Avatar Day

Avatar Day

Among the first in the view to catch a glimpse of "Avatar" beyond its teaser trailer

24 Aug – If you don't already know, the teaser trailer for James Cameron's much publicised sci-fi adventure "Avatar" is not only out, but it's shattering some viewer records on certain websites and has notched up a 'most viewed trailer ever' statistic on the Apple site, registering over four million streams on its first day last week.

The anticipation surrounding this long-awaited movie is evident on Avatar Day morning at GSC Mid Valley on Saturday, 22 August 2009 when a select list of lucky fans and pressmen, including Cinema Online forumers, had the chance to catch a 16-minute sneak peek containing footage culled from the movie in 3-D, with an introduction by James Cameron himself onscreen. There were among the first in the world to view this footage.

Sam Worthington ("Terminator Salvation") in his Avatar body
Five scenes were shown, all presumably in chronological order. The first one had lead character Jake Sully (Sam Worthington, "Terminator Salvation") in a wheelchair at an army base where a cinematically scarred Colonel Quatrich (Stephen Lang, "Public Enemies") addresses some men about the mission they might die in. They are to enter an alien planet with strange life forms. A Doctor Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver, "Alien") is also featured with Jake.

Scene Two is the most interesting in terms of story, where we are shown the first moving image of the peculiar bluish creature in the movie poster. It's Jake and it's his Avatar body, one that he will use on the planet they are to go to. He is put in a medical lab of some sort and wakes up very disorientated in his new form. The creatures are called Na'vi and Jake in particularly looks like a cross between a human being and an okapi or giraffe-like creature, only with a ponytail and a slender, tall body. Jake is visually arresting in concept, although perhaps not as much as Doctor Manhattan in "Watchmen". The CGI in 3-D is fairly impressive.

Michelle Rodriguez - a fast and furious ex-Marine in "Avatar"?
The remaining three scenes are more action-packed and they bring out the 3-D appreciation better. You can see Sigourney Weaver's doctor character with Jake on the planet itself, as they fight dinosaur-like creatures. A look into the Twentieth Century Fox movie material folder on the day (no images were allowed to be replicated) revealed the names of the creatures – there's a herbivorous Triceratops-like animal called a Hammerhead and a nastier creature called a Thanator which scares the Hammerheads away. Jake also wrestles a pterodactyl-like creature with the guidance of who appears to be his romantic interest - Neytiri (Zoe Saldana, "Star Trek").

Online reaction to the 16-minute footage is mixed. There is talk that James Cameron's "photorealistic" CGI images are so detailed and textured that it just might be billed the greatest sci-fi film ever. On the other hand, some have described it as "Pocahontas" in space or "Dances With Wolves" in space. "The Last Of The Avatars" (not to be confused with what was previously "Avatar: The Last Airbender") is another moniker that came up, an allegorical reference to the Daniel Day-Lewis western adventure "Last Of The Mohicans".

It's anybody's guess if "Avatar" can generate the kind of "in-universe" attraction that can mirror James Cameron's earlier US$ 1.6 billion success of "Titanic", although these two films are obviously not of the same genre.

"Avatar" opens in Singapore and Malaysia on 17 December 2009.

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