When I saw James Cameron’s original feature Avatar, I enjoyed it. At the time don’t think anyone had created such rich ecosystem that felt real with such detail on one alien moon, (Pandora is a moon of a gas giant the size of Saturn minus the rings known as Polyphemus because it had a single swirling storm resembling the one on Jupiter otherwise known as the eye.) So when interstellar ships head out to Pandora, they are really heading to the planet Polyphemus, which is located in the Goldilocks zone of it’s star system and that is part of the reason why that life exists on it’s moon Pandora. Now when the Blu-ray box set containing the theatrical, extended and expanded cuts of Avatar was released, I purchased it like everyone did and then I put it on a shelf and forgot about it for thirteen years.
Now as Avatar: The Way Of Water was nearing it’s theatrical premiere, it struck me as odd that only at this time was I finally watched the Blu-ray Disc of the original. I have seen lesser films multiple times in my life so why was it that it took thirteen years for me to watch a Blu-ray Disc of Avatar and then I finally started to watch it and at just about three hours, I found that rewatching Avatar took me three days to get through. Considering the last time I saw the film was 2009, I began to wonder why? Well more often than not I find a lot of people purchase movies on various formats and then they put it on a shelf and never watch at. So as a consumer and a reviewer I know for a fact that a lot of people buy movies they never watch again if at all. It is something that I think just happens and there are very few films I watch over and over again so it is not James Cameron’s fault and it is not the fault of Avatar. I can watch Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders Of The Lost Ark and The Ten Commandments with Charlton Heston multiple times over and not become bored, but the Ewok parts before the climactic battle in Return Of The Jedi are portions fast forward through and I can’t watch Charlton Heston in Ben-Hur without fast forwarding past some of the romantic scenes because as good as Ben-Hur is, those talkie romance scenes slow the film down and that is why The Ten Commandments is in my opinion, the more entertaining film. Cecil B. DeMille was right when he said everything in the book of Exodus is the perfect source for creating a drama that has everything, plus I still like Ben-Hur. It is a good film, but it does not hold up as well as The Ten Commandments and the same holds true of Jedi when compared to Star Wars and Empire. Some films simply hold up better over time than others and while Avatar is a good movie, the longest version of that film is the version to skip.
A good sequel gives the audience something it wants while offering enough new ideas and changes to make one feel like they are getting a real continuation as opposed to a rehashing of old concepts in a new background and this brings me to Avatar: The Way Of Water, which when you take away all the effects and cosmetics the film is essentially the same story as Avatar and offers little new intrigue that was not previously explored in the first film and it leaves too many points where I found it hard to suspend my disbelief as a result. Collectively it is beautiful to look at, but the human characters are almost constantly greedy, callous, and downright stupid to make the film feel less original and more silly.
Pandora might as well be Solaris in terms of world really being one organism that the Navi are perfectly in sync with it. Problems I have with the film include though not necessarily limited to the lack of well rounded characters, the fact that if humans have the technology to grow alien and human hybrids and nowc can imprint of your consciousness and permanently install it into an Avatar then why can’t they clone human bodies to do the same? Either way the copy that inhabits the cloned body only has the memories of everything before they uploaded their mind into the mainframe I guess, but this does mean when you die you die and these Avatars are not reincarnations or even reanimated hybrids, they are closer to replicants and who is to state that if your copy exists in one form then why wouldn’t it exist in another? Outside of petty revenge, what else is there for these new Avatars to live for once they no longer are needed? Why would massing RDA frigates and cargo ships not come back to Pandora better prepared to take on the creatures of that world? If the wild life linked to the consciousness of Pandora are implied to attack invading humans on sight, yet the humans who survived the first one, but were allowed to stay are not attacked then that implies that Pandora can differentiate between what it sees as something hostile and something non threatening, then how stupid is Pandora when some wolf like creature that are part of that link do not attack the new Avatars wearing human clothing and carry big weapons? I think that if you got a bunch of blue humanoid aliens with sunglasses and marine clothing as well as guns then they are up to no good. So again I ask what is the world’s perceptual limitations? Also with all the advanced technology the RDA has at it’s disposal, why don’t they just attack the enemy from space and then land? That makes more sense than to waste resources building another human outpost and not have pacified for at least a portion of so it’s safer for everyone? Jake Sully is a fugitive that committed treason against his own species, he literally should be brought back to Earth to face charges of crimes against humanity. How he would he get back to Pandora and to get back to his family and what would he find once he arrived back there? That is a lot more compelling than rehashing the original story all be it with a few new cosmetics. I have stated it before and I will state it again here, remove the cosmetics from Iron Man (2008) and what you have is a reworked reimagining of Batman Begins and Avatar: The Way Of Water is not even that. It is almost literally Avatar told with a new location and considering it took thirteen years to make, Cameras should have addressed these issues and others. Just because a sequel grosses a billion dollars doesn’t mean it’s not without any problems anymore than power is sufficient evidence of truth. I realize the protagonists have to be relatable, but why do all the other life forms have four eyes and about six limbs, but the Navi have two eyes?
Avatar: The Way Of Water is not a terrible movie, it is just not particularly original. Hopefully these issues and more will be addressed and fixed before the holiday season of 2024 when the next Avatar will be released. Avatar: The Way Of Water is in it’s third week of theatrical release at the time of this posting.
(C) Copyright 2022 By Mark A. Rivera
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