Like many film fans at the moment, we went to go watch the re-screening of Avatar in preparation for the sequel’s release. Upon re-watching this movie I was thankful, so thankful that I fell asleep the first time it was released because this film is truly so terrible. And I am glad that I didn’t know how bad it was going into it, or I wouldn’t have watched it.
First of all the world building; The world of Pandora is beautiful, a truly visually stunning place. However besides its visual allure it has nothing else to it. There is no depth, no fleshed out belief system, everything we know about The People is shallow and lacks heart and weight.
Second of all it is a white savior story. This was very clearly written by a white dude who consulted no actual indigenous people. The idea that all of these people were interconnected and could feel and hear their goddess, they could work together to try and heal someone…and they ignored all of their injured and tried to save the white scientist lady that was part of the reason their home got destroyed. Jake says “this is our land” as if he didn’t get there 3 months ago and literally invade them. And yet they all bow to and follow Jake - pinnacle white savior movie.
Next up is part opinion, part just how it is. I generally hate films with narration. Narration belongs to characters that break the fourth wall, no fourth wall breaks, no narration. That’s the opinion part, now if you are going to have narration it needs to reveal to the audience something that we can not actively see. Avatar makes the narration fit the story in a story sense - they are video reports from his missions, however they have no narrative purpose. We are shown exactly 1 video log, a single one at the beginning of what I am assuming is act 3 (the film has a loose sense of film structure and poor pacing) that actually shows us anything about Jake and his feelings. We get one singular, internal realization from him that is never mentioned, spoken of, or elaborated on ever again. The video logs could have been cut completely and it would have made no difference to the story and saved the audience at least 20 minutes of screentime. That's just how it is part. The film was about 45 minutes-1 hour too long and that's the first round of very easy cuts.
Let's talk about literally of these fight scenes; These high ranking military men are so unbearably stupid it's honestly embarrassing. They are sending Jake out there because he supposedly knows what he’s doing but the way that he organizes the tribes is so terrible and there was no actual plan in place. They send their highest ranking member out to lead this war with the Na’vi and I think we all know that's utter BS. The Na’vi continuing to attack ships with arrows as if they are savage and stupid was not only deeply insulting but it was inconsistent with the depictions of the natives already established. They are smart, they don’t bother with their arrows on animals whose hides are stronger than them, they would not waste their weapons. And finally the whole premise of this movie is that they shipped in more men because the ones they had kept dying, no one could last in Pandora, it's so dangerous, everyone is gonna die. AND YET when the boots hit the ground there were no dangerous animals in sight, the forest was suddenly empty.
The lore was inconsistent, the pacing was terrible, the structure barely existed and it was simply too long. James Cameron proves to the world once again that screenwriters are the true storytellers and directors should in fact stick to their day jobs. The Way of Water is most definitely going to be as bad, or worse and there is no doubt about that.