To be clear right up top: We at Entertainment Weekly were not present at Cinema Expo in Amsterdam to see James Cameron's unveiling of 24 minutes of footage from Avatar, his latest film that will change the world. So we can't speak to it's relative crap-my-pants awesomeness. Though, by reading the online reports from those who did see the 3-D presentation, Avatar will, indeed, fill your pantaloons.
I've no problem with Avatar being awesome. James Cameron is one of my favorite filmmakers of all time — I think his Aliens is the perfect action movie — and I want nothing more than for his story of a bloody culture clash on the idyllic planet Pandora to be phenomenal. I just have a problem when the hype machine gets to work so early, and so hard, that it inflates our expectations to a point where they could never possibly be met.
Besides, it's impossible to judge a film by less than a half hour of footage. A few years ago, some of us got to see the first act of The Island, that Michael Bay-directed sci-fi fiasco. But the thing of it was, those first 30 minutes or so seemed promising; they even had us thinking, for a fleeting moment or two, that Bay had actually made a film with intellectual content. And then we saw the rest of it. The same thing happened, to a lesser degree with Jamie Foxx's sci-fighter dud, Stealth: We were mildly intrigued, and then totally deflated by the finished product.
All I want to do is offer a word of caution. Ask for people to cool their jets before proclaiming Avatar the second coming of 2001, sight (mostly) unseen. Because that kind of hyperbole may get a lot of traffic, but it only, at the end of the day, hurts the moviegoing experience.
Are you tired, as I am, of the relentless overhyping of today's movies, or is this part of the fun for you, getting as much info as early as possible?
More James Cameron's 'Avatar':
James Cameron's 'Avatar' footage screened at Cinema Expo
James Cameron's 'Avatar': Game and movie sneak peek
Q&A with James Cameron about 'Avatar'
Fox finally greenlights James Cameron's 'Avatar'