Avatar is the highest grossing movie of all-time. It was an absolute phenomenon of a movie when it came out in 2009, and James Cameron has been working on the sequels ever since then. Now, more than a decade later, we’re supposed to be getting the first of four new movies later this year, and recent rumors have indicated we could see the Avatar 2 trailer very soon. The only question is, does anybody still care?
It’s become something of a joke over the years that the highest-grossing movie ever is one that a lot of people couldn’t tell you much about today. We all saw it, sure, but over the years Avatar simply hasn't had the excited fan base of something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When was the last time you even saw Avatar?
I’ll be honest, while I saw the original Avatar on the big screen and in 3D (and I very much remember that), I’m not sure I had seen the movie again since then. But with the rumor of an Avatar 2 trailer on the horizon, and having a recent day off, I decided I’d take the time to re-watch Avatar on Disney+. Now that I have, I’m actually much more interested in Avatar 2 than I was before.
Avatar Still Looks Amazing
The big selling feature of the original Avatar, in addition to the use of 3D (which was novel at the time), was the heavy use of CGI and motion capture to create the world of Pandora and all the alien inhabitants, including the Na’vi people. The movie showed us a world that was unlike anything we’d ever seen at the movies. It was a technological achievement and has held up quite well.
While I didn’t re-watch Avatar on a massive theater screen, I did watch it on reasonably big 4K television, and the movie still looks visually stunning. So often an actor standing in front of green screen makes things look off, but because nearly everything you see on the screen is handled with the same CGI, it looks cohesive. The alien creatures look incredible and the Na’vi feel real. Seeing this again on the big screen would be incredible.
Zoe Saldaña’s Neytiri is Awseome
2009 was the year that a lot of people in the world learned who Zoe Saldaña was. While some might have already known her previously, she starred as Uhura in J.J. Abrams' Star Trek movie which came just months before the first Avatar. Since then, she’s become a massive star. Maybe if Saldaña has already been one, then it would be easier to remember just how amazing her character Neytiri really is in Avatar.
The first Avatar movie is very much the story of Sam Worthington’s Jake Sully, but considering just how big a name Saldaña is now, I would fully expect that she will take a much larger role in all of the forthcoming sequels. And that’s not a bad thing. Neytiri is, without question, the best character in the first movie. She’s strong and she can fight, but she also has an emotional connection to Pandora, and you can feel her pain as well. Based on what Zoe Saldaña has said herself, the sequel will be an equally emotional experience.
I Have Questions About The Oceans Of Pandora
While everything we see in Pandora looks pretty amazing in Avatar, there’s a lot that we don’t see which is set to become specifically important in Avatar 2. We don’t spend a great deal of time in the waters of Pandora. In fact, we don't see them at all in the first movie, but that’s why I’m looking forward to seeing them in the sequel, because I now have questions that need answering.
Specifically, where were the Na’vi of the oceans when humanity tried to blow up the planet? When the Omaticaya clan realized they had no choice but to fight the humans, they knew they needed help, and so a call was put out to the other clans of Na’vi people. The call was answered and reinforcements came from a couple of clans we don't spend any time with in the movie otherwise. However, no mention was made of any clans coming from the water or even the coasts of Pandora. Where were they during the decisive battle?
Bringing Back Avatar’s Dead Antagonist Can Only Improve Him
If there’s one part of Avatar that I didn’t necessarily love upon re-watching, it was Stephen Lang as villain Colonel Miles Quaritch. The character wasn’t bad, but he felt a bit more boilerplate than most of the rest of the film. He’s a marine who sees the Na’vi as the enemy and and only applies military solutions to any conflict. He's an enemy we've seen before, and that character has been defeated.
Lang will be back in Avatar 2, which is interesting because he died pretty definitively at the end of the first movie. He will, in fact, be one of three returning faces in Avatar 2 whose characters died in the previous entry. How exactly that’s going to work still isn’t clear, but we’re not expecting him to simply not be dead. Something about the planet Pandora will likely be the cause of his return. If so, it will probably mean changes to the character going forward, and that’s a good thing. It can only be more interesting.
James Cameron Keeps Raising The Bar
It is difficult to understate just how incredible James Cameron is. I don’t mean that he is necessarily the greatest filmmaker in the world, though James Cameron’s overall filmography is solid and includes some absolutely remarkable movies no matter how you define that. Still, Cameron is somebody who nearly always does what he sets his mind to do, and he sets his mind to do some pretty incredible things.
From The Abyss to Terminator 2: Judgment Day to Avatar, James Cameron has reset the limits of what is possible to do in cinema on a technical level more than once. One is reminded of this again when watching Avatar, and then you start to think about what he’s going to do next. I can’t even fathom what all of Avatar 2’s underwater filming will actually look like on screen, but I can’t wait to see it now.
I will admit that I was previously one of those people who wasn’t necessarily all that excited for Avatar 2. I was curious, to be sure, but I wasn’t waiting for the sequel to be released. Now I’ve found myself actually excited again. I’m looking forward to the first trailer, whenever it comes, and to the movie itself when it arrives on December 16. Whether Avatar 2 succeeds at the level of the first movie or not, I can’t wait to see what the end result of all this time and work is.
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CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis. Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.