The new full "Avatar" trailer is up. I'm both more heartened by the fuller glimpse and a bit more disappointed. I'm heartened because I can see now that Cameron hasn't gone off the deep end and made "The Phantom Menace." The conventions of the sub-genre Cameron's staked out appear to have been followed closely, which should keep him out of abysmal failure territory. Which is also why I'm more disappointed than I was after just seeing the teaser. Not to be the cynic who's always looking for which movie the new movie most rips off, but, based on on this trailer, "Avatar" seems like a sci-fi remake of "Dances With Wolves."
The two movies aren't just similar because they both tell the story of a guy who sees how the natives he's supposed to fear/hate are not scary/evil, finds their simple way of life superior to his own and decides to protect it, it's similar because it appears to grab a lot more from Costner's movie than just the throughline. The loss or near-loss of a leg in service to the US Military (John Dunbar nearly loses his, but gets to keep his because of his heroic/suicidal diversion ride run - the paraplegic hero of this movie will have the use of his legs returned to him once he's proven himself in battle), the immersion into their primitive culture, the slow disillusionment with his own side, the fraught love story with the native girl, so on and so forth. That's a fine story, and Jim Cameron sure could have picked some worse plots to try out. But we've all seen it. "Dances" was kind of hokey in its way, but also really well done. So what about "Avatar" is going to improve on the original story? Cameron wrote it, so we know it's not going to be the snappy dialogue. The 3-D? The CG and motion-capture? Does anyone get excited about non-Pixar CG anymore?
Only the full movie will tell the tale. I hope Cameron makes me a believer.