I’ll be grumbling about a bunch of movies I saw in the last 10 days of June. All but two were awful. Today, my target is Avatar: Way Of Water.
It gets pride of first rant because it is wretchedly bad, but it was horrific in a gloriously pretty way. Animation has come a long way even since the first Avatar, and this movie made style choices that work spectacularly with original art that was designed to celebrate the uncanny valley effect.
All through it, I kept thinking, “Geez, this story is gobsawful & full of squirm, but the animation’s fabulous. Ooo, look at those dragons! Hey, maybe someone will finally adapt the Dragonrider books for the screen!”
And then I thought about how deeply squirmworthy sexual politics and social structures of Pern and think maybe that would be a bad idea.
I loved the Pern books uncritically when I was a teenager. (FWIW, there were only 4 at the time, and I recognize only 9, kinda like I only acknowledge the existence of 3 Indiana Jones movies, and 4 Alien movies.) ANYway. Even then, I wrestled with some of the seriously squicky sexual politics woven into the worldbuild. I loved the stories and characters despite those elements, not because of them. And I loved the books more when they subverted the worldbuild. When they reveled in its mythology, I squirmed with discomfort.
ANYWAY. Movies. Grumbling.
My main annoyance with Avatar: WayOfWater is that it doubled down on the “Choices Were Made, Love it Or Shut It” ™ writing that made the first movie so disappointing. Avatar 1 could have matched its brilliant visuals with a brilliant story, but NOPE.
They loaded every White Man Saves The Noble Savages trope they could find into the back seat of the Redemption Via HeteroRomatic Family Formation van, stomped on the Everyone Loves It when Stuff Blows Up accelerator pedal, and headed for the multibillion dollar sunset.
Pern has an excuse. It was born in the worldview of the late 60’s, with all the unexamined cultural exclusions and unquestioned sexual politics of that foundation. But Avatar? The Writers of Avatar 2 said, “What did people not like about the first one? DO MOAR OF THAT! PUSH IT TO ELEVEN!”
That’s more analysis than either movie is worth, but I do love overthinking.
A shame, really. I would love to see the other timeline’s movie, the one that wasn’t just another “Bad Guys Be Bad, Good Guys Suffer, Wimmins Get Rescued Big Boom” extravaganza.
I dream of a movie where Sully’s character is a supporting role, the conflicts were rooted in incoming humans having difficulties adapting rather than speding most of the screen time showcasing neocolonial military resource extractors being asshats.
But that’s what fanfics are for, right?
Anyway. That’s enough grumbling for today.
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When getting older means gaining superpowers, life gets complicated for everyone.
Heroic grandmothers, courageous Marines, and extraordinary teens: welcome to a reality where every midlife crisis might become a national emergency.
Rough Passages is a contemporary fantasy novel told in eight short stories about five people forever changed by the powers that disrupt their lives.
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