Is James Cameron’s Avatar Still Hot and Expectations For Its Sequel

Some knowledge is required before I watch James Cameron’s Avatar: Way of the Water. Both are good, but not spectacular.

James Cameron's AvatarWhen James Cameron’s Avatar played in theatres 14 years ago, nearly everyone loved it. During its first run, this movie proved two things were needed. The technology to capture this filmmaker’s vision on digital celluloid with proper 3D cameras had to be custom made. His efforts proved why films who fake the process aren’t as spectacular, and even watching it again today, in preparation for part two, shows the pretend method still isn’t good.

The second fact explains why he waited so long to make that sequel. Despite all the technical advances (and many year long study to get aquatic effects looking right), there is something special about the tale Cameron tells. It’s a story where a paraplegic Earth-man, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) visited the planet of Pandora, met an alien girl Neytiri (Zoë Saldaña), to whom he falls in love with, and decided to change sides to save a civilization from disappearing.

The upcoming sequel thankfully considers ten years will have passed since the last adventure. Aside from a few comic book releases from Dark horse Comics, I doubt every fan looked.

Even with what we know about Avatar: The Way of the Water, the story about them having an aquatic adventure doesn’t sound all that spectacular. It’s coming to theaters in December. Am I excited? A little and my reason for going is for the cinematic spectacle that it is. As for what it may offer is a tale akin to the Spaniards searching for the fountain of youth.

The first movie’s story took notes in regards to how Europeans treated the Native American world when they found resources they had in abundance. In the second film, all we know is that trouble is following Sully. I suspect it may be from his past, rather than some new threat that’s lurking in the sea–where much of the story takes place.

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Although white man offered luxurious cargoes for local goods–namely felt in America and gold in the Mesoamerican region–what happened next is no surprise. There will always be resistance. In the film, the military wants the mineral unobtainium (a terrible name to begin with). Their show of force is enough to deter them from trusting humans. Sully gains the respect of the Na’vi when he transfers his soul to one of the replicant aliens to prove what he’s willing to sacrifice. He has nothing to lose when he has no legs.

Meanwhile, Colonel Quaritch (Stephan Lang) and his mercenary soldiers want a huge quarry of the mineral, but where it’s located has the ire of the natives.

Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) knows that to upset the balance will spell trouble. It’s not only about man’s relationship with nature, but also concerns their attitude with one of their own that drives this film. We see that within the same species, rather than about opposing sides. It’s a terrific beat to keep viewers interested, but it’s easy to see how the story ends. This movie is basically Nausicaa and Mononke Hime put into a blender.

When the marines and mega-corporation want to open Pandora’s box up, we know there’s trouble. Their method of extraction is to damage the climate. The fact they are not smart to recognize the name of this substance is unobtainable, says a lot. And what gets unleashed is the entire planet’s denizens fighting back. Audiences are at least treated to what Cameron does best: depict a massive fight in all its exceptional, detailed, glory. His work to develop the software to highlight this battle set the bar for future movies to come, namely Lord of the Rings.

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What James Cameron’s Avatar needs is more practical effects than all out CGI. It has its limitations, and it’s highlighted with some aerial combat sequences. They haven’t aged well. Even a rewatch to prepare for the sequel shows more of its flaws. I’m more curious about how they’ll handle telling a fantasy that’s set entirely in the sea, and thankfully, what’s said about the team studying water physics will elevate the work from its previous half-coated luster attempt.

I feel like some knowledge is required before I watch Way of the Water. Although this narrative takes place decades later, that’s the only positive point I’m happy to say is good. Plus, I’m sure a few references will be made to reveal how Sully maintains some connection with his human past. Although he’s fully alien, could there be something from his human past that’ll resurface that he’ll have to confront?

3 Stars out of 5

James Cameron’s Avatar Way of the Water Trailer

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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