The San Francisco Film Festival's fourth annual Midnight Awards will be presented Saturday night at the W Hotel, with Zoe Saldana (Star Trek, Avatar) and Clifton Collins Jr (Star Trek, TV's The Event) on hand to receive the honors. The awards presentation is open to the public, and will be fashioned after the format of a late-night talk show, with New York Times bestselling author Beth Lisick playing Johnny Carson and the Darren Johnston Trio providing live musical accompaniment.
No discussion of Avatar would be complete without mentioning its $230 million budget and the 15 years James Cameron devoted to making it. Fairly or not, such investments raise expectations: For Cameron, who directed The Terminator (1984) and Aliens (1986), and anointed himself “King of the World” upon winning 11 Oscars for 1997’s Titanic, anything less than a masterpiece might be branded a failure.
By now, the story of Avatar is well known: James Cameron, who, along with George Lucas, has done more to revolutionize the moviegoing experience than any other filmmaker during the past quarter-century, began writing the sci-fi epic in 1994 and has been developing the photo-realistic 3-D technology necessary to realize his ambitious vision since the 1997 release of Titanic. After postponing the $200 million project on several occasions, his much-anticipated tale of human imperialism on an alien moon is due Dec. 18.
If J.J. Abrams aimed to boldly go where no man has gone before with Star Trek, his long-anticipated franchise reboot that traces Capt. James T. Kirk’s roots back to his wildly undisciplined youth, give the man some credit. While there’s no denying that his contribution to the cult creation of the late Gene Roddenberry is cleverly executed, this latest Star Trek sometimes feels more like a winking homage than a new beginning.