By far the most anticipated event at Comic Con ’09 (except for possibly, and rather unfortunately, New Moon), the panel for Avatar arrived with uproarious enthusiasm as James Cameron arrived on stage to announce that he would be screening over 25 minutes worth of footage. You can check out our thoughts on the clips in a separate video blog, but in addition to that, we also thought we should divulge as much detailed information regarding these scenes as our memories would allow.
The first clip begins with a Col. Quaritch, a gruff-voiced military man with scars running down the right side of his head. He walks down a hallway barking orders at recruits and informs them that his job is to keep them alive. “I won’t succeed. Not with all of you.” We hear a voiceover by Sam Worthington, playing Jake Sully, explain how he used to be an officer until he lost his legs. He pulls up in a wheelchair smiling, and passes by the recruits. A group of scientists, the most prominent of which is played by Sigourney Weaver, escort him alongside two large cylindrical containers housing unconscious alien bodies (a genetic replication of the Na’vi species), one of which he’ll be able to control by having his brain waves synchronized with that of the Na’vi. This is his avatar.
The next scene gives us our first glimpse at the Na’vi (or rather, the avatar) in action. Visually, they look to be about ten feet in height, and have vibrant blue skin that’s texturally very similar to, say, a frog. Think of them like giant “furries” without the fur. Jake Sully aligns himself on a platform, and exchanges some snarky dialogue with a scientist. She closes the platform shut, and activates it, locking his body into some sort of containment area. Surrounding the device are transparent, touch-based computers, which the scientists are using to monitor Jake’s heart. One scientists slides his hand against a computer screen and it unlocks, allowing him to carry the vital information elsewhere in the facility.
In another room, two avatars are laid out like hospital patients. The scientists start the process that allows the human’s minds to connect to the avatars, and they suddenly come to life. The scientists begin testing out the their motor functions to see how capable they are of controlling their new alien bodies. Jake though, has no interest in waiting around for tests, and immediately embraces his regained ability to walk. The scientists try to sedate him as he eagerly stumbles out of the room.
The next set of clips take place on the Na’vi homeworld, Pandora. We see Jake’s avatar, along with a group of other avatars, examining the lush, colorful forest landscape. Jake lightly touches a large, orange flower-like plant. It immediately withers down into a small stump, and his eyes light up. He runs around touching all the plants in sight, laughing as they follow suit. Before long though, he’s staring right in the face of an agitated triceratops-esque creature that appears ready to attack. The rest of the group tells him to settle down and hold perfectly still. Instead, he grinningly provokes it, chanting and waving about for it to fight. The creature rushes toward him. Jake thrusts his arms in the air and leaps forward, stopping the creature in its tracks. It cautiously backs away, and runs off to safety. For a brief moment, Jake soaks in his victory, cheering arrogantly. His excitement soon turns into terror though, when he realizes why the creature ran away: a massive flying creature with razor-sharp retractable teeth has landed directly behind him. Realizing this, Jake turns to the group in horror. “Uh… Hold still or run?” The group hesitates a moment. “Run!”
Jake darts through the forest as fast as he possibly can, desperately trying to evade capture from the ferocious beast. Describing this action sequence (and several others that follow) in much more detail than that is fairly useless without being able to experience the visual wonder of the world on display, unfortunately, but it’s definitely a sight to behold.
We were also shown a variety of other sequences with Jake interacting with an actual Na’vi named Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana. She’s a native who we first meet when she spots Jake wandering the wilderness with no real sense of the environment around him. She raises her bow and prepares to shoot him, but a beautiful glowing bug (that’s reminiscent in many ways of a jellyfish) seems to convince her that she shouldn’t. She decides instead to follow him, and eventually finds herself forced to interject when he stumbles into the middle of a creature-filled nesting ground. She manages to save him, but it comes at the cost of two of the creature’s lives. Happy to be alive, Jake laughs off the experience and thanks the mysterious Na’vi for helping him. She is infuriated. If he hadn’t been so foolish and ignorant of the world he inhabits, those creatures wouldn’t have had to die. She runs off, and he takes off after her. While she’s clearly experienced navigating this territory, he isn’t, and finds himself constantly amazed at what surrounds him. At one point, they encounter a strange field that glows bright colors whenever and wherever they make contact, and Jake can’t help but hop around and enjoy the constantly-expanding beauty.
The final sequence we were shown involved a cultural ritual with Neytiri, Jake, and several other new Na’vi. In order to attract the attention of a specific dragon-like creature and prove himself worthy, Jake must traverse the ledge of a cliff and confront a large group of them. “How will I know if I am worthy?” Neytiri replies: “He will try to kill you.”
Jake makes his way across the cliff and is attacked almost instantly. The other Na’vi, excluding the worried Neytiri, laugh at what will most assuredly be a quick death for Jake. He handles himself well though, and manages to get underneath the creature and grab ahold of its neck. The creature bucks wildly. Just as he’s about to be thrown off, he uses a defensive Na’vi ability that allows him to latch some small tentacles into the creature’s ear. Its pupils dilate, and then, the creature collapses into a restful state. Jake whispers softly to it, telling it that everything’s okay. The scene ends with him soaring off the cliff atop the creature, desperately trying to keep control of its flight patterns as it collides against the mountains. As the creature steadies out and Jake regains control, he stands up on its back, and for a brief moment, we see them fly over Pandora in all its beauty.
Can’t wait to see this beauty for yourself? Remember guys: you can see 15 minutes of Avatar in 3D for FREE this August 21.