Remember that little film from 2009? You know the one, guy in a wheelchair uses some futuristic technology to control an alien body? Big blue guys? That one that made £1.8 billion?
Avatar pushed the boundaries of special effects, 3D and motion/performance capture technology on its way to dethroning Titanic at the top of the box office earnings. So why does nobody really talk about it? In light of James Cameron’s announcement that he’s not only still working on the two Avatar sequels we were expecting (which were supposed to land in cinemas December 2014 and 2015 respectively) but we’re actually now getting four Avatar sequels. And that news is, to be honest, underwhelming because… well, does anybody really care?
It’s been seven years since Avatar was out at the cinemas and seven years is a long time in the film industry. A film that’s largely built on special effects that, at the time, were beyond anything used before; the film now feels a bit dated and for a film less than a decade old, that’s no good sign! People ventured into cinemas to see his spectacle, they paid extra for 3D and for IMAX because this film was going to blow their minds with how good it looked. It achieved it’s goal and went on to win Academy Awards for Best Art Direction, Visual Effects and Cinematography. But what about the story? What about the characters? The Relationships? Well it had those things but when you took away the aliens and special effects it wasn’t anything we hadn’t seen before.
And that’s why I think that Avatar, despite breaking records, has failed to have any (pop)cultural significance at all. People don’t talk about it. People don’t force their friends to watch it and love it, like the patriots of other fandoms do. People don’t speak about Avatar with passion. And that’s not because it’s a bad film, it’s enjoyable and watchable but that’s about it seven years on. Because special effects are evolving and adapting and improving at such a rate that in that time span, Avatar’s special effects aren’t as ‘special’ as they used to be. They pushed the boundaries in this area but left the rest of the Hollywood formula underneath untouched and that’s why it doesn’t have the resonance that it had all those years ago and that’s why it doesn’t have the resonance that other films have.
Yet, in a consumer market, is this the way that the ‘biggest’ films of all time are going? Looking at the list of the highest grossing films makes for some rather sad reading. The films in the top ten, bar a couple, aren’t ground breaking films; in fact I’d say that over half of them are average. Enjoyable yes, but by no means warranting to be held in such high esteem.
So we’ve got four sequels to Avatar on the way, the first landing in 2018 and then one each year after that. Each one is supposed to be a stand alone film but also work within the larger story arc of the whole series. Cameron says he’s been working with four top screenwriters and they’ve been working on the story, characters, creatures, culture and world for the sequels. And just like the first one, he’s planning to push the effects to new heights. We can only hope that these screenwriters also add more to the story and the characters, create something unique that is first and foremost before the special effects so that in ten years time we aren’t left forgetting all those Avatar sequels.
Did you love the first Avatar? Do you care about it? Do you care we’re getting four more? Get in touch and let us know!