Back in 2015, in the months leading in to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, I started goofing around on Facebook with posts talking about the inferiority of "Star War" compared to the true cultural king: 2009's Avatar.
It was performative silliness, positioning myself on Facebook like a heel in wrestling. But because I'm me, I can never let a mediocre joke rest: I continued the gag for years to follow. The truth: I saw Avatar twice in the theatre, liked it, but never watched it since (why would you - it is a movie experience made for big screen, 3D consumption).
What I hadn't actually expected, was that in telling people how excited I was for the release of Avatar: The Way of Water, I was actually hyping myself up for it. Self-originating Stockholm syndrome? Perhaps.
Last night preview screenings for the public began in Australia, so regular audiences are finally getting a look at the long-in-the-making next Avatar film. The cinema wasn't full, but was certainly fuller than the cinema usually is for a new release movie (there seemed to be more people there than I usually see for a Marvel or Star Wars film - a good sign for Disney being on track for that half a billion dollar opening weekend).
Some spoiler-free thoughts on the film:
- The biggest challenge for audiences sitting down to watch Avatar: The Way of Water is how earnest the film is. There aren't cynical, quippy jokes every 30 seconds a la Marvel and at its core is a story about family and seeking a sense of belonging in a world you feel you are an outsider within. This is a real heart-on-its-sleeve movie, which is oddly confronting for a big budget blockbuster in the current age.
- The film has three distinct acts. The first is all set-up to catch viewers up on who our characters are and what the status quo is/will be of the Avatar stories going forward. Act two is an hour plus of our lead family learning to live in a new sea environment - it is sad, beautiful, and often charmingly silly. Audiences who have trouble with the earnestness are really going to struggle with this middle section which runs an hour plus. And then the final act brings it all back around to a huge fast-moving action sequence that evokes the very best of James Cameron's previous works - most notably Aliens.
- Wait, Carmela Soprano is in the film?
- Yes, the special effects are incredible. The 3D quality has jumped forward in craft and technique, the water effects are as impressive as advertised, and the motion campture is really something.
There will be an extended conversation about the film on this week's Screen Watching podcast (which is being recorded tonight), so if you're interested, find us in your podcast apps.
Something borrowed, something blue
Spotted yesterday on news.com.au, the gag went to the next level...
Years of Avatar-shaming will come to an end on December 14 as Australian audiences are once again whisked off to the far-off moon planet of Pandora located in the Alpha Centauri star system and/or your local Westfield multiplex.
Audiences will slide on their glasses and be reminded just how wild and transforming the world of Avatar can be.
When that happens, you’ll have a choice: Side with the cynical neck-bearded edge lords and tsk tsk about the movie, or join the rest of us having a blast with a bunch of really tall blue folk teaching us all about the way of water.
- Marvel's Echo TV series will likely be delayed by approx half a year. It has already finished principal photography. Read: Dark Horizons
- Amazon Prime Video is moving forward with its A God of War TV series. Read: The Verge
- After 27 years, Foxtel will soon no longer have the rights to broadcast The Simpsons in Australia. Worth remembering: Bart Simpson was the face of Foxtel's marketing for most of the mid to late 90s. Read: TV Blackbox
- Netflix has cancelled Warrior Nun after two seasons. Read: Indiewire
- Interested in the "hidden" meanings of the opening titles for The White Lotus season 2? Here's the guide you need. Read: The AV Club
- Season 3 of Party Down (the revival series) debuts Feb 24 on Starz. Read: Indiewire
- Stephen “Twitch” Boss, the on-show DJ and an EP on The Ellen DeGeneres Show has died, aged 40. Read: Variety
Mayor of Kingstown returns to Paramount+ Jan 15 for a second season.
Down to earth UK superhero show Extraordinary debuts on Disney+ Jan 25.
That's it. Get on with your day!