I missed out seeing the first Avatar film in theaters, so this time I really wanted to do it right, in a theater with 3D glasses uncomfortably fitted over my eyeglasses. The way these movies were meant to be seen.
But oh boy am I constantly reminded why I hate theaters, as someone got the brilliant idea to bring their 2-year-old to this 3 and half hour-long movie.
I’m guessing at the age; I don’t know kid ages. Whatever is too young to form words so just a bunch of yells and garbles come out but old enough to run around the theater lanes like a monkey on crack.
If the kid shit itself too, I wouldn’t know as even if there are only like 4 other people in the theater, it still smells like BO and popcorn.
I can’t remember the last time I saw a movie in 3D. I want to say it was the last Planet of the Apes film War for the Planet of the Apes.
I will say, the 3D looked amazing in Avatar 2. Visually, it’s a cinematic marvel. You completely forget you’re watching a movie that’s like 100% CGI.
You get lost in the fish and particles flying at you. But the 3D glasses. Those still need improvements, like excluding them entirely.
Didn’t one of the Nintendo handhelds do 3D without any kind of headset or glasses? And I was pretty young, but I remember going to Universal Studios in Florida where they had a Ghostbusters live action show where they mixed 3D with live action, Slimer would jump out and fly above you.
They even had a showing of some clips from The Birds in 3D where scenes of birds would pop out at you, all without wearing glasses.
That’s what theaters need because at this point, I really don’t see myself ever going to another theater to see a movie.
It took one poopy pants 2-year-old yelling and running around the theater to toss my hands up and retire the movie theater going experience.
As for the movie… like I mentioned, visually it looks amazing. The plot however is dogshit.
We all know how Tarantino has a foot fetish. But he’s never made a film with the sole purpose that he could get off on it.
James Cameron on the other hand, nothing gives him a raging hard on more than the ocean. And seems to only make films where he can find a way to get off on filming it.
The whole setup for Avatar 2 is just to get his sexy blue cat people out of the boring old forest and into the ocean where he can jerk it to fish.
There is no real plot to this movie, it doesn’t really have a villain or characters or main characters. It suffers from the same thing Phantom Menace suffered from, no main character syndrome.
The film can’t even do the one thing the first film did so well in my opinion and that’s set up a romantic relationship. There are two budding romances in this film, and they go absolutely nowhere. Nowhere! We don’t get a single smooch in this whole film. Nothing!
I don’t even think we see Jake and Neytiri kiss.
No time for that of course, since we have to spend a majority of the runtime to show a young alien boy playing with a whale.
I’m not being hyperbolic; a majority of this plot revolves around a teen boy befriending a whale like this is space Free Willy. The first film was Dances with Wolves but with aliens. Avatar 2 is Free Willy but with aliens.
It takes about 90 minutes to get to this point and the point is this is what the plot of this movie is even about.
The whole main plot really is centered around these whales. The film acts as if we are meant to know what they are too. They are never really introduced or explained. Honestly the way the Na’vi interacted with them, I thought this was what they would eventually evolve into or something.
They act like they are lost uncles coming to visit, it is so goddamn weird.
Like most people I know who hate the first Avatar film, I loved it. It hit all the beats, fish out of water, standard hero arc, romance, action… James Cameron knows how to write (if not formulaic) action film.
Which makes Avatar 2 so bizarre.
It’s 16 or so years later, Jake and Neytiri have had a whole bunch of kids. They have one older son who is like their golden child. They have another younger son who keeps fucking up and disappointing them and a younger daughter who like 5 or something. Again, I don’t know kid ages!
They’re all non-characters, especially the eldest son who we never get to see much of. And when something happens to him, we are meant to care. We spend maybe 3 or 4 scenes with him and never alone, so he might as well just be another background character.
They also adopted Grace Augustine’s avatar’s daughter, who they named Kiri, who I swear they were calling Kitty the whole time.
Yeah, if you were expecting answers to how this miracle baby happened, tough luck. You aren’t getting any.
Grace Augustine, played by Sigourney Weaver, is back playing her daughter. But if you remember she died in the first film. They tried to move her consciousness over to her avatar, but the swap didn’t work. Or so we think since she seems to still be alive, just braindead.
However, her avatar was pregnant at the time, leaving a lot of suspicions as to who the father might be.
They mention Norm being a possibility but if you’ve watched the extended cut of the first film, you know he had a whole romance subplot with Michelle Rodriguez’s character that got completely cut out.
So, if I had to guess and they pretty much make it clear that she is a child of the tree of souls. She’s space Jesus pretty much.
Kiri has a flirtatious relationship with Spider an orphaned human child who we quickly learn is the son of Miles Quaritch, who we see return in an avatar, once again played by Stephen Lang.
Spider should have been our main character. They seem to want to make Jake’s kids the main characters, but they’re blue cat people, hard for the audience to relate to.
Spider on the other hand would have acted almost like what Jake was for the audience in the first film. But to switch things up, it would be the reverse.
Spider doesn’t fit in with the Na’vi, as much as he tries, he’ll never be like them. So, when he gets captured by his reincarnated father, we the audience could have gotten basically the same outsider’s point of view but told from a different perspective, from a different side. The humans.
You also have this romance between a human boy and a Na’vi, but this time not using an avatar to seduce her. But that’s never explored. Really, nothing is all that deeply explored.
The whole film comes off as meaningless. For example, I’m skipping a bit in the story, but Jake comes to the conclusion that the best thing to do for his family is to run away.
Now, the moral of the story should be you can’t run from your problems, you must face them head on, right? Well, fuck that! In the end his conclusion is running was the best choice, screw everyone in the forest, we are ocean people now. All because James Cameron wants to fuck a fish.
No characters learn anything in this, no one grows, no one learns anything, we as the audience also learn nothing, but it sure as hell looked nice.
I’ll go back, so Miles Quaritch and his men are brought back from a backup they made before leaving for Pandora.
The goal is to use their new avatar bodies to get the upper hand on tracking Jake down and killing him, to stamp out his rebellion. Which works perfectly since all it took was his idiot kids from getting captured to send him off to Sea World.
Oh, his kids not only screwup, getting captured once, but are consistently getting held hostage and in need of saving. It must happen at least 3 or 4 times.
If they didn’t get captured, Jake and Neytiri really wouldn’t have anything to do in this movie.
I do however love that Neytiri still calls Jake “My Jake”. Their tribe’s name however, I swear is DeCoteau, the character Rick Dalton played on the set of Lancer in Once Upon a time in Hollywood. Each time it’s said out loud, I was reminded of that scene where Rick kept forgetting his lines and had a freakout in his trailer later.
The sky people return to Pandora and Jake is back to leading a guerrilla campaign, destroying their supply lines, stealing their weapons.
The sky people can’t track their location because they are hiding out in the area with the floating mountains. Not only does it screw with their electronics on their ships but get swarmed by those flying dragon things the Na’vi fly around on.
That is why they called in Colonel Miles Quaritch to slip in undetected. I have no idea how many of his crew there are, as there always seems to only be like 6 of them, even when a bunch die, there’s always still 6 of them. I swear I saw the one female avatar soldier die like 3 times.
The sky people are back because Earth is dying, and they wish to make Pandora their new home. So, big problem with that though… you can’t be outside without a mask pumping oxygen to you for more than a few seconds before you die.
That doesn’t sound like a very sustainable place to leave, especially if the natives of this planet don’t want you there and are extremely hostile towards you.
The other reason they are there, no longer looking for a fancy mineral, but brain juice from those whales that will make you immortal. But this isn’t introduced until maybe 2 hours into the film, possibly longer.
Before we get to that, back to Jake’s kids getting kidnapped. Jake and Neytiri come to their rescue but lose Spider in the process as he is captured by Miles and his crew.
Fearing that they will stop at nothing to finding him and his family, Jake gathers up his brood and they fly off, leaving the forest behind.
My question is, why? Like what has changed, that they are now in avatars searching for them? So what? And how would leaving keep them any safer with a bunch of strangers who have no loyalty to them, than the tribe he was basically king of?
Again, they didn’t think too hard on this, since this is just setup for them to get to the alien equivalent of Hawaii.
Normally I don’t watch reviews for films I’m reviewing out of fear I’d end up copying what they’ve said. But Max Landis has been very vocal about this film lately and he really hasn’t criticized films since getting canceled.
So, I wanted to hear what he had to say about a specific topic that I found strange as well while watching the movie.
Jake and his family arrive in Hawaii, populated by what are basically alien Samoans. They talk the same, have the same tribal tattoos, they even do that haka war dance.
But do you see why this doesn’t make sense?
On the fishing crew is a marine biologist who just happens to be from New Zealand. Are you putting the pieces together? They’re from Earth, a planet with a Hawaii. A planet with Samoans. Wouldn’t the crew from New Zealand say, hey wait a minute. This seems oddly familiar.
Why is this seemingly foreign Samoan culture being found on this alien planet? It makes no sense!
Now Jake and his family are the outsiders, as these Samoan Na’vi have evolved differently than those found in the forest. Their tails are thick, almost fin-like. And they can be underwater for an undetermined amount of time. Their hands are also more fish-like, allowing them to swim through water faster.
Jake and his family have none of those characteristics. Since they are children of an avatar, they have an extra finger most Na’vi don’t share, making them freaks.
Instead of flying dragons, they ride on flying fish, which seem super impractical as they can only lifts a few feet off the ground before needing to dive under the water.
While this is happening, Spider is reconnecting with his father, who he is trying to teach the Na’vi way of life to. How to speak the language, how to fly one of those dragon things…
And you think, okay, here is Mile’s character arc, he’ll learn to appreciate the Na’vi, realizing he isn’t human anymore. Maybe see what the sky people are doing is wrong. Maybe see what he is doing is wrong, nah fuck that. None of that happens, don’t be silly.
What about Spider? Maybe his character arc is that spending time with humans isn’t so bad and he starts to enjoy his time with people that don’t see him as an outsider. Maybe hear tales about Earth and dreams about one day going there. Give us something, damn it.
Jake’s youngest son Lo’ak, (I’m hoping I got the right one) meets Tsireya, the teen daughter of the tribe’s chief.
Her brother and his friends hate the kids because they have “demon blood” in them. What they call those with five fingers.
The bullies prank Lo’ak by taking him far from the village and leaving him there. But he is rescued by a whale that is considered banished for having killed in the past.
Miles and his crew board a whaling vessel and head out to sea to try and find where Jake is hiding. He starts to make waves by ruthlessly asking the different tribes where Jake and his family are.
But not getting them to talk he decides to get some use out of the whaling vessel, deliberately hoping to anger the locals as they go whale hunting.
This of course works, angering the tribes, as they set off to take revenge. But almost like clockwork, their kids get kidnapped again and they must rush to save them.
Here is another weird thing, so the whole tribe goes to rescue them, but once the fight happens everyone seems to just vanish. Did I miss something? There were like 100 Na’vi there ready to fight and they somehow just vanish from the area.
Compared to how the first film ended, this is weak as hell. It’s mostly just a handful of Earthling whalers and Miles’ blue alien crew. That’s it.
All they seem to be fighting is the boy’s whale friend and Jake. The other Na’vi pissed off somewhere.
Spider is left unguarded and uncuffed, so he is able to dismantle the ship controls by smashing the hell out of them.
During the fighting, the eldest son is shot and killed. But we’ve spent almost no time with him, hell I barely remember him saying more than a few lines and we are meant to care.
The whaling ship starts to sink with Jake and Miles in it, fighting to the death. Jake manages to knock him out, but Spider saves him.
Kiri uses her space Jesus powers to light the way for everyone to escape and that’s kind of the end of it.
Miles flies away, Spider joins the family who literally were able to kill him to get revenge on Miles…
Oh, Miles by the way, wasn’t even the one who shot their son, it was just some random person.
And instead of bringing the fight to the sky people, Jake is just yeah, we sea folk now. Let’s just hide out here forever.
And then the Credits are just more shots of CGI sea life but in 3D.
The whole experience was very strange. For a movie this long, it really didn’t have much to say. There wasn’t even much for anyone to do. A majority is just characters dicking around.
Film felt oddly unfinished like it needed more time to be edited or shot a better draft. It feels like a first draft of something that was never fleshed out. Not sure if that’s because in his head he plans on making 5 of these damn things or what. I guess that might explain why this feels so stretched out.
I know James Cameron mentioned that if this film bombs, instead of the rumored 5 other films, he’ll just make 3. And seeing as the film needed to make like 2 billion at the box office, I guess we’re only getting one more sequel.
That’s fine by me. Just know that I won’t be at a theater to see it. I’ll give Avatar The Way of Water a RENT rating. It’s bad, but the visuals are still topnotch. Though I doubt watching it on a tv at home will have the same effect.
That does it for me with reviews this year. I’ll be back however with my Best and Worst list.
So Merry Christmas, you filthy animals!
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