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Old 03-08-2014, 05:02 AM
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Default Hope that JC is trolling the fans (re. the sequels)

/* This is a long-simmering rant, brought upon by more or less recent casting news. Oh, and sorry if I am the nth one kvetching about this. */


I really hope that announcement of the return of Miles Quaritch for all three sequels have been a big joke, some sort of trolling or purposely misleading statements designed to keep people in the dark and ultimately surprise them when the Avatar 2, 3 & 4 hit the screens.

I mean, they can bring back Grace Augustine in some fashion because she was "jacked into" Eywa -- though the scene of her "death" should have been done differently to facilitate her return.

But Col. Quaritch? If his body would have fallen out of the AMP suit and into some sort of organic pit when he got killed by Neytiri, some sort of explanation could have been McGyver'ed. It would have been a long shot, but something could have been devised, as twisted & unlikely it might be.

As we all know, it was not the case. Quaritch stayed strapped into his amp suit and stayed disconnected from the planet's ecosystem. With *two* big-a## arrows through the chest, which, IIRC, are "dipped in a neurotoxin that will stop your heart in one minute." You can't bring the colonel back from the dead. It's dumb and, frankly, it's cheap.

To push the reasoning to the extreme, if you are to bring back Miles Quaritch, why not do the same with Lyle Wainfleet? What, he got killed when trampled and crushed by a hammerhead titanothere (thanks, Google)? No worry, if they can bring back your very dead C.O., they can do the same with you. And what about Trudy Chacone, a well-liked character from the first movie?

I mean, if James Cameron wants to bring back a maximum of people from the original movie, bring back those that make sense. Bring back Neytiri, Mo'at and other Na'vi. Bring back the science team, esp. Max Patel and Norm Spellman. You can also bring back Parker Selfridge, as it is logical to expect that the RDA would try to re-establish mining of unobtanium due to its economic (and scientific!) importance to Earth. And this is just off the top of my head.

I really liked Avatar, despite its flaws, both minor and major (and there were some real doozies in there!). Though it could have been far better with a few changes here and there, from dialogues to film editing. Besides from "working better", it could have touched and raised quite a few mind-bending questions with just an added sentence here and another there. But I digress.

The Avatar sequels have a lot of potential, and I'm not just talking box-office / profit margins here. But if they somehow bring back the colonel, it's going to reek of cheating the fans, an insult to them.

I do hope that James Cameron will bring us sequels that are even better than the 2009 original. I do hope that he's just playing mind tricks with the public, to better surprise the fans in... 2016?

P.S.: Bringing back Miles Quaritch would make sense *for a prequel* to the first movie. You could then flesh out the character a bit more. But, please, don't bring him back for anything happening *after* the 2009 original.
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Old 03-08-2014, 07:13 AM
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Old 03-08-2014, 06:55 PM
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Has someone actually dedicated a thread to this before?
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Old 03-08-2014, 09:03 PM
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As I said earlier, sorry if this is a beaten, dead horse.
It's just that a quick perusing of the forums didn't show fan reaction(s) to the announcement that Stephen Lang had signed up for all Avatar sequels. That did surprise me.

Anyway, I am assuming that the overall general reaction has been similar to mine?

It's not that people hate mr. Lang per se, I mean he's a good actor, no question about it.
But to bring back his character... It's even worse than bringing back Agent Smith in the Matrix sequels, after he was, er, destroyed (?) by Neo in the 1999 original. The character was enjoyable, but that his return never felt right.

I wonder if there was any reaction from The Powers That Be (tm) to the outcry of Avatar fans?


P.S.: Did I miss the communiqué, or is the return of Norm, Max & co. still unannounced? It's not as if they were minor characters...
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Old 03-09-2014, 12:37 AM
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Originally Posted by avtrfan View Post
To push the reasoning to the extreme, if you are to bring back Miles Quaritch, why not do the same with Lyle Wainfleet?
Because Matt Gerald did not (have the opportunity to) steal the show. Quaritch is possibly the most memorable character in the entire film, especially if you've seen a lot of films in the "grimdark action" genre Avatar is following. He is the major draw for a good chunk of the audience who are cynical enough to dislike the Na'vi. Bringing him back, or introducing someone very like him, is an obvious move if Cameron wants to appease his fanbase.

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I really liked Avatar, despite its flaws, both minor and major (and there were some real doozies in there!). Though it could have been far better with a few changes here and there, from dialogues to film editing. Besides from "working better", it could have touched and raised quite a few mind-bending questions with just an added sentence here and another there. But I digress.
Random aside: IMO, it didn't do enough with the questions it did raise. I don't want it raising any more.

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The Avatar sequels have a lot of potential, and I'm not just talking box-office / profit margins here. But if they somehow bring back the colonel, it's going to reek of cheating the fans, an insult to them.
The film's happy ending comes about via dues ex machina. If the ToS is still the biggest source of unobtanium on the menu, they can only stay alive via dues ex machina. (Or other narrative warping) Despite appearances, Avatar is not at all hard sci-fi, and a lot of it happens simply because the narrative Cameron's trying to perform says so.
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Old 03-09-2014, 04:13 AM
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@Clarke:

I'm not sure what questions Avatar raised (*), but I would have wanted the script to truly ask:

(1) do you really think the Na'vi are a simple, even _dumb_ people, just because they didn't build machinery or other visible signs of technology?

(2) what would be the consequences, for the Na'vi, of having a global neural link, a planetary-wide sharing of information that could be considered an "organic InterNet"? I mean, it begets possibilities that are just mind-boggling. For example, would some sort of long-distance communication (Matrix-style teleconferencing) be possible? Could it make them pre and post industrial at the same time? What if there were other ways for societies to evolve that didn't involve an Industrial Revolution?


BTW, the biggest deposits of unobtanium were not under the Tree of Souls, but under Hometree. The ToS was just a strategic target for Miles Quaritch.


(*) unless you consider the Extended Collector's Edition and it's more or less brief portrayal of Earth. ... Come to think of it, the only question I saw every cut of the movie ask indirectly was "what is Eywa?" when the "Final battle" took a turn for the better. The plot twist made one realize Jake didn't just talk to a tree.
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Old 03-09-2014, 04:46 AM
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Originally Posted by avtrfan View Post
@Clarke:

I'm not sure what questions Avatar raised (*), but I would have wanted the script to truly ask:

(1) do you really think the Na'vi are a simple, even _dumb_ people, just because they didn't build machinery or other visible signs of technology?

Only if your judge of intelligence is modern human technological development. But why would it be? The Na'vi were well suited to their environment and as Grace Augustine mentioned, able to learn quickly. So no, they are not dumb for not conforming to the technological standards of modern human society. .
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Old 03-09-2014, 06:58 AM
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If a giant organic supercomputer is capable of storing thousands or even millions of minds, it could probably make simulations of people from memories.

And if someone was hooked up to this supercomputer, which seems to be capable of manipulating the senses, such a simulation could be presented in a direct fashion.

And you would need actors for that kind of thing if the simulated people happened to be humans...
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Old 03-09-2014, 07:09 AM
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Only if your judge of intelligence is modern human technological development. But why would it be? The Na'vi were well suited to their environment and as Grace Augustine mentioned, able to learn quickly. So no, they are not dumb for not conforming to the technological standards of modern human society. .
I would say that the Na'vi are well *integrated* in their environment, that they work *with it* instead of forcing their will on it, personally. No matter what we the fans think, it's obvious that Parker Selfridge was surely not the only one who called the Na'vi "blue monkeys" or "flea-bitten savages...". Clearly, most humans in the movie thought less of the indigenous because they didn't use roads and so on.

To me, what you expressed should have been uttered by Grace (or someone else from the science team), in addition to something like "Do you think they're savages just because they don't build tall buildings with elevators?". No lengthy monologue required, just add these "quick points" in the dialogue. Though i'll admit it would have been a ham-fisted way of pushing a "different is not lesser" message (*)...

Anyway, it's a bit late to argue what message, what question should have been pushed in the first movie (5 years, already?), let's hope the sequels do bring these up.


(*) along with "are we really the best gauge of intelligence and enlightenment?", which is an even better question to ask, IMO.
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Old 03-09-2014, 10:46 PM
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As far as the question of "savages" goes...

Human society became the way it is today because of capitalism. After the Roman Empire died and Italy was clinging to life against hordes of "barbarians", west Europe had nothing but small groups of people barely scraping out a living in mud huts and farming inefficient food crops (circa ~1020-1050).

Then the iron plow showed up, and people were able to farm so much more food that they had surplus. They realized that they could trade the surplus for other material things, and by 1200 you had wealthy people and poor people already.

The pattern continued, and by the 1400s (just before the Black Death) there were wealthy kings and aristocrats, Europe had been almost entirely denuded of forests, and the proto-Catholic Church was already immensely wealthy.

Fast forward another 200 years, and the Spainiards are using their wealth to conquer the peoples of South America, and the food plants they discover there allow the population to shoot up even higher than before the Black Plague.

Keep going another few hundred years and you're practically in the present, with the exception of some social conventions, technology, and practices that have changed since then.

If humans had never decided to stockpile material wealth, we may never has gone down that path. Christianity didn't help, because it favored a highly subjective view of the world, as opposed to Native American ideologies, which tended to view the world and the places within it as systems (they had a working understanding of ecology before we even invented the word). The Na'vi don't have all that stuff because they don't value the accumulation of material things for the sake of accumulating them; they are otherwise quite advanced.

In fact, I'd bet that if they had embraced technology the same way we did (at the cost of their ecology, of course...), they would beat the crap out of us militarily.
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Old 03-10-2014, 05:10 AM
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@Raiden --

I'm not sure if greed and lust for power (what you incorrectly called "capitalism") are the only factor influencing and/or motivating humanity's development. (Or that of some of its societies.) The factors are countless and would easily spill over a discussion on a web forum: it's truly the stuff doctorate degrees are made of.

But it is a good thing to raise the questions of "who's civilized, who are the savages, who's...". And Avatar could do it, even in a superficial manner. Especially "who's wiser?", when you consider that 2154's Earth is dying and human society is still more preoccupied with the next quarterly report, like Selfridge put it. (Compared to the Na'vi, who a definitively not busy destroying their environment.) Reminds me of the metaphorical (or proverbial?) idiot sawing the branch he's sitting on.

BTW, in the 15th century, it was already the Roman Catholic Church (not "proto"), ever since the East-West Schism of 1054.

I really hope such considerations are brought up in the sequels, even if it is just through a few quick exchanges between the characters. The impact of the global neural link (GNL?) on Na'vi development could be explored at the same time -- to make a very bad parallel, what if humanity somehow would of had something similar, where would we be today, how would have History unfolded?
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Old 03-10-2014, 07:10 AM
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@Raiden --

I'm not sure if greed and lust for power (what you incorrectly called "capitalism")

BTW, in the 15th century, it was already the Roman Catholic Church (not "proto"), ever since the East-West Schism of 1054.
Capitalism is widely accredited with bringing about most of the ecological problems that exist today. This is because it is a system that does nothing but promote growth, and it values the accumulation of surplus goods in order to obtain wealth. A forest doesn't matter much in such a system if it consists of good lumber or stands upon a valuable ore deposit, because of the pressure to obtain "free" raw materials and profit from selling them.

Without the pressure to obtain wealth and "get ahead", the concept of accumulating material goods or money goes out the window, and there's no reason to continue to consume raw materials beyond one's needs. If we can ever hope to save the planet from the reality depicted in Avatar, we need to switch to a global economy that maintains an equilibrium with ecology.

As for the Catholic Church, it was still a vastly different organization back then compared to now. It was not appreciably similar to the modern Catholic Church until at least the 1500s, when the Protestant reformation forced it to change.
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Old 03-10-2014, 03:55 PM
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@Clarke:

I'm not sure what questions Avatar raised (*), but I would have wanted the script to truly ask:

(1) do you really think the Na'vi are a simple, even _dumb_ people, just because they didn't build machinery or other visible signs of technology?
To start with, I'm not sure how meaningful it is to rank the intelligence of an entire people. However, they are evidently not as powerful as us, in the sense of being able to warp the future towards what they desire. This isn't necessarily interesting morally, since a requirement for being powerful is to have "high technology", but it's important for survival in the face of natural disasters. (And really defines what you consider a "disaster" in the first place)


Quote:
(2) what would be the consequences, for the Na'vi, of having a global neural link, a planetary-wide sharing of information that could be considered an "organic InterNet"? I mean, it begets possibilities that are just mind-boggling. For example, would some sort of long-distance communication (Matrix-style teleconferencing) be possible? Could it make them pre and post industrial at the same time? What if there were other ways for societies to evolve that didn't involve an Industrial Revolution?
IMO, it depends entirely on how traditionalist the Na'vi are - whether someone could stand up and say, "I have a better way to do this" and be listened to.

If they strongly are, (and they look like they are, given their reaction to us) then their culture is likely very homogenous, lacking the diversity humans had a similar tech level because of Eywa's interconnectedness.

Quote:
BTW, the biggest deposits of unobtanium were not under the Tree of Souls, but under Hometree. The ToS was just a strategic target for Miles Quaritch.
Mea culpa. However, with Hometree gone, mining the deposit no longer places the Na'vi in danger.

Quote:
(*) unless you consider the Extended Collector's Edition and it's more or less brief portrayal of Earth. ... Come to think of it, the only question I saw every cut of the movie ask indirectly was "what is Eywa?" when the "Final battle" took a turn for the better. The plot twist made one realize Jake didn't just talk to a tree.
Questions such as, "What's {ablebodied} Norm's reaction to using an avatar for a long time?", "How do the Na'vi know about Eywa's ability to mind-transplant people?" and "How intelligent are those seed things?"

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Only if your judge of intelligence is modern human technological development. But why would it be? The Na'vi were well suited to their environment and as Grace Augustine mentioned, able to learn quickly.
I think it's very difficult to compare here. Teaching a small, enthusiastic class every day on a small domain would work much better than the system we have over here in the industrialized nations. If Grace taught them about technical science, or asked them to invent "original research", (whether actually original, or just something they've not seen before) you might have a different story.

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Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
As far as the question of "savages" goes...

Human society became the way it is today because of capitalism. After the Roman Empire died and Italy was clinging to life against hordes of "barbarians", west Europe had nothing but small groups of people barely scraping out a living in mud huts and farming inefficient food crops (circa ~1020-1050).

Then the iron plow showed up, and people were able to farm so much more food that they had surplus. They realized that they could trade the surplus for other material things, and by 1200 you had wealthy people and poor people already.
My admittedly scant knowledge of history and 30 seconds of research suggests you've got some of this out of order. I understand that the iron plow was invented around the 1800s, but food surplus was pre-Roman. That food surplus directly led to labour specialization and trade, which led to wealth, and consequently wealth concentrations.

("Capitalism" was actually named by Marx to contrast against Communism. There was no title for it before then, AFAIK.)

Quote:
If humans had never decided to stockpile material wealth, we may never has gone down that path. Christianity didn't help, because it favored a highly subjective view of the world, as opposed to Native American ideologies, which tended to view the world and the places within it as systems (they had a working understanding of ecology before we even invented the word). The Na'vi don't have all that stuff because they don't value the accumulation of material things for the sake of accumulating them; they are otherwise quite advanced.
Refusing to stockpile material wealth means refusing to allow labour specialization, effectively. However, you could potentially have a perfect communist society that had a high proportion of scientists and engineers, and they would likely outpace the Na'vi - they not only have very little surplus, but also little drive to invent technology.

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Originally Posted by Raiden View Post
Without the pressure to obtain wealth and "get ahead", the concept of accumulating material goods or money goes out the window, and there's no reason to continue to consume raw materials beyond one's needs. If we can ever hope to save the planet from the reality depicted in Avatar, we need to switch to a global economy that maintains an equilibrium with ecology.
This is an "AI-hard" problem - nobody's been able to do it in any collective larger than a few thousand people, and it may not be possible to do with human-driven (as opposed to machine-driven) resource allocation processes.
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Old 03-11-2014, 05:01 AM
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@Raiden:

Not to be a contrarian, but in the 15th century, the Roman Catholic Church was already pretty much like it was going to be for the next few centuries after that. Its structure and workings were already in place and the canon was already defined; changes were quite minor over the next few centuries and it was the 20th century that ushered the most significant transformations. Furthermore, on a different topic, you might want re-read on the state of Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire until the Renaissance. I know a few people that would disagree with your statements.

Anyway, let's not get side-tracked by these points, as they would distract us from the discussion at hand (which started with a rant against the apparent return of Col. Quaritch in the sequels, despite his death in the first movie). Arguments about the accuracy of readings of history should be had in another thread.

Though I agree with your opinion that we must change how the global economy works if we want to avoid a complete ecological collapse on a planetary scale, as depicted in the movie. That's a possible future that I'd like to avoid...


@Clarke:


The questions I would have liked seen raised, even briefly, in the 2009 original are because that movie reflected a lot of the attitude the Western world has towards the Third World. When you saw Parker Selfridge call the indigenous population "blue monkeys", or Miles Quaritch calling them of "roaches", etc., you could find echoes of such sentiments in figures of human history, recent or not. Avatar the movie could have raised the "who's the savage, here?" question in a more obvious fashion.

So you think one of the consequences of the GNL (Global Neural Link) might be greater cultural uniformity? That's a possibility.

I see what you mean in terms of questions, and I'm sure others could add to them. These are questions that I hope are brought to James Cameron's attention, to guide him in fleshing out his creation. Though I think one should ask "what about the other avatar drivers?", instead. Others members of the science team had their own Avatars for _years_, whilst Norm had his for just as long as Jake.

It's a bit hard to know what Grace taught the Na'vi, and for how long. Was she really the only one who interacted with the Omaticaya? (*) I cannot fathom the whole science team staying put within the confines of Hell's Gate for all these years; Norm and Jake could not have been the first and only ones to accompany Grace on a science sortie. What's the story between the other Avatars and the Na'vi?


(*) Were they the only clan humans interacted with?
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