Earlier this week, MTV News filled your nearly unending hunger for all things "Avatar" with a series of answers to unresolved questions
about the film: How did the nefarious Resources Development Administration build itself into a space-traveling, resource-plundering, monopoly-holding corporate behemoth? As with travel from Earth to Pandora, does it take six years to exchange communication between the two heavenly bodies?
In its newest issue, Entertainment Weekly also picks up the burning "Avatar" questions beat and delivers a host of cool new information about the inspiration for the alien landscape, the lifestyle of the native Na'vi humanoids, and the use of both CG and practical effects.
One small but particularly interesting nugget is how James Cameron and his crew made Sam Worthington's legs look so atrophied. In the film, Worthington plays Jake Sully, an ex-Marine who lost the use of his legs in battle and is confined to a wheelchair. The answer? Not computer effects but prosthetics.
"John Rosengrant at Stan Winston's studio took a mold from the legs of a paraplegic who had about Sam's skeletal size, and then we created rubber legs," Cameron said. "Sam's actual legs are tucked down through the chair."
Interestingly, Cameron employed CG effects in place of actual humans during certain sequences. "There are a number of shots of CGI humans," the director said. "The shots of [Stephen Lang] in an AMP suit, for instance — those are completely CG. But there's a threshold of proximity to the camera that we didn't feel comfortable going beyond. We didn't get too close."
Another cool piece of information is about the use of unobtanium, a naturally occurring superconductor that humans use as a potent energy source. Do the Na'vi have any use for the resource?
"It's a rock to them," said producer Jon Landau. "But it's also sort of what enables the floating mountains. They don't know that, though — well, maybe spiritually they know it."
That's not particularly surprising, considering Na'vi society is essentially Neolithic, but it's still good to have a definitive answer. Some other of EW's burning questions, though, had already been answered. Why are the Na'vi blue? Cameron himself gave us a lengthy answer in early December.
"[I was thinking], 'What are the differences that we can deal with, without it becoming a barrier?' Skin color is great, and it's also great thematically, because skin color is obviously such a big issue on our planet," Cameron said in an interview while looking at Worthington and co-star Zoe Saldana. "All the warm tones — from pallid Canadian pink, to beautiful warm browns and, well, pallid Australian pink — were all taken. So, we were down to blue and green basically — and green had been taken by all those Martian movies with the little green men. So, we have big blue women, not little green men."
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