is for Pandora
The world that’s home to the Na’vi and under threat from humanity as we aim to colonise and strip-mine the place.
Which would be a shame, since it’s a beautiful world.
“Pandora is Earth like, it has lush rainforests filled with incredible life forms like 1,000 foot tall trees, a myriad of creatures, some of which are quite beautiful, some of which are quite terrifying,” is Cameron’s description.
is for Original Story
In this time of remakes, retreads, reboots and re-imagining, not to mention the seemingly endless cycle of movies based on everything from toys to kids’ books, it’s nice to see someone coming out with a truly original tale.
Okay, so Avatar is archetypal and blends lots of ingredients from sci-fi in general and Cameron’s back catalogue in particular, but we’re hoping for a fresh stew after he’s done cooking the pic.
“The story is really designed for everybody because it's a classic tale,” says the writer/director.
“It's not a timely story, in the sense that The Matrix was a very timely story. It needed to evolve out of the cyber punk era and what was happening, with the way that the Internet was changing human consciousness, globally. This story could've been written in the ‘30s.”
is for Navi
The alien natives of Pandora are quite a sight to see being that they’re all 10-foot-tall and impossibly beautiful.
“We have this indigenous population of humanoid beings who are living at a relatively Neolithic level; they hunt with bows and arrows,” is how Cameron defines them.
“They live very closely and harmoniously with their environment, but they are also quite threatening to the humans who are trying to colonize and mine and exploit this planet.”
And thanks to their better qualities, it’s not just a simple conflict between man and ETs…
“It’s easy to look at it as a war between the humans and Na’vi, but it’s really not,” says Cameron.
“The Na’vi represent what we’d like to be or aspire to be, and the humans in the film represent what we know to be that part of ourselves that are trashing our world and potentially hurting our future.”
is for Marketing
Avatar has been hidden behind a wall of secrecy for years now, but with the film’s December 18th release date now just a few months away, the promotional tidal wave is on its way.
Comic-Con saw displays of action figures and other toys based on the film, and Avatar Day will see the release of more figures and other tie-ins, plus lenticular posters that will show shifting imagery.
Now that at least some of Avatar has been shown to the public, get ready for a deluge…
is for Lang
Stephen Lang. He’s most recently been seen in Public Enemies and he impressed the Comic-Con crowd by taking the stage as Colonel Quarles, head of the human military presence on Pandora.
After ordered everyone to listen up, he explained the problem from our side of things as only a soldier can:
“The Na’vi are impeding our mission on this miserable planet.
“They’re 10 foot-tall, quick, stealthy, blue as a baboon’s butt and lethally dangerous. Their technology is primitive. My people have state-of-the-art weapons and aircraft.
“It’s been coming to a head for a while and I can tell you it’s not going to end pretty.”
is for Kick-ass training schedule
For her role as Neytiri, the Na’vi that Sam Worthington’s Jake falls in love with, Zoe Saldana had the longest, toughest schedule.
Though she has dance training and was already in good shape, her work on Avatar required a 7-day-a-week preparation schedule that included dialect training, archery, weight lifting and horse riding.
is for Journey
No, not the group – there will be no chorus of ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ over the end credits.
As Cameron makes clear: “The story is told very much from character.
“You go on Jake’s journey with him. It actually starts quite small. It starts close to him, in his apartment with him, and it just expands and expands in scope as it goes along.”
is for Innovation
Even though 3D has been around since the 1950s, it hasn’t really flourished on cinema screens, until recently. And even now its success is not assured.
Cameron is aiming to change all that.
“3D is going to be a lot like colour was,” is his reasoning.
“It was initially introduced on the biggest movies, and it gradually spread ultimately over a 25- to 30-year period to the point where you couldn't make a black-and-white movie without the permission of the studio.
“I think the acceptance is really accelerating now that it's market-driven. Audiences love it and the quality of the 3D is so much higher than it's ever been in the past - in terms of the acquisition technology like our fusion camera system, in terms of how animators are using it, and in terms of the projection technology.”
is for Hells Gate
The audience at Comic-Con learned a few new things about humanity’s disruptive presence on the planet Pandora.
The military compound, commanded by Colonel Quarles (Stephen Lang) is home to the massive power suits that the armed forces are using to battle the peaceful – but aggressive when provoked – Na’vi.
Cameron has promised we’ll get a full tour of the base in the film, which has been built on a combination of real and virtual sets.
is for Geek
Not just those of us champing at the bit to see the finished product (or indeed just some footage based on the server-crashing reaction to Avatar Day’s ticket launch around the world), but the man behind the movie himself.
“I'm kind of a techno geek. I like the engineering,” explains the man who brought the world Aliens, The Terminator and The Abyss.
“I like the challenge of complex solutions for problems that have not been solved in the past.
“That kind of gets me out of bed in the morning, but that's only one part of it. The other part of it is, I got cool characters, I got a great story and I got a world that I want to show.”