Tag Archives: avatar

My Favorite Scene: Avatar (2009) “The Hallelujah Mountains”

There was a time, not so long ago, when people went to the movies to see something they’d never seen before. A quarter-century into the era of CGI, it feels like almost everything has been done. Big films have thousands of VFX shots, and while the quality of them has definitely increased exponentially, the quantity is such that it’s hard to remember the last time I sat in a theater utterly gobsmacked by what was on the screen and wondered how in the world the filmmaker accomplished it. James Cameron doesn’t make a whole lot of movies, but when he does, you know he’s going to push the envelope. He loves break ground, be it The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Titanic, if Cameron is making a film, he’s out to smack the gobs of his audience and show them something new. Love it or hate it, you can’t argue he didn’t make Avatar awfully pretty to look at.

As Avatar near’s it’s 10th anniversary, its legacy is a bit of a mixed bag. The film remains the all-time box office champion globally with $2.71 billion. The film was largely hailed by critics, was nominated for 9 Oscars and won three (Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Art Direction), and is responsible for 3D technology being slapped on to every big film that’s come out in its wake. Avatar and 3D are linked, and the film, like Gravity and IMAX, is so heavily dependent on being seen in the most cutting edge way on the biggest screen possible that it loses a lot in most home theaters. And unlike Gravity, Avatar is working with the other Cameron trademark: really dicey dialogue. We are talking about a film whose plot centers around the battle for control of a resource named “Unobtanium”. You don’t watch Avatar for the script. You watch it because the film is gorgeous.

Cameron developed Avatar for 15 years before he brought it to the screen, and it’s an impressive bit of world-building. It’s a visually-arresting, layered biosphere that still holds up as some of the nicest eye candy that’s ever landed in a cinema. My favorite bit of that eye candy is The Hallelujah Mountains. First introduced in a great fly-by sequence, the floating mountains (which Cameron modeled after a Chinese rain forest) are given a three-minute showcase on the way to the banshee scene. That bit of FX exposition, which contains almost no real elements, is my favorite bit of the film. I have seen, at this point in my life, easily 10,000 movies and if one manages to leave something indelible on the landscape of my imagination, that’s fantastic. Floating mountains? That’s a little corner of my personal cinematic kingdom that Avatar gets to claim, and for that reason, I’ll forgive horribly named elements and Sam Worthington’s acting and think fondly on the film in perpetuity.

Zoe Saldana’s 10 Best Movies

Zoe Saldana

Zoe Saldana was originally a ballet dancer before her interest in theater drew her into films.  She has been part of, perhaps, three of the best action/adventure films of this millennium in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Star Trek, and Guardians of the Galaxy.  Between reinventing Uhura in Star Trek, portraying Gamora in the MCU, and Avatar (and its upcoming four sequels), Saldana has taken the torch from Sigourney Weaver in becoming science fiction’s action queen.  Her dance background makes her extremely gifted with fight choreography and in motion capture, and her acting skills don’t require make-up.  She’s held her own with Tom Hanks in The Terminal, Mark Ruffalo in Infinitely Polar Bear, and Christian Bale in Out of the Furnace.  I hope the grind of the Ava-sequel shoot doesn’t prevent her wholly from doing other films, because she’s always an outstanding addition to any ensemble she joins.
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Sigourney Weaver’s 10 Best Movies

sigourney-weaver-jake-chessum-varietySigourney Weaver has the best resume of any actress in the science fiction genre (including impressive turns in the Aliens franchise, Galaxy Quest, The Cabin in the Woods, Avatar) in addition to being one of the best dramatic and comedic actresses in Hollywood for three decades.  She is THE template for a female action star for her work in Alien and Aliens, and she’s done some very covert work as a voice actor in two of Pixar’s gems (WALL-E and Finding Dory…ok, not so covert in Finding Dory).  Her body of work is even more impressive than I realized when I began putting her list together and was forced to leave off things like Gorillas in the Mist or The Year of Living Dangerously that would easily make most actresses’ lists.
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Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is The US Box Office King!!!

star wars, star wars episode vii, maz kanata, han solo, harrison ford

Avatar’s six year reign as the King of US Box Office Gross came to an end today as Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens passed the 2009 James Cameron-directed sci-fi epic.  Avafans may still hold on to the global box office crown as it looks like it will depend on how big the film blows up in China as to whether or not, Avatar’s global box office record will fall.  Read below for Coming Soon’s comprehensive box office analysis, then resume returning to the theater to see TFA over and over. Continue reading Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens is The US Box Office King!!!

R.I.P. James Horner (1953 – 2015) *Music and Movies Mourn*

James HornerJames Horner

Multiple media sources are now confirming the movie composer James Horner, missing since his small plane went down Monday morning in California, has died at the age of 61.  The small plane that Horner was a passenger in crashed near Santa Barbara, but the composer’s fate was unknown for most of a day.  It looks like our worst fears have been confirmed.  For the initial report on the crash click here.

Horner’s career spanned over 150 films, and his music underscored many of the best films of the last 35 years.  I remember first hearing Horner’s scores as a child in The Land Before Time and An American Tail (still, two of his best).  He and John Williams were the composers that introduced me to the music behind the movies.  He won two Academy Awards for Titanic in 1998, and those are-unfortunately-the only of his prolific career.  He leaves behind an indelible legacy of beautiful music.  Coming Soon’s obituary is pasted below with a more in-depth account of Horner’s career.  He will be deeply missed by everyone who was touched by his work. Continue reading R.I.P. James Horner (1953 – 2015) *Music and Movies Mourn*