Tag Archives: Sam Worthington

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.

Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016) “Please, Lord, Help Me Get One More.”

Hacksaw Ridge, Mel Gibson

It’s impossible to talk about Hacksaw Ridge without first getting the subject of Mel Gibson out of the way, since this film marks his return to the director’s chair after over a decade of exile following a series of, um, incidents.  My honest opinion of Gibson is that he is mentally ill, as there were no “incidents” (to be clear “incidents” means “horrific racist blow-ups”) in the over 20 years he’d spent in Hollywood, at least that I’m aware of, prior to roughly about the time he made The Passion of the Christ.  He’s certainly had his career marred for life for his behavior and any hint of it rising again will see a now-socially networked Hollywood descend on him and pick him to pieces.  That’s a long-winded way of saying Hacksaw Ridge isn’t just Mel Gibson’s return; it’s his last chance with an industry and public filled with people he’s slandered.  That being said, Hacksaw Ridge premiered at the Venice Film Festival to a 10-minute standing ovation at the film’s ending.  Whether that’s a byproduct of the industry’s bizarre tendency to selectively forgive despicable behavior (looking at you, Roman Polanski) or because Hacksaw Ridge‘s last hour deserves that reaction is tough to discern.  It is Mel Gibson’s best directorial effort since he won two Oscars for Braveheart, a unique story of a unique hero, and one of the most powerful and moving films of 2016. Continue reading Movie Review: Hacksaw Ridge (2016) “Please, Lord, Help Me Get One More.”

Trailer Time: Hacksaw Ridge Trailer #1 (2016) *Is This Gibson’s Return to Directorial Brilliance?*

Hollywood loves a comeback story, but given why Mel Gibson’s been wandering in the desert for a decade, his seems the most unlikely comeback of all.  Though I thought it was underwhelming, his acting return in Blood Father was lauded, and his first directed film in a decade earned a 10-minute standing ovation at The Venice Film Festival.  The trailer is extremely impressive, and it looks like Gibson and Hacksaw Ridge will be figuring into Oscar season. Continue reading Trailer Time: Hacksaw Ridge Trailer #1 (2016) *Is This Gibson’s Return to Directorial Brilliance?*

Movie Review: Everest (2015) *Towering Adventure Still Runs A Bit Shallow*

Everest

You have to be a little nuts to want to climb Mt. Everest.  It’s a good kind of nuts; the kind that’s sent people to the moon and the bottom of the ocean, but it’s still nuts.  I don’t think that mindset of the climbers and of the hardships involved in actually following in the footsteps of Sir Edmund Hillary and summitting Everest have ever been better captured than in the self-titled film.  However, if you go past the surface of the film, there are problems, the depth of which really depends on what you want or are expecting the film to deliver. Continue reading Movie Review: Everest (2015) *Towering Adventure Still Runs A Bit Shallow*

Arnold Re-Teams with James Cameron for the Avatar Sequels

Arnold Schwarzenegger

James Cameron is perhaps the best director partner that Arnold Schwarzenegger has had over his career, teaming with the bewhiskered box office titan for Terminator, T2 and True Lies.  Arnold might seem an unlikely fit for the world of Avatar, but the military is in need of a new crew chief….  and that’s exactly the role Arnold says he’ll be filling.

Avatars 2-4 are going into production soon and will take place after the events of the first film.  Though Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana will return, the films are expected to greatly widen the Avatar universe and visit planets other than Pandora.  The delay in production starting has largely been caused by Cameron’s development of underwater shooting techniques for what is believed to be an ocean world.

Humans will also be returning in the films to harass the Na’vi and “nasty humans” (the Avatar world equivalent of “filthy hobbitses”) at that.  One of those nasties will be none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be playing a human general.  This comes via Latino Review and Geek Tyrant, and it will be interesting to see Arnie take an ensemble role in a Cameron film when he’s always been the leading player in the past.  The technology and special effects are the true starts of the film, and whatever the quality of the screenplay (the dialogue will be bad…put me down for fifty bucks), the spectacle is usually worth it.

AvaTwo (not the title) was originally planned for 2014, but more realistically, given Cameron’s pace and the shooting of three sequels simultaneously, I doubt you’ll see the first Avatar sequel in theaters before Christmas 2016.Avatar