by Thomas Biamonte
When I think of the Avatar franchise, I think back to a video made in 2019 by a YouTuber named Jacksfilms called ¨Can ANYONE name a single character from the movie Avatar?¨ In the video Jacksfilms and his friends go around a boardwalk and ask people if they could name a single character from the film Avatar. Of course, most people fail, and as the nine minute and thirty-three second video comes to a close, the audience starts to realize just how little they remember about the plot of the highest grossing film of all time. The original Avatar was such a box office hit that people back in 2009 where clamoring for a sequel. And now, after 13 years of waiting, the sequel was finally released and here is my full and honest opinion on it.
The best thing about this film by far is the visuals. I have to say this film had some of the most lifelike CGI I have ever seen in any film. The skin on the Avatars looked so real and lifelike that it genuinely took me aback in theaters – not to mention the beautifully generated and detailed forests and oceans that we have come to expect from James Cameron’s films. The direction and writing of this film were also outstanding! I truly love James Cameron´s style of telling not one singular event in a story but rather showing a whole progression of characters and the world around them. I feel like there are not too many directors in the modern day who tell a story – most filmmakers just don’t do this well.
Now onto my favorite thing to discuss about film – the performances! I have to tell you I cannot think of a weak link acting wise in this film. Each actor brought loads of dramatic passion and pathos to every scene, but there are a few actors I would like to acknowledge. Stephen Lang and Edie Falco gave, in my opinion, some of the best performances in the film. I loved how deep and complex Stephen Lang made his character, and I love how Edie Falco is not being typecast as a mob wife again. To be fair, I have only seen her in this and the Sopranos, but let me tell you that is some range for an actor to have! I really would like to watch more projects with her in it now; the same goes for Stephen Lang. All the child actors in the film showed such a deep maturity in their acting and it truly surprised me.
Now, onto the negatives of which there are a few. What I found odd is that one of the many children characters in the film, Kiri, is played by Sigourney Weaver which is fine. I did not realize it at first, but once you realize it you cannot unhear how different her vocal maturity is from the rest of the kids in the cast. She still gave a great performance, though! I also felt that Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña´s characters were relegated to the same one note of emotion and certain points throughout the film. At times, they started to lose their status as ¨three dimensional characters¨ in my eyes. Zoe Saldaña was especially a victim of this poor writing choice. Every other scene she lost her composure and started crying her eyes out or fearing for the worst in every scenario. It truly felt like the once great warrior character was now being used as a plot device to get the audience to start worrying or feeling sad about the characters in play.
In the end, Avatar stands out as one of the better films this year with great visuals, directing, writing and acting. Before watching this film, I thought very little of it and thought it could be a snooze fest or a waste of money. However, I truly am excited to see what the future holds for the franchise, and I sincerely hope that the studio greenlights a few more sequels so I can see the full and complete story of James Cameron’s vision.