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Thread: AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (James Cameron 2022)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area

    AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER (James Cameron 2022)


    Cameron plays around in his watery sandbox

    Perhaps it's true as has been said that James Cameron doesn't try to tell original stories. But nobody has made movies filled with tall, thin blue men with pointed ears and long tails but him. The Na'vi, as they're called, who live on a remote planet in a far-off galaxy, are part of a sand box for the well-funded director to play in - except that metaphor's a bit off, since much of the playing this time is very, very wet. The passages that take place under water are the best of this Avatar sequel and they are beautiful. No one has captured a sense of crystalline liquid and of floating or of big sea creatures diving and dancing on water's surface better than this.

    It's not exactly clear where Cameron gets this peculiar distortion of the human form. If you like the idea of tall thin blue men (speaking American-accented English) with long heads, big noses, pointy ears and bare butts, this film's for you. By the way, do you notice how little variety in body type there is among the "bros," as they often call each other here? Do you also notice the non-humanoid animals are all used as servants of the humanoid ones - and that they are used but never cared for? This was true also recently in Jordan Peele's Nope, which is set at a horse farm where no time is ever devoted to the horses being fed or groomed. And these people, they're fantasy indeed, the way they combine the high tech and the primitive, with translucent-screened computers and other sophistications, but going about in necklaces and long slinky braided hair and loin cloths - more pleasing and provocative indeed than the drab outfits worn in Silicon Valley. Yes, I know: it's science fiction.

    Cameron-watchers tell us that he considers testosterone a toxin that needs to be sucked out. That doesn't quite come through. The focus of The Way of Water is on two macho men, Jake (Sam Worthington) and Quarich (Stephen Lang) who, after a lot of footage devoted to aggression, eventually strive to become peaceful dudes. This was hard to see. There seemed to me to be a celebration of testosterone here. Cameron plainly is ambivalent, as he veers between the touchy-feely and the bombastic, much the way he did in Titanic.

    I have a confession to make: so far, at least, I have made it through only the first two hours of the three hours and twelve minutes of this movie (and that in standard format, not 48 frames per second 3D or IMAX). There was a great deal of repetitiousness, interrupted with the periodic explosions and battles that are routine for action blockbusters. True, there's great variety, great detail, many characters. But the pattern was to have passages of youthful characters, or family units, exploration of the new environment, only to be followed by a return to Quarich and his men, often using or abusing the white human kid with the dreadlocks called Spider (Jack Champion). This happens because Quarich is really a reconstruction in Na'vi form, the better to combat the Na'vi, except that his Na'vi language is rudimentary, so Spider becomes their interpreter.

    Dismiss standard human white-boy Spider as a mere novelty amid the blue people at your peril because he is our representative in the story. There are other human types such as the inexplicable General Ardmore (Edie Falco) and one of the several incarnations of Sigourney Weaver (the other is young and blue). But they aren't young, fit, and naked, and it's Spider who's forced into the misfit's role of go-between. Of course we may also identify more emotionally with Jake's little family as they try to adjust to the new aqueous environment. Both ways, this works as a kids' picture, and kids were much in evidence when I watched.

    And while I've found fault with the treatment of animals, there is the large "outcast" sea monster that the teenage boy bonds with during one of the first two hours' longest passages, when he too is being treated as an outcast. There is evidence that if Cameron isn't wholly mindful of inter-species care, he's mindful of the huge current earthling problem of refugees and statelessness.

    Admittedly, though Cameron's Avatar II world takes some getting used to, to put it mildly, and there is far too much going on that's not rallied into a logical whole, there is much that can touch you emotionally as well as much that is entrancing to look at. Even the blue people are cooler and sexier than they were in the original Avatar. Much progress has made in the last thirteen years. But then the movie wastes much of this by being so long and so ultimately uninvolving. It contains too much. Cammeron's sandbox is vast, and he seems to want to play with so many of his themes. Brian Tallerico, the "" critic, says this new avatar of Avatar, while not (fortunately) a "retread" of Avatar, contains "thematic and even visual elements" of Titanic, Aliens, The Abyss and the Terminator films.

    Ultimately Avatar: The Way of Water winds up being a drawn-out tease, a narrative that never reaches a climax, that undulates rather than progresses. This is a blousy, meandering, and overlong piece of kitsch nobody should waste three-plus hours on. Ann Hornaday, the Washington Post film critic summed it up pretty accurately: "Long, loud, eye-popping and forgettable." Forbes sums up: "A major disappointment, bro." How sad that it should be so! There are charms and hints of beauty and greatness here. But in the realm of story, which ultimately trumps all technology, it falls short.

    Avatar: The Way of Water, 192 mins., premiered in London and Los Angeles December 6th and 12th 2022. It opened in US theaters Dec. 16. Screened at Century Hilltop 16, Richmond CA Dec. 16. Metacritic rating: 69%. In France as Avatar 2: la voie de l'eauit opened Dec. 14 and received an AlloCiné press rating of 4.2/5+84% (spectator rating 4.4=88%).
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-18-2022 at 12:06 AM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    SF Bay Area


    Find the whole text on go HERE.
    I found this page useful, being a Cameron novice. P.s. It was right for his Avatar to lose to his ex-wife Kathryn Bigelow for The Hurt Locker. That one is not an interesting idea, but a powerful drama that is also frighteningly realistic. The following list was complied last August, so Avatar 2 isn't ranked yet.I've kept the explanatory text for the top three and Avatar. This is just to note Avatar is somewhere a bit below the middle, and the second best is my favorite, Titanic (having not much use for the Terminators - but I did really like Aliens. I've added the Metacritic ratings.

    You can also look at a page Metacritic has set up recently ranking all Cameron's feature films HERE. According to that listing, the critics would rank the 8: 1 ALIENS (87), 2 THE TERMINATOR (84), 3 AVATAR (82), 4 TITANIC (74), 5 TERMINATOR2 (69), 6 GHOSTS OF THE ABYSS (67), 7 TRUE LIES (63), 8 THE ABYSS (62) - so Avatar ranks higher with this critics. Having loved Titanic I came to understand that its sheer corniness led the critics to be hard on it. The list below corresponds more to the public response. (There is a confusion because Metacritic (understandably) omits Piranha Part Two: The Spawning 1982 (Metascore 15), because it was co-directed by Cameron and Miller Drake and Ovidio G. Assonitis and Gold Derby omits the Cameron-directed Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)[/I]

    Wiith audiences there is the relatability factor, which is paramount. Sigourney Weaver in Aliens is one of the most appealing characters in an action movie of all time, ditto Kate Winslet and Leonardo DiCaprio in Titanic.

    James Cameron movies: All 8 films ranked worst to best

    Zach Laws, Chris Beachum Film August 14, 2022 10:00AM (GoldDerby)

    8. PIRANHA II: THE SPAWNING (1982) [Metasccore 15]
    Directed by James Cameron [and Miller Drake and Ovidio G. Assonitis]. Written by Ovidio G. Assonitis, James Cameron and Charles H. Eglee, based on characters created by John Sayles, Richard Robinson and Joe Dante. Starring Tricia O’Neil, Steve Marachuk, Lance Henriksen.

    7. TRUE LIES (1994) [Metascore 63]
    Directed by James Cameron. Screenplay by James Cameron, story by Cameron and Randall Frakes, based on the film ‘La Totale!’ by Claude Zidi, Simon Michael and Didier Kaminka. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jamie Lee Curtis, Tom Arnold, Bill Paxton, Art Malik, Tia Carrere, Grant Heslov.

    6. THE ABYSS (1989) [Metascore: 62.]
    Written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Ed Harris, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, Michael Biehn, J.C. Quinn, Leo Burmester, Kimberly Scott, Todd Graff, John Bedford Lloyd, Chris Elliott

    5. AVATAR (2009 [Metascore 82])
    Written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver.
    The highest grossing film of all time before “Avengers: Endgame” took its place, Cameron’s revolutionary sci-fi epic has just as many detractors as fans. Though the plot is pretty rudimentary, the visuals are truly spectacular. Set in the year 2154, “Avatar" centers on a paraplegic soldier (Sam Worthington) who travels to the distant planet of Pandora to learn about its alien population. Through the wonders of exobiology, he’s turned into one of the nine-foot-tall blue men, and during his travels he grows to sympathize with the peaceful dwellers. Cameron earned an Oscar nomination for directing, famously losing his his ex-wife, Kathryn Bigelow (“The Hurt Locker”). (The film won prizes for cinematography, visual effects and art direction). With four sequels on the way, he’ll have more opportunities to rake in the dough.

    4. THE TERMINATOR (1984) [Metascore: 84]
    Directed by James Cameron. Written by James Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Michael Biehn, Linda Hamilton, Paul Winfield, Lance Henriksen.

    3. ALIENS (1986) [Metascore 87]
    Directed by James Cameron. Screenplay by James Cameron, story by Cameron, David Giler and Walter Hill, based on characters created by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett. Starring Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser, Lance Henriksen, Carrie Henn, Bill Paxton, William Hope, Jenette Goldstein, Al Matthews.
    It’s rare for a sequel to live up to its original, but “Aliens” manages to do it by both paying tribute to the original and marking out its own territory. While Ridley Scott’s “Alien” was a tightly-wound horror film, Cameron’s followup is an adrenaline-pumping action flick. Sigourney Weaver reprises her role as Ellen Ripley, the lone survivor from a spaceship besieged by a snarling, murderous extra-terrestrial. 57 years later, she’s rescued by a salvage team headed to the moon where she and her team first encountered the dangerous beast. Cameron mounts one hair-raising action scene after another, leading to the climactic battle between Ripley and the alien queen (“Get away from her, you b**ch!”). The film won Oscars for its visual effects and sound editing, earning five additional nominations including Best Actress for Weaver.

    2. TITANIC (1997) [Metascore 74]
    Written and directed by James Cameron. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Billy Zane, Kathy Bates, Frances Fisher, Bernard Hill, Jonathan Hyde, Danny Nucci, David Warner, Bill Paxton, Gloria Stuart.
    Few films have captured the zeitgeist quite like “Titanic,” a three hour epic that manages to turn one of the world’s greatest tragedies into a love story for the ages. It’s an unapologetically corny, soapy and mesmerizing retelling of the 1912 ocean liner sinking, produced with exceptional craft and storytelling skill. Kate Winslet stars as Rose, a young woman of means traveling aboard the Titanic with her controlling mother (Frances Fisher) and arrogant fiancee (Billy Zane). She quickly falls in love with the raffish Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio), a poor artist who sneaks onto the ship. But destiny dooms their passionate love affair. A smash hit that stayed atop the all-time box office until “Avatar” came along, the film swept the Academy Awards, winning 11 prizes including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Film Editing for Cameron.

    1. TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY (1991) [Metacritic rating: 75]
    Directed by James Cameron. Written by James Cameron and William Wisher, based on characters created Cameron and Gale Anne Hurd. Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Linda Hamilton, Robert Patrick, Edward Furlong, Joe Morton, Earl Boen.
    As he did with “Aliens,” Cameron proved he was a master of sequels with this wildly ambitious followup to his breakthrough feature. While the first “Terminator” was a low budget production, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” takes the same idea and mounts it on a grand scale, with mind-blowing special effects and heart-pounding action scenes. But there’s also a surprising amount of pathos that further elevates this installment. Once again, an evil terminator (Robert Patrick) is sent from the future to murder John Connor (Edward Furlong), who will lead humanity against the machines. But this time, a good terminator (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is sent to protect him with the help of his mother, Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), who he previously tried to kill. The film won Oscars for sound, sound effects editing, visual effects and makeup.
    Last edited by Chris Knipp; 12-19-2022 at 12:54 AM.


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