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The time has come. For many of you out there, this is the event you’ve been waiting all year to see — the first official footage for Avatar, the upcoming sci-fi epic from director James Cameron, is online. The excitement and hype has been almost unbearable. And yet, even as we showed your six new photos from the film last night, I felt the tinge of tempered expectations — perhaps Avatar will not be the saving grace of science fiction, perhaps it won’t revolutionize cinema. It is clear that fans are yearning for something big, something beautiful and ultimately something new from James Cameron, but what if it isn’t the beautiful work that we’ve all built up in our minds? What if Avatar is just okay? Today is the day that we take one big step toward having an answer to that question…

… The answer is yes, it is awesome. As Sam Worthington’s blue Avatar says in the trailer’s single line of dialog, “this is great.” Based on what we’re seeing in the trailer below, Avatar is a big, awesome and in many ways cartoony film. The scale is grand, the CGI looks pretty spectacular (even when it is a little Smurfy) and I have a feeling that fans will be pleased with what they are seeing, even if it’s in 2D. Of course, it isn’t exactly photo real — something that some people around the ole’ web have been hoping for. Then again, those expectations are based on seeing nothing of this film. Now that I’ve seen footage, I’m in. The rest will come down to story and the execution of this great concept over the course of a 2+ hour movie. There’s no guarantee that James Cameron has an instant classic on his hands, but I dig the look of the trailer and I’d say he’s got a good start. From where I’m sitting, Avatar is not the next step in the art of cinema, but another really pretty testament to the evolution of CGI — a potential great work of animation and live-action integration, but nothing more.

AVATAR takes us to a spectacular new world beyond our imagination, where a reluctant hero embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery, as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization. The film was first conceived by Cameron 14 years ago, when the means to realize his vision did not yet exist. Now, after four years of actual production work, AVATAR delivers a fully immersive cinematic experience of a new kind, where the revolutionary technology invented to make the film, disappears into the emotion of the characters and the sweep of the story.

Avatar is in theaters December 18, 2009. You can watch the trailer in HD over at Apple.com or click below to watch it in SD.

What do you think?


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