After years of hype and hundreds of millions of dollars spent, “Avatar” has finally hit theaters. The early buzz has been excellent, which bodes well for James Cameron’s futuristic sci-fi allegory that takes place on a distant planet called Pandora. The film stars Sam Worthington as a paraplegic marine who goes on a special mission to the planet and finds his loyalties divided between science and the military.
But when you get right down to it, the story of “Avatar” is hardly the point. Cameron spent gobs of money on the look and effects of the film, most notably the blue, dreadlocked alien race called the Na’vi. When you include the intense battle sequences and the 3-D visuals, it adds up to one of the most jaw-dropping effects-based spectacles in cinema history.
“Avatar” is one of those ground-breaking moments, an event where the technology takes a giant leap forward and the game changes forever. (It’s certainly not the first time Cameron has done this, as his “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” paved the way for morphing effects and “The Abyss” also turned the corner on effects in movies.) While they work on a smaller scale, there have been a number of music videos that have similarly made great leaps forward with their visual effects. Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” helped videos make the transition from simple commercials into genuine art, while clips like A-ha’s “Take on Me” and Tool’s “Sober” similarly pushed the envelope.
So in honor of the incredible technological achievement that is “Avatar,” take a spin through our video playlist of top-shelf effects-based videos, which also includes clips from Foo Fighters, Korn, the White Stripes, Outkast and Beck. Kick things off with Madonna’s surrealistic, unnerving “Bedtime Story.”