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Avatar vs. Inception_ my thoughts

August 29, 2009

If you’re not aware, two huge movies are looming on the box office horizon:  James Cameron’s Avatar, due out in December, and Christopher Nolan’s Inception, due out next July.  It should go without saying that these movies will be hyped up and marketed to the max.  Christopher Nolan is arguably the hottest director in Hollywood these days.  James Cameron was arguably the hottest director in Hollywood a decade ago.  It’s interesting that both of these directors are both coming off of two of the biggest movies ever made: The Dark Knight and Titanic, respectively. What’s really interesting (and exciting for us geeks) is that both of these films are sci-fi.

So let’s start with Christopher Nolan’s Inception.  Here’s the recently released teaser trailer:

The great thing about the Inception teaser trailer is that, even after viewing it, I have no idea what the movie is about.  That’s cool.  That’s what a teaser is all about. We have DiCaprio being DiCaprio (who was in Titanic, how ’bout that.)  We have a crazy, flying fight scene in a hallway.  Who know what the hell is going on there.  And… well, we have some terrible cgi shot flying through a city at night.  I mean, it’s so bad I’d expect that in a Saturday morning cartoon.  But it resolves quite nicely to the movie’s logo.  Most likely, that cg crap was created specifically for the teaser.  Nothing to worry about there.  Overall, I’m pleased.  When I first heard Christopher Nolan was working on a sci-fi project I immediately thought he was attempting to make his 2001.  It seems, at some point in their careers, every director gives it a shot.  So you can imagine my surprise when I watched this trailer and found no space ships, no aliens, nothing.   And that’s a good thing. A space opera is not Nolan’s style.  He’s too real, too gritty.   This seems like a perfect psychological sci-fi thriller for him… much like The Prestige.   This movie has potential.  I’m betting it has Oscar potential.

Now let’s take a look at the trailer for James Cameron’s Avatar:

Okay.  Space ships.  Aliens. Very blue aliens.  Without a doubt this film, the first shot in a special 3-D technique created by Cameron himself, will look incredible.  It will be jaw dropping… because that is what Cameron does.  He’s a special effects wizard turned director.  But, as director, this movie is already falling into James Cameron clichés: primarily a sappy love story.  Cameron has already been comparing this film to the story of Pocahontas (crap, I probably just gave away the whole plot.  Feel free to have your ten-year-old nephew write out the rest of the script.)   Ugh.  I have nothing against love stories; they make me as warm and fuzzy as the next guy.  But.  Come on.  Terminator and Aliens got by without one, why has he insisted on putting one into every movie since (okay, T2 was an exception.)  And they seem to be getting progressively worse (My Heart Will Go On.)

This just opens up a whole can of worms for me.  I want this movie to kick ass.  I want it to be awesome.  But I can’t help but wonder, for a man who hasn’t made a dramatic narrative in over a decade, has filmmaking passed him by?  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I loved Cameron when I was a kid.  Terminator, Aliens, the Abyss, True Lies?!  The man kicked ass.  But go back and watch them again.  They’re dated.  The writing is weak.  The dialogue… well, I think Soldaten holds it own against some of his work (see below.)  Hmm.  I don’t think I’m ready for any more of that James Cameron humor either.  I’m talking about the annoying side characters that provide comic relief.  Sigh.  If Bill Paxton is in this movie…

So, there it is.  I have high hopes for one.  Low hopes for the other.  But that’s to be expected, right?  I think there may be a serious James Cameron backlash brewing.  Everyone I know is looking forward to Avatar but… I mean, compare Nolan’s track record to Cameron’s.  I don’t think it’s outrageous of me to say that Nolan has made better films.  Cameron made classics.  But so did Richard Donner.  Nolan seems to be on another level of story telling.

What do you think?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. hoff permalink
    August 29, 2009 6:53 am

    Couldn’t agree with you more. I managed to make it to the “Avatar Day” screening, and although impressed by what I saw at a technical standpoint the more I ponder over it I feel the movie will falter due to the sheer expectations behind it. After nearly 11 years people will be expecting Cameron to do something incredible. The scenes screened where breathtaking but so out of context that they did little to strike a cord. I was at one of the biggest IMAX theaters is in the country and there was not a sound when the footage stopped rolling, and it wasn’t a good speechless type thing rather a “wtf was that?” feeling. It will be interesting to see if this film will do enough to clean up its image and put anyone in the seats on December 18th. Nolan is a masterful director but his last major work had a lot more going for it than just his direction, then again you just look to the works before it and you realize this guy has got something special. Inception has been only shooting for 1 month and is just half way through, and a teaser trailer comes. They know what they are doing with that one. As long as he can dodge the Matrix comparisons this film will be something to remember. All I know is we have some exciting times in front of the silver screen in our future.

  2. Hack Riven permalink
    August 29, 2009 7:25 am

    go to hell, I love Hudson.

    otherwise, I agree. I can already start guessing how the Avatar story will pan out. Take away the space marines and you have nothing any more interesting than something on Cartoon Network. yawn. This better be Cameron’s unexpected literary masterpiece if it has any chance of recouping the budget.

    Inception. dark, dramatic, different. kinda feels like Dark City. Looks like a story that could suck you in, build slowly, gain momentum and then run you over like a freight train. The great thing here is that it seems I could probably watch this with no sound and remain captivated on the edge of my seat. The dialogue and soundtrack will just be a bonus. The only thing that could possibly blemish this movie would be an ending leaving room for a sequel.

    • cklockwork permalink*
      August 31, 2009 12:47 am

      ha. No way Nolan leaves room for a sequel. This movie is too serious and that’s just not his style. We all know TDK will have a sequel… but that’s only because of the character. Nolan’s script wrapped up that movie’s story quite nicely. He could of been dropping in future characters like the X-Men movies do, setting them up for later, instead he kills most of them off (okay… everyone but the Joker.)

      Cameron, on the otherhand, has already said he expects a trilogy. If there’s one thing I HATE it’s a planned trilogy.

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