Sorry, But Avatar Still Rules

Zoe Saldana Inn Avatar,
Photo: Moviestore Collections Ltd. / Alamy Stock Photo

For all his technical expertise and storytelling prowess, James Cameron may well be the master of cinema’s vibe shift. I still remember the week of 1997 when titanic Went from being thought of as an impending disaster, one that was going to take down two major studios with it, to being thought of as a blockbuster that would remind everyone why we kept Hollywood. that’s how the tide started Avatar back in 2009. For months, many of us expected a very late, over-indulgent monstrosity from a filmmaker who was clearly living in his head and had none. i remember the epic of dana goodyear New Yorker Profile showing Cameron focusing on imperceptible VFX details. (“That crap rocks! … Look at the gill-like membrane on the side of the mouth, its transmission of light, all the secondary color saturation on the tongue, and that maxilla bone. I like what you did with the translucent teeth, And the way the quadriceps bone moves the teeth.”)

And then, we saw the damn thing. After the film’s first brain-melting all-media screening at New York’s Lincoln Square IMAX, suddenly, no one wanted to talk about it. Avatar, The rest is history – as it was titanicas it was with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Word went on, and the word remains: Never underestimate James Cameron.

A similar sea change could be felt for Cameron’s much-anticipated sequel, Avatar: The Path of Water, which after years of false starts and date changes is now set to arrive this December. for years, Avatar — both the current original and this ever-so-slowly follow-up — has been the butt of jokes and narrow-minded hot take, the most prevalent being that the film left no pop-cultural footprint. That silly take, of course, has its own rebuttal. If Avatar So much is forgotten, how come someone new needs to remind us every week that he is so forgotten?

Perhaps more importantly, playing the pop-culture-footprint game is in the hands of the corporate IP overlords who filled us with second- and third-graders. star wars and Marvel and DC offerings for the past decade. No, there haven’t been dozens Avatar Sequels & Spinoffs & Reboots & TV Shows & Streaming Series; Hulu is not currently working on an origin story for Home Tree, and as far as I can tell, there is no Disney+ animated series following the adventures of a family of Thaneters. It is a good thing. let Avatar Happen AvatarAnd let its sequel succeed or fail on its merits, not on whether it fits into a tedious and ludicrously expanded universe, or whether it sells enough lunchboxes.

But like I said, a change is coming, and it’s seen a huge surge of interest in recent months. Avatar: The Path of Water, perhaps because people have suddenly started caring about movies and theatrical experience again. Now, to prime us for the sequel, Avatar The film itself is back in the theatre, which remains the ideal setting for viewing it – especially in 3-D, as it is one of the few productions to use the technology properly. In fact, after the phenomenal success of AvatarAfter all, Hollywood spent so much time trying to bring major releases back to 3-D that they all but eliminated technology. maybe this is another solution AvatarThe Pop-Cultural Influence of: All Movie Graveyards Are Full of Wannabe Blockbusters That Couldn’t Live Up to Their Promises Avatar, The failure of others can also be a measure of your success.

A side benefit of not having dozens of others Avatar quality is there that, watching Avatar Again after so many years, one realizes how special it is. All this fuss over maxilla bones and gill-like membranes, it turns out, pays off. Cameron and his cast have so lovingly envisioned Pandora’s Moon that there are new wonders in every shot of the film. Anyone in this world can lose oneself, and as I remember, many did that day. No joke: There were reports of people experiencing depression after leaving the film because Pandora was very real, very seductive, very beautiful. One word began to stick to it: post-Avatar Depression syndrome.

Cameron’s particular strength has always been his ability to mix tech-heavy macho bluster with a kind of honesty that would be crap in less hands; I once called him a flower kid who speaks fluent crook. He makes his films with believable tough guys who talk like they know what they’re doing and handle their guns the way they should. There is no pretense or condescension with such characters, even if they are cartoonish villains, as they are in Avatar, Or Even When They’re Comic Relief: Think Bill Paxton’s Blazing Hudson alien creatures, whose mix of muscle twitches and scary-cat cries is one of the most memorable bits of that movie; In some ways, he is the most relatable character in the film. You can tell Cameron on some fundamental level that these guys are likable. Eventually, he co-wrote Rambo: First Blood Part II,

But his heart is with the romantics and the dreamers. Matches attest to sentimentality and emotion, and vice versa. Chasm A seafaring, quiet-a-shit action film about the reconciliation of a divorced couple. titanic A painfully heartwarming teenage romance played against a ruthlessly recreated disaster with the precision of an engineer. And Avatar A film about a husky, who learns to communicate with nature and falls for a Na’vi princess. (It is also, let’s not forget, a fairly blunt metaphor for the US invasion of Iraq, complete with Bush-era rhetoric such as “shock and awe” and the villainous declaration that “our only security lies in a preemptive attack. . We will fight terror with terror.” But it really was par for the course for big action movies during this era. See also: George Lucas’s star wars prequels, which were even more politically pointed.)

The general premise of the picture is, as everyone and his mother reminded us, not new. The director himself references Edgar Rice Burroughs John Carter of Mars when making novels, and the conceit of the soldier who “becomes the original” still has its own subgenres, found in everything Lawrence of Arabia To dances with Wolves, And hey, don’t forget that the movie appears to be borrowed from Terrence Malick. New Worldalso, not to mention Fernagli: The Last Rainforest, Avatar Can be derivative, but it is not insincere. Cameron clearly feels every beat of the story with his audience. He lets us discover Pandora through the eyes of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), first as a scary, terrifying place, then as a land of unimaginable awe and joy.

There’s nothing pro forma about Jake falling for Zoe Saldana’s Netiri. Cameron himself loves her a little. When our heroes ride their banshees down a cliff at breakneck speed, we can feel Cameron visibly alive through his creation. It’s every nerd’s dream: to find a beautiful companion, preferably with fangs, with whom you can race your magical flying dragons into a distant wonderland. It’s so clear that Cameron wants Naovi’s world of bioluminescent veins and mysterious spirits to come true. He wants it to be so true that he has created a whole science for it. His aforementioned, almost parodic attention to detail isn’t just the obsessive rant of a billion-dollar Hollywood taskmaster, it’s someone who has reversed the typical artistic exchange of filmmaking, with actors losing themselves to audiences. make the world for. In Cameron’s case, one doubts that it will be as real for us as it is for him.

So, the hero of Jake Sully — a soldier torn between duty and the enticing wonders of a mystical world — seems quite personal, even to Cameron. Not only in tension between the rookie becoming the hippie warrior, but also in the dreamer’s view of what he must learn to believe once he is in the real world. While in most films their protagonists eventually reconcile themselves with reality, Avatar again goes in the opposite direction. It urges us to leave all that behind. It becomes a metaphor for Cameron’s inability to let herself go. And it’s clear he still isn’t. He is reportedly working on four sequels. He can dream for a long time.

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