt Fox) trying, but try I’m sure he will try and whatever it is, it’s going to be amazing to see.

Now here's a review which nicely echoes my own sentiments about the film, including the comment about it taking a few minutes to settle into the "vibe" of the movie. This is from AICN reader Cameron's Bitch. I like this review because it does, fairly, point out a few of the film's jarring elements. I agree with Bitch's assessment as a whole.
Long time reader (cliche' line I know). Never reviewed anything before. In fact, while I read the forums daily, I've never even felt compelled to post for some reason. But my pal rang me yesterday coz he scored 2 tickets to an early screening of Avatar tonight, and of course... I went! Who wouldn't, right? I actually have tickets to the opening night next Wednesday at Imax with a big bunch of friends. So to be honest, I was kinda 'unprepared'. What I mean is... I've been waiting to see this since it was mentioned years ago. And I've been super pumped for a good while now. In my head I was doing the 'countdown' to next week. So to be sitting there all of a sudden tonight kinda caught me off guard. I finished off some work. Rocked down to George St Cinemas in Sydney. And before i had a chance to get all vibed, I was watching it. James Cameron's sci fi 3d epic. His first feature in umpteen years. I don't wanna do a typical review. I don't know why... it kinda feels unnecessary. You know... the acting was solid, of course. He had good peeps in it. We know the overall plot. It's a story that's been told before, sure. So was Star Wars. So have many films. Good and bad. That's not really an issue. Now it's being told slightly differently. To be told any more of the plot (which, let's face it... anybody who is dying to see this knows anyway) or be given more spoilers than the trailers or docos or clips out there have already given away does the whole experience a disservice I think. Because this is more an experience than a film in a way. Deep down everyone is expecting something bigger than just a film. In the same way everyone was expecting some kinda religious experience from 'The Phantom Menace'... and we all know how THAT turned out. So I'm just gonna give you one person's account of their 'feelings' during and after seeing it. Plus a couple of observations/opinions from someone who, I'll admit... had some serious reservations about getting too hyped about how amazing it was gonna be after watching the trailers. BTW. This was a RealD digital screening. So. As it started, and for a good bit in... a slight panic hit me. I thought to myself "something's up with the contrast... the colours...the clairty, all due to the 3D. Bugger! (Keep in mind I LOVE 3D... have a 67 inch 3D Samsung at home, and go to all the 3D films. But gaming and animated films are a different thing. You want your sci fi blockbuster to be perfect, right? And at the first sight of the CG Na'vi. A little bummed too. Again, I thought... no, the trailers were right. They definitely aint completely convincing. And then, I dunno. 15, 20 minutes in... something happened. I can't remember when it was, coz it kinda crept up on me without me noticing. Suddenly... I was sucked in. Suddenly, I didn't notice any of that shit I was letting bug me when it started. Everything looked amazing, and convincing. It was like I needed a bit of time to adjust to the 3D, and the 'reality' of what was in front of me for it. It's hard to explain. It would have to do with the sotry involving you, and caring about the characters and what was going on just as much as the physical aspect of your eyes adjusting to the 3D itself til your comfortable (they still haven't completely nailed getting rid of all 'ghosting' yet... no matter what anyone says) But I'm tellin ya. At that point, I was COMPLETELY enthralled and loving it. To the point that I got choked up a number of times for the Na'vi, and had to stop myself from getting all girly and having a weep in front of my friend. And you know that feeling you get when you see a good war film, and you just want those bad guys (Nazis generally) to die so bad you can taste it? Man... I wanted to dive into that screen and waste me some humans big time. Evil, evil humans. Kinda funny actually... it's a strange emotion to be hatin on your on kind so much you want them all to get their asses kicked. Don't think it's happened in a movie before. So yeah... it friggin rocked, i guess is what I'm trying to say. Now if you're desperate to hate on it (as it seems quite a lot of folks here are) of COURSE you're gonna find flaws with it. It aint a flawless film. It does have a couple of pretty 2D (ironically) 'bad dudes'. You know the kind. Michael Beihns character in Abyss springs to mind. Maybe Billy Zane in Titanic even? But hey... it didn't hurt those movies. I loved the hell out of 'em. There's a cheesy line here or there that did invoke a chuckle out of a few peeps in the audience that obviously weren't meant to. A bit too much testosterone in scenes with the human soldiers that's reminiscent of 'Aliens'. Again... friggin awesome film. All that kinda stuff. Hey, at least James is consistent! But that all means nothing. Fact is... it's a god damn blast. Filled with amazing and unforgettable scenes. And way more emotionally involving than it has any right to be, considering it's bleedingly obvious that the whole message is laid on a tad thick, and obvious (we shouldn't kill our planet, or kill people for oil) It should, and probably will be everyone's first 3d Bluray purchase. My main concern is, it's being marketed as sci-fi. And while my girlfriend couldn't be less interested in seeing it...after seeing it for myself, I gotta feeling she'll love it. Space is just the backdrop. It's got more in common with 'Last of the Mohicans' or 'Last Samurai' than any sci fi I've ever seen before. And my only real bitch. Sam Worthington's accent. I mean... seriously. I'm an aussie and i can't cope. How do you guys? It's just as bad as it was in Salvation. How the hell does he get away with it? If you use this... call me 'Cameron's Bitch'.

The following was published by The Guardian over in the UK (find its entirety HERE):
...there have been a lot of rumours. Rumours that the budget was double the stated amount, more like $500m; that the 3D effects were making people nauseous; that the film, two hours and 40 minutes long, was a complete car crash. The Guardian can reveal that the last two are untrue. The film does not make you feel sick and it is not a disaster. All journalists watching the movie in Fox's Soho headquarters had to sign a form agreeing not to publish a review or even express a professional opinion online or in print before Monday. So by saying Avatar was really much, much better than expected, that it looked amazing and that the story was gripping – if cheesy in many places – the Guardian is in technical breach of the agreement. It is not a breach, however, to report that other journalists leaving the screening were also positive: the terrible film that some had been anticipating had not materialised. It was good.

Here's a write-up from Empire (HERE).
Avatar is an astonishing feast for the eyes and ears, with shots and sequences that boggle the mind, from the epic – a floating mountain range in the sky, waterfalls cascading into nothingness – to the tiny details, such as a paraplegic sinking his new, blue and fully operational toes into the sand. The level of immersive detail here is simply amazing.

Finally, there's apparently a less-than-enthusiastic review of the film HERE, but it's all in French and don't know anyone who speaks that. SO, if a kind soul wants to interpret snippets of the piece in the Talkback below, 'twould be welcomed & appreciated, I'm sure.

Avatar Clip - When You Are Ready

Trailer Park | MySpace Video

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