Avatar – The Panda Review

So I saw Avatar over the weekend. I won’t go into the story really, don’t want to reveal the plot or anything.

But if you really want to know, go watch Fern Gully.

Let’s talk visuals.

I read an interview with James Cameron the other day, and he said that he wishes he could have done all his old movies in CGI. He said like all of Titanic would have been in CGI, forget building a huge fake Titanic and worrying about capturing real sunsets and stuff. He would just go with fake everything.

Now I’m not some naturalist, I’m not all for having to make every movie in the real world, but I think there should still be a responsible limit to the use of CGI, especially when it pertains to things in the real world. Obviously movies about Mars or something will have CGI in it. But to just create all of your sets with computers seems lazy and crappy. And you can always tell the difference, very rarely am I so convinced that set is real when it isn’t, it has something to do with the look and the fact that no one can interact with it properly. Imagine how crappy Blair Witch Project would have looked in CGI (not that the movie was any good). People pretending to move branches out of the way and fall over fake tree stumps. Shit would look like Han Solo stepping on Boba Fett’s tail, unnatural and obviously faked.

On the other hand, the charaters themselves were very well done. They did appear and act very realistically (for huge blue cat/people), and thus is the real interesting draw to the CGI part of the movie. The scene where the main female Nani lead interacts with the main charater’s human body did look surprisingly real. And all of their teeth look really real.

But let’s clear this up really quick, Cameron didn’t say he would replace the actors with CGI, just the scenery, which would ruin everything. Forever.

Thus sets the stage for my review of Avatar. I think Cameron needs to get off his high horse. This movie was way overhyped and all the CGI in the world couldn’t save this crappy story. I really felt like I had seen this movie a million times before, only with the ships using rotary blades instead of jets, and avatar bodies instead of mechs or something. That part was pretty Robotech esque in a weird way. See, all the characters in the movie knows which avatar aliens are fake and which are real, why go through so much trouble to fake the alien bodies. No one is confused as to which is fake, so it’s really pointless to create bodies resembling them so closely.

And back to the CGI. I just feel like I’m watching a cut scene in a video game I wouldn’t buy. Maybe if I got to play as the marines, without feeling so crappy for tearing down the forrest. But probably not still, as I would apparently be fighting against aliens with bows and arrows.

Then there was the 3d. Man it was cool, for like, 5 minutes. Then it became gimmicky. I don’t need to see scenes with nothing but talking in 3d. It’s really cool to give a sense of distance in scenery shots or something, but two or three people talking doesn’t need to show the field of depth between the person and the wall. Action scenes can suffer from it. There was a scene with the avatar fighting dog things, and it just became unwatchable at a certain point because there was too much movement by too many things and the glasses are not the best out there. I got physically sick after that scene.

Another thing, why is it when things are in CGI, the camera always has to move. One thing I like about movies is perspective. A certain way a scene is shot can make the whole scene better, even if the camera never moves, it just lets the scene take place and you get a good perspective of whats going on. Now, this doesn’t have to be the case all the time, I do like cameras on booms or car chase scene cameras and such, but these all still provide a great perspective. But with CGI, it always seems that they feel the need to center the action or characters, and move fluidly with them, never giving a sense of perspective. This sucks. And it happens a lot in this movie. When a scene is purely CGI, the camera always has to move. A lot. Even Pixar get this right with movies like Toy Story or Cars, but Cameron can’t keep his camera from moving ever.

Either way, this movie was not some epic like people want to make it out to be. The visuals were really good most of the time (still not groundbreaking to me except for the characters), but the storyline was unoriginal (except for the useless avatar bodies) and the over reliance of technology.

So with all that said, go see the movie. You don’t want to be that guy who didn’t see the movie, but also go see it during a matinee. It wasn’t that good. It was really pretty to look at and does push the medium in a direction that will help movies after this. 3d, the (over) use of CGI, all of this will help make movies better in the future.

But, it’s kind of like buying a GM EV1, or the first gen Toyota Prius. You aren’t getting the best of the technology, you’re just letting Toyota know that you want to see this in the future but way better. And if it doesn’t get better in the future, you will buy from someone else.

If James Cameron releases another crappy movie (the movie itself, not visuals) like this again, I won’t go see it.


10 Deep – winter threads

For this winter season, I wanted to get some nice sweater/jackets that I could wear under the waterproof Northface shell I got.

I went to my friends over at Zebraclub and took a look around the place. I saw some really nice pieces, but two really caught my eye and they happened to be from the same company.

10 Deep this winter has released some of the coolest sweaters I’ve seen in a really long time, having a classic look while keeping a modern twist to them.

The Maritime Shawlneck Sweat

The Paddington Plus Toggle Hood

The paddington in black was the first I was going to get, but they didn’t have my size in stock, so I grabbed the Maritime. After finding out that the Paddington was on indefinite backorder in any color, I made my way over to the 10 Deep website with the quickness and grabbed the Paddington in brown instead. I really like that I have both of those covered and can wear either depending on what kind of outfit I have on.

The quality on these things is great. The material it’s made of is very soft and very warm. The fit is pretty true to size. The craftsmanship is noticable in the details when you look at the jacket. I’m very happy with these and can’t wait for the next 10 Deep collection to release.

Here’s a few of the others that caught my eye but I couldn’t justify purchasing.

I really liked, but didn’t want a hoody, I wanted a coat type sweater

seemed too bulky with the latches

I didn’t like the pattern though

You can grab stuff at the 10 Deep website, Karmaloop or if you’re in the Seattle area, Zebraclub in either Bellevue Square, downtown Seattle, or if you’re going north, Vancouver B.C.

The kicks I crave – I gotta get like a second job

More shoes I come across while paroozing the internets.

First up is a functional and fine looking piece.

Concepts x Sorel Boots did a colab, here’s the offspring of their marriage.

We don’t get crazy amounts of snow up here in the winter, but we see our fair share. And if I ever plan on going snowboarding again, these would come in handy.

Next I’m seeing some really nice Adidas originals collection that I really want to get my hands on. Maybe even multiple colorways.

They are just a handsome shoe. A really clean silhouette, good cut and material looks, and very nice colors.

And then the Nike Sportswear x Maharam Collection

I’m just diggin on the monochrome all black (all black everything) look. I love my Creative Recs in all black, unfortunately these would cause a backup in my shoe wearing rotation so I can’t get these (yet).

via hypebeast and highsnobiety

Found a new soccer pub! – Plus Vegas Mike’s visit

So, if you remember my plight that turned into the breakfast adventure, I found myself 1 hour south of my house, at a pub I normally watch soccer at, which is now not showing live soccer matches. That sucked.

What sucked after that was finding out there was a pub in downtown Seattle, 8 minutes from my house, that has been showing live soccer matches for the last 7 years. So, down to Fado’s we go. It was a very fine time, I had been to that place before, but only at night when it’s a proper bar, not knowing that they showed soccer games during the mornings. The only gripe I have is that it’s hard to make sure your game is on a tv where another tv can be seen to watch 2 or more games at once. You’re basically stuck watching your game only depending on what room you end up in. But the service is great and friendly, the food is good, and I know the drinks are good, but I didn’t grab a beer this time.

Also last weekend, my friend Mike came in from Vegas. He was the one who showed us around Vegas, a lot of cool off the strip stuff that made Vegas even cooler than it was the first time I went. So we showed some hospitality to him, and we ended up going to Korean BBQ and on Sunday we went Bowling at Acme bowl in Tukwila.

The weekend before last was lost to a move. We packed up, and moved a whole 100 yards to a larger apartment in the same complex, this time with an extra room that we have needed, and also a view.

This next weekend, probably a bunch of Christmas shopping to finish that off, and we were supposed to go to see Avatar but it seems the person that was going to buy us tickets didn’t, so we will have to make different plans.

CR-Z – hot hatches are back in the US (?)

US hot hatches on the way back? Focus RS, Abarth 500, Honda CR-Z?

Well, here’s some info on the upcoming CR-Z from Honda, which I’m really hoping can pick up where the CR-X left off. I really like that car back in the day.

Here’s some specs that autoblog pulled together.

…the 1.5-liter engine’s output (in JDM spec), with the diminutive four-cylinder putting out 112 horsepower (at 6,000 rpm) on its own and another 14 hp from its electric motor. Just as importantly, the engine creates 107 lb-ft of torque (at 4,800 rpm) with the Integrated Motor Assist (IMA) system boosting that by another 57 lb-ft at an oh-so-low 1,000 rpm. Coupled with either a six-speed manual or CVT gearbox, the CR-Z nets a relatively uninspiring 0 to 62 mph time of 9.7 seconds.

Not fast by any means, but it doesn’t matter. The Miata isn’t fast, but it makes driving fun, which is what these little cars are supposed to do.

Here’s the car itself from a leaked brochure.

Can’t say I’m too stoked on the front end of it, but the rest of the car actually looks pretty good (although these pics make it hard to be sure). I really hope cars like this continue to work their way into the world, I would love to see more sporty compact cars, and hopefully Honda to start making some pretty cool cars again since the end of the S2000 is this year.

Update: Someone caught another “leaked” photo set, this time from Honda tuner Mugen. This looks very promising.