By Kaitlyn Bell
James Cameron, the director of 2009’s “Avatar,” is making records once again with the release of his new blockbuster sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.” The film is projected to surpass his other bestseller, “Titanic,” taking the spot as the third highest grossing film in the international box office. Amassing over $2.1 billion, the Avatar sequel is closely followed by “Avengers: Endgame” with about $2.8 billion under its belt.
“It surprised me because I understand why the first Avatar did well; there was no other movie quite like it when it first came out,” English teacher Mr. Stencel said. “Now years later, with the technology being so advanced, I was surprised that it actually made as much money. I think people are attracted to visual movies, and you can’t get a more visual masterpiece than both Avatar 1 and Avatar 2.”
Artwork by Sabeena Ramdarie
Domestically, “Avatar: Way of Water” takes the 10th spot on the list, behind movies including “Jurassic World” and “Avengers: Infinity War.”
Some fans believe the rankings and financial success of the Avatar sequel was driven partly by the film’s themes of familial connection and fatherhood.
"The Avatar movie was incredible in my opinion,” junior Ryan Bell said. “It was one of the best movies I’ve ever watched. It really showed me the importance of protecting your family and developing the skills to defend yourself as well.”
However, critics raise concerns regarding the cultural aspects of the movie. Indigenous activist Yué Begay tweeted, “cultures were appropriated in a harmful manner…” Therefore, critics claim that the film presents a “romanticized” perspective on Native American colonialism and struggles. Others believe that the film introduces a vital conversation regarding implicit stereotypes and the roots of colonialism.
“We try to have a diverse cast, and what’s interesting is when you put a diverse cast with different backgrounds, sometimes from different language groups, different cultural backgrounds into a new culture, they inform each other and create this kind of aggregate way of speaking and moving and so on,” Cameron said in an interview with Yahoo! Entertainment. “So, for example, having Cliff Curtis, who’s a Maori from New Zealand, in the Metkayina clan as the leader of the clan, all the other actors were going to school [with] him. When he started doing a haka, it was like, ‘Oh, I wanna be like that.’ It just brought a feeling of authenticity to it.”
Due to overwhelming interest, Cameron revealed to entertainment website Polygon that a third movie is underway with the expectation of being released in December 2024. These are planned to be followed by a fourth and fifth installment in the future. There are many rumors regarding the content of the third film of the series, but Cameron has said that they are taking a new direction from the previous movies, hoping to surprise their audience.
“Avatar 2 was in my opinion very enjoyable,” junior Jaden Barroso said. “The cinematography was beautiful, but the pacing was a little lacking, very slow in some parts but other than that overall good.”
Overall, moviegoers had positive thoughts regarding “Avatar: Way of Water,” and have expressed their anticipation for the third film. Critics state concerns regarding the cultural aspect of the film, citing issues such as cultural appropriation.