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Avatar: The Way of Water

Updated: Jun 12, 2023


I watched Avatar: The Way of Water now that it has landed on Disney+.


I am not up to the task of an Avatar deep dive (excuse the pun), review and analysis.


Takeaways:


1) This is an absolutely incredible technical achievement by Cameron and his team. And I don’t mean “technical” dismissively—the artistry is just astonishing.


2) As always, Cameron’s writing and storytelling is a marvel for its simplicity, which is what you have to do to connect with a mass audience. As our pal Nick Meyer says, “The audience may be dumb, but they’re never wrong.”


3) That said, it continues to be not just simple, but simplistic: Blue people good! Humans bad! That probably feeds into the disparity that these movies are #1 and #3 (right now) of the biggest box-office grossers ever...but they just don’t feel important the way that Star Wars, E.T. and Titanic do and did.


4) Cameron’s preoccupation with the end of the world (his persistent theme) is so well-rendered that I have a hard time watching the ecological devastation on Pandora. I tell myself, “It’s not real”...but know all too well how poorly things are going on Earth.


5) Good score by Simon Franglen, but there’s a touch of “zombie James Horner” that feels sad to think about...he is so terribly missed.


Finally, they’re making another three Avatar movies? Yes, they are.


So it made me wonder where the narrative will go.


SPOILERS—so stop reading if that’s an issue.


First, this is now Quaritch’s story. In the end, the five movies, I think, will be like how the first six Star Wars movies are really Darth Vader’s story.


Of course, he will turn good. And probably turn bad again. But he will be redeemed.


It’s the only thing that will make sense. It’s not interesting if he just stays bad.


There will obviously be some kind of Messiah/“Star Child” thing with Kitty.


What would go wrong?

(That’s from V: The Final Battle, if you don’t recognize it.)


I can imagine one of the movies being some kind of quest to get Kiri to the Special Place to do the Special Thing to weaponize Pandora against the Sky People.


And there will be much ethical handwringing over whether or not this will corrupt Pandora: that will be the dramatic conflict among the Na’vi.


Likewise there will have to be factions among the humans, as well. Look for Spider and human allies to mount some kind of deception/persuasion to sabotage or redirect the human war effort.


You can only do “all-out war” so much before it becomes boring. Drama needs conflict between characters who are in close proximity.


In a way, the second movie seems like a remake of the first: it’s just a “refusal of the call” where Jake decides to stop fighting to protect his family, then realizes he has to fight and they’ll all do it together—that’s sort of all it is.


But look for movies three and four to be the Empire Strikes Back-style “second act,” leading to the grand finale in #5.


I could be wrong, of course.


Don’t bet against James Cameron!

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2 Comments


Karim Elmahmoudi
Karim Elmahmoudi
Jun 12, 2023

How did the 60 fps look on tv?

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Lukas Kendall
Lukas Kendall
Jun 12, 2023
Replying to

It never occurred to me to think about that—so great, I guess!

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