Friday, March 26, 2010

The Age Old Question

I was reading today and saw yet another article about Avatar. Since Avatar came out, I have come to truly admire James Cameron and this article only increased that admiration. Not only did he basically help create new special effects and 3D technology but he made sure the movie would look good whether you saw it on a 3d Imax screen the size of a football field or in the 100 seat theater movies go to the week before they finally leave the multiplex.
The version requirements were uniquely daunting for "Avatar," as the technically savvy Cameron entered uncharted territory to create the highest presentation quality possible.

"No studio has ever faced what we faced on this," says Ted Gagliano, president of postproduction at Fox. "Jim wanted the best, most immersive experience possible. So he pushed us to have a multiple-version inventory that would give each theater the best experience it could possibly deliver for that given theater."
Say what you want about Cameron but that's a filmmaker right there. He worked his ass off for years so schlubs like you and I could have fun for a few hours. Avatar is simply an amazing experience and I haven't even seen it in 3D. Directors usually get a disproportionate amount of the credit for the success or failure of a movie but really no one can doubt that the lion's share of the credit must go to James Cameron. His ex-wives talk about how his marriages have fallen apart because of his dedication to the craft of movie making.

Thinking about all this, I started to wonder. The guy spent years of his life making this movie. He pushed for the huge budget that risked not only his professional standing and reputation but the financial stability of the studio backing him. I'm not sure how he feels about "the little people" but I'll assume he's not a sociopath and at least has some regard for the people who would have lost their jobs if this thing had flopped. So, he took all that risk, expended all that time and effort and stood tall against the people who said it couldn't be done. Here's what all that makes me wonder and I say this as someone who saw Avatar twice and enjoyed it each time.

Why the hell would you do all this for a plot that basically a mishmash of Dances With Wolves and some 50s science fiction stories? Why would you go to unprecedented lengths for a story in which Kevin Costner's character is painted blue and plopped down on another planet? Why would you spend more money than had ever before spent to show us things that had never before been seen on screen and put those wonderful images into the service of a derivative plot? What not make a story and bold, innovative and original as the processes used to create the film's sights and sounds?

Oh well, this summer we have movies like Prince of Persia, The A-Team and Twilight 3 to look forward to. I'm sure Hollywood's saving all its fresh and original ideas for those.

1 comment:

Dan Coyle said...

My sentiments exactly, Michael.