Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Movie Avatar's Amazing Effect

The movie Avatar is one of the most infamous sci-fi movies of this decade, grossing more than two billion during its release. Although very lengthy, this movie always keeps you on your feet and the technology and time behind its special effects are unprecedented.  James Cameron wrote Avatar in 1996, but the technology to begin making it wasn’t available until almost a decade later so it was simply put away. Set in the mid 22nd century, humans are mining an expensive mineral on the inhabited alien planet of Pandora. The main character is the paraplegic soldier, Jake Sully, who ends up assimilating so much into the aliens’ culture, that he switches sides and begins fighting for them. In order to create a realistic world full of dragon like creatures and a completely physically different alien race, a countless amount of very costly special effects were necessary.
These special effects cost around a whopping 300 million dollars and included a breakthrough stereoscopic film making technique. One of the most powerful parts of the movie is the realism of the aliens, specifically the fluidity of their faces. The facial expressions and even the minute details of the eyes add to the portrayal of emotion are amazing.  
A special type of computer facial animation was used to make the Na’vi aliens as realistic as possible. Weta Digital was in charge of flawlessly creating the Na’vi’s faces and bodies to look as fluid and lifelike as possible. Using high-resolution mesh to sculpt the faces through new and complicated computer technology, they executed this task perfectly. “If Shakespeare were alive today, he would be enthralled by the ability of computer generated imagery to create fantastic brave, new worlds” as we all are lucky to experience after viewing Avatar (Understanding Movies 33.) The Na’vis show fear and anger but also compassion and love towards not only each other, but also to humans. This causes the viewers to soon side with the seemingly barbaric aliens over their fellow conquering humans. Neytiri, daughter of the leader of the Na’vi clan, and Jake becaome romantically involved, adding an underlying love story to the surrounding combat. Their interactions are important to the pathos argument as viewers feel are forced to see through Neytiri’s qualities that she does not lack the wide range of human emotion.

            The film has often been called a directors’ movie as opposed to a actors’ movie because the distinguishing feature of Avatar that left millions of people in awe, was the animation behind creating a whole cast of Na’vis. Although the cast, including Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington, were amazing, most of the awards of the movie went to its director and its special effects as that was the most distinguishing aspect of Avatar. Steven Spielberg himself says that the animation and effects are merely “digital makeup”, and the actors still play as big of a role as they always have. It won 9 Oscars as well as Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Cinemotography, and Best Visual Effects. Avatar’s plot kept viewers hooked and the astounding visuals just added to the interest and concern for the characters’ in the viewers’ eyes. The special effects that allowed for the aliens to be so lifelike and easy to relate to were the result of years of digital processing and hard work by a group of 900 people in 6 different locations around the United States. Avatar is an all around great movie including its actors, plot, special effects, and even moral lessons learned from the story line. I give this movie 5 slurpees for sure!

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