We found out yesterday that some lucky people (mostly media people) would be getting an exclusive look at footage from James Cameron’s Avatar. As expected 20th Century Fox had tight security so we have no bootlegs, but we do have some concept art that was projected onto walls during the after party (see above), and reactions from a few anonymous people who saw 24 minutes of footage. Director James Cameron was there to present some scenes, as were cast members Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver.
In the first scene we see Sam Worthington’s crippled ex-marine Jake Sully, who just arrived on the planet ‘Pandora.’ He’s in a wheelchair and just rolled in to hear Colonel Quaritch, played by the impressive Stephen Lang, talk to the troops. He’s giving a classic speech that every military leader gives at the beginning of a battle. Jake listens as an outsider to this speech. A melancholic smile appears on his face. Although the scene is in 3-D, I haven’t really noticed it. Finally a director who doesn’t feel the need to stick it in the audience’s face with cheap tricks like pointing objects at the camera.
In the second scene Sigourney Weaver’s Dr. Grace Augustine explains to Jake how the process of transporting your mind into an Avatar works. Although the scene is mostly exposition, we’ve got a good look at the lab and more importantly we get a first glimpse of the Avatars, the Na’Vi lookalikes. These tall blue creatures lie in water tanks, waiting for their human to ‘jump’ in their bodies. Besides Weaver and Worthington, the scene introduces Joel Moore’s character Norm Spellman. As is usually the case with Moore, his character is the comic relief.
It’s the third scene where my heart begins to pound like crazy. Jake and Norm will inhabit their Avatar for the first time. They enter some sort of capsule and – flash – their mind enters the blue creatures, now lying on hospital tables. And not before long Avatar Jake wakes up. And it took my breath away. I thought–just like you guys–that I’ve seen it all with Gollum, or The Hulk, but Cameron has done it again. These creatures seem so real, that within minutes you forget you’re watching an enormous and very blue CGI character. Even the eyes are totally convincing. The characters have real personalities and a soul.
In the fourth scene the Avatars of Jake, Norm and Grace explore the jungle of Pandora. The surroundings remind me of a planet that appears briefly in “Revenge of the Sith.” A lot of massive colorful flowers and plants grow everywhere. Jake’s unbridled enthusiasm works on Grace’s nerves. And not before long they have their first confrontation with some creatures. Some sort of rhino with a flower sticking out of his head looks like he will kill Jake, but he’s not scared and he let’s out a scream. The ‘rhino’ runs away, but not because of Jake. A more dangerous creature – a wolf? – jumps at Jake from behind.
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20th Century Fox have said that this footage will not be released online (which is probably a good thing), however we should be getting a trailer in the upcoming weeks.