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James Cameron’s New Avatar: Just Add Water

One of the thoughts contained in the picture was also heard in the first Avatar: people are predatory creatures, ready to do anything for profit.

One of the thoughts contained in the picture was also heard in the first Avatar: people are predatory creatures, ready to do anything for profit.

The phenomenon of “Pandorian depression” has long been described: fans of the first “Avatar”, released in 2009, experienced terrible longing, returning from the cinema to ordinary life. It seemed too dull and gray compared to the colorful world created by James Cameron. Unfortunately, Cameron himself seems to have fallen victim to this sadness: after the release of his outstanding picture, he dashed off the scripts for four sequels at once, and now he will shoot them for the rest of his life. The fictional world has sucked in and is slowly digesting its own creator.

The first, magnificent “Avatar” is now remembered as a very elegant story. At the center of it was a classic conflict between duty and feeling: the hero belonged to the human race, was obliged to protect them, but he suddenly liked both Pandora (NB: this is not a planet, but an inhabited satellite of a gas giant), and a beautiful alien. And then he suddenly realized that supposedly his native people embody evil, while truth, beauty, kindness and tenderness are on the side of strangers. And he spit on duty, choosing a feeling.

There were critics who called him a traitor, but amazingly, millions of viewers turned out to be the same misanthropes as Cameron and his hero. The audience realized that the earthly world is not only imperfect – it is very often disgusting, and it is people who make it that way; that this world cannot find the holy road to truth; that Cameron’s dream is golden, with fantastic Pandora landscapes and pious morals of the Na’vi – the best they have seen in the cinema for many years (and some, especially unfortunate and impressionable – and not only in the cinema, but in general in their entire lives).

It was a beautiful melodrama: the shot of a huge blue alien holding a panting little man named Jake Sully in her arms and peering into the real face of the one she fell in love with for the first time is hard to forget. It was a good fantasy with a clear, carefully thought out plot. It was a brilliant action movie, on which during the action scenes the viewer involuntarily clenched his fists.

So, there is nothing like this in the new film.

* * *

Marine Jake Sully, who received a new blue body with a tail, and his heavenly wife Neytiri gave birth to children, plus they adopted one blue girl (in an incomprehensible way, the avatar of Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver) gave birth to her! From whom could this avatar, lying in a special glass crypt, get pregnant?” “So no one knew,” Jake’s voice says gloomily.) Plus, a human boy nailed to the family – the son of the main villain from the first part, Colonel Miles Quaritch (here, on the contrary, the question arises of who the mother is – but okay, let’s suppose that in the first part it was somehow explained in passing, after 13 years you won’t remember ). In general, they all cheerfully jump through the Pandora jungle, and then they see a new star in the sky – this is a new detachment of spaceships flying from the Earth, in order to additionally suck out some resources from the unfortunate Pandora. In particular, something like that same Miles Quaritch is announced: of course, he died in the first part, but all his saved memories were inserted into a new, blue avatar body (this is called a “recombinant”).

The former Jake Sully leads the Resistance, the renewed Miles Quaritch wants to catch and kill him at any cost, and as a result, Sully and his family are forced to retire and seek refuge with a completely different Na’vi clan – reef, living on the coast and spending all their free time in the water. For about an hour, Cameron describes how the blue Na’vi get along with the bluish-greens, bickering and making fun. And then a team of earthling bastards arrives in paradise, who have not given up hope of finding and neutralizing Jake, and a bloody battle begins.

Cameron once directed two epic sequels that are among the best in the history of cinema: “Aliens” (the sequel to “Alien” by Ridley Scott) and “Terminator 2”. In both cases, he turned the events of the first film on its head, changed its scale (and in the case of Aliens, the genre), created a new and beautiful movie on the ruins of the old one.

movie poster "Avatar 2: The Way of the Water".

Poster for the movie “Avatar 2: The Way of the Water”.

The first “Avatar”, by and large, did not expect a sequel. The ending of the fairy tale “… and they lived happily ever after” should not be followed by a description of the everyday life of the prince and princess or a story about their children. But “Terminator” and “Alien” also did not expect sequels – but how great it turned out. Alas, this is not the case now: The Way of the Water is a classic Hollywood sequel that is many times worse than the original, and the saddest thing is that it offers almost nothing original. In addition, it lasts three almost unbearable hours.

Cameron, in the 13 years that separate the two films, has turned into a squeamish grandfather. Recently, he took on Marvel and DC movie comics for the fact that their characters are not serious and behave like college students – they have no children and no serious relationships, there is no “thing that keeps us down, gives us love, strength and purpose” , and from the standpoint of such blatant irresponsibility, it is impossible to make a movie. Well, here we have a film of Cameron’s father of many children, and all he can say about fatherhood or motherhood is that parents love their children, and vice versa. Sometimes resentment takes possession of both, but love still wins. This is the only “family thought” for the entire three hours of the film, and Cameron, with the serenity of a pioneer, drives it into the viewer’s brain with a jackhammer.

The second (of two) thoughts contained in the picture sounded in the first “Avatar”: people are predatory creatures, ready to do anything for the sake of profit. But also – for the sake of dull hunting excitement. An illustration is the scene of the hunt for innocent tulkuns, Pandora cetaceans, from whose brains you can extract “amrita” – a yellow liquid that permanently stops a person from aging. Amrita is what earthlings value most in the world, one glass of it is worth a hundred thousand million. While the Tulkuns are highly intelligent beings who form a brother-sister relationship with the Na’vi, are intellectually and emotionally superior to humans, have developed their own philosophy and mathematics…

The word “mathematics” in relation to these rather ugly underwater hippopotamus instantly ages the viewer for a year. It’s clear what Cameron wants to say, but… did the Tulkuns by any chance master the architecture? Didn’t they build underwater cities with their fins?

By the number of borrowings and repetitions, the second part "Avatar" far superior to the first, which at one time made a splash.

In terms of the number of borrowings and repetitions, the second part of “Avatar” is far superior to the first, which at one time made a splash.

However, grandfather is carried by a flight of fancy – and you suddenly think about what you didn’t think about on the first Avatar: that his fantasy is, in fact, very limited. In the first film, everyone was captivated by fluffs floating in the air, somewhat similar to dandelion seeds, but compressed in the air like jellyfish. Now you realize that Cameron’s artistic method is exactly this: take a dandelion and a jellyfish (any hedgehog or snake in general) and create a hybrid. The Na’vi Reef Tribe (called the Metkayina, though that’s completely irrelevant) ride amazing sea creatures that can move underwater or in the air with equal ease. So, this is just a combination of a crocodile (more precisely, a Ghanaian gharial, with an extremely long and narrow mouth) and a flying fish. Nothing else. (In general, the wretched zoo of the second “Avatar” can only impress a person who rarely watches popular science films about wildlife: believe me, there are such wonderful creatures on land and at sea that not even the most ambitious director will ever endure with them competition).

And the Na’vi themselves are a hybrid of a human and a very smooth-haired cat, painted blue. A human boy named Spider, who grew up in Na’vi society, found happiness with them and almost considers himself one of them, is actually already well into puberty; I wonder who he dreams about in sexual fantasies? Is it really about tailed azure young ladies with yellow eyes? Does this question interest him at all? Slim (unlike the juvenile morons from Marvel) psychologist Cameron is definitely not interested in all this, just think, what nonsense. It is more important for him to share a revelation with the viewer: parents love their children!

Another huge problem with The Way of Water is that the pictures in which the Metkayina clan lives are unlikely to amaze anyone’s imagination. In one scene, angry earthlings from flamethrowers destroy an entire settlement of peaceful inhabitants of the reefs. “Vietnam!” – only the viewer will have time to think before he remembers the “Visit Vietnam” advertising posters and realizes that absolutely all the fantastic rocks sticking out near the coast are copied from them. Literally, to zero – these are the rocks of Southeast Asia popular with tourists. Yes, and the reefs will seem copied from somewhere in the brochures. Yes, and some water with coastal sand is completely earthy, cartoons with tails just splash in it. Don’t look at the fact that Na’vi were played by live actors using performance capture technology – they look drawn, and, for example, Kate Winslet, who played the wife of the clan leader, did not have a single gram of Kate Winslet left (for such a role, if you call a spade a spade , could agree either a little-known actress who has nothing to lose, or a complete fool).

Repeating the first “Avatar” by simply adding water to it, Cameron reaches an absurdity in the last half hour: he begins to repeat his own “Titanic”. No one really thought that they would live to see Titanic 2, but they did!

And all this will continue for three more films. “Avatar: The Way of Water” will obviously gross more than two billion at the box office (viewers enchanted by the first “Avatar” want to repeat the pleasure, like drug addicts or alcoholics, although the effect is clearly not the same). So there’s still nine more hours to go on a bloodless Pandora. Although the only thing you really want to know (and even then not really) is what kind of villain knocked up the blue-tailed Sigourney Weaver.

PS It so happened that I watched “Avatar: The Way of Water” on vacation, in the sunny and completely frozen (-12) city of Bukhara. In Uzbekistan, it is shown on completely legal grounds. But it is also shown in hundreds of Russian cinemas without the knowledge of the copyright holders, on copies quietly borrowed from Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan itself (it is dubbed into Russian for these countries). Apparently, he will raise a lot of money in Russia, of which Disney will not get a cent.

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