One of the oft-mentioned elements in major genre films is in the ability for the filmmakers to create a living, breathing world outside the context of our reality. One of the prerequisites in a successful suspension of disbelief is in a confident and epic environment for a story to take root.
A lot of the same people who praise John Wick and Guardians of the Galaxy for their world building are the same who lazily summed James Cameron's Avatar as a live-action FernGully movie. It's lazy, untrue and fueled by that weird antagonistic energy many hold against the auteur's gigantic hit. If nothing else, #Avatar delivers world building of which the likes audiences haven't seen since Star Wars (or possibly Harry Potter, but that's not a uniquely cinematic IP). That doesn't make it a great movie on general principle but it does make it bold and creative and a little more shielded from scorn.
There's no winning in the Avatar argument. Minds are made up and it's a shame. James Cameron certainly isn't worried about haters. The film did pretty well financially and though some pundits feel sequels won't have legs due to the franchise's currently small footprint, the marketing machine is coming to life. For example, this:
Avatar is almost the template for world building in a post-Star Wars age. What Cameron pulled off is nothing short of miraculous. The idea that the next decade will feature three more visits to the world he created opens up some rather substantial possibility for a deep dive into the fantastic. A lot of time has passed since the first movie and there'll be a sales job for the current generation to buy in.
It's funny. Avatar had a giant bullseye on it and it took a beating from so many. Now, as the market has changed and the entertainment machine with it, Cameron's series is once again in a familiar seat: the underdog.
Think about it: What bad comes out of these films? Cameron is pushing the technology to the edge. He's taking the gloves off and reaching for new heights. There's no downside to more Avatar. And if there's one guarantee it's that his films will have world building and innovation to spare.
My ask is this: Give them a chance. Drop the boring party line (which will violate your film geek cred, which is vaporware anyhow). I recently rewatched the film and was thrilled with how it's held up and how crammed to the seams with freshness it is. If you're a student of Joseph Campbell you know there's only so many stories. Ding it for its missteps but not its conceit. It's time to get on the bandwagon. Avatar is not only going to be fun but it'll be important. Very important, if you look at upcoming projects not financed by Disney or about the MonsterVerse.
What do you think was Avatar's strongest accomplishment?