Showing posts with label Avatar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Avatar. Show all posts

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Future of Story-telling (Jillian)

I grew up on the Star Trek: The Next Generation notion of the holodeck, literally a room where you could create/recreate your own worlds, your favorite stories as a form of recreation or escape. I enjoyed the idea of the characters of the show transporting themselves into Sherlock Holmes (does anyone remember which characters??) or Shakespeare - literally to interact with well-loved stories instead of just reading them or just merely watching the DVD.

These days, I am not so sure that's a good thing. This comes up as I'm reading an article on possible sequels for James Cameron's juggernaut 3D film Avatar. The producer for Avatar, Jon Landau, has said recently: "I don't think we will ever make another 2D film. Why would we make a movie in black and white if we have color? I think ultimately all movies are going to be in 3-D."

Really? All movies in 3D? I beg to differ. I don't deny what 3D films have brought to the movie-making industry - yes, it is innovative, clever and cutting-edge. But does it really tell the story better? Having seen Avatar, I can answer "No," with complete confidence. While the visual effects were breath-taking, the story was allowed to hover on the level of cliches and stereotypes... the same themes of the evil Americans plotting destruction of a Nature-worshipping native culture. Critics had every right to snicker and mutter "Dances with Wolves in space."

With this in mind, I cannot envision the future of film as an art form to be a very good one. Film is story-telling. When the writing is poor, everything else about the film suffers. But that doesn't seem to matter to an industry that sees dollar signs instead of innovations of the human spirit.

What I enjoyed about Avatar's technology was hardly the 3D eye candy. It was Cameron's ability to digitally create Pandora and recreate the actors to fit that world. Like turning Andy Serkis into Gollum in The Lord of the Rings, the doors are opened to turning actors into characters or create landscapes, animals, epic battles that couldn't otherwise be rendered with stunt-doubles and models. 3D is a sugar coating that makes all of those things feel as though they're surrounding you. But objects jumping out at you from the screen isn't anything more than a distraction and a catalyst for a headache. If you happen to be sitting in the middle of a theatre and the 3D glasses don't bother you... or if you don't have any conflicting vision problems, perhaps this isn't such a problem.

Avatar's severe story-deficiencies remind me of George Lucas' prequel Star Wars Trilogy. The script was poorly developed, and a green-screen created backdrop of a galaxy far, far away could not save the story. It was a profound disappointment and made me cling to the original trilogy all the more strongly. The prequels look more like a computer game than a film with the actors feeling like puppets rather than players. And honestly, I want a story, not a headache. I'm sure I'm not the only one who feels that way. 2D, Mr. Landau and Mr. Cameron, isn't a technological backwater; it is a medium - a canvas - that works and has worked for decades... because nothing can ever quite be the holodeck.

That is a good thing. Our personal imaginations need not be superseded by someone else's delusions of grandeur. Eye-candy is seems just an excuse not to be able to think and create for oneself.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Stories Since Last We Met (Jillian)

I am very much aware that the creative world has been active in the months we Daedalus writers have been silent. Silent yes, but not idle.

New Moon (sequel number 1 to Twilight) emerged with rousing fanfare in November; despite criticism, it remains true to its novel and I enjoyed it immensely. My love of Twilight cannot be shaken by grumpy people who can't see the deeper layers of a beautiful, albeit imperfect, story. It is arguably the most painful of the saga, but the world deepens and makes it bearable. The Volturi, particularly Aro (Michael Sheen), balanced ancient-ness, style and down-right creepiness - the art of inflicting terror through serenity.
Then there was Avatar. I have to admit, I approached it with some skepticism, and though I saw the ground-breaking film under uncomfortable circumstances (second row + 3D glasses = headache) it was an enjoyable experience. I might not agree with the more preachy aspects of the film - soldiers ready to plunder the native Na'vi's world - but James Cameron created a massive world and filled it… and put characters in the midst of the world who were ready to explore it, drink it in and become part of it. I am not completely convinced that 3D is the future of entertainment however. In most cases, it is an added layer of fluff to a film already saturated with computer effects… and it only works if you're sitting in the middle of the theatre.
January came and so did the "End of the Time." The string of Doctor Who Specials came to an appropriately exhilarating end, as Russell T. Davies, who-writer extraordinaire, and the magnificent David Tennant, fly on to other things. I will probably spend a full post expressing my love for this awesome episode, but for now, I must report that the tenth Doctor did not go out with a whimper, but with a bang. The Master was resurrected. The Time Lords schemed to reawaken. The Doctor agonized over the man who would "knock four times" and announce his death. It was an episode of raw emotion, exquisite sacrifice and long-awaited goodbyes to companions scattered out across the stars. Sung to sleep by Ood-song, a new Doctor was born. For now I will say that I am at peace with this end, that the chapter is complete, and I am looking forward to see what Series Five has to offer. But I am still raw, still finding myself reeling about the poetry and the grace and the connected (and unconnected dots) of "The End of Time". I think I will be for a long time, in a good way.
Other events: I saw Lost last night, though I hadn't seen the previous two seasons, and had to make do with the re-cap episode. I have to admit, the story is interesting, but I see why I quit it after Charlie died; the story is severely out of balance between its questions and answers. I know; it seems to be the mode of Lost. One must be "lost", as well. But I don't like being jerked around indefinitely (which is why this final season is a godsend). I have been immersed in Doctor Who's season-long mysteries: Bad Wolf, Torchwood, Saxon, and "the stars are going out." Perhaps it has been easier with Who, because I trust an answer is actually there, thinly veiled in the cosmos. But is there an answer for the chaos that is Lost? Or will it diminish with only few stones unturned? I suppose there is no way to find out but to endure it for another season. Or perhaps I'll just watch Robin Hood instead. ;)

Speaking of Robin Hood, the third season finally came to DVD, and I am thrilled. Yes, a very important character died at the end of the second season (I won't say who in case you haven't seen it), but the show goes on… and characters are living in the aftermath. Jonas Armstrong is the perfect balance of boyish and broken. Richard Armitage gives Guy of Gisborn a conflicted soul. Keith Allen is hilarious as the evil, evil, EVIL Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin's gang is wonderful, and the right balance of brave and funny. Not to mention it reflects the 12th century in a very honest, creative way, even with modern undertones. I can't wait to see the fourth season!
So, that is Fall and Winter.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

To read more about why Daedalus Notes exists, click