While James Cameron has plenty of detractors loaded with criticisms of his work, no one can say he lacks ambition. While some people would be content after creating the highest-grossing film of all time and raising the bar for visual effects, Cameron has been working non-stop on the first of Avatar‘s three sequels. In an interview with the Associated Press, he discussed some of his plans for the series, which include a family drama that he compared to that of The Godfather.
Cameron announced that a deal with the government of New Zealand had been finalized and the second, third, and fourth films in the Avatar franchise would be filmed there, just as the original film was. He also stated that he is aiming to release the currently-untitled Avatar 2 in 2016. While talking to AP, Cameron expressed his belief in the series’ longevity, saying,
“It’s going to be a lot of new imagery and a lot of new environments and creatures across Pandora…We’re blowing it out all over the place. At first I thought I was going to take it onto other worlds as well, in the same solar system, but it turned out not to be necessary. I mean the Pandora that we have imagined will be a fantasy land that is going to occupy people for decades to come, the way I see it.”
The director also stated his intention to build the franchise around the main character of the first movie, Jake Sully, and his Na’vi lineage.
“It was very Jake-centric. His story seen through his eyes…We spread it around quite a bit more as we go forward. It’s really the story of his family, the family that he creates on Pandora. His extended family. So think of it as a family saga like ‘The Godfather.'”
If James Cameron plans to make the Avatar franchise as enduring as The Godfather and its sole sequel (what third film?), then he has a lot of catching up to do. The first film definitely deserves praise for its visuals, but the story is nothing more than a predictable double-agent scenario with an environmental conservation message tacked on for good measure. Perhaps it’s beyond me, but I don’t see a Godfather-type saga in there at all.
Additionally, Sam Worthington wasn’t offensive as Jake Sully, but the character wasn’t terribly complex and I doubt audiences feel any sort of special affection toward him. It will take a dedicated character development effort to turn him into the Michael Corleone of science-fiction. I suppose the character’s bland nature is a plus in this regard. Cameron can do anything with Sully because he’s basically a blank slate with blue skin. The same is true of the rest of the characters from the first movie. Everyone is a one-note stereotype designed solely to move the plot along as predictably as possible. We’ll have to wait until 2016 to find out if they ever become more than that.
Do you share my doubts about Cameron’s efforts to turn the Avatar franchise into the next great saga? What are some necessary steps he must take to achieve his goals? Let us know what you think in the comments!