Avatar: The Way of Water, the first of four planned equals to Avatar is set to release on December 16. The sequel will explore the oceans of the planet and will use newly-developed underwater motion-capture technology. For those who missed it in theaters or need a refresher, Avatar has just returned to the theaters on September 23. You might be wondering Should I watch Avatar before the sequel? My answer: Definitely! Three reasons to watch Avatar:
1. Mindblowing planet of Pandora
Pandora is the planet that humans travel to mine a valuable mineral. It is no doubt the highlight of the movie and why everyone should see it. Watching the characters run around the forest and navigate the skies on their pa-lis, which are horse-like creatures, is a visual feast. The beauty of the planet, the forests, the skies, and the wildlife is so extraordinary that it is hard to believe it is a product of human imagination. The long chase and fight scenes that might otherwise appear unnecessary provide an unmatched immersive experience in 3D.
2. Relevance of its message
Avatar provides a straightforward critique of colonialism, the undermining of indigenous knowledge, ecological destruction, and capitalism. It is more relevant than ever considering the world is battling climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss. The natives of the Avatar maintain a harmonious relationship with nature and respect all beings on the planet for what they are. Much different from our world where all beings are organized in a strict hierarchy with humans at the top.
3. Simplicity of its narrative
People who criticize this movie—for how obvious its message is—fail to see that this movie is not meant to be a thought-provoking commentary that complicates environmental and social issues. On the contrary, this movie is meant to express values like empathy, justice, care, and beauty in their purest form, in a world of fantasy.
The director James Cameron touches on this when he talks about a third level of meaning in Avatar:
“It didn’t have any ‘-isms’ to it, it was a dreamlike sense of a yearning to be there, to be in that space, to be in a place that is safe and where you wanted to be. Whether that was flying, that sense of freedom and exhilaration, or whether it’s being in the forest where you can smell the earth. It was a sensory thing that communicated on such a deep level. That was the spirituality of the first film.”
The new sensory experiences that Avatar introduces to the audience bring with it a variety of emotions that we haven't experienced before.
So, the lack of complexity in the narrative is almost on point. There is no moral dilemma, which would easily make the narrative more complex. The line between good and bad is so clear that the good characters don't doubt themselves for a second. The world of fantasy in this movie is so compelling that the expectation of narrative complexity can be set aside. We are supposed to lean back and enjoy the wonderful planet and the honorable fight of the good against the bad. If you go to the theater with this mindset, you will have an amazing time.