The sequel to Avatar will begin shooting later this year, according to Sigourney Weaver, and Pandora World at Walter Disney World is set to open later this month. In other news, global warming is fake news and Paul McCartney is dead.
Oh, I’m sorry, I thought we were saying things that were laughably ridiculous. My mistake, what was I thinking?
Weaver, who starred in the James Cameron-directed original in 2009, told The Hollywood Reporter in April that the sequel—which absolutely no one is really clamoring for—will start shooting this fall.
“We’re starting! We’re starting training, and we’re starting—hmm, I probably can’t say anything. We will be actually shooting it by the fall.”
Excuse me if I’m not quite buying what Weaver is selling. Continuing the Avatar franchise has long been a source of interest for 20th Century Fox. But these planned sequels have never really gotten off the ground despite what Cameron, Weaver and even the studio has said in the past. Plus, no one really wants them to.
Cameron has repeatedly touted the scripts for four planned sequels over the years, yet nothing has really come of it. His boasts also ignore the fact that the original script was skimpier than a Kardashian’s Instagram. Tried plot machinations and stale character beats do not make for an enthusing franchise these days.
The first sequel was initially supposed to hit theaters around Christmas 2018, before the director put the kibosh on that. Now Fox has a whole new slate of release dates and Disney World has an entirely new attraction to boast…but does anyone really want an Avatar sequel at this point? It’s been eight years since the original and it’s not like moviegoers are hurting for wow-factor franchises. The imagination and digital mastery Cameron flaunted nearly a decade ago is easily duplicated these days.
But Weaver, with the determination of Ellen Ripley, keeps pushing onward.
“I’m telling you, these scripts are so amazing, I’m not worried about [disappointing fans] at all,” she said. “Am I worried about how we’re going to bring them to life? Yes, because they’re so ambitious. They’re so worth it. They’re well worth waiting for. I’m not worried about that at all. We’re trying to get it done as quickly as possible.”
I acknowledge the far-reaching impact Avatar had on the filmmaking industry. Cameron helped to popularize 3D visual effects to great effect. Modern cinema owes a debt of gratitude for the CGI leaps he made.
Avatar also helped usher in the era of event blockbusters. Prior to 2009, just four films had ever crossed the $1 billion mark at the box office – Star Wars: Episode I, Jurassic Park, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King – and some of them needed re-releases to get there. Since Avatar dropped, however, a whopping 26 movies have surpassed that same threshold. The original Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all-time at $2.7 billion.
But, overall, color me unimpressed (just don’t color me blue like those Pandorans). Amazing effects don’t make up for an unoriginal story, awful acting (Sam Worthington burned out quicker than the Tree of Souls) and a flat plot. If I wanted to see a movie about cultural appropriation and race-inspired genocide, I’d watch Dances with Wolves or Pocahontas. If I was in the mood for stale acting and nonsensical plots glossed over with shiny colors, I’d watch a Transformers movie.
Seriously, go back and rewatch the original Avatar. I’m not saying you shouldn’t be impressed with how it looks or what the film was able to accomplish from a technical standpoint. But are you really invested in Jake Sully’s story or character? Does the unhinged villainy of Earth make any sense? Are you down with the name Unobtainium when humans have been obtaining that shit for years?
Get excited for Pandora World and the upcoming sequels if you want, just don’t get your hopes up too high. Technology has caught up with Cameron and company and this time, special effects won’t be able to hide the fact that Avatar sucks.