And now we've all been served our first glimpse of "Avatar," and many of us have even been given a 15-minute sneak peek. More than a little disappointed by the unveiling, I find myself wishing I could wind back the clock and return to the time when all we had were whispers and promises from people like Weaver. The teaser -- which, like most recent trailers, is edited with frantic, excessive force -- doesn't deliver on those promises.
Aside from the fact that the connective tissue of an urgent storyline is virtually nowhere to be found, the motion-capture CGI looks far from revolutionary. The blue-skinned lifeforms on the star/planet Pandora are dangerously resemblant to video game characters, an observation I wasn't expecting to have while watching a preview for what purports to be a game-changer.
What did impress me were the otherworldly environments (love the hovering islands), the "Aliens"-like militarism, and the sheer depth of field of the airborne action sequences. But if this is to be as character-driven as Cameron's previous films, it would appear that there is much to be desired. I wouldn't normally make all these statements based on a trailer alone (since so many of them now seem to mislead under the totalitarian, get-the-butts-in-the-seats control of the major studios), but this particular preview was heralded with enough marketing to power the movie's actual release date. As is too often the case, the hype created an unfillable hole in the imaginations of us anticipatory movie buffs.
Cameron, of course, is still in post-production on "Avatar," meaning December's end result could still wow the pants off of viewers everywhere. But if we are to react to this first taste with the same seriousness as we would a feature film, I'll say that "Wow" was about the furthest thing from my mind. Perhaps a new version, re-edited with comforting, well-spoken, promise-filled narration from Sigourney Weaver, would put me at ease.