You should never doubt James Cameron. The man has never made a movie that wasn’t either critically lauded or a massive box office hit. However, if you were to doubt him, Avatar: The Way of Water would be the film to doubt him on, and the first teaser trailer for the movie doesn’t really do much to assuage that doubt. This teaser, which is the first of what Disney hopes is a slew of successful Avatar films, dropped online today and delivered us our first long look at a return to Pandora.
Over the last decade since the last film came out, Avatar has left shockingly little cultural impact, but this The Way of Water teaser trailer doesn’t seem to know that. The teaser focuses almost entirely on the world of Pandora and our heroes from the original film as if we all still remember them. The part of the original film that truly worked was the visuals, but since that movie released, those stunning 3D images have become far more commonplace and the world of Pandora looks more cliche than ever before. To be fair, the movie looks spectacular on a big screen in 3D, (I saw the trailer there before my Doctor Strange screening.) but if you weren’t excited about the film before, this teaser isn’t going to do much.
Avatar: The Way of Water is set 14 years after the original film, and we find Jake (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their kids exploring new parts of Pandora as humanity returns to the planet and new battles begin. The teaser does seem to be shifting the focus of the film from Jake and Neytiri to their son, hinting that thanks to the long delay between films the storyline may be handed off for sequels.
Also returning in the film are Stephen Lang, Giovanni Ribisi, Joel David Moore, Dileep Rao, CCH Pounder, Matt Gerald, and Sigourney Weaver (though in a new role). The new cast is a fantastic group of A-listers, including Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Michelle Yeoh, Jemaine Clement, Oona Chaplin, Vin Diesel, and CJ Jones. Cameron wrote the script alongside Josh Friedman, so we probably shouldn’t expect any more originality out of this one than the first. Maybe it will crib from the classic straight-to-video sequel FernGully 2: The Magical Rescue. The real question is what they’ll base the final three films on once they run out of FernGully movies.
Avatar: The Way of Water will release in theaters in glorious IMAX 3D on December 16.