Thursday, October 29, 2009

Avatar trailer 02.

This is an uncommonly long trailer, clocking in at 3:20. The model for this piece is obviously the first trailer for Titanic and the last trailer for The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers; both exceptionally long trailers that basically told the whole story in broad strokes. While the first teaser emphasized sci-fi and hard action, this one goes for epic sweep only going into action mode as James Cameron's credits are read off (notice the omission of The Abyss). The last trailer was about the wonder and the hard-action. This one is obviously selling the relationships, the machines vs. nature conflict, and the overall scope of the adventure at hand. And, since we know now that the movie will run around 165 minutes, we know that there is plenty of 'wow' moments that we haven't seen yet.

The film does look entertaining and visually stunning (this trailer doesn't hard-sell the razzle-dazzle factor as much as the teaser), and Cameron has never failed to deliver. But, at the end of the day the story just feels too familiar, seeming like a blended cocktail from (among others) The Battle For Terra, Dances With Wolves, Star Trek: Insurrection, Ferngully, Pocahontas, and Delgo (and a short story called "Call Me Joe"?). I sincerely hope to be wowed or at least satisfied, and I've heard good things from sources I can't reveal, but the key will be how soon Fox starts screening the movie. Anything later than right after Thanksgiving (so they can let the New Moon hype die down) may be a sign of trouble. Anything earlier than Thanksgiving means they know that James pulled it off again.

Ironically, for all the hub-bub about the film's cost (around $230 million), this is the first time in 20 years that James Cameron has not broken the record for the most expensive movie of all time. The Abyss may have unofficially broken that record back in 1989 (the official budget was $50 million, but I've heard as high as $80 million), and each successive film broke said record (Terminator 2: Judgment Day - $100 million, True Lies - $120 million, Titanic - $200 million). But with any number of films hovering at the $250 million mark and at least a couple at or near $300 million (Spider-Man 3, Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End), James Cameron no longer sets the budgetary standards. Although Cameron can likely claim the record for the most expensive non-sequel in film history.

Scott Mendelson

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