Avatar is a film that we’ve covered a lot around here at Screen Rant, not only because it is hyped up to be one of the most visually amazing movies of the decade (and we like to keep an eye on that sort of thing to see if it’s true), but also because it heralds the return of director James Cameron, who hasn’t directed a feature film since 1997’s Titanic.

With technology finally catching up to an idea Cameron has had for fifteen years, soon we’ll get to see his Avatar vision come to full, 3D CGI life. And today Screen Rant has the first real details on Avatar, as well as some early critical buzz that we’ve all been eager for!

The first footage of Avatar was shown to over 1,000 industry folks at the Cinema Expo in Amsterdam (“If you get stopped by a cop in Amsterdam, it’s illegal”— Oh wait, that’s a different movie…). The footage was comprised of various different scenes from the movie assembled into a length of about 24 minutes. Sadly the footage isn’t available quite yet to the online public, but we have the next best thing: written details about what went down.

So is all the hype for Cameron’s latest blockbuster warranted? Well, according to those who were lucky enough to attend the Expo and witness the first ever publicly shown footage, absolutely it does. Before we get to what people have said about the first Avatar footage, here is what happened before it was shown to the audience (thanks to IESB and THR):

[Warning: Moderate SPOILERS]

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James Cameron and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang and Sigourney Weaver were actually at the Expo in person to talk about Avatar before the footage was screened. Weaver started things off by saying that her character is called Dr. Grace Augustine, who dreams of living peacefully side-by-side with the Na’Vi (the 10 feet tall blue creatures shown on page 2). She revealed that her character is the one who created the titular Avatars (which are Na’Vi’ replicas), which allow humans to live on Pandora (the “other world” where the movie takes place).

Lang then went on after Weaver to talk about his character in Avatar, Colonel Quaritch, who is described as a, “shoot first, ask questions later type of guy.” Apparently, Lang was in character as he talked to the audience at the Expo, describing Weaver’s Dr. Augustine as, “nothing but a tree hugger,” and has a general want of killing the Na’Vi because apparently that’s the only way to deal with them – “They may be stronger physically, but we have more powerful weapons,” he said.

IESB user “Anonymous” reported that Worthington was, “barely audible,” because of bad jet-lag, but did say that his character, Jake Skully, is a crippled ex-marine who’s given a chance, by Dr. Augustine, to walk again through use of an Avatar. Saldana revealed that she plays one of the Na’Vi called Neytiri, and that it took months to prepare for her role, for which she had to to “learn to fight like a Na’Vi.” They fight? Without knowing much of how they function and how they act in the movie, it’s quite hard to picture them doing such things as fighting at this point. But I’m definitely liking the sound of it.

[End of spoilers]

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After that, the audiences were pleasantly surprised when Mr. James Cameron walked on-stage, wearing a pair of 3D glasses and remarked – “The future’s so bright I gotta’ wear shades.” He said that when it finally came to the point to actually make the movie once the technology had become available (which was four years ago), he and his team basically spent 18 months just thinking about how they were going to make it. Cameron said that the assemblage of footage shown was from the first third of the movie, but there were also some shots of the unfinished footage in there from the later battle scenes. He noted that in the later stages of the movie, the action becomes virtually non-stop.

Now onto the early buzz:

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Even though places like THR and IESB are saying that the audience at the Expo was asked to sign non-disclosure agreements, reports are nonetheless coming in from various different sources about the Avatar footage that was shown. And below we have provided a selection of quotes from them. I’ve included the least spoilerific ones, but if you’re someone who wants to know every little thing about the movie without fear of spoiling it for yourself, you can head to the links provided under the following quotes:

Coming Soon (scooper: ‘The Insider’)

I’ve just returned from a preview screening of “Avatar”… and I’m still feeling the after effects of this jaw-dropping experience… Finally a director who doesn’t feel the need to stick it [3D] in the audience’s face with cheap tricks like pointing objects at the camera…

I thought–just like you guys–that I’ve seen it all with Gollum, or The Hulk, but Cameron has done it again. These creatures seem so real, that within minutes you forget you’re watching an enormous and very blue CGI character. Even the eyes are totally convincing. The characters have real personalities and a soul… The effects are in a league of their own. After some disappointing or even pointless 3-D movies, “Avatar” maybe the first movie where 3-D is properly utilized.

MarketSaw

You will NOT believe the detail… The world outside is amazing. It all lives, breathes and works… You will not believe the amount of leaves that look like someone created that jungle for real.

What is most important about this movie [is that] everything lives and breathes… There’s a shot of leaves somewhere which is so photorealistic you don’t want to think it’s CGI. You believe this world from the get-go. It’s there, you don’t need to believe it because you will experience it.

Unique Cinema System (via Twitter)

“…Stunning, literally jawdropping. Amazing visuals unlike any before seen, with incredible detail… CGI was photorealistic, characters look really real. Believe the hype, this movie will be massive!”

For more information and early buzz about Avatar you can head over to ComingSoon, IESB, THR, MarketSaw and /Film.

Well there you have it – the first real solid information and early reactions to the sci-fi special effects-filled blockbuster that is Avatar. I don’t think the word “hype” even covers it anymore, the buzz has gotten so big. What’s encouraging about these early reactions is that they’re coming from people who are not in any way involved with the making of the film (read: not biased). Even if they seem almost too good to be true, it’s still great to see that the word “disappointment” has yet to be used, something which the mega-hype suggested was inevitable.

Just as an added bonus, we have a couple of (new) images from Avatar for you, which were displayed at the Cine Expo after party. They are extremely cool, check them out (courtesy of UCSNord):

(click for larger)



What do you make of all of the info and early buzz about Avatar? Do you think there is any way this thing can possibly live up to all the hype that’s been built up about it?

Avatar is slated for a December 18, 2009 release.

Sources: Coming Soon, THR, IESB, MarketSaw, /Film and UCSNORD