Giant swimming smurfs and Jesus – my hot take on the new Avatar movie

Overall, Avatar: The Way of Water was a solid movie, worth a see and definitely worth a trip to the theater.

As befits its heritage, it was stunning visually. It had a look different from the original but you still believed that it was based on the same planet, good bit of world building.

The quality of the 3D experience was much improved from back in the day. I recommend springing for the 4DX experience if your local theater supports it. Moving seats, sprinkling water, shooting air and scents makes it a blend of move and amusement park ride. We paid a premium, but this movie made good use of its capabilities.

2 tips for 4DX:

  1. As this movie had a lot of action, the fans were blowing air at you all the time making a cold theater even colder – bring a jacket!
  2. The seats move around a fair bit and it’s really easy to end up with your food in your lap, even if you are holding it in your hands the whole time. I am a little surprised there wasn’t more of a disclaimer from the theater to be careful but I guess they make more money off of the food than it costs them to clean up afterwards

The plot was fine, if not well worn – this is territory that several movies have covered including the original (more on that later). The cast grew – they introduced 5 new main characters and did a reasonable job giving us enough visual and personality cues to tell them apart. Whether enough was done for us to actually care about all of them is a different matter. Part of what helped tho, is that the movie is looong, clocking in at over 3 hours.

Before I get into more nitpicky plot stuff… I will start out with an obligatory spoiler alert warning if you haven’t yet seen the movie…

This seems to be an increasingly common (and irritating!) trend, but the main plot points pretty much follow that of the original movie identically

  1. There’s a war going on and the outsider comes to a foreign land
  2. The chief’s kids are put in charge of the outsiders. The chief’s daughter is wooed
  3. They assimilate with the natives and learn their ways
  4. The outsider is soon accepted as one of them
  5. War comes to the native people
  6. The outsider leads the natives into battle against the bad guys

To up the stakes, they added a Na’vi Jesus in the sequel…

  1. Sigourney Weaver’s daughter’s birth is basically an immaculate conception (no father, don’t know how it happened)
  2. She’s the only one who has a deep spiritual connection with God/Eywa throughout the movie
  3. She died (well, passed out after communing with the spirit seaweed), then came back, but not due to science but rather a more spiritual treatment
  4. At the end, she turns into a literal angel when she puts on the breathing jellyfish wings and then proceeds to save them all

Some other miscellaneous thoughts…

  • It felt lazy just magically resurrecting the dead bad guy from the last movie instead introducing a new one… tho with so many protagonists to introduce, I suppose that one more new character would have been too much
  • They didn’t even acknowledge the unobtanium. Something that was worth attempting genocide over in the first movie apparently now just doesn’t matter
  • Speaking of motives, it felt they were all over the map. The big human city doesn’t seem particularly near the water despite the fact that now the most valuable product on the planet is the fountain-of-life-whale-brain-juice which is only found in the water. Also, that isn’t the real reason they are here, apparently humans are back to colonize the planet… that lacks a breathable atmosphere… by utterly blasting huge areas of it.
  • In the beginning when the main bad guy discovered the scene of the original movie finale, I am disappointed that he just silently stared at the skull before crushing it. The line “Alas, poor Quaritch! I knew him” would have worked perfectly here!
    • (Hamlet reference here for those of you that slept through English class)
  • Jake’s son’s death at the end felt very obligatory – it was like the film producers came to the end of the centerpiece battle and realized “we haven’t raised the emotional stakes high enough and no major character has died yet, so quick let’s kill someone as a cheap way to make the audience sad”
  • I hope Spider remembers that there is a tracker built into his breathing mask that the bad guys can use

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