It only took a matter of days after the first trailer for Avatar went public that people had begun to rend the flesh from its digital bones. And while there were plenty of cries of Dances with Smurfs, the most notable detractor was a site that posted a bevy of side-by-side screen shots comparing James Cameron's high-profile gamble with the largely unseen 2008 animated film Delgo.
Floating mountains, flying creatures, blue-skinned warriors, swamps lit by alien fireflies...all of these world-building elements had a good number of people ready to demonize Cameron for stealing from one of the biggest theatrical flops in years. Now, as the film's release beckons ever closer, those involved with the secretive production have finally been made available for interview. One such person is Neville Page, the creature designer for Avatar, who was recently interviewed by the LA Times. There's plenty more to the interview, but the hot button question is clearly the Delgo one:
"Do I think there is much of a comparison? Clearly there is. I think [the video and side-by-side comparisons] was too literalized. I think it's easiest to do with many films. You can take a bunch of stuff and spin it to whatever you want. It's like any love story. There can be parallels drawn to any love story. It's who can tell it better, with more compelling imagery. That's definitely what Jim has done here. People are going to get it. Much like "Titanic." Was that a unique story, if you're not talking about the ship? No, not even close. It's "Romeo and Juliet." It's a classic, classic story. "Avatar" has the best of both, a very familiar story and a very unique vision behind it."
It's a fairly candid answer that acknowledges there are comparisons to be made, but that the only thing about Avatar that is going to feel familiar is the story, which Page is ready to confess has been done before. But if you don't trust the word of the man tasked with designing much of Pandora, you're only a week away from finding out just how much (or how little) the two films have in common for yourself.