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Comparing Avatar to Delgo

James Cameron unveiled the trailer to his eagerly awaited science fiction spectacular Avatar this week and, to me, it certainly looks intriguing.

However, several sites have begun comparing the visuals from Cameron’s opus to last year’s box office bomb, Delgo. Check out Movieline’s 7 Eeriest Parallels between Avatar and Delgo, and these screen caps at, and tell me they don’t have a point.

Let’s hope they don’t share a similar fate.

  • cartoon

    I have to say these are pretty standard shots for action/adventure movie trailers. You can probably compare the Delgo or Avatar trailer to ANY other trailer and find the same shots.

  • pencil pushy

    Most of those shots, particularly the roaring monster and the male and female leads embracing, are all borderline cliche movie visuals, there are at least a hundred films out there with those same shots.

    And neither film had particularly original visuals to begin with, they look to be culled from the same heavy metal, sword and sorcery fantasy/sci-fi schtick that’s been commonplace in Hollywood for decades. Avatar’s leading lady is particularly ugly.


    a friend just sent me the link to the 7 eeriest coincidences site and i said WAIT jerry beck needs to see this! and felt relieved when i saw it posted on here! haha!

    i guess it could be argued that some of the shots like the guy and girl close talking could be in any movie, but then when you get to the glowy spider umbrella flower things and the winged reptillians it starts getting a bit uncomfortable…

  • RoboFingernail

    Haha, yea my first thought after seeing the Avatar trailer was… OMG it’s kinda like that other shitty looking movie that I didn’t see.

    The faces are so disturbing to me… in both cases. Oh well, I guess it could still be good.

  • darin m

    …and the Flintstones is actually The Honeymooners.

  • William

    They do look quite similar. I don’t see the big deal about Avatar’s visuals. It just looks like more CG to me.

    The whole trailer seems much too clean and polished too.

  • I loved Delgo and think this Avatar business looks awful.

  • steve kopian

    Not just Delgo, how about Battle for Terra? Actually most of the trailer reminded me of something else, a good number of pulp science fiction paperback covers. I was kind of hoping for a film that was going to take me somewhere I’ve never been before but the whole thing seemed recycled. Then again Cameron is going to be safe from a real comparison to Delgo because how many of us actually have seen it?, certainly not the people who are pushing this as the next big jump in screen entertainment.

    Actually my biggest disappointment was how unreal most of it looked. Its suppose to be a “live action” film but so much of it looked animated and artificial.

  • Delgo’s looking better.

    I bet there was a lot of churn in the staffs of both pictures. I wonder how many people worked on both?

    Of course, a lot of the similarities are the favorite cliches that seem to be present in many action/fantasy movies.

  • Ian

    When first saw the trailer for Delgo, and heard of Avatar I thought that they sounded similar in theme. They do have similar visuals in terms of design and stories of a human military world meeting a passive native species.

    But the story of worlds colliding isnt very new, heck look at FernGully, native creatures form up a resistance against humans who invade their world, in the process shrinking a human to their size joining forces.

  • Barcalounger Critic

    Delgo spelled backwards is Ogled. Parallel #8?

  • Oh noes! It’s a sci-fi/fantasy themes and cliche shots that we’ve seen in other sci-fi/fantasy films!

    Ugh, please…this is just as tired as me complaining how every Western/cowboy film rips off every other Western/cowboy film in theme and cinematography. Or how the Bourne films have identical shots to the Mission Impossible films. If it’s just comparing shots, heck, I could put these side-by-side with “identical” shots from Lord of the Rings. Or any other sci-fi/fantasy film out there. Or Final Fantasy…wait, that’s right! FF has done ALL of these visuals before! Waaaahhh.

    Sorry, I just think this is an obnoxious stretch.

  • Pedro Nakama

    And the poster for Avatar looks a lot like the DreamWorks poster for Sinbad.

  • tgentry

    From the trailers both plots seem really generic and adolescent to me. I had a lot of hope for Avatar but the more and more that came out about it, the less excited I became. The trailer pretty much put this into the “don’t care” category for me.

  • startend

    Avatar’s production schedule lastest at a standard lenght.

    Delgo’s production schedule started when I was only being introduced to the internet!

    I believe Cameron knows what he’s doing.

  • I’ve noticed the comparison blogs earlier today. I don’t know why but the trailer did sort of remind me of “Delgo”… only it has for more appealing alien characters.

    “Avatar” will definitely not end up the same fate as “Delgo” since it will have, what is it?, a large marketing promotion. As for “Delgo”, these comparisons will probably end up boosting sales and rentals of the DVD release.

  • christian

    have to say, my honest reaction upon watching the trailer just now was wow. however when it was over i felt dissapointed, and thought it looked shit………….. hope its better in the cinema…………….

    it has the ugliness in parts of delgo, definitely reminded me of it.

  • acetate

    Cameron’s lost it. Looks like a bad idea to me. Recycled Hunter/Killer ship designs from Terminator and Power Loader from Aliens. Throw in Day-Glow alien environment and I think he has a recipe for his first major flop.

  • Lindsay

    Soooo… THIS is Cameron’s big long-in-the-making pet project that’s cost $200 million to make? That’s just a crying shame. Good lord, what an obscene waste of resources. >_<

  • Thirty seconds into the trailer I found myself thinking “My God, Cameron what happened to you?”

    Avatar is a stark contrast to his previous films. (Titanic seems visually restrained in comparison.) It’s basically CGI porn, so much so, I wonder why he even bothered making it a live-action film. I wish people would give up the pursuit CGI that is supposed to “fool us” and just focus on telling interesting stories with interesting visuals.

    An computer-generated action film intended for adults would have been truly groundbreaking–instead of yet another piece of SFX porn that incongruously blends CGI spectacle and live-action performances.

  • some guy

    what matters is the execution of elements, not the similarity of them.

  • Trevor

    Delgo only failed for two reasons
    1. It’s technology was from 2003 when it was originally completed
    2. It’s ad campaign was horrible

    Other than that it was an outstanding independent film. More independent than the majority of films that would call themselves “independent.”

    Seeing as only 50,000 people saw it in theaters, I doubt there’s very many people even on this blog that can actually judge the film.

  • Honestly, I’ve been contemplating the possibility that someday everything actually will be done in every way and every possible form. Now it’s not ticking me off as much as it usually does.

    Also Delgo was showing commercials every chance it could in it’s home state of Georgia. The reason it failed is because everything about it looks disgusting. I’m not saying Avatar doesn’t look odd but it looks miles better so seeing as the normals didn’t care for the Delgo abortion, maybe Avatar has a better chance

  • Superficial similarities aside, I have to disagree with most of the commenters here – Avatar looks pretty interesting. This is the first I’d heard of it and now I’m kind of looking forward to it coming out. At least from the little teaser it looks like it could have a pretty interesting story.

  • Mac

    The little I’ve seen of Avatar doesn’t live up to the hyperbole I’ve heard about it. So far the glimpses seem to be a mish-mash of expensive, but ugly CG and cliché ‘serious’ sci-fi and fantasy ideas I’ve seen before. I read in the newspaper that a 15 minute 3D preview of the film left viewers in a euphoric state, with suggestions that the film has some kind of drug-like hypnotic power to completely engross people and induce powerful emotions of happiness in people, going far beyond what film has achieved before. Surely those claims have got to be ridiculous? It sure made me want to see the preview for myself.

    The other night on BBC news, they were were making some unfair claims about the 3D technology in the film. In this news piece all previous 3D films were dismissed as technically inferior and gimmicky. Avatar, it implied, is the first film to really use 3D to create a new world and tell a story and not just throw things at the audience. There’s been plenty of 3D films lately and it’s weird how this one was some how being made out to be the first.

  • polyminthe

    It also looks (A LOT!) like a great french (i’m french) comic book from the 90’s called AQUABLUE . Where humans with mecha-technology deal with aliens with blue skin…
    But there’s less chance that it will be spotted, only in france….

  • The Avatar trailer looked really interesting until it got about halfway through and turned into the intro sequence to a game. If Cameron is going to mix live action and a CG cartoon, I hope he’s making sure it’s written into the story, like Roger Rabbit or Cool World.

  • The alien designs in avatar look pretty half-baked to me. It’s like they couldn’t think beyond humanoid, and just moved the proportions around just a tad. “Oh, let’s put the ears a little higher on the head like shrek, and make them blue, like the blue man group!” Still, i’ll give them my money.

  • Chris J.

    Valid comparisons, but in a “hey, Sci-Fi films all borrow from each other in theme and imagery” kind of way, not a “holy crap, Cameron ripped off ‘Delgo'” kind of way.

    I’m not having any kind of adverse reaction to the Avatar trailer that others seem to be having. It looks damn cool to me. Plus, count me as one that has a fair amount of faith in Cameron’s ability to make it about more than just the visuals. Aliens, T2, The Abyss . . . his track record is pretty solid.

  • Gobo

    Besides any cliche visuals that’ve been used to cut a standard-issue Hollywood trailer, I don’t think these two movies have much in common at all.

    Delgo’s characters looked like awkward monkey-lizard people with creepy small eyes, and nobody wanted to watch them caper around on screen. Most people recoiled when watching the trailer. Avatar’s aliens are elegant and well-designed. Big difference, right there.

  • MikeL

    Will people always find something to complain about?
    As has been stated these are incredibly standard shots from movies but also from sci-fi art and culture. Here’s one for you… THERE’S NO HUMANS IN DELGO!!!!!

    I am also remiss at how many people have written this off before they’ve even given it a chance… how narrow.

    While you guys are at it, how about comparing Planet 51 to Aliens in the Attic… OH NO!!!

  • for me its like jar jar bings again
    jar jar bing strikes back

  • Mike Russo

    Looks like trash.

    Make you wonder how Hollywood was able to survive before the advent of CGI. I miss practical effects.

  • Jason

    “Delgo only failed for two reasons
    1. It’s technology was from 2003 when it was originally completed
    2. It’s ad campaign was horrible”

    Uh, you left out the fact that the CHARACTERS looked horrible. Oh, and that the animation was stiff and uninspired and the story looked like butt.

    Anyway, those are the reasons *I* didn’t go to see it…

  • I had NO interest in seeing Avatar despite having husband and other friends working on the flick for the past year or so.

    Then I went to see the 15 minute IMAX 3D special preview last Friday.


    If people don’t end up liking the film, it won’t be for the way it looks. It’s visually spectacular. As for plot? I know the basic plot, and will be interested to see how it’s fully realized.

  • I think that I’ll wait and see what Cameron has cooked up before I pass judgement. I believe its always better to know what you’re talking about before you add your opinion to the mix.

    Yeah, call me a radical – but that’s just the way I am.

  • I don’t suppose anyone realizes that the point is not so much that both films use typical sci-fi/fantasy plot elements (which is downright shameful considering how long they’ve been in production), but the fact that the visuals are so similar?
    They both have jungly, vaguely Celtic alien cultures, blotchy, multicolored monsters, and creepy, broad-nosed, big-eyed semi-humans. I admit Avatar isn’t as creepy as Delgo, but it’s still enough to not make me want to see it.

  • mitten

    James Cameron like George Lucas, like Steven Spielberg (and so on…etc) have so much money, and so many resources that they’ve long since become insulated from inspiration and real creativity. Indiana Jones 4, Star Wars 1,2,3 (clone wars crap) are quick examples of why millionaires shouldn’t make films. Wealth deaden’s the imagination. Avatar is no exception – the trailer looks like everything else (nameless/countless videogame concept art + cliche concepts + too much money + not enough orignality + A typical modern hollywood hype).

    This film might do well at the box office..but that is all.

    Someday sombody is gonna come along and make something that is truly amazing, that we will all love and cherish…something that won’t be perverted or destroyed by the hollywood machine. That won’t spawn tv shows, stupid prequels or videogames…something that is just simply “great” that will raise the bar for our kids and grand kids.

    ***sorry i’m a lot idealistic****

  • Jay Taylor

    After hearing for so long that I wouldn’t be able to tell which characters were cg and which were live action, I now know that that’s not at all the case.

    Is it just me or does it seem like the people saying things like this are older? I’m assuming their vision isn’t what it used to be?

  • Ecclesiastes 1:9: ” What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun. ”
    It all comes down to story. Granted, the sci-fi genre is full of trite cliches, but it all comes down to how they are handled.
    I am willing to wait and see this movie before I make a knee-jerk critique of it.

  • The main difference is that the trailer of Avatar makes me want to see that movie.

    That’s why I feel bad for Delgo. I’m a big supporter of animated films but I just couldn’t bring myself to watch that film.

  • ZigZag

    So many haters.
    So little time.

  • Billy Batz

    There have been fantasy characters riding ptetrasaurs since the pulps. It’s like there are people driving cars and riding horses and flying space ships in every movie too, it’s not copying, it’s knowing the genre.

  • NakedTuesday

    It’s not “knowing the genre”, it’s kissing the ass of people who don’t like originality. Originality doesn’t sell. Spend some time among the uneducated… like my mother: My mom was watching a special on it. She’s like 60 years old! If it can get the uneducated to watch shitty specials…..

    The story could be awesome… but the character design IS NOT original, it’s friggin’ UGLY…. it looks like every crappy Sci-fi film only with money…

    This is the guy who made Titanic? He has to compete with his money, making a record instead of making art. We will see if the film turns out good or not, I look forward to it. It’s just a shame about the character design.

  • Chris J.

    @ mittten

    I think you’ve got a strong point there – except Spielberg and Lucas both stayed “in the game” during their creative slides*. Cameron basically stepped out of Hollywood and financed personal projects that had little to do with what had made him a millionaire in the first place. Perhaps that makes a difference.

    In any case, Cameron’s earned the benefit of the doubt from me. I’ll go to see Avatar with an open mind.

    *”Creative Slide” in Spielberg being in his fantasy/sci-fi works only. His non-geeky movies in the last decade have all been outstanding, in my opinion. He just hasn’t made a good nerd film since the original Jurassic Park.

  • MikeL

    I have to wonder if people who are trash talking are actually sci-fi fans or just possible movie-goers looking for something to hate on. I despise how cynical the average person has become… especially those who have never even attempted to work in 3d.

  • I’m with Plummer and ZigZag.

    Interesting note, I have no idea what the theme or plot is other than the basics but here’s what the wiki says when I punched it in…

    and it’s blue! oh my gawd he trying to convert us!!!!

    wikipedia I love you.

  • Doofus

    It’s a trap!

    I don’t think this teaser trailer shows much of the plot. More likely the introduction to the plot.

    It still looks cool enough to easily blow your 10 bucks on.
    I know I will. Eagerly. In fact I’ll happily postpone a flight to see that movie on opening day.

  • I hope Roger Dean got money from at least one of these films!

  • Marv

    There is a reason Cameron and company chose to show their preview in Imax 3D. 3D without the scope of the Imax image can’t deliver what Cameron has in mind.

  • Chris J.

    @ Naked Tuesday

    I’ll agree there’s nothing groundbreaking in the “alien” design in Avatar, but “Ugly?” I think you’re dipping into hyperbole there.

    Care to post some links of alien/monster designs you find exciting? I’m not being snarky. I’m genuinely curious as to what some of the folks who seem really turned off by Avatar would be excited to see.

  • acetate

    Chris J. I think the problem some people are having with the designs is that they look too familiar. Alot of folks have pointed out already that imagery like this has been around in the pulps and sci-fi book covers for years. Given Cameron’s record and the hype for this film I think people expected to see something they hadn’t seen before. This may be a bad comparison but here goes. When I saw Alien or Star Wars or even Blade Runner I was unfamiliar with folks like Ron Cobb, Syd Meade , H.R. Giger, or Ralph Mcquarrie. Those designers gave us images we’d never seen before. Even in Lucas’s weather beaten future where he obviously “borrowed” bits and pieces from other sources, he cobbled them together to form something new. At least to me.
    Okay, I’ll stand back and let the pile-on commence. LOL Just keep telling yourself folks…”It’s only a movie…it’s only…”

  • The really depressing thing about this is that despite the predictable internet ‘plagiarism’-spotting hobby context of the comparisons, in reality the Avatar guys (like everyone else) probably never even watched Delgo. Rather than evidence of copying, these similarities are proof (if it were needed) that Hollywood CG animation, from a cheapo indie production right up to the most expensive thing ever made, is inherently intellectually and aesthetically bankrupt. The format and the business behind these sort of things inherently limits filmmakers to the most generic, obvious, middle of the road ideas imaginable. When even a pioneer like Cameron, given all the money and time in the world, is reduced to chinese-whispers ripoffs of ripoffs of styles that he apparently forgot that he came up with in the first place, there’s something deeply wrong with the whole approach.

    “We live in a society that has no adequate images any more, and if we do not find adequate images and an adequate language for our civilization with which to express them, we will die out like the dinosaurs.” – Werner Herzog

  • Peter

    I have no problem saying I find the Avatar alien designs ugly.

    They don’t work in photoreal esthetic terms. They don’t work in animated esthetic terms.

    The movie around them may be ‘visually spectacular,’ but appealing character design needs to come first.

  • Funky George

    Tim Drage and handful of others on this topic just say it as it is.
    Its hard to make films and its hard to be creative, new and fresh.

    Coming however from the king of the world (j. cameron) the teaser does leave one a bit cold.

    I might go see it, I’ll think about it. Than again, who cares…

  • John

    They’re aliens. From another planet. Why would they look appealing?

  • Luke

    Okay, the eerie thing here is how incredibly similar some of the designs are. The words in that article could sum up nearly every RPG, fantasy movie, fantasy novel that’s every been written.

    But avatar was far too far in production to have ‘ripped off’ Delgo and the people making Delgo had not seen Avatar.

    I think it really just goes to show how shit and generic hollywood ideas have become. The collective creative mind is coming up with the exact same generic ideas simultaneously.

  • Bryan O

    Watch the 3D footage. Eat your words.

    Avatar sets the new bar for the action adventure special effects industry.

    And as usual Cameron will make it an enjoyable film.

  • In Jim Cameron I trust.

  • AaronSch

    I echo the more sane comments. The comparisons of “Delgo” and “Avatar” are cursory. To my eyes, “Avatar” looks visually stunning and “Delgo,” rather uninspired. Based on the visuals alone, it sure looks like he may rule the box office once again. James Cameron has been counted out before. His epic “Titanic” was rumored to be a folly and proceeded to earn a whopping 1.8 billion worldwide. A film that will be remembered long after its critics are dead and buried.

  • Having said all this I will no doubt watch and enjoy it on the same level as I do all the other weirdo expensive misguided american sci-fi/fantasy animated flops which only animators care about after they quickly dissapear into car-boot-sale VHS style oblivion. :)

  • TheVok

    “They’re aliens. From another planet. Why would they look appealing?”

    Wait, this is an animation website and you don’t even care about good design?!

    We’re really in trouble now ….

  • They’re aliens. From another planet. Why would they look
    …like the most formulaic unimaginative CGI-scene/devientart character ‘designs’ imaginable?