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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.

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

      by TheKidWho (705796) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:35AM (#30543708)

      That's unfortunate, while the story is ho-hum the 3D visual effects are simply amazing.

    • I've had friends do the same with other movies that really need to be seen in theater to truly appreciate. Boggles my mind.
      • by emilper (826945)

        After suffering through hours of an amalgam of "Starship Troopers" (the book), "Dragonriders of Pern" and "Dancing with the Wolves" quotes, it didn't boggle mine ... will never watch anything with "Cameron" in the credits list.

        • That has nothing to do with what GP or I were talking about: people refusing to see a special effects heavy movie in theaters because they already torrented it.
    • What's wrong with going to the cinema alone? Are you addicted to the peer pressure or what?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by h4rm0ny (722443)

        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.
    • 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 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 Stele (9443)

          which generally costs at least $16 US dollars

          I paid $15 for my ticket in Madison, WI. Though I skipped the popcorn. Eating during movies in the theater is obnoxious.

        • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

          by zorg50 (581726)
          For anyone that lives in or near Rhode Island, all IMAX shows in Providence Place are $6 on Tuesdays. It's definitely worth the price of admission; just be sure to preorder your tickets.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by roc97007 (608802)

        > Yeah, nobody wants to go to the cinema anymore because of crappy cam torrents.

        Right, exactly. And that's why every showing of Avatar was packed, and why Hollywood in general is having a banner year. It's because they all have camcorders pointing at the screen so the rest of us can stay home and... no wait...

    • Then again, why would you want to go to a theater. Action movies are best watched alone, with the sound up to reference, on a big screen, in your house (3D notwithstanding, I suppose). If you need a friend to hold your hand, grab your Signature Visa (you do have one, right?) and get two tickets on Fandango with the B1G1 promo and offer to take someone to the movies "on you."

      I haven't decided if I'm going to see it in the theater, mainly because I find the crowds annoying and the snacks too expensive. I'll

      • by TheKidWho (705796)

        But then you miss the 3D imagery!

      • Some people enjoy the social experience of going to a movie in a theatre with a friend or friends. I highly doubt OP needs 'hand holding' as you suggest.

        More people on /. should get out of Mom's basement and socialize in the flesh it would seem.

      • by mobby_6kl (668092) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:27PM (#30545284)

        The thing is though, not everybody has an awesome projection system set up at home. Once you remove 3D and superior picture size and quality from Avatar, the film has nothing left to offer, unfortunately.

        The only thing besides the visuals I heard positive comments on were some action scenes in the third act, but everything else is apparently rather mediocre. It's not even that the plot is simple, I certainly don't expect every movie to be some kind of mindfuck a-la Blade Runner. Something like Crank had a simple and absolutely ridiculous plot, but Avatar's is basically one huge predictable cliche, which also manages to be pretentious as well - it's white corporate imperialist oppressing local noble savages, and the hero decides to defect to the side which of course lives in total harmony (and connection, ugh) with the nature. Fuck.

        The characters are flat and aren't developed too well (look, it's the evil corporate guy! And there's the crazy military general!), while the dialog is often just silly ("We're not in Kansas any more" FFS, James!). Why did they try to hid Sam's Aussie accent, couldn't he just happen to be from Australia, or live there with his father on a military base? Even the soundtrack is rather generic.

        I'm not saying that the movie is terrible, in fact I think that films are a visual media and thus can be enjoyed as such. However I think that it's going to take much more than that to be the best sci-fi movie of the decade/ever, which is what many are claiming this to be. I'll probably go see it in IMAX, at the very least I'll see how the 3D tech works nowadays since I haven't seen a singe 3D movie yet.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gmuslera (3436)
      A movie that is purely plot and not so much visuals don't suffer a lot watching it in low quality, but one where visuals are one of the critical pieces? Even 2012 (ok, the 1st hour) deserved to be seen in a theater.
    • by lawpoop (604919)

      I haven't seen it because all of my friends have torrented the damn movie

      Why exactly haven't you seen it? You can't go to the theater because your friends are downloading torrents? What, are they hogging up all the bandwidth so you can't go to movietickets.com?

      Nobody wants to go to the cinema any more.

      Several avatar shows are sold out all through this week.

      Seriously, I'm really missing your point here.

      I saw it in 3D and I highly recommend it. It's immersive, not just a gimmick.

    • Re:I haven't seen it (Score:4, Interesting)

      by hairykrishna (740240) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:31AM (#30544164)

      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.

    • by Vahokif (1292866)
      It's their loss, Avatar is probably the last movie you could enjoy in cam-o-vision.
    • by colmore (56499)

      Eh, you're not missing much. It's Fern Gully with $300 Million special effects. Titanic was a better movie, and I didn't really like Titanic.

    • by djdevon3 (947872) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:29PM (#30545298)
      It's been 3 years since I've gone to a movie theater and I actually went to see Avatar yesterday. It was worth it. Yes, Avatar is actually that amazing. If your loser friends don't want to pay money to see the greatest movie ever made on the big screen that's their f***ing problem.
    • by roc97007 (608802)

      Sorry, I don't believe that. The only torrents that could possibly be available right now are screeners and camcorder rips. The latter are generally unwatchable and I'm pretty certain Cameron has kept the screeners locked down. It sounds more like you saw an opportunity to rant. But clearly not thunk through all the way.

  • by flowerp (512865) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:47AM (#30543800)

    First, Pandora does have an oxygen atmosphere, or how else could you explain the burning torch that Jake Sully lights up in self-defense against the wulf-like creatures at night?

    Second, the floating mountains are explained by assuming that the rock is made up of superconducting material ("Unobtainium") and that the flux they keep talking about is actually a strong magnetic field. Superconductors tend to hover in magnetic fields, you know.

    • by plover (150551) * on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:57AM (#30543896) Homepage Journal

      Read further down the article. He acknowledges that people have already corrected him on these points, leaving him further impressed with the movie.

    • by sackvillian (1476885) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:05AM (#30543966)

      Agreed, and he said this:

      I do have one minor complaint, that given their networking abilities, the Na’vi should not be so technologically inferior to the humans.

      That ignores the reason humans first started developing significant technology; the agricultural revolution. That was the point when we extracted ourselves from nature and took over control of food. That's what allowed us to create advanced settlements and the rest is (pre-)history, as they say.

      See the philosophical novel Ishmael [wikipedia.org] for the basis of this argument.

      Given the "living in harmony with nature" theme in the movie, one could hardly expect the Na'vi to have done the same.

      • by lawpoop (604919)
        There are plenty of people today who enjoy their hunter-gatherer lifestyle, and regularly visit towns and interact with technology enough to know what they're missing out on. Nobody's a purist; they might wear durable western machined clothing and use shotguns, but they still have wandering lifestyle. OTOH, I know people who lament their "slavery" to "The Man", but enjoy going home and watching their big-screen TV and interacting with people on their internet.

        So even if you can plug your braid into a tree
    • Hallelujah Mountains (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DJRumpy (1345787)

      I found this very plausible given what we know about superconductors: The Hallelujah Mountains are floating islands that circulate slowly in the magnetic currents like icebergs at sea, scraping against each other and the towering mesa-like mountains of the region. On Pandora, the magnetic effect causes huge outcroppings of Unobtainium to rip loose from the surface and float in the magnetic vortices. The stone 'arcs' you saw in the film supported this, where the minerals actually deposited along strong magen

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by seven of five (578993)
      Please, dude, not unobtainium. upsidaisium [tv.com]

      Unobtainium doesn't have unpaired electrons.
  • 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'!
  • Ava-who? (Score:3, Informative)

    by stokessd (89903) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @10:55AM (#30543874) Homepage

    I refuse to watch it. I am not going to vote with my pocketbook that plot, craft, and character development don't matter, and that all that matters is effects. This sort of thought has made the bulk of Hollywood movies complete crap. I'm lucky if there is one or two movies a year that aren't nauseatingly bad.

    Now get off my lawn.

    Sheldon

    • Re:Ava-who? (Score:5, Informative)

      by mdm-adph (1030332) <mdmadph@gmai[ ]om ['l.c' in gap]> on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:04AM (#30543954) Homepage

      Look, the plot is basically Dances with Wolves in Space, but still -- this movie was an example of amazing, expensive effects paired with an actual story.

      Want a comparison? Watch Avatar, enjoy it, and then watch something like Transformers 2, and then see if you don't vomit from sheer disgust.

      • Look, the plot is basically Dances with Wolves in Space, but still -- this movie was an example of amazing, expensive effects paired with an actual story.

        It's just a guess, but I'd say that Avatar is more likely to be loosely based on the life story of Gonzalo de Aroza [wikipedia.org] and Zazil Ha [wikipedia.org] than being some sort of brazen of Dances with Wolves ripoff. As far as I know Aroza's story has never been filmed which is a pity since it is a better story than what most fiction authors are capable of coming up with these days. That said I agree with you Avatar is an amazing movie.

      • by roc97007 (608802)

        Ok, you're right, it was an actual story. But it was an actual story that I had seen about the same number of times as A Charlie Brown Christmas. I would have much preferred an actual story where I could not predict every important point after the first 15 minutes. That's all I'm saying'. Mind you, Avatar had a better story than Final Fantasy (2001), which was downright offensive. But not a whole lot better.

        Yes, Transformers 2 sucketh mightily. On the other hand, in between dry heaves I could watch

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DoofusOfDeath (636671)

      I refuse to watch it. I am not going to vote with my pocketbook that plot, craft, and character development don't matter, and that all that matters is effects. This sort of thought has made the bulk of Hollywood movies complete crap. I'm lucky if there is one or two movies a year that aren't nauseatingly bad.

      Maybe there's room in the theaters for two different kinds of movies: those with good plot, and those with good visuals?

      I saw Avatar last night. I agree that the plot was so-so. But the imagined plane

    • I went with 11 friends to go see it, so I'm sure we'll make up for your ticket ;)
    • Re:Ava-who? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:19AM (#30544052) Homepage Journal
      You're going to judge it before you've even seen it? <tiptoes off of lawn...>

      I saw it, and I think it was a great movie. It's not Shakespeare or Dostoevsky. It's a *simple* story, painted in primary colors. Don't confuse that with bad ( Come to think of it, some of Shakespeare's stories were rather simple -- Romeo and Juliet, anyone?). The effects are also good, and are masterfully woven into the story, not just there for no reason ( Except for Cameron's canonical human in robot-suit versus giant living organism. I think it's his leitmotif of man+technology versus nature, so it kind of summarizes the whole film, one could argue.)

      Hollywood will make crap movies regardless of what Cameron does. This one is good. See it in 3D; it's not just a gimmick, it aids in your immersion into a fictional world.
    • I have to agree that CGI has been mostly bad for movies, at least where it is noticeable, but the novelty will wear off. As the novelty of CGI effects themselves wear off to the point where adding them doesn't add to the box office totals, then artists will create novelty that's actually worthwhile. Avatar might be tending this way - there's never really been an alien world in a movie before. I want to go see it, even if the Na'vi I've seen in trailers do look way too human.

      Last night I saw District 9.

    • Re:Ava-who? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by TiberiusMonkey (1603977) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:20AM (#30544062)
      The plot isn't bad, it's just nothing new. When taken as a whole, the movie is wonderful.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ShatteredArm (1123533)
        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.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 m
      • 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.

      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by joss (1346)

        Your shit is all retarded and you talk like a fag.

      • +1

        Ebert may have been right... This movie will transform cinema. Unfortunately, that will be a transformation from a type of cinema where the art lies in the cinematography, to one where the art achieved through computer animation. Say goodbye to camera work, scripts, and acting; and welcome our new shiny glittery CGI overlords.
      • Re:Ava-who? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by lawpoop (604919) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:35PM (#30544786) Homepage Journal
        If it's any consolation, Shakespeare's plays were considered trashy pulp theater at the time.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rnelsonee (98732)

        But Avatar is great. How many people can make a film with such good effects? And on a budget? The world was immersive, the cinematography was brilliant (which used a never-before-used technique that Cameron pioneered) and the director utilized new 3D cameras that no one else has ever used in a studio movie. Sure the plot is thin, but on a technical level, I don't think this movie has any competition.

        You want a movie about a dysfunctional family shot with a steadycam? Maybe have Parker Posey or Michael Cera

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Venerence (1421867)
      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.
    • Fortunately, the movie has far, far more going on than plot and character development. the world of Pandora is a wonderous place, and the movie puts you there. It's truly inventive and interesting, and I can't really say that about many movies these days. It has incredible atmosphere and, yes, even craft. It's an extremely well done movie for what it sets out to do.

      This is the kind of thing I'd bring my little brother to watch. Hell, I'd say that a more complicated and convoluted plot is the last thing Ava
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I refuse to watch it. I am not going to vote with my pocketbook that plot, craft, and character development don't matter

      Plot is there, it's just not entirely original. It is standing on the shoulders of movies with GOOD plot, so it's not like the plot is terrible, just predictable.

      Character development is rather well. You might not fully relate to the protagonist, especially since I was not in the military, but regardless you do begin to get inside his head (which might seem like a little bit of a pun).

      As for craft, I'm not sure what you mean by that. Story development? Isn't that Plot? Or do you mean crafting the movie... M

    • Re:Ava-who? (Score:4, Interesting)

      by G-Man (79561) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:57PM (#30544996)

      Taking your gripes out of order:

      Craft: On the contrary, Cameron can still direct a hell of an action sequence, and he and his crew have extraordinary craft. Not just Pandora's CGI, but translating a motion capture performance from a real actor. The actors are also pretty good across the board, no one's performance grated. They were up to the material. The material itself on the other hand...

      Plot and Character Development: My biggest gripe isn't that it's basically 'Dances With Wolves' in space -- my gripe is that it *is* 'Dances With Wolves' in space. It's as if someone took the same script outline and said, "Okay, Kevin, you make the movie with Indians. James, you make it with aliens." Except, you know, Kevin's movie came out twenty years ago. I realize there are only so many basic stories, but not only did I know where they where they were going, I knew exactly how they were getting there. Nothing came as a surprise *at all*. Characters serve the same exact purpose in both movies - I half expected Jake's main rival to show up at the end of the movie on a six-legged horse on a cliff yelling "JakeSully! JakeSully! I am Wind In His Hair! Can you see you are my friend?! Can you see I will always be your friend?!"

      Politics: I am going to attack Cameron's politics here, in ways you might expect and others you might not.

      The half-white part of me is glad to know that in 150 years, no matter how jacked-up things are, evil white Americans will still run things. Emerging powers in Asia and elsewhere will have no cultural influence whatsoever - it will still be white guys in charge with a few Hispanics and Blacks thrown in for seasoning. Take THAT China and India!

      The evil-human camp is shaped like a Pentagon. Subtle, James, subtle. (Note: If you want to make a Vauban-like star fortress, make one, or just make a rectangular military camp like we've done since Roman times.)

      Even though modern helos have a fairly even high-pitched tone, helos in the future will once again have the same distinctive whop-whop sound that Hueys from Vietnam had. For a Boomer like Cameron, every fight in a jungle is Vietnam. "This is The End. My only friend...The End."

      Despite white guys being the villains, only a white guy can lead you to victory - even if he is in a ten-foot tall blue body. You know, James, at the LIttle Big Horn, Geronimo wasn't a white guy that went Native, he was an actual Native. That is the part that ultimately grates for me, the patronizing attitude. Cameron is indulging the white liberal fantasy: riding to the rescue of an indigenous people and saving them from his own evil society, and in the end, being accepted as one of them. Cameron uses the highest of our film-making technology to critique us and our technology. The Na'vi get technology as a freebie - carbon-fiber skeletons and a databus connection to other living things. Well, sorry, but us humans have to work at that sort of thing.

      Comic-Book Guy Critiques: You know, for the 'Sky People' we don't seem to know jack-shit about aerial combat. Apparently, we've forgotten stuff that Eddie Rickenbacker and Manfred von Richtofen figured out a century ago. Leaving aside that you could just drop stuff on the Na'vi from orbit, why do you come in low and slow so the enemy can jump you from above and behind? And why do you have helos, mechs, and transports, but no jet fighters? On a planet with the enemy riding around on pterodactyl-like critters, wouldn't it be nice to have some fast-movers that can fly above them?

      All that aside, I say see it, and see it in 3D. Think of it less as a full movie and more as an amusement park ride.

  • Even if their neural interfaces are a bit out there. We've been growing humanized mice [pku.edu.cn] for years. I wonder if all they really needed to do, however, was to generate a chimera by seeding an embryo with a human nervous system before the immune system starts to develop. We've learned quite [biolreprod.org] a [riken.go.jp] bit [highwire.org] about developmental biology from avian chimeras, mammalian chimeras are a bit more challenging but can be achieved.
    • by FooAtWFU (699187)
      The neural interface seemed to me like the sort of thing that's unlikely to spontaneously evolved. As one of those flying critters, what does it buy me? A couple of guys come by every once in a while and have a chance of making me their mind slave? No thanks, I'll pass. Therefore, I propose that the entire planet was designed as the retirement community for a highly advanced civilization (the civilization itself retiring, more so than individual members) - much more fun doing it this way than becoming a bun
  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:13AM (#30544018)

    written by a professor of astrophysics who has worked on searching for planets and SETI.

    Thought I recognized the name - wasn't he part of this team [theonion.com]?

  • All planets with life have trees, reptiles, insects, and of course bipedal creatures who have two eyes, four limbs, a head with two eyes one nose one mouth, and generally caucasian-human features. Those humanoids have technology in line with something in our history, they use speech, they have two sexes and reproduce like we do, and they breathe and eat things we can breathe and eat.

    The only real question -- the really important one -- is do they natively speak modern English, or do they speak something whi

  • Didnt saw the movie yet, but the weapons i saw in trailer at least didn't impressed me a lot, all what must be advanced just to be there, and one of the fastest evolving technologies in history changed so little? Last week reread Hyperion, and finishing Endymion, and the military advancement pictured there (specially how you fight getting to that point of technology) looks more like the evolution rate that it should have.
    • by TheKidWho (705796)

      We've been using Guns for hundreds of years, what makes you think that's going to change anytime soon?

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        Each new technology have the potential of turning into a weapon. In the movie there are at least 2 major new technologies, ftl (?), and improved biology (and not just human biology, alien one too). If they want just to kill everyone probably will be faster to just poison or mutate a virus or something similar that probably should not affect us. Linguistic should have been improved too, and even that could be turned into a weapon (at least according with Babel 17)
  • by GPLDAN (732269) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @11:28AM (#30544140)
    I've seen the film, in IMAX 3D (gave me a two day headache) - and I guess I missed the giant stone arches near the end of the film.

    But, somebody who worked on the film anonymously emailed the writer of the article to explain some of the problems they saw. Namely: the gas giant rotating faster than it possibly could. And there is speculation that the floating mountains contain unobtainium, which is a room temp superconductor.

    The mountains were formed on the land, and "broke off" sailing upwards over the magnetic pole of the planet. They are repelled by the magnetic field underneath them, counteracting gravity.

    This is very silly, as minor magnetic perturbations would make the mountains flail about wildly, just as trying to hold a magnet up in the air with another magnet is very difficult.

    Also, he doesn't address what properties of unobtainium exist that would likely "save Earth". Why would a rock that was a room temperature superconductor save Earth? You couldn't build nuclear power plants from it. Perhaps it has properties that make it 1000x more powerful than uranium? None of this gets addressed.
    • Why would a rock that was a room temperature superconductor save Earth? You couldn't build nuclear power plants from it. Perhaps it has properties that make it 1000x more powerful than uranium? None of this gets addressed.

      Well, that's called backstory [wikipedia.org] and it usually is the domain of socially inept people posting on obscure Internet sites. But since you asked, room temperature superconductivity [sciencedaily.com] would be a big deal. A very big deal. Not Save-The-Earth technology, but perhaps close enough for the story.

    • by je ne sais quoi (987177) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @03:08PM (#30546174)

      This is very silly, as minor magnetic perturbations would make the mountains flail about wildly, just as trying to hold a magnet up in the air with another magnet is very difficult.

      You mean difficult like this [fys.uio.no]? Or how about this [youtube.com]? Looks pretty easy to me. Minor magnetic perturbations would not make the mountains flail about wildly because they have a high MASS. It would take a great big magnetic fluctuation to do move a large mass. I wager that the only thing that could do that would be a magnetic pole flipping, but since the human race hasn't seen one of these in our recorded history we have no idea how they take place so I think we can forgive that one.

  • My God man, it's got Furries, stay away. Stay far away.
  • by Lvdata (1214190) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @12:58PM (#30545000)

    Everyone seems to be making the ASSUMPTION the the Na'vi are preindustrial.

    1. The Na'vi can link directly to many other animals that are happy to serve them, and and the Na'vi in return care for them.

    2. Planet wide network for storage, upload and download of information, long term store, processing, and on demand local grid processing, including the ability to do a total upload of a person.

    3. Unobtainium, a planet wide "natural" super conductor that allows for floating mountains.

    4. Eywa, the operating system put in place to regulate everything, including guiding the Na'vi to stay in harmony with everything else.

    It seems to me that the Na'vi went though their own singularity, and what we see as primitive is the biotechnology leftovers from a older culture, but they have set themselves and their decedents with a ideal environment, the ability to live, have kids, grow old, then upload when the time is right. Use large off-planet element nuclear synthesis to create the unobtainium, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Island_of_stability [wikipedia.org] ), and setup the biosphere and the infosphere for long term in habitation by ignorant people. In a head to head comparison of Na'vi vs humans, the Na'vi are superior in almost everyway.

    Medicine - Eywa takes care of that much better.
    Education - A direct mental link for sharing of information.
    Physical form - not much is explained beyond carbon fiber in the skeleton, but onscreen of what Jake goes though is beyond what a normal human can handle.
    Information storage, processing & retrieval mostly superior, with the exception of speed given the late start the other animals had in the battle.
    Long term care of their wold and sustainability - Although the world seems genetically engineered for the Na'vi,over time some drift has occurred as not all animals retain their friendliness, but in times of crises, can revert back.

    Given that this is part 1 of 3, and the hints on screen and referenced to, this is my suspicion. Most people have problems thinking about the singularity as it is so encompassing, enabling, and yet compressing. The Na'vi are just one result of who remains after a biological singularity.

     

    • One of the absolutely most important things to them was to stay connected with their god.

      When their home was destroyed and their whole world was crashing down around them, in addition to collectively fighting for survival against the invaders, they all turned to their god for help.

      But then this movie is only just fantasy, and we humans collectively do a rather shitty job of staying with our God and when the going gets rough, only a small percentage of us turn to God for help.

      Merry Christmas everybody!

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by NoSleepDemon (1521253)
      So if all of what you say is true, why didn't the God step in and save them immediately? Why did it let them come to harm in the first place? The Na'vi are in no way superior to humans, where are their scholars, their artists, their inventors? They are entirely dependent on their God for everything, and when that God took 3 months to lift a finger, hundreds died. If the na'vi did indeed reach a singularity, that singularity was Idiocracy.
  • by GuyFawkes (729054) on Thursday December 24, 2009 @01:51PM (#30545486) Homepage Journal

    I have just had the misfortune / bad judgement to try to sit through Avatar.

    By 40 minutes in I could stand it no more, and starting flicking forwards, within another 10 minutes I'd skipped to the end.

    Spoilers?

    Nope, you can't give spoilers on something that has a plot thinner than Debbie Does Duluth, there is no story there, period, what there is is CGI.

    If you are of an age to remember Roger Dean (Yes album covers amongst other things) then you have basically seen the stuff that the CGI was clearly designed upon, laws of gravity do not apply, laws of physics do not apply, laws of biology and locomotion do not apply.

    I'm not talking fanciful creatures and landscapes, I'm talking totally impossible, acid trip inspired creatures and landscapes.

    The only spoiler I can think of is, and I kid you not, the basic plot-line centres around a mining operation on an alien planet, mining an ore called "unobtanium"... yeah... the only thing rarer than unobtanium is a decent script.

    One might think that multimillion dollar budgets + CGI + Roger Dean would create something of great aesthetic beauty at least, even if it were great beauty utterly devoid of a plot, but sadly, that isn't the case.

    If they had rendered still scenes, yes, you'd have some great poster art or album covers, but the instant they went for motion it just ruined the whole thing, Roger Dean was never meant to be in motion.

    Frankly the whole film smacks of a bunch of CGI geeks being given an unlimited budget and no rules, the desktop publishing equivalent of producing a parish magazine that uses 11,000 different fonts and every single piece of clip art on disk.

    The semi-cameo role of Sig Weaver and the whole space mining theme (all of which is revealed in the first 10 minutes) means that you simply can't watch Avatar and not be strongly reminded of Alien (1) and this is yet another fatal wound for what is an already dead and decomposing corpse of a movie.

    Alien had real (huge) sets, and the visual effect was stunning, not just because of Giger, but because of depth of focus, Avatar was done with green background and motion cap in someone's garden shed, plus a moonshot's worth of computers running CGI, and it looks utterly fake and feeble.

    I have no idea what cinemas charge nowadays, it is irrelevant when films are as truly, horrendously awful, and this film was. It did not cost me a penny, and of course no popcorn, travelling time, shitty adverts or previews, and I managed to skip through the whole thing in 50 minutes, and I want those 50 minutes of my life back.

    The new (a couple of years old at least) series of Captain Scarlet (also done in CGI) is quite honestly nothing less than three or four orders of magnitude better than Avatar on every single level imaginable.

    As for the Avatar lead species, the hominids themselves, think the illegitimate love child of Jar Jar Binks and Pikachu, yes, really, that implausible, ridiculous, and vile. Kill it, kill it now, with (digital) fire.

    I have a revelation for you.

    Hollywood is dead.

    Really, for less money than it would cost to take two kids to see this steaming pile of crap, you could go out and buy Crysis, which will provide about 40 hours of gameplay (sans god mode), a far better plot, a far more immersive and entertaining experience, and better and more realistic physics.

    Seriously, whatever you do this Christmas, do not get talked into sitting through Avatar, do not get talked into paying for anyone else (kids) to see it, and, if you value your kids minds more than marshmallow, do not let your kids anywhere near it.

    I am NOT joking.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by ShatteredArm (1123533)
      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 Pocahontas...er, I mean, Avatar...is 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.

      5/10

  • by roc97007 (608802)

    I saw the film in 3D, which incidentally is the only way to see it -- accept no substitutes -- and while I was amazed overall at the technology, I was somewhat chagrined at the shockingly pedestrian plot. It's like Cameron spent ten years creating this amazingly detailed world and then couldn't think of a story to tell within it. So he ended up adapting a story that had been told a half dozen times already in the last 20 years, and hoped people would be entranced by the pretty lights and not notice that

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192)

      I saw the film in 3D, which incidentally is the only way to see it -- accept no substitutes -- and while I was amazed overall at the technology, I was somewhat chagrined at the shockingly pedestrian plot

      Honestly, this movie didn't need a plot. I'd be just as happy to sit for 3 hours watching that 3D CG with no setting at all. I'm thinking something like this [xkcd.com], in IMAX 3d of course. Special effects on a big screen is the ONLY reason to actually go to a theater anymore, if I want a movie with a plot, I'll g

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