Ten years after people stopped caring, Avatar: The Way of Water has ejaculated into cinemas. Have you seen the original? Of course you have. Everyone has. It was a phenomenon. And then, all of sudden, like a bad dream, it seemed to evaporate with little traceable influence on the industry. This so called revolutionary’ film from ‘visionary’ director James Cameron is mostly remembered today as a kind of high concept spaff. Smurfs in Space by way of Enya.
It’s a deeply conventional narrative plucked straight from nineteenth century literature. In essence, a soldier and double agent ends up going native and becoming the de facto leader of an army of colonial insurgents. But not before winning their respect, having wrangled and tamed the most untameable of alien stallions and falling in love with the alien chieftains daughter. The obvious comparisons have already been made by sundry critics about the propinquities between Avatar and Dances with Wolves. But most neglect to mention the most obvious comparison: John Carter of Mars, the original populist pulp science fantasy. But even just in terms of visual window dressing and ‘effects’, Avatar didn’t deliver much that felt authentically new. Much of the alien biology and futuristic hardware was plucked straight from the pages of Métal hurlant and any given number of prog rock record sleeves. It’s a particularly dated and dare I say passé approach to sci-fi aesthetics. […]