After four years of development, $200 million in production costs and a thick shroud of secrecy, superdirector James Cameron (Titanic) showed Comic-Con fans 25 minutes of never-before-seen footage of his new 3-D flick Avatar.
"I made this movie," Cameron told the very amped-up crowd of at least 6,000 fans, "for the 14-year-old boy who lives in the back of my head."
What did we learn about the (nonvampire) buzz flick at this year's Comic-Con? Well...
• The main conflict centers around Earth's greedy industrialists threatening the mountains, creatures and plant life that belong to a race called the Navi, living on the planet Pandora.
• And who is going to protect the Navi!? A botanist! The space flower enthusiast (Weaver) employs a team of humans to inhabit large Navi look-alike avatars to go in and save the plants and the planet of Pandora.
• The Navi are CGI'd cartoons with feline features: almond eyes, whipping tails, flat noses. They are the color and texture of blueberries.
• The detail is sharp and the 3-D so impressive. And though Cameron spent two years working with a group of specialists to develop a Navi language and mannerisms, the characters seem a bit...inhuman. Even rubbery. Our first impression, honestly? Picture a Thundercat action figure covered in Vaseline.
• Pandora itself looks like dorm-room black-light poster: neon colors, swirly patterns and a lot of wacky weeds.
• Though there's plenty of action—we saw an extended chase scene involving a giant lizard—and sexual tension, from what we saw Avatar could even be a little bit kid-friendly. Which isn't necessarily bad, you guys!
It's different, though, for Cameron-helmed sci-flicks, in that the haunting dread of The Abyss or the hellish acid spitting Aliens is absent.
Anybody else see it? What'd you think?
Get your Comic-Con on in our total live coverage!