Tag Archives: Avatar 2

My Favorite Scene: Avatar (2009) “The Hallelujah Mountains”

There was a time, not so long ago, when people went to the movies to see something they’d never seen before. A quarter-century into the era of CGI, it feels like almost everything has been done. Big films have thousands of VFX shots, and while the quality of them has definitely increased exponentially, the quantity is such that it’s hard to remember the last time I sat in a theater utterly gobsmacked by what was on the screen and wondered how in the world the filmmaker accomplished it. James Cameron doesn’t make a whole lot of movies, but when he does, you know he’s going to push the envelope. He loves break ground, be it The Abyss, Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Titanic, if Cameron is making a film, he’s out to smack the gobs of his audience and show them something new. Love it or hate it, you can’t argue he didn’t make Avatar awfully pretty to look at.

As Avatar near’s it’s 10th anniversary, its legacy is a bit of a mixed bag. The film remains the all-time box office champion globally with $2.71 billion. The film was largely hailed by critics, was nominated for 9 Oscars and won three (Cinematography, Visual Effects, and Art Direction), and is responsible for 3D technology being slapped on to every big film that’s come out in its wake. Avatar and 3D are linked, and the film, like Gravity and IMAX, is so heavily dependent on being seen in the most cutting edge way on the biggest screen possible that it loses a lot in most home theaters. And unlike Gravity, Avatar is working with the other Cameron trademark: really dicey dialogue. We are talking about a film whose plot centers around the battle for control of a resource named “Unobtanium”. You don’t watch Avatar for the script. You watch it because the film is gorgeous.

Cameron developed Avatar for 15 years before he brought it to the screen, and it’s an impressive bit of world-building. It’s a visually-arresting, layered biosphere that still holds up as some of the nicest eye candy that’s ever landed in a cinema. My favorite bit of that eye candy is The Hallelujah Mountains. First introduced in a great fly-by sequence, the floating mountains (which Cameron modeled after a Chinese rain forest) are given a three-minute showcase on the way to the banshee scene. That bit of FX exposition, which contains almost no real elements, is my favorite bit of the film. I have seen, at this point in my life, easily 10,000 movies and if one manages to leave something indelible on the landscape of my imagination, that’s fantastic. Floating mountains? That’s a little corner of my personal cinematic kingdom that Avatar gets to claim, and for that reason, I’ll forgive horribly named elements and Sam Worthington’s acting and think fondly on the film in perpetuity.

Arnold Re-Teams with James Cameron for the Avatar Sequels

Arnold Schwarzenegger

James Cameron is perhaps the best director partner that Arnold Schwarzenegger has had over his career, teaming with the bewhiskered box office titan for Terminator, T2 and True Lies.  Arnold might seem an unlikely fit for the world of Avatar, but the military is in need of a new crew chief….  and that’s exactly the role Arnold says he’ll be filling.

Avatars 2-4 are going into production soon and will take place after the events of the first film.  Though Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana will return, the films are expected to greatly widen the Avatar universe and visit planets other than Pandora.  The delay in production starting has largely been caused by Cameron’s development of underwater shooting techniques for what is believed to be an ocean world.

Humans will also be returning in the films to harass the Na’vi and “nasty humans” (the Avatar world equivalent of “filthy hobbitses”) at that.  One of those nasties will be none other than Arnold Schwarzenegger, who will be playing a human general.  This comes via Latino Review and Geek Tyrant, and it will be interesting to see Arnie take an ensemble role in a Cameron film when he’s always been the leading player in the past.  The technology and special effects are the true starts of the film, and whatever the quality of the screenplay (the dialogue will be bad…put me down for fifty bucks), the spectacle is usually worth it.

AvaTwo (not the title) was originally planned for 2014, but more realistically, given Cameron’s pace and the shooting of three sequels simultaneously, I doubt you’ll see the first Avatar sequel in theaters before Christmas 2016.Avatar

Three Avatar Sequels Coming in 2016, 2017 and 2018!


Big news on the Avatar sequel front.  James Cameron has pulled a Peter Jackson and has expanded his planned sequels from two to three and pushed the release dates back from the initially set 2014-2015 to a more realistic 2016-2018 (one movie per year).

What we know of the sequels’ plot is next-to-nothing, other than a great deal of action in at least one movie will take place underwater and, as usual with Cameron, he’s developing groundbreaking F/X for the films (which is the primary reason the films are taking so long to develop) and that the films will greatly expand the world of Avatar and will not be limited to Pandora, the planet seen in the first film.

Coming aboard to help Cameron expand the screenplays are screenwriters Josh Friedman (War of the Worlds), Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver (Rise of the Planets of the Apes), and Shane Salerno (Savages, Salinger).  Dialogue is not and has never been Cameron’s strong suit, so that’s not bad news.

All three movies will be filmed simultaneously and production will begin sometime in 2014.  Each will receive December releases in 2016, 2017 and 2018.  Cameron commented, “Building upon the world we created with Avatar has been a rare and incredibly rewarding experience. In writing the new films, I’ve come to realize that Avatar’s world, story and characters have become even richer than I anticipated, and it became apparent that two films would not be enough to capture everything I wanted to put on screen. And to help me continue to expand this universe, I’m pleased to bring aboard Amanda, Rick, Shane and Josh — all writers I’ve long admired -­ to join me in completing the films screenplays.”

20th Century Fox chairman and CEO, Jim Gianopulos: “We at the studio have no higher priority, and can feel no greater joy, than enabling Jim to continue and expand his vision of the world of Avatar.’ The growing breadth and scale of Jim Cameron‘s plans for his magnificent fantasy worlds continue to amaze us all.”

Lest you forget, Avatar is the highest-grossing film of all time, and is also the top-selling Blu-ray disc of all time. The film won Golden Globe awards for Best Motion Picture and Best Director; and was nominated for nine Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director, and won Oscars for art direction, visual effects and cinematography.  I think it’s a safe prediction that Avatar 2‘s opening weekend is going to explode any record on the books at the time of its release.

There are Avatar haters who point out, not without merit, that the film’s dialogue is exceedingly weak, but I think the spectacle of the film and the world building it achieved were fantastic and I’m looking forward to seeing more.  By the way, if you haven’t checked out the special edition Blu Ray, it has some of the most extensive special features out there.  The only thing I really loathe about Avatar is the 3D legacy it spawned.  I think of the films I’ve seen in 3D, maybe three actually merited the investment in the technology.