Ah, Avatar: The Way of the Water, for which we finally have a trailer. Countless commentators have already eloquently explained whether a sequel to a film made thirteen years ago, even once the biggest hit of all time (unadjusted for inflation – we see you, carried away by the wind) will end up having comparable legs. The 3D bubble has burst, say critics, that old technical marvel that sent moviegoers first in droves, and does anyone really remember who Certified Hollywood Lead Sam Worthington is?
Well, that aforementioned teaser was released yesterday after being previewed at press events and stuck in front of screenings of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness for fifteen days.
In just over a minute and a half, the first basic thing we can say is, yeah, it looks like Avatar, or at least as far back as we can remember. Blue people (Na’vi, as you probably won’t remember) are still blue and probably still have sexual hair; we know the latter because one of them is believed to be pregnant, hopefully not with a baby barnet.
But in terms of plot, story, emotional stakes, conflict, characterization, or any of these core scriptural tenets – nada. The studio (and presumably James Cameron) is keeping their cards on their chests, opting to preview the show from Avatar 2 (in our case, press a pre-Doctor Strange 2 event last week in glorious three-dimensionality, triple-looped and paired with a blue margarita) rather than give away anything meaningful.
And it’s spectacular: the trailer is largely made up of sweeping shots exploring the bountiful vistas and shimmering oceans of Pandora, in what appears to be a bit of the Na’vi’s home planet we’ve yet to see. . (Reminder, the last one is out over a decade agoso don’t blame us for having the wrong memory.)
But here’s the catch. To like Avatar uno, there’s not much to show that compels beyond the attractive, albeit largely computer-generated, visuals. Like the seemingly live-action remake of The Lion King as of 2019, it is an animated feature disguised as a prestige epic; From a technical standpoint, all the mo-capping and greenscreenery on display is an impressive feat, but it’s not really cinematic as much as a PS5 tech demo. A bit like its predecessor, therefore.
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