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First Review of Avatar Special Edition

verbalcontract Re:Really? (387 comments)

I realize that, given enough thinking, you can extrapolate any rationalization for a weak point in a movie. But the problem is, the filmmakers didn't clearly answer those questions during the movie.

Consider for a second a theoretical movie: it consists of one shot of egg. 10 seconds into this shot, the egg disappears. The movie ends.

Now, you could find some rationalization for why the egg disappeared; perhaps it was just a hologram. Your rationalization may even be halfway plausible. But the fact remains that the filmmaker didn't go that extra step to convey a coherent, credible, original story. That's the problem with Avatar.

To address your points one by one:

1. Home territory: I believe it, but they should have had a scene where the N'avi come up with an actual battle plan that exploits their opponent's weaknesses. Remember in Star Wars, when the rebels meet before the attack on the Death Star, and Ackbar says that the Empire doesn't believe in the threat of a small strike force? That's how you tell a story.

2. The humans are vulnerable: This isn't supported by any of the shots or dialog in the movie. All we see the entire movie is an extremely well-equipped base.

3. The humans go soft for PR reasons: Again, this isn't supported by either the shots or the dialog of the movie. Instead, we have many scenes with the militaristic commander saying stock bellicose action movie dialog. We have a few shots of the corporate manager second-guessing himself after he orders the attack, but he doesn't take action and tell the commander to pull back.

4. The corporation is watched closely: Also not supported by any shots or dialog in the movie. There are no shots of the corporate managers talking to Earth, and Earth warning them about their actions. And most of the militaristic commander's dialog is to the effect of bombing them into submission.

This is what I mean about filmmaking laziness. Any scenes filling in the story points you've referred to would have made this a better movie. But the scenes just aren't there.

more than 4 years ago

First Review of Avatar Special Edition

verbalcontract Re:Really? (387 comments)

Avatar was released in 2009. There was a movie you may have heard of, released on year earlier, named Dark Knight.

If you haven't seen either movie, there are spoilers ahead.

Dark Knight is an example of a good movie. Dark Knight features a relatable but complex main character, and a frightening and unpredictable villain with very specific goals. The movie contains scenes in which the main character takes specific actions with the specific goal of thwarting the villain; it likewise contains scenes that play out those actions being thwarted, or the villain creating new challenges for the main character. The actions and reactions taken by the main character and villain are significantly different from the actions of other movie characters in previous. It is, if you understand my metaphor, like watching a brilliant chess game unfold.

Avatar is not a good movie. It contains hokey dialogue, similar to that which has appeared in many other movies. It contains a journey of a main character through a race which is very similar to at least two other movies: Pocahontas and Dances With Wolves. It contains main characters -- the Na'vi -- who choose spectacularly ill-advised actions -- running their army of primitive warriors directly into a highly-advanced human force aided by machines. It also contains a very unlikely outcome of such a poor decision: The Na'vi win.

I understand that Avatar isn't Citizen Kane, and that it's not critical that it achieve such a lofty goal. But after movies like The Dark Knight, Iron Man, Inception, Ocean's Eleven, or any other "good" Hollywood movie, you can't give Avatar a free pass for being "just another Hollywood movie." Sure, you as the audience can just not see the movie, but James Cameron -- as the person to whom we're trusting those two to three hours -- can just read a damn book about story.

more than 4 years ago

Japanese Spacecraft Bringing Back Space Rock

verbalcontract Best story title ever. (116 comments)

They used the fly-fly machine to bring sky hard-things to the big blue room's floor!

more than 4 years ago

What Free Antivirus Do You Install On Windows?

verbalcontract Re:Microsoft Security Essentials (896 comments)

I respectfully disagree with your notion that Kaspersky is better than MSE. I had Kaspersky's basic anti-virus for 2 years before MSE came out, and it was a terrible resource hog. And not just during scans; the actual real-time protection would increase the time to open a video file from ~2 seconds after double-clicking to ~15 seconds.

Additionally, when it detects a suspicious file, the program issues the most gut-wrenching squealing noise I've ever heard. And it does this by default; you have to go into settings to disable the noise.


more than 4 years ago

Web Browser Grand Prix

verbalcontract Re:Link (273 comments)

And the conclusions:

Category / Test: Overall Winner

Startup Times: Opera

Memory Usage: Firefox

Page Load Times: Firefox

HTML: Safari

CSS: Safari

Tables: Safari

JavaScript: Chrome

PeaceKeeper: Opera

Acid3: Chrome

DOM: Chrome

Flash: Opera

Java: Opera

SilverLight: Firefox / Internet Explorer

more than 4 years ago

Civilization V Announced For This Fall

verbalcontract Re:Brings back memories... (326 comments)

My wife-to-be popped in...

My girlfriend popped in again...

Oof, I hope they didn't run into each other.

more than 4 years ago

StarCraft II Closed Beta Begins

verbalcontract Re:Lost my interest (268 comments)

I don't understand knocking Blizzard for splitting this into three releases. There's going to be 26 to 30 missions in the first Terran-only single-player campaign (source), which would put it on par with the first Starcraft. Presumably, there will be 26-30 missions in each of the following stories, plus additional units (as Blizzard has done whenever they've released an expansion to the game). Blizzard has never developed and released a half-baked expansion in its entire history; the closest thing might be Diablo: Hellfire, which was developed by an outside company, and I don't know if it was priced appropriately on release.

So what's the hate for, beyond the usual fishing for things to hate? If you really don't think it's going to be good value to you, wait until it goes on sale, or just don't buy the game. Chess is freely available to all.

more than 4 years ago

StarCraft II Closed Beta Begins

verbalcontract Re:Mac (268 comments)

According to the beta FAQ, the Mac version is coming:

Will there be a Mac version of the beta client?
We plan to release a Mac version of the beta client at some point during the beta test period. We’ll have further details to share as the beta test progresses.

via the beta FAQ.

more than 4 years ago

Interstellar Hydrogen Prevents Light-Speed Travel?

verbalcontract Damn it, now they tell me (546 comments)

And I was just about to get into my 99.999998% lightspeed spaceship.

more than 4 years ago

European Credit and Debit Card Security Broken

verbalcontract Re:We Already Know This (245 comments)

This doesn't seem like the average attack we see in the United States, where a false card reader and camera copy a victim's credit card stripe and PIN respectively. I'm by no means an expert in Chip and PIN, but Wikipedia indicates that the smart card chip is much more difficult to copy than the US's magnetic stripes:


From the text:

"Once the card has been verified as authentic, the customer enters a 4-digit PIN..."

It doesn't say whether all the credit card information is passed during this handshake, but if it's not, it wouldn't be possible to copy the card just by reading it.

more than 4 years ago

NASA Will Crowdsource Its Photos of Mars

verbalcontract Umm... (66 comments)

...NASA has heard of 4chan, right? I don't want to see thousands of "crowdsourced" pictures of the robot's crotch.

about 5 years ago

Man "Beats" World of Warcraft

verbalcontract Re:Of course (655 comments)

Scroll over him with your mouse cursors and... right-click!

more than 5 years ago

Obama Makes a Push To Add Time To the School Year

verbalcontract Re:Waste MORE time!? (1073 comments)

If only there were some way to play athletics for fun, instead of for profit. Oh wait. That's what everyone in high school does.

I agree there are some people talented enough to fall into the pro trap (especially on television), but for the most part, people in my (public) high school did sports just to have something to do.

more than 5 years ago

NASA Scientists Levitate Mice

verbalcontract Re:bipolar mice? (237 comments)

Well played, sir. I'm not sure which is geekier: the Harry Potter reference, or the fact that you gave Dumbledore sudo privileges.

more than 5 years ago

Poor Design Choices In the Star Wars Universe

verbalcontract Re:Too easy (832 comments)

I agree with you in principle, but watch 10 minutes of Empire Strikes Back, and then watch Attack of the Clones.

The dialogue in ESB (and generally, the entire first trilogy) is much snappier and wittier. The prequels, on the other hand, are stuff with exposition and characters stating their explanations and motives. There's a world of difference between the two trilogies.

more than 5 years ago

Intel Licenses NVIDIA SLI Technology For P55 Chips

verbalcontract Re:Monopoly? (63 comments)

First of all, it's AMD.

Second of all, ATI is owned by AMD. Because of them, AMD makes graphics cards. AMD also sells technology that allows two AMD cards to be used on one motherboard. Therefore, AMD will probably not pay money for the same technology that lets people purchase and use two competitor's products.

more than 5 years ago

Hacking Nuclear Command and Control

verbalcontract Re:People in the know (256 comments)

Yeah, the first time I read it, I thought he turned into a lolcat.

more than 5 years ago

Typography On the Web Gets Different

verbalcontract Re:IE doesn't support font-face (378 comments)

D'oh, I should have read that Ars article more carefully. This wouldn't have happened if the article text were in Copperplate Gothic Bold.

more than 5 years ago


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