20 Things We Now Know About Avatar

At long last, real information is starting to leak from James Cameron’s fortress of non-spoilertude.

So we thought we’d collect all of Cameron's new quotes and explain why they make us more excited than ever...

You can watch the Avatar trailer here.

1. Avatar Is Inspired By All Sorts Of Stories

“My inspiration is every single science fiction book I read as a kid. And a few that weren't science fiction.

“The Edgar Rice Burroughs books, H. Rider Haggard — the manly, jungle adventure writers. I wanted to do an old-fashioned jungle adventure, just set it on another planet, and play by those rules.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

James Cameron's returning to the books he grew up with. The last time he raided his library, Terminator happened.

Next: A Myriad Of Creatures, Bows & Arrows


2. Avatar Has Loads Of Aliens

“Pandora is Earth like, it has lush rainforests filled with incredible life forms like a 1,000 foot tall trees, a myriad of creatures, some of which are quite beautiful, some of which are quite terrifying.“

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

We've been waiting all this time for a glimpse at the Na'vi - we didn't know there was a myriad of creatures to get worked up about.

3. It’s An Eco-Aware Tale, With A Cameron Twist

“Pandora’s natives, the Na’vi, live in a state that we would consider primitive –bows and arrows, that sort of thing – but who ultimately prove to be much wiser than we are. 

They’re 10 feet tall, blue skin, striped like tigers and quite fierce looking. They normally live harmoniously in their forest environment, but can be ferocious when provoked.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

This quote does make Avatar sound a bit like the third act of Return Of The Jedi, but we like Return Of The Jedi - Ewoks and all.

Next: This Is Not The Matrix, He Can Run


4. It's Not A Matrix Rip-Off

“Humans can’t breathe the air on Pandora, so it was decided to create a human/Na’vi hybrid via genetic engineering, called the Avatars.

They’re living, breathing bodies in a real world, not synthetic alter egos- this is not a Matrix style story. They’re controlled by a human driver, who projects their consciousness onto the Avatar body.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

We're glad Cameron's pointed out that this isn't a Matrix style story - the similarities to that franchise was one of our only worries when we heard the original pitch.

5. Sam Worthington Will Show Some Range

“Our main character, Jake Sully, a marine who is wounded in combat, paralysed and goes to Pandora.

In his Avatar body, he can walk, he can run, he can live again. He finds himself caught between the military/industrial complex on Earth and the Na’vi.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

We knew most of this already - but something about the way Cameron describes it - 'he can walk, he can run, he can live again' - makes it sound really joyous; we can't wait to see a giddy Worthington.

A Tough Job, A Tougher Female


6. It Was A Great Challenge For The Leading Man

“Sam is able to create a character that allows you to walk in his shoes.

“He’s so good at communication his emotions without appearing to do anything. It was a very challenging film for him, because he plays part of it as his human self, and part of it through his Avatar – a fleshy character, but played entirely through performance capture.

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

It's really starting to sink in now - Cameron is creating genuine CGI performances here. Remember, Worthington became a massively hped star off the work he does in Avatar - scoring Terminator and Titans off the back of it. Could this be the first Oscar-worthy CGI performance?

7. Zoe Saldana’s Female Lead Is A Cameron Speciality

“Jake falls for a Na’vi girl called Neytiri, and she’s a smokin’ hot action character and someone you don’t want to mess with.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

This is the man who brought us Sarah Connor and turned Ellen Ripley into an action hero. If he says she's smokin' hot, she's smokin' hot.

Next: Perfectionism, Sequel Talk


8. Cameron's Still A Perfectionist

“The first version of the characters you see in production is a little bit ghastly. And you have to say, ‘why isn’t this what Sam did, or what Zoe did?‘

And you study it and make little tweaks and after a while it starts to come into focus and it looks amazing.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

James Cameron is the ultimate perfectionist. He's found a tool to help him achieve actual perfection. We're pretty sure that's not a bad thing.

9. Cameron Is Thinking Sequels

“I gave the game designers a lot of latitude, and created some boundaries for areas that I didn’t want to go, if not to protect the movie, then to protect the sequel possibilities…

Some of the ideas they came up with, I thought if I couldn’t fit them into this film, I’d fit them into sequels.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

Sequels? This thing has taken so long to get to the screen we hadn't even thought about sequels. But we're going to try not to get too excited - we were promised True Lies 2 and that never happened. Okay, we're lying. The prospect of the first JC sequel since T2 makes us want to cry with happy.

Next: A New CG Frontier, Hands On Cameron


10. Avatar Is Changing How CGI Appears On Screen

“I pulled back from wacky CG shots consciously because I think a lot of CG stuff looks that way – it doesn’t look like there was a camera there.

By introducing a camera instead of a bunch of mouse clicks, it actually takes on a very naturalistic, cinematic style. It feels like there was a guy standing there holding a camera.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

No Jar Jars. Win.

11. Cameron Is As Closely Involved As Ever

“I operated the cameras myself as much as possible, except for the Steadicams. And I operated 100% of the virtual cameras myself, so the same sensibility – literally the same body motion was used at all times.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

Cameron's signature swooping cameras sound present and correct - our corneas are shivering with excitement.

Next: Escape From The Uncanny Valley, A New Space Western?


12. Avatar Wants To Avoid The “Uncanny Valley” Of Photo-Real CG Characters

“A given frame on Avatar might take up to 50-100 hours to render, and we multiply that by two. So that’s per frame, per process. We have a massive render farm to do the work.

Maybe one in 10 shots slips back into the valley, but at that point the narrative is propelling you along and the sense of realism.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

The Uncanny Valley is the term given to our natural instinct to reject CGI characters as unhuman - Avatar was always meant to be the movie to conquer it.

We like Cameron's honesty here - he's admitting that it's not totally fixed. If he's being so truthful about this aspect, then maybe everything else he's saying is totally true. Which means that all this incredible stuff isn't hype, but cold hard facts.

13. The Story Uses Western Tropes Set In Space

“It’s Pocahontas, Dances With Wolves, that sort of thing, but a story that takes place on another planet, with a completely different type of culture.

“And completely different creatures – the creature designs are some of the best I’ve ever seen. We drove the creature design group to do something new and something truly detailed.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

A space western inhabited by loads of different alien creatures? That'll never work.

Next: Big Finish, Bigger Than Titanic


14. Cameron Promises A Huge Final Battle

“Let me tell you, this battle at the end of the movie is the mother of all battles.

“You’ve got human technology, helicopter gunships and all sorts of futuristic technology against the Na’vi giants riding their creatures.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

The king of action is claiming he's created "the mother of all battles." In photo-realistic 3D. Can it be December now, please?

15. It's Bigger Than Titanic

“This thing is way beyond anything I’ve ever done before, which is why it’s taken four years to date and we still have seven months to go until our release date.

“Titanic took two years to make, just to give some idea of the effort.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

Avatar has taken twice as long as Titanic to make, which is arguably one of the most technically complex films of our lifetime. And James has spent a lot longer than that pondering the bloody thing. Even in that context, seven months still seems so far away.

New Tech, Fresh Eyes


16. The Tech Involved Is Outrageous

“We’ve pioneered new effects technology and we’re shooting the film in stereoscopic 3D, while the live action portion uses cameras that took us nine years to develop.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

This is pretty much like the person who worked out how to add colour to black and white movies sitting down and explaining how the process works. There's a reason why Hollywood is going gaga for 3D, JC is going to change everything.

17.  Avatar Won’t Be Like Watching A Normal Movie

“The goal was to combine these new filmmaking technologies with powerful narratives, visuals and design, and to create this fully immersive cinematic experience.

Not like watching a movie, more like taking the journey.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited
Despite the technological focus, Cameron hasn't forgotten about the most important thing - the story.

Waking Dream, Game On


18.  Those Who’ve Seen Some Of It Are Impressed

“I’ve had friends and people who’ve watched parts of the film say that viewing Avatar is more like being in a dream state – dreaming with your eyes open.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

Given that some of those people include the likes of Ridley Scott and Steven Soderbergh, we’ll believe it .

19.  The Game Will Match It

“The guys from Ubisoft walked in with a pitch for a game whose themes beautifully mirrored those of the movie.

“They were totally inside the head of the movie.”

Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

From that sounds of it, we won't want our Avatar experience to end. If the game's as good as he's claiming, it won't have to.

Next: Cameron's Ambition


20. It’s Ultra-Ambitious

“Avatar is the single most complex piece of filmmaking ever made. We have 1,600 shots for a 2.5-hour movie.

“It's not with a single CGI character, like King Kong or Gollum. We have hundreds of photo-realistic CG characters.”

  Why This Makes Us Even More Excited

Hundreds of Gollums? Okay James, you've talked us into seeing it, just about. Maybe. NOW RELEASE A TRAILER ALREADY!

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