Avatar The Way Of Water : No Escape
Star Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Vin Diesel, Kate Winslet, and Stephen Lang
Music Composed by Simon Franglen
Cinematography by Russell Carpenter Avatar 2 Review
Directed by James Cameron
Watched in Screen X (Inox Megaplex), Mumbai
Before talking about what doesn’t matter like Screenplay, Story, Scenes, and performances let’s talk about what matters – VISUALS. The craft behind creating a world that looks and feels real – so much that there is PAWS (Post Avatar Watching Syndrome) Depression Condition, has to be praised by everyone (With the multi-projection 270 degree panoramic view in my Screen X screen this experience has been enhanced by ten fold). James Cameron pushed every boundary there ever was and is to create the real image of Pandora, which might be existing somewhere or nowhere else but in his head and computers. I always wondered if the world created can ever be so beautiful that we forget the original one we live in and dive into the “created one”. Never wanted to open that pandora box but how we can escape from Pandora, itself! Avatar has some beautiful tales like Spirit Animals, taking the friendship between humans and animals to next level, Gods helping the new clan to survive underwater – humans with fins and mermaids will be jealous. All these made me dive into the myth of the world more and more. Tulkun has been talked about a lot as Amrith beholders, wanted to know even more, but not by just diving into an aquarium. Even Payakan‘s cut-off fin is so real that we tend to become Jake Sully’s second Son and fall in love with the outcast. If Payakan kind of a whale can help us understand the emotion it is going through just by camera angles created in a computer, then the genius behind the technicians, their labour, and their effort needs to be praised without any second thought. And the emotion is conveyed without over-animating but with clever camera usage. Note that. Diving deep into those visuals either needs me to take Visual Effects class or Camera class or Frame rate, aspect ratio, 3D, Real 3D, and 4D technical terminology explanation which I feel is too much for this to read, and let’s keep something for the next sequel.
On to the Spoilers and “less important – Stuff”.
For those unable to get the sarcasm behind it all – “I don’t undermine your thought process or what you anticipate from a movie, if you wish to like it and watch it for visuals. At the same time, if you state who needs a story when James Cameron’s vision is enough for us to sit through hours and hours of visual spectacle, Marvel of a masterful craftsman, surreal experience – then I may have to tell you my side as well. And as I don’t want to share it with a too-heavy heart and have some qualms, I am going for respectful sarcasm. So, please keep this all in mind, as you read.”
So, what is Avatar? Why James Cameron needed to make it and we watch it? The reason for us to watch it is we want to watch a good movie and Cameron is known for making such films. Now, Why James Cameron wanted to make Avatar? My answer to it, subject to my understanding and interpretation, is he wanted to explore a world of his own that fits his vision and tell stories that he read. He might have caught on to the Alien bug while making Aliens and stuck to it. But then, in both Avatar films, he wanted to make Humans – Villains. Why? My answer would be, he wanted to show people the food that we eat or crave like Pizza, Pasta, Spinach, Broccoli, Chicken Wings, Fish Chips, and Salads everything comes with a price and that price gives another Human who wants it, a reason to go berserk and create havoc in another mammals or living being’s life. Who knows what a tree was planning with mango before it ripes and falls off? Who knows how many kids a fish had recently or if it is planning to, before it became “Tuna Sandwich” / “Vanjaram Meen Kolambu” / “Chepala Pulusu” / “Pulasa Iguru” / “Samon Chips” / “Stuff for Alcohol”? Who knows what evolution of the strongest has in store for Nature and Earth as we see and know, feel? James Cameron tried to observe that fish, think about evolution, and nature cares for that mango. Hence, we got Avatar.
He read Mythological books and got fascinated by Hindu Mythological stories when a hero was described as God and a Blue person. Vishnu and Shiva tend to be heroes of many Mythological stories in India and Vishnu is blue or blue-black as per descriptions. Actually, “Neela Megha Shyamudu” means “Black like Dark Clouds” but James Cameron interpreted it as Blue, so let’s stick to Blue. What happens to Vishnu in Mythology? He wanders for purpose and he is poor until he finds Lakshmi (Srinivas/ Venkateswara Swamy Avatar). He is knowledgeable, kind, philosophical, honest, manipulative, and ultimately powerful, Not easy to approach or find yet at the same time easy to talk to and befriend (in general at Vaikuntha). And he took various Avatars to adapt according to the necessity of the situation and killed demons. Because creator Brahma, is in a way his kid, all creation is his family and his thoughts become our future. So, he tries to tell us how to proceed in life and find purpose by living it. He tells you can be Parasuram, Ram, or Krishna but you need to understand which one is needed at that hour. He also asks us to look at nature and find good, God in everything. Look at Fish and remember him. Look at a Pig (Varaham) remember him, look at a lion (Narasimham), look at a Tortoise (Kurmam), and remember him. Even if you think about disrespecting midgets (Vamana), you should think twice as a knowledgeable person can grow beyond any limit and show you, your place. How did James Cameron got inspired by all this and used it in Avatar?
In the first film, Jake Sully lost everything to war on Earth and had to live life, not to the fullest but crippled. Hence, he volunteered to find new horizons even though people thought his brother was a more perfect fit. (If you read carefully Srinivasa feels like a twin to Krishna – one had it all and the other did not). So, out of force, they take Jake Sully and he finds a new life in Pandora and he finds Neytiri there. (Srinivasa finds King’s daughter Padmavathi in the woods and marries her. Decides to stay in the woods during the Honeymoon and Lakshmi finds out about this. She asks him why did he forget her and he has no answer, hence the family stays in the woods wondering if they will ever find an answer. In the meantime, they have powers, hence they look at the boring lives of devotees too). Srinivasa also used Bow and Arrows as his weapons. But then Srinivasa never had to fight a villain, here comes the twist – Ravana from Ramayana comes into this story and the parallel between this twin, of Krishna and Balarama, Srinivasa is that Ravana tries to become Balaram or Govinda rajulu equivalent in the absence of a brother. As he is a demon and sides for bad causes, he fights against Kubera (Eywa) and looks to occupy the Lanka, built by him. Other humans take sides as Ravana and Srinivasa clash and become demons, and angels (devatas) while Srinivasa is surrounded by Blue Angels (his ultimate family).
In Avatar 2, Ravana is resurrected as Blue Angel or Ravana becomes another demon king – Madhuketab, who disguised as Devatha for revenge on them and also Amrit (Rahu/Ketu origin story or Amrit Mathan story). Vishnu participated in Amrit Mathan for Lakshmi and took Kurma Avatar to help both sides as well. (Heavy Spoilers) Jake Sully, transformed from Srinivasa to Vishnu, got his family, but then when his Vaikunta gets attacked by Ravana, he decides to flee from Vaikunta to find a better strategy and attack. In mythology, it is because Vishnu doesn’t tamper with time and Karma. Until it is time, even if he wants to kill someone he can’t. Jake Sully, on the other hand, cannot kill until James Cameron decides he can. Because Cameron wants us to know what a tree might have felt when we pluck a mango to eat, he created Eywa, the goddess, and told through her in both films how intelligent other species can also be in coming evolutions. He told a tree story in Avatar and now, he moved fish in Avatar 2. He might move to birds in Avatar 3, maybe Garuda, the vahana of Vishnu, Toruk Makto here, and might get a backstory to say why for most, they get ignored in Way of Water as we try to adapt to life in Sky. The visuals will be great and orgasmic.
The problem with all this is that heavily loaded stuff needs more complex structures, even in storytelling. You cannot pour old or spoilt Amrith into a new bottle and get Rs.100 million for that. What is old and what cannot be stored or what is aged is aged, old and cannot be stored/rotten. He has been making movies since 1978 and he had a decade full of Hollywood blockbusters yet made three films in the last 29 years – Titanic, Avatar, and Avatar 2. It seems like he got stuck in those worlds where his ideas behind making these films are repeating themselves. Titanic had a love story and even though feels generic, people cared about a lovely pair of innocent teens and wanted Rose, and Jack to survive. Now, in Avatar you wished Srinivasa to become Krishna but not be in love with his own Matsya Avatar. You wanted Jake Sully to take charge, construct the destroyed home and regroup, utilize his earth knowledge to adapt for Pandora. You wanted to progress, not escapism. At least, if he feels it is all too dear for him to lose, he should have a bigger task at hand or plans. Suddenly, making Jake Sully, a coward who chooses to run after uniting every clan to fight seems bizarre screenwriting.
Also, humans having fins or bringing in an entirely new clan into the plot to the same story doesn’t really abide with how cinema storytelling is evolving. One cannot just stick to standard movie-making and raise the stakes. SS Rajamouli has similar problems yet he is finding ways to at least give his own fans moments to cherish. Avatar kind of films happen once in a lifetime and when you repeat the event, people hope for more than what the first one has offered. Now, if I tell you there will be a another film with a tribe who have wings and bring in the Toruk Makto – in tribute to Garuda and say Jake Sully has to adapt again, how would it be? Jake Sully has accepted Pandora as his home in the first one. The second one again deals with him trying to make Sully’s stick together. Kids call him Sir once, Dad another time and it all seems a messy way of representing a bad father and mother who know nothing about being parents. The repetitive scenes, like unobtanium again people going after Amrith and then them finding ways to hunt the Tulkun down. How come Jake Sully knows nothing when the entire Pandora is being infiltrated? Why Kiri looks exactly the same like her mother, why not someone else? Why should all these be serialised? You can tell some and hold back more but tell nothing and then jump to powers being used, just doesn’t bode well at all. When someone says I gave 13 years to one idea, demands crores of rupees to build technology, you do expect them to have more to say than repeat themselves even within the film. If you don’t want me to care for Jake Sully, I can’t care for Pandora or his family too. Because in a Ludo game all colors have to move to the final destination, we cannot claim to win if one refuses to leave home, just because the person playing is a giant. A game is a game and rules are rules, similarly, a film is a story-driven-audiovisual and not just a set of visuals stitched together.
Theatrical Trailer: Avatar 2 Review