Today is Avatar day: The day that James Cameron unveils a preview of his space age adventure to fans and snooty media types like me. It was only ten minutes or so. It felt like I was straight back on the tube actually.
So a hostile alien world is unveiled to us, filled with vicious beasties. And our human expeditionary force appears to be turning recruits into Avatars – the local humanoids – who are blue, bulgy-eyed and about nine feet tall.
Then we’re out in the half-CG half-action world, being chased through forests by gigantic beasties. I’m not the first to comment that it feels very much like a cut-scene in a videogame. The similarities to Japanese video games such as the Final Fantasy series are marked and obvious to anyone who’s nerded their way through one of the games.
That said, you’ve got to commend Cameron for using the 3D glasses to give a sense of depth unlike anything yet seen. The highlight is set on top of a cliff far too high to be anywhere near earth and you do feel the size of the space.
Even so, it lacks a “blow your head off” moment thus far. Remember the fight scene between the big gorilla and the T Rex in Peter Jackson’s King Kong? The bit where you were kind of impressed, slightly amazed but also a bit bored? I was strongly reminded of that.
Even if it might leave us a bit flat when the full product is released, we have to credit Cameron with making such a massive investment in completely original and sometime whacky sci-fi. How do you tame the giant flying lizard? Stick your pony tail in its ear! I’m not even going to try and explain that one.
The man that introduced the clips said that James Cameron is telling a great story here and that it’s not all about the jazzy 3d fx. All I can say is that I hope he’s right. It may be pushing the tech barrier but, from the looks of this, it’ll be judged by the same criteria as regular old fashioned 2D movies: story is king.