Have you come here to play Jesus to the lepers in your head?

Archive for August 2009

James Cameron’s Avatar Trailer Disappoints

with one comment

Last week, after 12 years of anticipation, the general public received its first look at James Cameron’s follow-up to TitanicAvatar

Given the sudden deluge of promotion after a long absence of any real PR for the film, high excitement just might plow over any inherent weaknesses the film may contain.  Granted, at this point, every observation is mere supposition.  That said, the trailer hints that trouble lies beneath the film’s glossy IMAX veneer. 

At just a hair over two minutes, the trailer crams in a collection of stunning imagery, almost no hint of plot, and barely a whisper of character.  Most of Avatar’s visuals thus far resemble other films.  We’ve seen giant mech-warriors wage bloody war; we’ve seen gargantuan creatures devour humans.  Even the floating rocks resemble a scene from a Final Fantasy game. 

Reaction, depending on who you read, is a little mixed at this point.  People coming out of the 16-minute “Avatar Day” IMAX preview last Friday have raved at the presentation.  Kyle Smith’s initial enthusiasm praises every taste of eye-candy, and seems hungry for more.  USA Today quotes one viewer in Alexandria, Va. who called it “mind blowing.” 

On the other hand, the two-minute trailer released last Thursday left many viewers doubtful.  The glimpse left film critic and author Jeffrey Overstreet underwhelmed.  Disappointment rounded discussion in an Ain’t it Cool News Talkback forum, one talkbacker even calling it a “blueman version of Last of the Mohicans.”

There’s no question the stereoscopic IMAX 3D rendition will amaze anyone with eyes.  The visuals, though tainted with unoriginal particulars, still look gorgeous.  Cameron has always shot his films with layer and depth; working his magic in 3D is the next logical step.  The film, however, should not have to depend on the way it’s viewed.  A CGI Gollum still managed to enthrall without the aid of 3D glasses, or a 50-foot screen. 

I’ve written before that Cameron’s films provide an experience more than a story.  Telling/selling a story at that level means ensuring that the experience serves the narrative.  Flip that notion, and you wind up with something more like The Phantom Menace

Avatar premieres December 18, 2009.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed. 

(also posted at Blogcritics)


Written by taj

August 24, 2009 at 2:27 pm

“Writers write. Posers whine about how hard it is.”

leave a comment »

So says John August (writer of Big Fish, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Nines, and others).  I like August’s blog; he always has a sobering word for writers hanging out on the lower rungs. 

Writers get stuck.  Stephen King made it halfway through his first draft of The Stand and hit a wall, which he overcame a few weeks later.  That’s not writer’s block.  Real writer’s block cripples the writer with paralyzing anxiety.  Usually, when a writer invokes a block, they’re either “non-writers” as August calls them, or they’re ignoring the basic principles. 

Bodie Thoene tells a story of one of her first staff writing gigs, facing a deadline and an angry empty page.  Her editor only admonished her–what do they teach you people, he said.  Stick to the fundementals–who, what, when, where, why, how.  Thoene wrote her piece and handed it in with minutes to spare. 

Writers write.

Written by taj

August 19, 2009 at 3:53 pm

They will know you by your love.

leave a comment »

Two years ago, ladies from a Kansas City church approached a local gentlemen’s club.  Instead of pacing the parking lot holding signs, they left gifts for the dancers. 

The visits continued, and soon, the manager of the club found himself working with their church on a city service project.  In a recent letter to the church, the club manager writes:

I think this program has even worked on me. One day […] the ladies came in and when they left a new girl came up and said “why were they here they’re just here to condemn us for what we do”. I told her that’s not true I told her not to be so judgmental now she’s judging them like she thinks all churches do us. That they are the nicest people you will ever meet. Since then I have had two people ask me what I know about religion and that they were never taught anything about god. So I told both they could call and these people would be glad to help with their questions without judging. Not in a million years would I have thought I would be sending friends to church people to learn about GOD.

You can read the full letter here

Thanks to Gina for passing this along.

Written by taj

August 14, 2009 at 6:26 am

Posted in General

Tagged with , ,

Book Review: The Templar Lagacy by Steve Berry

leave a comment »

TemplarLegacyWritten in 2006, The Templar Legacy joined a growing glut of Templar stories.  Once again the narrative takes on the myth of those legendary knights and the secrets they protected.  Once again, the effort subverts Christian tradition.  Readers offended by The Da Vinci Code beware—Steve Berry’s novel is both more subversive, and a slightly better read. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by taj

August 13, 2009 at 6:00 am

Posted in General

Tagged with , , , ,


leave a comment »

“A lunatic is easily recognized. He is a moron who doesn’t know the ropes. The moron proves his thesis; he has a logic, however twisted it may be. The lunatic, on the other hand, doesn’t concern himself at all with logic; he works by short circuits. For him, everything proves everything else. The lunatic is all idée fixe, and whatever he comes across confirms his lunacy. You can tell him by the liberties he takes with common sense, by his flashes of inspiration, and by the fact that sooner or later he brings up the Templars.”

Umberto EcoFoucault’s Pendulum

Written by taj

August 12, 2009 at 2:43 pm

John Hughes (1950 – 2009)

leave a comment »

So reports Fox News

“The key to faking out the parents is the clammy hands. It’s a good non-specific symptom; I’m a big believer in it. A lot of people will tell you that a good phony fever is a dead lock, but, uh… you get a nervous mother, you could wind up in a doctor’s office. That’s worse than school. You fake a stomach cramp, and when you’re bent over, moaning and wailing, you lick your palms. It’s a little childish and stupid, but then, so is high school.”

(Ferris Bueller’s Day Off)

Written by taj

August 6, 2009 at 3:46 pm

Posted in General

Tagged with , , , ,

James Cameron gets the machine rolling on Avatar. Finally.

leave a comment »

avatarposter-2The trailer is said to hit IMAX theaters and stream on the ‘net on August 21.  For now, though, here’s is the first official teaser poster. 

Avatar premieres December 18.

Written by taj

August 4, 2009 at 10:40 am

Posted in General

Tagged with , , , ,