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Movies Space Science

The Science of Avatar 275

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the god-i-want-to-see-this dept.
Jamie noted a bit on The Science of Avatar running on Ain't it Cool, written by a professor of astrophysics who has worked on searching for planets and SETI. I believe I might be the last person on earth who hasn't seen it; here's hoping I can find 3 free hours over the holidays.
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The Science of Avatar

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  • I haven't seen it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by A Friendly Troll (1017492) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:34AM (#30543700)

    I haven't seen it because all of my friends have torrented the damn movie, some even watched horrible cam rips with a foreign language and no subs.

    Nobody wants to go to the cinema any more.

    Fuck you, torrents.

  • by Sponge Bath (413667) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:52AM (#30543840)

    If you want to see it that bad, go by yourself. Enjoy the crowds of obnoxious people, screaming babies, filthy floors, cramped seats, blocked views, terrible traffic, and insufficient parking. Yeah, nobody wants to go to the cinema anymore because of crappy cam torrents.

  • by bsDaemon (87307) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:53AM (#30543854)
    I haven't seen it, and I'm not planning on it. You can't just take Dances with Smurfs and call it something else! That's not kewwwwwwwwww'!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:54AM (#30543860)

    anyone who is excited for this movie is an idiot.

    Translation: I'm poor and lonely and will be sitting by myself on /. all Christmas, so I'm going to make overly-generalized statements regarding the intelligence of anyone happier than me!

  • by sammyF70 (1154563) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:56AM (#30543886) Homepage Journal
    hmm .. in what way was that trollish? Amazing 3D-visuals with a ho-hum story ("jurassic parc"), with blue people ...
  • by h4rm0ny (722443) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:58AM (#30543910) Journal

    Nothing is wrong with going to see a movie on your own, unless you're comparing the experience to going to see it with a friend. Talking abotu the movie before and after, discussing what you liked about it / didn't like about it. A pleasure shared is a pleasure doubled. Also, it makes a nice date.
  • Re:Ava-who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:20AM (#30544072)
    Seconded -- it actually almost makes me physically ill to think of the fact that Avatar will probably make close to (if not more than) a billion dollars while thousands of brilliant, thoughtful films wallow in obscurity. We are no longer a nation that takes pride in greatness -- we reward mediocrity and shun anything that might challenge our preconceived notions. Our entire nation is roughly at the emotional development level of an 11 year old -- just turn on the television, radio, or walk into your local multiplex if you don't believe me.
  • Re:Ava-who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Venerence (1421867) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:22AM (#30544098)
    I have never seen this movie, heard nothing but good things about it, and it has a gigantic budget, so therefore it's terrible and I will never see it. Yet somehow I think I can write an opinion about it.
  • by thisnamestoolong (1584383) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:27AM (#30544136)
    If Cameron knew it was a silly premise, why not change the premise? Why not create something intelligent that challenges viewers? This will certainly be hugely popular either way, right? Why this notion that for something to be entertaining it has to be devoid of any thinking? It is this mentality that is quickly turning America into a nation of drooling retards. Skip this garbage and go pick up a copy of Blade Runner or 2001 if you want to see what sci fi really can be.
  • Re:Ava-who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TheKidWho (705796) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:33AM (#30544192)

    "I didn't watch it and I don't like the idea of it, so anyone who does like it is obviously a moron and is a sign of things to come for our society. Why can't people be intelligent like me and like some obscure movie by some obscure director???"

    BooHoo, get off your high horse. The movie is visual excellence, nothing compares to it in that department.

  • by iocat (572367) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:06PM (#30544490) Homepage Journal
    Having seen in in 3D, I can assure you, the visuals are not "a critical piece," they are "the critical piece." This is not a movie to watch critically for plot holes or bad dialog, The 3D is great, and the CG is just stunning.
  • by ShatteredArm (1123533) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:11PM (#30544536)
    "Dances With The Last Of The Pocahontas." Once you work FernGully in there, you've incorporated pretty much every plot element.
  • Re:Ava-who? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ShatteredArm (1123533) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:22PM (#30544648)
    It depends on what you value. If you value effects most, sure, it's wonderful. If, on the other hand, you care more about plot, acting, and script, you might think it was a very pedestrian movie.

    I personally enjoyed it while I was there, mainly because of the graphics, but after I left, I started thinking more and more about how lousy it really was.
  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:59PM (#30545020)

    Enjoy the crowds of obnoxious people, screaming babies, filthy floors, cramped seats, blocked views, terrible traffic, and insufficient parking.

    This can be a problem yes, but one thing that Avatar has going for it is the Imax 3D angle which generally costs at least $16 US dollars per seat and more like $20+ if one gets popcorn and soda. While some might say that price is a rip-off, it does have the rather nice side effect of discouraging some of the more low-brow elements of the general public (especially during a recession). So, if I were going to see it at the theater I would chose the more expensive Imax 3D option at least one week after release. This reduces substantially the probability of encountering the unpleasant elements enumerated by the parent.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:18PM (#30545202)

    Congratulations, you've won the ignorant-post-of-the-day award. (And everyone who modded you "Insightful" needs to pop a couple of cyanide pills) My wife and I went to Avatar on opening day and NONE of your complaints were in effect. We have the same enjoyable experience every time we go to the theater (admittedly only once every three months or so). But that's okay, you keep believing in that meme so that the adults can go enjoy a show in peace.

  • by ShatteredArm (1123533) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @02:26PM (#30545830)
    I posted my own review on Facebook:

    Avatar Or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying About The Plot And Love Technology

    In case you're one of the few people left who haven't bought into the Avatar hype yet, I thought I'd provide my take on the movie. I saw it last night, so it is fresh in my mind, yet I've had some time to think about it. You've probably only heard great things about it ("Sensational entertainment....Technical breakthrough" (Ebert), "Four Stars!" (probably someone), "83" (metacritic), "OMG AVATAR IS AMAZING" (Facebook)), so perhaps I can provide a different angle.

    Dances With The Last Of The, I mean, a classic story (and I do mean classic, since it has been told several times already) about an evil, capitalist, colonizing race which will put profit over the lives of an indigenous people who like to run around without any clothes. The evil corporation has a token scientific branch filled with environmentalists who only have peace in mind (because they need to interact with aliens, Sigourney Weaver is cast for the lead alien-interaction-biologist role). They have raised Indian (whoops, that's Na'vi) bodies which are capable of being mind controlled by humans (but only humans who have a genetic "congruency" with the Na'vi body, which was presumably created through procreation with a Na'vi).

    John "Jake Sully" Smith is a former marine who lost use of his legs beating up on some Venezualans (because beating up on Venezuala is undeniably American), and he happens to have a twin brother who happened to die before he was to take control of his avatar. Smith is recruited to control the avatar, and immediately runs off into the woods, gets chased by a few large CGI animals, and encounters Pocahontas, the daughter of the local Na'vi tribe's chief. Pocahontas convinces Mr. Chief to spare Smith, after which she teaches him how to appreciate nature, trains him to become a great Na'vi warrior, and they forget the words to "Colors of the Wind." Smith learns that all nature's spirits are intertwined (literally, because the audience is stupid to understand a purely figurative spiritual intertwinement).

    Back at the base (which we'll call Pandora's Box), Governor Ratcliff, who manages the outpost, and General Custer, a crazed, macho military braggard, point out that the most valuable mineral known to man, Unobtainium (there must be some deep symbolic reasoning behind this choice of a McGuffin!), is, by pure coincidence, located directly under the Na'vi home, which happens to be a giant tree. They decide that diplomacy has failed, they destroy the tree, and a large battle involving spaceships and dragons ensues (Smith manages to tame a slightly better dragon by simply flying above it, which the Na'vi, who had been in tune with nature for generations, apparently never even considered).

    The battle takes up the last third or so of the movie, in with the dragons fight spaceships amidst some giant floating rocks, for which James Cameron doesn't even attempt to come up with a tenuous pseudoscientific explanation (lazy writing at its finest). The biggest travesty here is that nobody attempts to ram one of the floating mountains into an enemy dragon/warship, indicating that the mountains float for no other reason than the animators thought it would be cool.

    In short, this is a movie with brilliant graphics and sheer laziness in every other respect. The story is lame, the script is terrible, and the audience is constantly insulted with lame political messages about how environmentalists are better than murderous capitalists. It is worth seeing, if only for the interesting world they created, but it is ultimately wasted effort, and will most likely be forgotten soon after its theater run is finished.


  • by Hatta (162192) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @03:00PM (#30546108) Journal

    the creatures have eyes. That seems like a pretty odd thing to develop on a different planet.

    Not really. The eye has actually evolved independently more than once on this planet. Given the evolutionary advantage, it would be surprising if eyes did not evolve on other planets.

    And separately, what would be believable is that if eyes develop, most large creatures would have the same number

    Large animals on earth have differing numbers of nipples, in an alternate evolutionary history, why not eyes?

    Even if something so utterly like us could develop somewhere else (which itself seems incredibly unlikely, given the infinitude of possibilities), why would it be the dominant life form?

    I didn't see anything in the movie that suggested the navi were dominant.

    Maybe you should repeat to yourself "it's just a movie, I should really just relax". Go see it in IMAX. When you're that visually stimulated, you won't really care about the nitpicks. And if you do, there's plenty of opportunity for MST3K style riffing. If you don't see it in IMAX, it's probably not worth seeing at all though.

  • Re:Lifeforms (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bjwest (14070) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @03:08PM (#30546172)

    Like I said, we have not seen enough other planets to say whether it's rare or not. Hell, nine out of uncountable billions, does not mean we can say with any probability of accuracy that life is rare. Even if we limit life to carbon/oxygen based organisms, we cannot.

    It's not a science fiction fantasy to think life exists on other planets, in other forms other than our own. It IS out own arrogance that lets us think that we are so "special" as to be the only thing in the universe that matters or counts as life. Our own state is the only state that can be considered life. That kind of thinking will get us into trouble when/if we get out there.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @03:31PM (#30546310)

    Your friends are foolish. This is precisely the sort of movie that it's worth going to the cinema for. Myself and friends watch a lot of torrented movies but we also go to the cinema regularly. It's not the fault of torrents; they are a good thing for real movie fans.

    agreed, I watch lots of torrents as well, but I'm off to see AVATAR for the second time at the IMAX this time, It's that good that the cinema experience is the only way to completely absorb it all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 24, 2009 @04:42PM (#30546790)

    Congratulations, you've won the ignorant-post-of-the-day award. (And everyone who modded you "Insightful" needs to pop a couple of cyanide pills) My wife and I went to Avatar on opening day and NONE of your complaints were in effect. We have the same enjoyable experience every time we go to the theater (admittedly only once every three months or so). But that's okay, you keep believing in that meme so that the adults can go enjoy a show in peace.

    Having parents that live in the South and living on the East coast myself, I can attest that the movie going experience has large regional variations in theatres. Most east coast city theaters I've been to are frustrating experiences if you try to see a popular movie opening weekend (or between Thanksgiving and Christmas). For example, the local theater at my local mall quite literally doesn't have any parking sometimes because there are so many people, and because this is the USA there is no public transportation to get there, so if you really want to see a movie at prime time you generally have to circle around the lot for a half hour or so and stalk someone walking back to their car. This often results in confrontations with other drivers attempting to find parking spots who sometimes go so far as to make threats against you. Additionally, for some reason there always seems to be a larger number of rude teenagers roaming the theatres on the East Coast compared to the South. You know, the kids who use laser pointers or talk loud during movies or yell obnoxious comments during key moments in the film. Lastly, because there are so many people, movie theatres are often full, so if you have a group you want to sit with, you generally have to be in the theatre a half hour before the ads for the movie start.

    So, I really think your movie going experience depends on where you live. I've always had more pleasant experiences at the theaters around my parents' place, while I've just stopped bothering trying to see movies around my home.

"Text processing has made it possible to right-justify any idea, even one which cannot be justified on any other grounds." -- J. Finnegan, USC.