The Buzz: Filmmakers React to Avatar


James Cameron’s Avatar has been unleashed upon this world. We’ve run reviews from half of the /Film staff: David ChenBrendon Connelly, Russ Fischer, and Hunter Stephenson. You might have even added your own mini-review. But you might be wondering, with all the talk of game-changing advances in the tech side of filmmaking, what do the writers and directors in Hollywood think of Avatar? Here is a round-up of quotes:

Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer: “Went to a special screening of Avatar last night where James Cameron did a Q&A after the film. I can’t tell you how much I loved the movie, or how clearly Cameron cemented himself as the world’s greatest living filmmaker. This is an incredible movie. I recommend seeing it in IMAX. So next level. So awesome. Avatar is a game changer. James Cameron wins.”

Back to the Future, Indiana Jones and Bourne series Producer Frank Marshall: “Wow!!! AVATAR is audacious and awe inspiring. It’s truly extraordinary and I would really need a blog to talk about it…”

Donnie Darko/The Box director Richard Kelly: “AVATAR was amazing. Lived up to all the hype - now must see in IMAX…”

Steven Spielberg: “The last time I came out of a movie feeling that way it was the first time I saw Star Wars.” … “The most evocative and amazing science-fiction movie since Star Wars.”

Danny DeVito: “AVATAR!!!! And the oscar goes to The King Of The World Bitches!!!”

Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz director Edgar Wright: “Avatar. One word review. Pretty-fucking-stunning.”

Screenwriter John August simply called the film a “Master class”, earlier tweeting “Holy Jeebus Avatar” and later clarifying “I use Holy Jeebus in the very-much-to-the-good sense. One doesn’t cite a Jeebus in vain.”

Moon director Duncan Jones: “:| I that’s my concerned face. That’s how I feel after seeing Avatar. It’s not in my top three Jim Cameron films. Am I alone here?” … “at what point in the film did you have any doubt what was going to happen next? Or were you ever surprised how it happened?” … “and did you ever wonder to yourself why they didn’t just bombard shit from orbit?” … “Would have appreciated the barest bit of explanation for the floating mountain islands in Avatar… Pumice stone full of helium? Something!”

Editor’s Note: Cameron did explain the floating mountains in the mention that the flux vortex causes gravity to be lower in that region.

Documentary filmmaker Michael Moore: “Go see Avatar - a brilliant movie 4 our times. Don’t worry if theater doesn’t have 3D - the 2D is awesome & it’s all about the story anyway!”

Pixar Animator Andrew Gordon: “We were blown away. Hats off to all the amazing artists that were involved with making that film. You guys really set the bar high. I was immersed in the story and characters. The animation/motion capture was superb. You could tell every frame was touched by an animator, mocap or not. I have not felt like that since I was a kid… The facial animation was so believable… Every eye dart, every movement of the brows communicated things so clearly. The world was so lush. I can’t wait to see it again!  Some of the guys saw it in 2d and liked it just as much. The way to experience it in my opinion is 3d Imax. Cameron really knows how to push and pull the depth.”

Lost co-creator and Star Trek producer Damon Lindelof: “I’ll say what others won’t. Avatar hypnotized me. I’m not sure if it’s a work of genius or utter shit. Could it be BOTH?”

Fanboys director Kyle Newman: “AVATAR was a splendid visual feast! James Cameron gave my eyeballs a handjob”

Trick r Treat director, X2 and Superman Returns screenwriter Mike Dougherty saw the movie twice: “Avatar is even more fun if you pretend it’s Alien 5 and Ripley lived and became Dr. Augustine and somewhere on that planet is an egg…”

X2 and Superman Returns director Bryan Singer: “It was very cool. I had seen 30-40 minutes before, but the whole thing was amazing. From the beginning, with those shots in space, I felt goosebumps. It was inspiring. I’m going back and forth, debating, on using 3D for “Jack,” and it pushed me a little closer in the 3D direction.”

Kevin Smith and George Lucas have not yet seen the film, but both hope to catch it during the holiday week.

  • Barricade84
    I wanna know what Tarantino has to say.
  • And Chris Nolan.
  • Al Jarreau
    And Uwe Boll.
  • muffin7
    And Uwe Boll! Oh wait...
  • Chris Nolan says "oh, THAT'S how you shoot action?"
  • Chris Nolan say "Oh, that's how you make a movie with a boring plot?"
  • jmusheno
    Worst joke ever.
  • i agree this was a pretty sad attempt
  • RJBlakeAAU
    Did you see the Dark Knight? And the tunnel chase? I'm just saying.
  • sideshowRaheem
    And Kevin Smith
  • MarkoP
    and Matt Stone and Trey Parker.
  • starscream9289
    But most importantly.........Michael Bay.
  • Does anyone know if Jennifer Aniston has seen Avatar yet? I'm dying to know what she thinks!
  • muffin7
    Duncan Jones is the only real comment. No kissing ass, just pure opinion. That guy rocks.

    And that explanation for the floating mountains you gave STILL makes no sense. Why was everything else pretty much the same, gravity speaking, when the mountains were floating? Like Duncan said, it had to be something inside of the rock itself to make sense. The people stepping off the ship were no lighter, ships had no problem flying just the same, albeit their radars were all funky, but that was more like magnetism than a gravity vortex, the water fell off the mountains, the creatures had to cling to the mountains, etc... If it was simply a "flux vortex causes gravity to be lower in that region" then wouldn't all gravity be lowered. WHY JUST THE ROCKS!

    Duncan's explanation makes sense. Cameron's does not.
  • muffin7
    And just to clarify, I liked the movie. That does NOT mean that the movie was without flaws, the explanation of the floating rocks being one of them. Does that kill the movie? Hell no. But it still doesn't make any damn sense.
  • dizzongster
    In the scriptment it's explained a little more. Pandora is a moon for a much bigger planet and it's right next to it. Since it is so close to the other planet, the gravity of that other planet is "pulling" on Pandora, and the hallelujah mountains are the result of the pulling.
  • Grunt Wars
    Yeah, but then why don't the people float up too? The gravitational pull is strong enough to pull up huge rock formations but not people and animals? WTF?
  • lujs
    Don't forget the unobtainium shit
  • derp
    Alltough I somewhat agree with Duncan Jones... are the floating mountains and other nitpicks like that really so important? Will knowing how they function scientifically enhance your enjoyment of the film? Just accept whatever they present in the world as the truth...
  • muffin7
    If you had read my next comment I specifically said that it does not kill the movie in any way. I only left the original comment because the people on this site took the time out to make an editors note that something that made no sense was explained in a totally nonsensical way.
  • anso

    Here's your answer for floating mountains. Unobtanium (that is the base of those mountains) is a room temperature superconductor. That's explained in the scriptment. There is very powerful magnetic field of the gas giant and something in the core of Pandora that resonates with it and made these large chunks that contain unobtanium to be torn from Pandora and levitate in air...
  • anso
    Remember in the movie Selfridge playing with floating piece of unobtanium placed above a magnet... That's the same principle with the floating mountains...
  • u may be right....wasnt it slightly glowing tho
  • anso
  • great find man :) this should shut all the naysayers up
  • then why dont they just mine that shit from the mountains?
  • A viewer
    Doesn't matter if it's "explained in the scriptment." It should be explained in the movie. I'm not asking for everything to be explained ad-nauseum for every detail in every film (this can be troublesome -- look no further than the "Prince of Persia" trailer for an example of this over-explaining), but in Avatar's context, this is just one example of why people are having problems with the movie. Do many films have these narrative/storytelling inconsistencies? Sure. It's when you really *notice*A them, though -- that's an indication that the *telling* in the *story* is not being conveyed well enough.

    For my money, I'm frustrated with Cameron. This is his most immature movie, and his most inconsistent. There are moments of great beauty and emotion in the first half of this film (mostly concerning Neytiri/Saldana), but the second half is like a balloon bursting -- really falls apart for me.
  • I think most of us thought about it for 10 seconds, came to a conclusion we liked and didn't bother thinking about it again. Of all things, why explain the floating mountains? Just think something up and go with it.
  • another viewer
    There's a reason why it is not explained in the film that "the magnetic effect causes huge outcroppings of Unobtainium to rip loose from the surface and float in the magnetic vortexes". Because you will start wondering why someone in their right mind would bother *digging* for the stuff, under some tree or another, when it's practically *floating in the air*.
  • mbellerbrock
    ....? Honestly? People were confused by this? I don't mean to sound like an ass but why did it need to be explicitly explained? It was brutally obvious to me at least. I knew why they floated 4 months ago after the first trailer came out. It's so obvious that the mountains contain Unobtainium (a stupid name), a superconducter, the floating rock in Selfridge's office gave that away, and no it wasn't glowing, that was the lighting on the rock.
  • Nope
    Superconductivity is about zero resistance to _electric_ current, nuthin' about magnetism or gravitation. The floating rocks/"Unobtainium" should also impact _metallic_ vessels of Earth bad guys, shouldn't it? In brief, ИМХО, the physics part of "Avatar" sucks like an industrial-grade vacuum cleaner.

    As for artistic originality part of the script - please do read sci-fi of early 70ies.

    Technically, the camera/rendering/design work is great, thet's true.
  • mbellerbrock
    @Nope, ok, sorry, not a physics expert, it's a super-magnetic material. It's discussed in great detail in many places, and clearly shown in the movie.

    For anyone who cares to read about it, the first pages discuss it in this book:

    Yes the magnetism probably should affect the human aircraft, why it doesn't (besides some instrumentation problems) isn't explained. But it actually sort of amazes me that people didn't catch onto that.

    Not sure if you're addressing me about the artistic originality, but I never claimed that it was an original story, although I fully believe it was told more than adequately.
  • exasperated person
    @anotherviever. i'm not sure about this, but is it possible that it's REDICULOUSLY hard, and annoying, to mine into a mountain to have it fall a mile or so after you mine out so much? Expecially since it would kill you or if you were under it, crush the ship? The unobtainium in the mountains simply isn't profitable
  • If unobtainium is what causes the rocks to float, then wouldn't the Home Tree have been floating? Seeing as how they said the largest deposit of unobtainium was right under that tree?
  • u have to consider the fact that it is the future and they have been on that planet for a while(the humans) so they must have built the ships to suite the gravity. plus the ships moved very slow.
  • Ci
    I read that the explanation has to do with magnets. There's magnetic force under the ground that's keeping the mountains in the air.
  • Bowl of Snakes
    Who cares about floating dialogue when the mountains are all made of crap?
  • mchops
    Jones sounded jealous to me.
  • Avatar Circlejerk
    As if he has anything to be Jealous of. Moon was just as good of a film as Avatar and was received better by the critics. Refer to RT.
  • mbellerbrock
    $250 million opening weekend says he has something to be jealous of. His movie made $5 mil total domestically. Don't get me wrong, I loved moon, although to be brutally honest, who didn't know exactly what was going to happen halfway into his movie? I saw every twist coming from a mile away, still a superb movie tho.
  • muffin7

    do you honestly think that Jones was aiming for massive commercial success with Moon, his first feature?

    He's friggin David Bowie's son, I think he's OK on the whole money front of things. Plus, way too soon to be judging, Moon showed massive promise and I hope that he comes through on that promise. We'll talk twenty years and a couple more Jones movies down the line...

    And yes, I agree, Moon did have some problems. So did Avatar. But they both worked. Good for both of them. (still, I'll be recommending Moon to friends for years to come, can't say the same thing about Avatar)...
  • muffin7
    Jones is old school. For me, the miniature work done in Moon was more strikingly beautiful than anything I witnessed on Pandora. Not that I should even be comparing the two movies. One is all about acting, story and old school filmmaking techniques while the other is all about the latest technology and creating a believable world. VERY different.

    Not to mention that Moon was Jones' FIRST feature. Cameron's was... Piranha 2?

    But why must you turn this into a flame war? just because Jones gave his honest opinion, one that I and many others happen to share, he's all of the sudden jealous? That's ludicrous!

    I hate how fanboys get like this after their movie is released. They get so overprotective it's crazy! I LIKED AVATAR. It was neat. But it wasn't great and it didn't make much sense in some places, and just like with Richard Kelly's "Southland Tales" I refuse to read a bunch of literature on the side so that I can understand everything that happens in the movie. A movie should work on its own, that's my feeling. I judge Avatar solely on what I saw and heard take place on screen. From that, I judged that there was a lot wrong with the movie, not enough to make it a bad movie, but there were mistakes made and things that just flat out didn't make sense.

    Congrats to Cameron on his massive technical achievement, but in the end, that's all this was when it had the potential to be so much more...

    Everybody has their own opinions. Just somebody has a different opinion than yours or even the majority of people, that doesn't make them wrong. It simply makes their opinion of the movie different. That's the beauty of movies! Respect that shit!
  • wittyphrase
    With intent to explain, rather than flame, I'd say that it's narrow minded to assume that only the comments that are critical of a film are "real opinions" and the others are just ass kissing.

    Being part of a dissenting minority isn't always something so noble. Sometimes it just means you're part of a dissenting minority. That's not to say there's no worth to those opinions, but rather that just saying "Oh, I'm going to be the only one to say it? This film sucks," isn't necessarily the mark of genius flying in the face of majority opinion.

    With that out of the way, and without having seen the movie, I'd say that if you're waving this film around like it's changing the game of modern cinema and part of the way you're doing that is supposedly by creating this incredible, believable world, then you better be certain you explain something and make me believe it. And catering to the lowest common denominator isn't always acceptable. If you want to immerse someone in a world, it's about plausibility, not reality. Make the reasoning plausible to me and I will suspend disbelief. If you're going to use "magnetism" to explain why these things float, a concept that human beings are generally familiar with, you should have a good reason why a giant chunk of land mass is drawn away from the surface, but other things typically affected by magnetism as we understand it, are not.
  • watadumbass
    Yeah because having a negative reaction is the only way one can have a "real comment". People who liked it are just kissing ass, they didn't actually like it.

    The lesson here is, you have to have the exact same opinion as muffin7 otherwise your a kiss-ass and have no comment on anything.
  • aspect
    maybe the mountains are full of unobtanium. That mineral rock floats. Just nobody knows about it...
  • Hector N
    It's sad to be you, try to enjoy movies a little bit more, you shouldn't need everything explained in a movie
  • BalledMancTwat
    What did Karl Pilkington think of the film?

    "It was alrigh' Elephant Man though."
  • Hmm... Do we really need to know what sort of lip-service these other filmmakers will give to Cameron to know that we should see this movie?

    Point of order: When's the last time someone in the business said something bad about someone else in the industry's film? I don't see it happening. Say George Lucas hated it, or believes it to be derivative of something he made in his mind back in the 70s (likely). There's no way he's going to come out and say that he didn't like it. He'll either say he enjoyed it, or not say anything.

    That said, Lindelof is right -- Avatar is a hypnotizing affair. Though, that means brilliance, not shit.

    Now -- if only we can get Danny DeVito to tell us what he thought of The Squeakquel...
  • Dru
    What I don't get is why humans are so concerned about getting "unobtainium" if its only use is that it's worth $20 million/kilo. Who's going to buy it at that price and why? What's its USE value? If the Earth has no green left, who's living there and how? And why is money still important in such a world? If unobtanium (second rarest mineral in the galaxy, second only to "nonexistanium") is so valuable, Cameron needs to tell us why. Had he done this, the humans that want to mine it at any cost would be more than single-minded cartoon characters. Make unobtanium something that will preserve or restore the Earth to its former glory, and then we've got a conflict that is going to put some stakes on the table. Humans or Na'vi, us or them, their world or ours. There's a movie. No real conflict in the one that Cameron made, unfortunately...
  • Al Jarreau

    I liked how at the end when all the humans are being banished, they're all sad. Hahaha. Like a bunch of little schoolkids getting on a schoolbus. Am I wrong or did they say it took them six years to get out to Pandora anyway?

    Also, I f*cking loved the movie, but I am willing to accept that some of it was pretty retarded.
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