After Years of Waiting, Avatar is Finally Here, Are You Ready?
by Alex Billington
December 17, 2009
Avatar is "the most evocative and amazing science-fiction movie since Star Wars." At least that's what Steven Spielberg said after seeing it. I was thinking of what to write about tonight, on the eve of the grand debut of James Cameron's Avatar, before everyone around the world has the chance to see it, but there's so much out there it's hard to pick and choose. But there are a few thoughts and questions still on my mind right now. Will it change movies forever? Will it even be a success? One thing I know for certain though, is that most people will love it. Not everyone, but almost everyone who has seen it so far has been blown away.
Don't believe me? Still skeptical about Avatar? Don't think James Cameron pulled it off? Well, if you don't trust Steven Spielberg, how about Roger Ebert, who gave Avatar four stars (out of four) and said in his review: "Avatar is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough… It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation… It takes a hell of a lot of nerve for a man to stand up at the Oscarcast and proclaim himself King of the World. James Cameron just got re-elected." Or how about this excerpt from Manohla Dargis' review in the NY Times:
"Few films return us to the lost world of our first cinematic experiences, to that magical moment when movies really were bigger than life (instead of iPhone size), if only because we were children. Movies rarely carry us away, few even try. They entertain and instruct and sometimes enlighten. Some attempt to overwhelm us, but their efforts are usually a matter of volume. What's often missing is awe, something Mr. Cameron has, after an absence from Hollywood, returned to the screen with a vengeance. He hasn't changed cinema, but with blue people and pink blooms he has confirmed its wonder."
If you're still not convinced, or even curious yet, there's plenty more reading material out there. Katey Rich from Cinema Blend wrote up a fun list of the 5 Reasons You Must See Avatar, ending with "it is the movie of the decade." Couldn't agree with her more, on almost all of her five reasons. And Drew McWeeny's review of Avatar on HitFix is also fantastic, with quotes like this: "For now, just believe that one of our most gifted action filmmakers has once again crafted a singular experience, one that MUST be experienced on the best possible screen. Avatar is not a case of empty hype with no payoff." Even he says you won't be let down.
One thing's for sure - Avatar is not going to be a failure. I'm sure the naysayers out there will argue that one, but if you were to go to your local movie theater right now, you'd find every midnight show sold out. And this weekend's shows are almost all sold out nationwide as well. Fandango sent me an email with this stat earlier: "Avatar is outselling Star Trek in advance ticket sales." Pretty impressive considering this is an original idea and not a franchise. Oh and Anne Thompson said (via Twitter) that Avatar got a standing ovation at its Los Angeles premiere this week. Everything I've read indicates that it's set to break records.
I could sit here and point out articles and quotes for you all night, but I've got to get going so I can get a good seat at my own midnight show. I've seen Avatar once, and loved it, and I'm already planning to see it two more times this weekend. I've been a supporter since the beginning and Avatar has been a long time in the making, but it's finally here. Tomorrow the entire world will be able to experience Pandora as James Cameron envisioned it. I hope everyone is planning to see it this weekend too, if only out of curiosity. More importantly, like Ebert said, it's just one of those movies you "must see." So are you ready for Avatar?
Reader Feedback - 61 Comments
There is only 1 midnight showing in 3 big theaters in Houston. I am currently in the theater typng on my iPhone, it is 1140 and there are only about 40 people here. I'm not saying it'll be bad, but it will not do well in the box office. Like I've been saying all along, people just dnt know what the heck this movie is about; they see a bunch of weird looking blue people and are turned away. Midnight showing in the biggest theater in one of the bggest cities in the country and there's not even 100 ppl here.
Branden on Dec 17, 2009
Avatar will change the sci-fi movie scene for ever. Finally all the marvelous scifi books ever written can be filmed. The technology is now finally here. I which the makers of Dune would do as great a job with it as these people did. After Blade Runner, there finally is a new standard for science fiction.
Peter T'Sas on Dec 17, 2009
4 hour, $400 million dollar FernGully. I say it has legs.
Nyce on Dec 17, 2009
I just double-checked my personal online vendor and -- wouldn't you know it -- IMAX in 3D's been sold out. The last time that happened was for The Dark Knight. I can only think of the good things that'll come from this movie and technology. Cameron's technology in the hands of other good directors can only be a good thing.
Jaf on Dec 17, 2009
#1 - That really is a shame, but it wasn't even until very recently I was turned on towards the idea of going to see the movie. You're completely right though... people see blue folk running around and a (nearly) completely CG movie, and they don't assume it could possibly be more than a kid movie. The downside there, the content they likely have seen doesn't seem childish enough for them to want to take their kids either. #2 - I hope you're right! I do intend to see this movie, but not at a midnight showing. Work, plus Christmas shopping this weekend means I may not see it for some time unfortunately. I imagine that could be a potential problem for a lot of people around this time.
case on Dec 17, 2009
I'm going to see this this weekend, for sure. Alex, I don't think the movie will be a failure, necessarily. But it cost, what, 300 million just to make the movie? 500 mil if you include all the side stuff, including promotion? That's a pretty big bill to cover. I can see it potentially making enough ('potentially' being the key word), but still, people can be wary of what they find unfamiliar (i.e. not a franchise). But then again, it worked for Titanic, it could work here.
Kyle on Dec 17, 2009
I usually don't abuse but AVATAR IS FUCKIN AWESOME. You don't see much sci-fis that could successfully combine Mythology with Fantasy. First one was Star Wars, Second was Matrix and now Third is this. Avatar is not just your average science fiction war epic it's the first film where we, humans are bad guys, we lose in the film and we the audience (still human) stays happily on the side of Na'vi. First view will only be a Visual Experience. When I watched it again in IMAX late last night with my buddies, I understood the film on a much better level. NO RATINGS REQUIRED. JC IS GOD. He upgraded the level of cinema and inspired so many film-makers that I am glad I am living in the time of Cameron. IT IS A MASTERPIECE.
N. Mohan Singh on Dec 17, 2009
Yeah the visuals are amazing, but the rest of the film is pretty flat. It was a good movie, but out of all the sci-fi to come out this year, I still much prefered Star Trek and District 9. Why are you guys getting it after everybody else? Australia is a day ahead of you guys and we got it Wednesday. Weird.
Ben on Dec 17, 2009
3D IMAX is sold out the whole week here in Bangkok. Have to book a week in advance to see it, but I WANT to see again, this time in IMAX, so I will. Most of the screenings (13 halls- from 12.30 to 23.05) are 80%-100% full. Reactions from people after viewing the movie are unlike anything I have seen before. Discussions, excitement, many people aren't really sure what they just saw. People don't bother anymore to keep conversations low, they are just so involved with what they saw. As for the folks complaining about blue people : did you ever read ANY science fiction literature at all? I guess not, you only see movies right? Well gear up, because there is A LOT more of this to come, and believe me, some of the creatures will look a lot LESS human than the Na'vi, and some will be purple, orange, red, green, sulpher, rainbow... Hahahahaaa. Look beyond the veil guys! Can't wait to get the Blue-ray 🙂
Peter T'Sas on Dec 17, 2009
I will tell you guys... How much hype and crazyness here in India about Avatar..... They opend the advance booking on wednessday.. And in 2 hrs... Its sold out for the entire weekend... And yesterday night its sold out for 8 days.... I had to spend over 200 $ to fly to another city just to watch Avatar in IMAX 3D.. But I gotto wait till saturday morning here... I was lucky enough to get tickets on saturday atleast i would say... 🙂
suresh on Dec 17, 2009
I watched it in Dolby 3D two days back (Malaysia).. *speechless* And I'm going again tomorrow!
Rags on Dec 17, 2009
This movie is the beginning of a new era.
Robbie on Dec 17, 2009
Let Avatar be the example of how to waste so much time and money into a flop.
moviefan111 on Dec 17, 2009
Moviefan111, you're an idiot. That is all.
Mike on Dec 17, 2009
I just came from seeing an advance screening and the movie was awesomely epic! Go watch it! it's a must!
Mel on Dec 17, 2009
It is the best visual treat you can give to your eyes. This was the first time i watched anything in 3D and man was i so lost in the world of pandora. It was more than worth the long wait. It will definitely change the way you will look at a movie from now on. All those who have not yet had the chance to watch, dont even think about missing it. It is that damm good.
Nithin on Dec 17, 2009
#10, haha yea heard about the craziness in India. I unfortunately am going to wait patiently to see this movie, even if it means in the first week or two of January, either way ill be seeing it on Imax 3D
Nikhil Hariharan on Dec 17, 2009
Exactly #16 I will be going in january where the theaters wont be utter packed and I can enjoy a vacant Imax theater and awe in its glory. I havent been clammering to see it like most fans of it so I can easily wait.
Cody on Dec 17, 2009
Saw it last night in Johannesburg, thought it was amazing. Theatre was packed and crowd applauded afterward, i think this film is going to do really well. Awesome effects, themes etc it might not be the greatest movie of all time (I fell asleep during Titanic) but the world is going to love this thing.
thepunches on Dec 17, 2009
#17 That is the worst excuse I have ever heard. These are no ewoks, freaky Star Wars creatures or bad makeup Star Trek monsters dropped in a fony environment. This is a complete ecology with appropriate fauna and flora. This is more real than you're ever going to get it, more real than Lord of the Rings (no offense). You might want to reconsider.
Peter T'Sas on Dec 17, 2009
thepunches on Dec 17, 2009
last night I and my friends watch Avatar and like it very much... I think, this is the one of the best movie for years.
Gokhan Sonmez on Dec 17, 2009
I saw the movie yesterday in Greece and it was more than awsome...the waiting time was worth it !!! Something like Pocahontas in another planet...but it was AMAZING.I would watch it again.
theo on Dec 17, 2009
my midnight show wasn't sold out.
AlecVonDoh on Dec 18, 2009
wasn't close. half way full.
AlecVonDoh on Dec 18, 2009
Saw it at midnight. Best film of the year. Can't wait to see it in IMAX 3D. Best in theater experience I've ever had.
FilmMaker2003 on Dec 18, 2009
i just got home from watching avatar and i specifically went straight to this post to write a comment. i dont care who doesnt like it but that movie was awesome. the cgi was just amazing! i honestly think this movie is going to win many awards and this movie is definitely is going straight to the history books as one of the biggest movies ever. i wish i can write some parts of the movie but i dont want to spoil anything to anyone...
chino on Dec 18, 2009
just came back from midnight imax3d show here in ottawa(ontario). packed, of course. lol, but luckily, we were able to reserve seats online when we bought the tickets. no line ups ftw. visually SPECTACULAR. story was as expected(what theo just said, somewhat of a pocahontas with aliens). but i completely agree with what some1 else said earlier that james cameron, as a story teller, has the ability to engage the audience completely and make you feel attached to the characters in one way or another. for me at least, i felt it. INCREDIBLE movie, 3d may have been hit or miss for some, but i thought it added a bit of depth to the movie overall, no pun intended.
lego on Dec 18, 2009
My midnight IMAX 3D showing in san diego was half full.....
Brian Barajas on Dec 18, 2009
I just saw it here in Long Island at the Midnight Show. It was a great entertaining movie! I really liked it alot. It had its stupid moments but I got lost in the film. I wasn't bored for a minute.
Joseph Tiberia on Dec 18, 2009
Just got out of the midnight show and all i can say is WOW!!!!!!!! it was so EPIC!!!! the theater erupted into a loud roar of applause as soon as the words AVATAR came on the screen. It was truly an incredible movie. Its not perfect but still incredible
Jay Selis on Dec 18, 2009
another thought just crossed my mind, with spielberg comments on the movie, i would like to see what he does next in a return to the sci-fi/fantasy genre to top this. not possible? we'll see. lol omg omg omg, can you IMAGINE? GHOST IN THE SHELL IMAX 3D. winner
lego on Dec 18, 2009
#1, I was at the midnight showing in the Woodlands, it took a while for everyone to show up, but they made it. This movie ROCKED!
Mike McRorey on Dec 18, 2009
Thin plat, flat characters, good action, amazing scenery. And the first realistic CG characters fortunately. I recommend seeing it at the Imax! While the film itself is not great I have to say that this was an experience such as we rarely get in the cinema these. It will be another decade before we see such visual imagination and creativity so lavishly laid bare to our naked eyeball again.
Craig on Dec 18, 2009
I never bought into the hype. I've seen the previews, I've read the reviews, despite everyone bending over for James Cameron I still don't plan on seeing this. I'm not trying to offend anyone who's excited for this or who liked it, I just never understood why everyone thinks James Cameron is so great. A lot of people have already said that it's a used story- which from reading the reviews and seeing the previews I agree with, the story's nothing new. That being said, why would anyone feel the need to spend half a billion dollars to retell a story that's already been told many times over? I'm not trying to sound like a bleeding heart or anything, but there are children starving all over the world and this is what this country chooses to spend a half a billion on? A movie. And please, for all you using the term "epic". Why don't you just go read the Iliad or the Odyssey?
me on Dec 18, 2009
I just sow it yesterday in Belgium. Just one of the most incredible experience in a cinema ! This will be the first movie that I will buy when it will be released in Blueray. The only way to see it is in a theater ! Go and watch it !
Alaintino on Dec 18, 2009
Blah. $36 for two tickets at the midnight showing in 3D, and I felt like I've seen it all before. OH WAIT! I have. Ferngully + Starship Troopers = Avatar. The money would have been better spent saving it for Sherlock Holmes tickets and hot dogs.
Cody on Dec 18, 2009
I also saw this movie on Wednesday in Belgium. AMAZING. The place was packed. I saw it in 3D, but also the other room in 2D was almost full.
Candy Castle on Dec 18, 2009
For the poeple who dont like it ( like Cody ), if you dont feel any magic in this movie, well... ...dont go anymore watch a movie ! Because that's mean that nothing can impress you anymore !
Alaintino on Dec 18, 2009
Croatian weekend sold-out! I gave it five stars, my people luuuuv it, it's beyond epic... http://www.facebook.com/cafecinema
m4st4 on Dec 18, 2009
I saw it Wednesday on a preview night. I'll be seeing it again before it finishes in the cinema!! I loved it, thats not to say it didn't have its faults, but there's something about it and 3 days later I still can't put my finger on exactly what it is that makes me love it so much. I really dug the 3D though, and thought it gave really depth to the environments and the action and the fact that after an hr I forgot I was wearing glasses is testament to the technology, it became the norm - Star Wars and Lord of the Rings will never be the same again. P.S. I think its the world of the Navvi which captured my heart the most - still working on that thought though 🙂
dom on Dec 18, 2009
That was probably one of the most predictable movies I have ever seen, but I didn't care. The characters were magnificently engaging and the themes brought up in the plot were deep and well planned. Though the story has been recycled many times, Cameron was able to add his own touch that still allowed the viewer to fall in love with the character. @35 Like you I went to this movie very skeptical. I too felt that James Cameron was overrated. The only reason I went to the movie at all was because of all the reviews that kept saying it was the greatest cinematic experience ever. I found that hard to believe, but had to go and see it for myself. This day will go down in movie history and the skeptics like yourself will beat yourself up because you missed your chance to go and see it. I am now a full believer in James Cameron and his talents as a director (and a little bit as a writer).
Jordan on Dec 18, 2009
just got back its perfect 😉 i can tell you this and as cheesy as it sounds its not a movie your watching, its something amazing. any hater should realize that you saying anything bad about this movie instantly makes your opinion mean nothing. enjoy movie buffs! this one changes everything!
DoomCanoe on Dec 18, 2009
It was beautiful, really. Even though the 3D effect wasn't as dramatic as I expected it to be, it really extracted the surroundings to our eyes, it was, comforting. I will have to watch it again, as I caught the midnight showing and was quite tired. In any case, I enjoyed it for what it was in the full.
Taz on Dec 18, 2009
oh and of course i saw it in I-Max 3D which made it even more amazing... just thought i would add that little extra bit. its totally worth the ticket
DoomCanoe on Dec 18, 2009
Yes the visuals are outstanding but the storyline is so boring and predictable. Not the best movie of the year.
Shuriken on Dec 18, 2009
What I've learned by reading these comments is that I was right, America is as stupid as I thought. Imax was sold out here in Phoenix and most everyone I know saw it, including me. Idk what the fucking problem is in these other cities. The rest of the world apparently knows the truth. The truth that James Cameron has changed it all. I loved it. It wasn't perfect, few movies are and nothing with this scope is perfect. However, it changes everything. Even a blind person could sit in a theater playing this movie and they would know, this is what will be remembered.
Jake on Dec 18, 2009
I just got back from seeing it. I can't remember the first time I saw Star Wars, but I was born after it came out in the theaters, but I would have to say this is the Star Wars of my generation. Visually the most beautiful thing I have ever seen on the screen. I saw it in IMAX 3D, definitely the way to go. But like others have said, I don't think enough people, for whatever reason, really know what it is or what to expect. Spread the word. People have to see it to believe it! I read a lot of film blogs, and all the hype that I had been exposed to for the past year was exceeded tonight!
Andrew on Dec 18, 2009
just got out of the midight showing I was amazed but cameron's box office numbers might get ugly. I saw more people at the animated clone wars movie's midnight showing. . . ouch
kiran on Dec 18, 2009
"...you'd find every midnight show sold out." On the contrary, there were maybe 40 people in the theatre I was in for the midnight showing. Sure the visuals were stunning, but that doesn't make up for this story that he had years to perfect.
Denver on Dec 18, 2009
You know what happened in GERMANY? Guess what, in all of the 3D cinemas in here, noone could see the premiere because they got the wrong Keynumber to activate the projection. All of the people were sent home, or were asked to see the film in 2D...Fail
pipo on Dec 18, 2009
This film continues to get great marks in regards to the SFX, but most sound to be disappointed with the over-all story. I'm sure it does look fantastic, but I need a little more substance in a film these days to make it worth the money to see it. I doubt I'll see this until it hits DVD.
Letter J on Dec 18, 2009
Looks like the average rating it's getting is about a 8.4 which is pretty good.
JakeTheSnake on Dec 18, 2009
This is obviously a word of mouth movie. Sometimes a friend's suggestion can help rake in more revenue than a TV spot.
Yak on Dec 18, 2009
Can someone tell me if the 3-D is nauseating or not? I usually don't enjoy it, so I'm leaning towards seeing this in 2-D. Will it make me sick if I choose 3-D?
Kyle on Dec 18, 2009
It is not nauseating to watch it in 3D. It is not at all painful !
Alaintino on Dec 18, 2009
I am in Kansas and surrounded by all these old country ladies at work and guess what?! They were talking about how excited they were for Avatar! YES!
Scott McHenry on Dec 18, 2009
this movie is epic. by itself it stands at the top of movies along side other truly amazing movies. Avatar has changed movies, James Cameron has changed movies. he has the right to say he is King of the Movie industry. He is a captain of industry and this is all his. (i just watched Avatar in Glorious Imax in Chicago )
???? on Dec 18, 2009
Saw last night here in Madrid at Kinepolis 3D, and for the first time I can remember people applauded at the end...still amazed myself.
jose on Dec 19, 2009
It's amazing the schism, right along partisan lines: Thoughtful people are in awe. Ignorant nabobs that despise brilliance are searching for any crumb of negativity that nattering nabobs tend to enunciate. The nattering nabobs of negativity really don't like the feeling they get when they watch Avatar, because they relate the most to not Na'vi, not Jake, not the marines...but The Corporation Players. Yes, see, the nattering nabobs of Ayn Rand Cheap Labor Crony Capitalism don't like the 'liberal' story. I'm sure Fox executives went through cases of Rolaids during the production of Avatar, due to its liberal slant. The nattering nabobs would much rather watch The Passion of the Christ or Hostel than Avatar. And no...I will never watch Hostel or The Passion...
tyrascilee on Dec 19, 2009
you know its not just the movies that disappoint these days actually and more effectively its the audience and i mean 80% of them that have a taste of cheez for seeing a movie i mean they just get played by Hollywood that sells you that you must see a movie with a-Lister actors in it and also people just want to see the movies that anticipated by the critics and media and thing like these that doesnt have anything to do with cinema! i mean how much of consumerism can this be the golden age of cinema truly died many years ago
pj on Dec 19, 2009
Sorry, new comments are no longer allowed.