Back in 2009, James Cameron made a technical marvel called Avatar, which was about a paralyzed former Marine who becomes mobile again through an Avatar and falls in love with a Nav’vi woman. Now there’s no denying the amazing special effects of the sci-fi feature. However, when you take away the technical aspects, Avatar’s story lacks originality and true meaning. Most of the time, the characters are spewing exposition, taking away any chance for proper character moments because Cameron didn’t truly believe in the “show don’t tell aspect”. Plus, the characters themselves are pretty lackluster. Jake has an interesting backstory, but once his legs are given back to him with ease, there’s nothing truly challenging standing in his way. Add in the moronic revelation that Jake spills the beans by stating outright in the documentary that the Nav’vi would never give up their secrets. Is it a terrible film? No, not even close, but Avatar needed another draft or two before filming officially started. With the Best Picture nominee breaking records including the top-grossing film of all time, it’s not surprising that executives wanted to capitalize on the property. However, four sequels were officially announced, and over ten years later, Avatar 2 will finally drop on December 16, 2022. In terms of it being another technical masterpiece, that wouldn’t be much of a surprise since it’s taken ten years to finally see the light of day. However, does the story really warrant another sequel? Let alone four more?
Here’s the thing, I’m not doubting James Cameron’s storytelling ability. Terminator 2: Judgment Day is one of the best sequels of all time. It’s a perfect mix of action, suspense, drama, that features important character development from John, Sarah, and the T-800. It’s not impossible for Cameron to make an excellent sequel. The issue lies with the notion that having four Avatar sequels may be overkill. I know that Cameron hasn’t directed a Terminator movie since Judgment Day but oversaturating the market with too many films can actually kill a project. Terminator is on a much-needed hiatus because Hollywood kept pumping out remakes/reboots/sequels that muddled the overall timeline and frustrated audiences. Granted, I don’t believe Cameron is going to confuse the hell out of the audience by reshuffling the worlds and structure of his Avatar series but does it really need five films? Sometimes money gets in the way, and filmmakers have a hard time saying no to sequels, even if they’re unnecessary. The Hangover is a one-movie premise stretched out to three films because it made big bank at the box office. The same can be said about Speed 2: Cruise Control, Home Alone 2, Space Jam: A New Legacy, Zoolander 2, Independence Day: Resurgence, Basic Instinct 2, and plenty of more sequels I haven’t mentioned. They all serve no other purpose than to milk more money out of the franchise. Granted, Hollywood is a business first and foremost, so EVERY movie’s purpose is to make money for studios and executives. The sequel to Chinatown, The Two Jakes, didn’t really work because the story really wrapped up in the original. But that’s also the story of Avatar it doesn’t feel like it needs to continue.
As I previously stated, it’s not impossible for Cameron to craft an excellent sequel here. There are several avenues to explore when it comes to the world of Avatar, but it doesn’t necessarily need to take four more films. Since Cameron is really penning four more sequels, then the focus desperately needs to be on character development. There’s nothing compelling about Jake or the blue aliens themselves, who are just humans on a different planet. The supporting characters suffered the worst in the first movie. More importantly, since this is the route that the series is going then it can’t feel like these films only exist to make money. The biggest problem with Halloween Kills is that we know that there’s another sequel after the 2021 horror film. Since it’s pretty much Lori Strode vs. Michael Myers, with Strode being out of commission for most of the film, no one buys that Michael Myers is going to die at the hands of anyone else. Since the suspense is gone, so is the point in watching the latest Halloween reboot. Cameron needs to make sure that these movies serve some kind of purpose that connects to the bigger story yet stands on its own two feet as a separate feature. Cameron himself understands that this is a big risk and he’s fighting an uphill battle on a product that many fans have probably lost interest in. Only time will whether the Avatar sequels turn out to be a worthy successor to the franchise. Anything is possible so it would be foolish to dismiss the upcoming films now; however, at this present moment, the four sequels feel like unnecessary cash cows, nothing more.
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