I loved the film Avatar — just as I love the world of JRR Tolkien, Philip Pullman or JK Rowling — this film represented an iconic opportunity for losing yourself in a world of fantasy, magic and mystery.
When I went to see that film more than a decade ago, I couldn’t believe how fantastic it was and how I became completely immersed into that fantastic ‘blue world’. I’ve watched it many times since.
I know how hard those actors worked dressed in strange suits, with weird props, to imagine this world years before it was created and then let loose for us all to enjoy. It took real skill to do that and to bring to life characters who worked so well in a world even they couldn’t imagine at the time. Wow! Just wow!
Therefore my hopes were high when Avatar — The Way of Water was released. I knew it was three hours’ long and I was ready. We headed off to the cinema, armed with drinks, popcorn and sweet treats. Sadly though this sequel didn’t live up to my very high expectation. I wasn’t that surprised when, later, one critic referred to it as ‘Avanap’.
What didn’t work? The setting was spectacular. The world of water was wonderful, colourful and awe-inspiring and many of the same actors were involved. There was no shortage of creative imagination around the look, feel, flora and fauna in this fantasy. Yet there was a disconnect here.
The irony is that when you create a fantasy world which requires a reader or viewer to suspend their disbelief, that fantasy world must make sense and it must be instant. There can be no question left unanswered, the story must hang together and the loose ends must be tied up for it to be a fully immersive experience — or at least a hint that these loose ends will be examined in any sequel. Avatar The Way of Water did not achieve this.
There were too many ‘why this?’ or ‘why that?’ and too many story threads which were introduced and then seemingly abandoned. If you spot those during the watching of the film, you start to question, you stop experiencing and you start to lose interest. I love, love love films but I’m afraid this left me sitting in a cinema seat in Swindon — not swimming with the characters in a beautiful ocean in a far away fantasy world.