Most moviegoers will certainly be familiar with James Cameron, an acclaimed super director whose works have global popularity. James Cameron is the mind behind two of the most finically successful movies of all time – Titanic and Avatar.
Not many directors can be said to be in a league of their own, but James Cameron is one of them. His film, Titanic held the record for the highest grossing film of all time for twelve years. When it was time for the movie to relinquish the record, it passed the crown to another of Cameron’s projects, Avatar, which currently holds the record. The sequel to Avatar is expected to be released in 2020 and the highly anticipated film is expected to break the record of its predecessor at the box office when it finally drops.
So how exactly did Avatar end up making $2 billion at the box office? He planned for it. Avatar has been in development since 1994. The movie’s plan was written in an 80-page document by Cameron. Originally scheduled to be released in 1999, the director’s vision proved to be too far ahead of the available filmmaking technology at the time and filming was consequently delayed. In 2005, with growth in film technology, James Cameron began development on the film’s extraterrestrial beings’ language, the screenplay and fictional universe.
The plan and every element of the Avatar making process culminated in a December 10, 2009 release, and kick-started a box office record-shattering run. Along with its commercial success was a critical success that earned it nine Academy nominations and three wins.
Avatar is known more for its groundbreaking visuals than its storytelling. Regardless, a combination of well-written dialogues and exceptional acting on the part of the cast helped elevate it into an emotionally provocative film.
Avatar is set in the 22nd century when humans have completely depleted the Earth’s natural resources. The Resources Development Administration (RDA) was established to source for alternatives to quell the resultant energy crisis. The RDA finds a valuable material, unobtanium on a habitable moon called Pandora. The moon is inhabited by a tribe of humanoids called Na’vi. The blue-skinned humanoids live on Pandora in peaceful harmony. They are also a religious group of people who worship a mother goddess called Eywa.
Due to the inability of humans to survive in Pandora’s atmosphere, RDA scientists develop a Na’vi-human hybrids called “avatars” which are operated by genetically matched human beings.
Jake Sully – a genetically matched human and a former Marine who had lost functionality of his legs accepts an assignment as a bodyguard on the exploration of Pandora. While on his assignment of protecting the fellow avatars of scientists Grace and Dr. Norm Spellman while they collected biological data, Jake is attacked by a thanator, an aggressive animal. During his attempt at escaping the wild animal, Jake is rescued by Neytiri, a Na’vi princess. For further protection, Neytiri takes Jake into her clan and Jake is initiated into their society.
Jake’s personal connection to the inhabitants puts him a unique position to gather reconnaissance on the inhabitants of the moon, especially about the Hometree, which happens to be a sacred site of the Na’vi and also houses the largest and richest deposit of unobtanium on the moon. Jake’s continuous interaction with the Na’vi makes him sympathize with the inhabitants and his situation gets further complicated when he falls in love with Neytiri and the two choose themselves as mates.
Jake eventually changes his allegiance and disables a human bulldozer which was about to destroy a Na’vi sacred site, forcing the RDA security force to schedule an attack on the Na’vi Hometree. A plea by Dr. Grace that the destruction of the Hometree could lead to the death of the biological network on Pandora falls on deaf ears and the RDA forges ahead to destroy Hometree. Jake’s attempt at evacuating the Na’vi forces him to reveal he’s a spy and he, along with Dr. Grace, is captured.
The capture of Jake and Dr. Grace forces the RDA security to move up their proposed destruction of Hometree. The resulting chaos leads to the death of Neytiri’s father and a host of others. Freed, Jake and Dr. Grace are disconnected from their avatars and imprisoned. A pilot – Trudy Chacon, who is displeased with the brutality meted against the Na’vi goes against her orders and releases Jake and Dr. Grace then helps them back into their Avatars.
Back on Pandora, Jake deploys a series of clever ruses to regain the trust of the Na’vi and helps them in the fight against the RDA forces led by Quaritch. Dr. Grace is severely hurt during the ensuing battle and dies while the Na’vi tried to transfer her from her human body into her avatar permanently.
Having reinserted himself into the Na’vi community, Jake gathers all the Pandora clans and motivates them for a battle against Quaritch’s forces. The final battle sees the Na’vi suffer many casualties but with the timely luck of Pandora wildlife joining the battle, the Na’vi are able to regain control. Jake is permanently transferred into his avatar using the Tree of Souls.
Cast and Characters
Avatar features a small unit of major characters both on the human side of the story and the Na’vi side. Here is a look at the main characters on both sides of the story.
Sam Worthington – Jake Sully
Sam Worthington plays Jake Sully, the paraplegic former Marine officer who is recruited into the Avatar program after his twin brother died. Sam, who also plays the twin, was chosen after an extended search by James Cameron for unknown actors. The actor had two auditions for the role before he was eventually picked by the director. Unfortunately, despite the global fame and acclaim of the Avatar film, Sam Worthington has not been able to transform the popularity into an exceptional career. After two underwhelming big budget movies where he played the lead character, Sam has been limited to independent and small budget films in Hollywood and his native country, Australia.
Zoe Saldana – Neytiri
Zoe plays Neytiri, the Na’vi native that is introduced by finding and rescuing Jake Sully. Neytiri is the daughter of the Omaticaya leader, the clan that is the primary focus of the story. Zoe Saldana’s physical body never makes an appearance in the film, she exists entirely in the film as a blue-hued Na’vi. The entire performance was made using performance capture. As one of the two leads of the story, Zoe has gone on to star in other commercially successful projects and is regarded as one of the most successful actresses in Hollywood.
Sigourney Weaver – Dr. Grace Augustine
The veteran actress, Sigourney Weaver, plays Dr. Grace, an exobiologist and head of the Avatar program. Through her help, Jake integrates into the Pandora world and Na’vi culture. She dies at the end of the film in the final battle.
Other notable cast members include Stephen Lang who plays Colonel Miles Quaritch, the antagonist of the story. Laz Alonso plays Tsu’tey, the finest warrior of Omaticaya. Other stars include Michelle Rodriguez, Giovanni Ribisi, Wes Studi, and Joel David Moore.
Avatar 2, 3, 4, 5 Release Dates
Just like the first film, the Avatar sequels have suffered multiple delays amidst production issues. We do however have an official projected release date for all four sequels of the film.
The Avatar films are scheduled to be released on the following dates – Avatar 2 is expected to be released on the 18th of December, 2020; Avatar 3 will hopefully drop on the 17th of December, 2021 while Avatar 4 is projected for the 20th of December, 2024 and Avatar 5 will premiere on the 19th of December, 2025.
All You Need To Know
While all the blockbuster hype is currently with Marvel and other Disney films, it is expected that the publicity and marketing for the Avatar sequels will vamp up as the release date approaches. As the date approaches, here are a couple things about the franchise you should know.
1. Although they haven’t been confirmed by the studio or Cameron himself, the sequels are tentatively named Avatar: The Way of Water, Avatar: The Seed Bearer, Avatar: The Tulkun Rider and Avatar: The Quest for Eywa.
2. The main cast is expected to return for the sequels despite the deaths of Dr Grace and Colonel Quaritch, played by Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. Additionally, Kate Winslet, who worked with James Cameron on the Titanic is expected to join the sequels, Oona Chaplin from Game of Thrones and Cliff Curtis of Fear the Walking Dead are also expected to join the sequels.
3. With little known of the plot of the film despite it being in production for almost a decade, James Cameron has let some details slip about the plot of the sequel. According to Cameron, the sequel will be set in the future far from the events of the first film. Jake Sully and Neytiri have become prominent members of their clan and they have children now, on whom the sequel will be primarily focused.
4. Avatar is known for its groundbreaking trippy visuals and it is an element that is expected to continue throughout the rest of the franchise.