Movies you've recently watched

Sorry for the late reply, I would have replied earlier if I hadn't been busy these past few days with other more urgent matters.

1984 - 1991 was James Cameron at the top of his craft. Hell, I'll include up to 1997 because Titanic was an filmmaking achievement.
Wait, you're not counting True Lies either? It may have not aged well after 9/11 and with that one questionable dance scene but it still remains an excellent mixture of various genres and it's as entertaining and spectacular as it can get, not bad for a first venture into comedy territory :guts:
I can't argue that his films of the 80s and 90s are golden, especially for how consistently great he's been in doing them and his contribution to push the visual effects technology.

My impression with both Titanic and Avatar is that both films do as great as they can with these massive budgets to offer an iconic moviegoing experience but that they are weaker in the writing compared to his earlier films. Then, it's not like Cameron has ever had a ton of nuance, his films at the end of the day are more fueled by spectacle and aren't really excellent character studies.

But Avatar!? I was unimpressed even then and I can't imagine that it has aged well.
Wow, I wonder what films you were watching back in the 2000s whose CGI surpass this! And by this I mean a live action movie which is 80% generated on a computer from main characters to whole environments. Honestly, I find it nonsense to say that Avatar is not a filmmaking achievement, at the very least on a technical point of view.
I want to specify that I don't consider Avatar to be Cameron's best movie, and if we go by writing or the characters, probably not by a long shot. What really elevates this movie (definitely not for you somehow, but not for all considering the massive box office numbers it did) is the experience that it offers, especially when viewed on the big screen. I can't think of other films that have such an extensive use of CGI that feature so many moments of awe like this film does (I'm thinking of scenes like Jake with the tree spirit seeds, the first flight we see in the film, Jake and the other Na'vi climing the flying mountains, etc.) which honestly are the type of scenes movies don't do anymore. Usually we're all too caught up in the plot, in the explosions, in the fights to have scenes that in their simplicity are just captivating and a feast for the audience even if not much is really happening. I think it takes a really talented and expert filmmaker to be able to deliver this type of awe in such a vast scale, regardless of the flaws or lack of depth of the script. It's even more true when we consider that most of this film was shot with the actors wearing grey pajamas and interacting with sticks and mattresses instead of being in actual sets, since aside for the human / military sets, it was all created digitally. I'm not entirely sure, but I also think that the camerawork for the Na'vi scenes was completely artificial, yet Cameron frames all these scenes as if there was a physical camera (handheld, helicopter shots, etc.) and it really contributes to making the experience more cinematic and authentic. Scenes like this feel like shot on location, with actual plants and a physical camera, but it's all digitally created and it blows my mind.
I would also ramble about how the film is effective in its exploration of a new culture / biology, the theme of nature vs. technology, or about humanity's relationship with nature, finding a new identity, but that would be too much I fear. For all that, I would say that despite being so ambitious it is a film filled with genuinity and passion, not an easy thing in a modern movie landscape where blockbusters are rushed, produced half-heartedly, messy and with repetitiveness of a factory product.

In any case I had a great, great time watching the film on the big screen. I'm confident that James Cameron still got it, and as for the sequels at worst it'll still be a feast for the eyes and for me an absolute priviledge to be in a theater completely in the hands of an expert filmmaker like him. There aren't many filmmakers I feel the same way, Denis Villeneuve, Matt Reeves... maybe a few others.

Sorry for the unexpected wall of text Aaz, I hope I didn't annoy you too much :ganishka:
 

Aazealh

Administrator
Staff member
Wait, you're not counting True Lies either?

It's an alright movie, but I like the original better. Anyway if we go up to 97 it's included. :shrug:

My impression with both Titanic and Avatar is that both films do as great as they can with these massive budgets to offer an iconic moviegoing experience but that they are weaker in the writing compared to his earlier films. Then, it's not like Cameron has ever had a ton of nuance, his films at the end of the day are more fueled by spectacle and aren't really excellent character studies.

I'd say Titanic has stronger writing than Avatar, even though at its core lies a very simple story. In any case, his earlier movies were definitely more thoughtfully written and featured less simplistic characters and story beats.

Wow, I wonder what films you were watching back in the 2000s whose CGI surpass this! And by this I mean a live action movie which is 80% generated on a computer from main characters to whole environments. Honestly, I find it nonsense to say that Avatar is not a filmmaking achievement, at the very least on a technical point of view.

Avatar came out in December 2009. That's hardly "the 2000s". George Lucas was doing the whole "70% CGI" thing ten years earlier. The Matrix was released in 1999. The Lord of the Rings was 2001-2003. And so on. The use of computer graphics was impressive as a technical effect when Jurassic Park came out, but it was mostly over by 2010. And in fact, when Avatar released, what was put forward was the 3D element, something no one cares about anymore.

But really, that's not important. CGI in and of itself doesn't make a movie good. Just like nice graphics don't necessarily make a video game fun. As far as I'm concerned, Avatar overpromised and underdelivered on all counts. Personally I found it utterly forgettable, and I think that's why Cameron is hedging his bets on the sequel, which he delayed by 10 years to begin with.

Anyway, good for you if you like the movie! I hope you enjoy the sequel too. Can't be worse than all the Marvel shit we're inundated with. I'd add that I hope you bought the Blu-ray so you can enjoy that glorious 3D TV at home, but I have a feeling I'd better not. :troll:
 

Vampire_Hunter_Bob

Cats are great
I went into theaters thinking I would find Avatar unimpressive and I left surprised at how disappointed I was. (Maybe this is some revisionism on ny part but time hasn't improved my opinion if Avatar.) With that said, like Aazealh I'm glad others enjoyed it. But I will pass on the sequel(s).
 
I guess to each his own with CGI technology. What I mean by how Avatar pushed the technology (beside 3D, for which I genuinely don't care) was how it further pushed the technology already developed by Weta Digital to capture actors performance for a digitally created character. It began with LOTR's Gollum and then King Kong, Cameron really pushed the existing tech at the time to an extreme and massive scale, while also introducing a new way to capture the facial performance which impacted the industry since. I think that it also helped open more possibilities for lead performances in blockbusters using this technology such as in the recent Planet of the Apes trilogy and in general, an important step in crafting new ways of developing the VFX art.
But I guess I might be more interested in these geeky things than most here :guts:


I'd add that I hope you bought the Blu-ray so you can enjoy that glorious 3D TV at home, but I have a feeling I'd better not. :troll:
You have good instincts! All jokes aside, 3D isn't much my thing (I find it somewhat cool but also distracting at the same time, I prefer 2D) but when I'll be able to afford it and living on my own, that's one of the films I'd love to have in my collection. I gotta say though that no matter how big a TV screen is, nothing matches the experience of going to the theater! That's my favourite way of experiencing a movie like this.
 

Griffith

With the streak of a tear, Like morning dew
Halloween Bads - Woof! In tribute to the latter films in previous Halloween trilogies, this movie SUCKS! If you thought Halloween Kills was bad, it's like an all encompassing magnum opus compared to this; I mean, at least they were going for it. This is like they knew they dialed things up way too much in the previous movie so instead of doing the work of trying to effectively top it or tightly reign it in like the 2018 edition they just lazily turned it down to half power and hoped that was decent enough, and that's a generous description. This movie is like they overfilled a balloon and then just let it go so it flies wildly around the room blowing a long continuous fart sound. The basic dialogue and acting is actually cringingly bad at times, all the scenes with Laurie and Hawkins make Kills look, again, like some kind of art movie masterpiece. The new character and his premise was actually ok, but they didn't pay him off in much of a satisfying way, and a lot of the setup was painful to get through, which pretty much describes every other character and plot in the movie, including poor old Michael, who is basically reduced to an afterthought because he's literally too tired after the last one (he needs some performance enhancers; nothing to be ashamed of for a man his age =). The nicest thing I can say about this is at least it's trying to be a real movie and not a mess of a conclusion like Rise of Skywalker or even the aforementioned Kills, it's just not a very good one.

Spoilers for a specific element of the movie: So the "bold choice" here is there's another killer, someone that forms a vague connection to Michael (more on that later). He does most of the killing actually, as Michael is acting his age in this one after seemingly being literally immortal in the last one (I guess he blew his wad). Now, this is a trope of the genre going back to the first Friday the 13th where Jason isn't the real killer, which they repeated in 5 to much worse effect, and there's various copycat scenarios in these franchises (it's like a ubiquitous sitcom plot that pops up in every series, "the vacation episode!"), but everyone basically hates it, and this mixes that with the "next generation" cliche. Actually, I liked the new guy and the whole idea of Michael having an heir of evil, and they're doing Christine too, I get it, where Michael seemingly gets stronger as he kills again, but the reason it's not really a bold choice is because they never commit to anything concretely. Is there some supernatural evil connection here, is Corey gaining Michael's power, could the shape live on in Corey somehow? Or are they just men in Halloween masks? The movie doesn't formally have it either way, so it's no choice at all. It seems more like Michael fanboyism by the filmmakers making it into the film after they already had him kill everything possible last time, " "Wouldn't it be cool if WE could turn into Michael Myers and kill our enemies!?" That was another thing, Corey was basically just out for revenge, not killing randomly, or on sight like Mike by the end. Anyway, I think it would have been interesting if they'd had Michael formally become some sort of more sinister evil figure here, basically like an immortal Sith lord with his apprentice/new shape, but if anything in this one he just seems lamer and more pathetic by the end (the magic is literally gone, apparently). So if you're not going to say what you do, or do what you say, don't just gesticulate at this stuff. Maybe I should just be relieved and careful what I wish for, because if the half measure sucked how much would they have fucked up fully formalizing these ideas? It probably would have been Halloween VI all over again.

Now, this brings this whole reboot trilogy to a disappointing conclusion, and solidifies, or even exacerbates, some flaws I felt going back to the first one. First and foremost, this series should not have been a direct sequel to Halloween, but Halloween II. You don't want to follow the classic, but the sequel to the classic, and spiritually these movies are really successors to II and beyond. Otherwise, it just doesn't make sense because they're basically treating Michael like the unstoppable monster that's murdered countless people in Halloween II and 10+ movies, not the one that killed three teens one Halloween. Secondly, they never effectively established the Laurie/Michael connection or relationship, or didn't establish it enough (as a matter of fact, the first of these implied it was almost completely one-sided, which is ok!), there's no reason for Laurie to believe Michael can't be held after he has been for four decades, and it's not even clear if, how or why Michael cares about killing Laurie. They may as well have been siblings, at least that just makes the connection obvious. Also, after there being thin justification for Laurie's previous extremism, in the latest movie, despite Michael actually coming back and murdering like 50 or more people, including her daughter, and remaining free out there, she's basically gotten over it! Lastly, after taking great pains to remove the sibling and supernatural "samhain" element, they basically revived it in the last movie and toyed with it here, but vaguely enough to kind of pretend they didn't, "Is Michael an immortal, supernatural monster?*shrugs*We don't know...*wink wink*" I mean, if you thought that was dumb before, why flirt with it again? Because they couldn't think of anywhere else to go, so they inevitably rebuilt and fell into the trap they meant to avoid altogether.

Anyway, it's all very incongruous and muddled and now feels like they really didn't know what to do after the respectable 2018 revival, which served as a much better series ending if it hadn't been too successful to leave it at that. Halloween Kills was the unrespectable one, but as I said, at least they went all the way and basically made a whole fan service movie about Michael, an all-out, ultimate Halloween movie, which might actually be the standout of this project. And this... this was like an off-ramp, like if they knew if they did this nobody would be clamoring for another one for a while. This is how horror series end, for a while anyway, with a whimper...
 
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So, I watched Avatar: The Way of Water last Friday.
It definitely feels different from the "usual" Cameron experience. Some traits are still 100% him, both visually and narratively, but there is a new vein in here, creatively. It was hard for me to figure that out and tap into that exactly, but I think it's because of the co-writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who have handled the incredible new Planet of the Apes trilogy. The first Avatar feels very quintessential, classic and running on narrative tropes and epic on a massive scale. It works (at least for me) because it's simple but applied at a huge scale like never done before and used very smartly. The second Avatar feels more grounded, the scale is reduced and it introduces a number of dynamics and topics that Cameron simple-epic-action films don't go into, so that was surprising. Such topics include exploration of biases, complex family dynamics, being outcasts in a new environment, adoption, etc. so it kinda took me off guard. Also, Cameron usually would have a single main protagonist (or a duo) and at some point introduce a romantic plot and his films function as very good standalone experiences, but here there's more of an ensemble cast (Jake and Neytiri aren't ever the real protagonists surprisingly) and it's not very standalone, since this is the first of 4 sequels (planned, if box office goes wrong they'll close it on Avatar 3).
Overall I left the theater feeling mixed about all those things, mainly compared to my expectations of a "typical James Cameron movie" with all his usual ways of entertaining that I love a lot. I definitely need a second viewing to absorb it and make my mind a little better. Maybe I shouldn't have skipped the trailers after all! :ganishka: I would have had a better picture of how it was going to be.

The film itself I think it very solid. I also rewatched the first one last week, so I noticed a good number of connections (both visually and tiny details or foreshadowing / parallels) that I appreciated a lot. One weakness of this film is that it feels like a new beginning rather than a straight sequel. But other than that, it's a great new setting of characters and many possibilities are opened. Visually it's (as expected) incredible, the water / sea sequences in particular are jawdropping.
I think I still prefer the first one for its classic Cameron feel and on some visual aspects, it has a different quality to it. There's a new director of photography (Russel Carpenter, who worked on Titanic) and the motion capture technology has evolved a lot, so I guess it's that. Oh right... Sigurney Weaver is playing a 14 year old this time around and she's having a hell of a good time, that was great to see.
The music was decent to good. I wasn't too focused on that myself, maybe my brother could answer on that better than me. Maybe his music is less remarkable than James Horner, but I think Simon Franglen did a good work in filling his shoes for this franchise.
 
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