13 years later, Avatar, king of the box office, returns to theaters with great ambitions.

Eva Deschamps / December 8, 2022

Avatar 2" arrives in theaters on Wednesday with a triple ambition: to surpass the first opus, the biggest success in the history of the world box office, to deny the death of cinema in theaters and to create a saga as mythical as "Star Wars". 
Thirteen years after "Avatar", which approached three billion euros in revenue, "Avatar: The Water Way" takes the path of the star Pandora, light years from Earth, for a science fiction fable with an ecological tone.
The first one marked a decisive step in the realism of digital images and, once again, the sets, the richness of the universes and the precision of the images, including the digital rendering of the water, make the strength of this film. Still blurring the border between "real" images and those created by computer.
Shot as the first for 3D, the film stretches over 3h12. Contrary to James Cameron's predictions, "Avatar" did not allow the 3D image, which requires the wearing of special glasses, to be widely used in cinema. But the director clings to this technology.
The filmmaker, who is used to making his producers sweat with his huge projects, can afford anything: many scenes of "motion capture", the phase where the actors are filmed on a neutral background, were shot underwater. A giant pool was built for the occasion.
"Humans are the bad guys »
As for the plot, the survivors of the first episode, the hero Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), now fully Na'vi, the indigenous blue species, and his companion Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), have started a large family, living in harmony with the forest.
Sigourney Weaver, whose scientist character did not survive the first episode, is back... In the skin of a teenager. The humans, who have destroyed the Earth and are looking for a replacement planet, arrive on board a ship full of war robots, to take over this little paradise.
Faced with them, nature will take its revenge. "Humans are the bad guys. They represent our bad side," James Cameron explained to AFP, inspired by the issue of climate refugees.
We have empathy for the Na'vis, who represent our good side (...) They are us, although they do not look like us, with their blue color, their ears (pointed), their tails".
Knowing he is being hunted, Jake takes refuge with his family and friends with another tribe, adapted to marine life, and led by Ronal (Kate Winslet, who makes her return to Cameron after "Titanic"). Will they be able to overcome their differences to drive the human enemy out of their universe?
Fascinated by machines and robots (the two "Terminators"), science fiction ("Aliens, the Return") and the aquatic environment ("Abyss", "Titanic"), James Cameron seems to mix all his obsessions here.
This new "Avatar" does not bother with the Na'vi dialect, largely evacuated in favor of English, nor with the connections to integrate the Na'vi body: no more "avatars", only humans, Na'vis and their hybrids coexist.
To the plot of the first part, the film adds a mythological dimension, with complex links between fathers and sons, suggesting the ambition to create a saga as lucrative as George Lucas' "Star Wars", the ultimate model of science fiction cinema.
Cameron and Disney have already shot the images of the third part and plan an Avatar every two years at least until the fifth, in 2028.
It must be said that James Cameron has never experienced an industrial accident: "Titanic" ($2.2 billion in revenue) was for a long time the most profitable film in the history of cinema, before "Avatar".
"The release of the film is a big test for the global film industry," analyzes for AFP Eric Marti, managing director of Comscore France. "For two years, it was only for the platforms. For cinemas, this release is "The Empire Strikes Back": the reaffirmation of the primacy of the cinema" over all other distribution channels, adds this specialist. 
Will "The Way of the Water" surpass the first one? The success of a sequel is never guaranteed, thirteen years later. But the recent triumph of "Top Gun: Maverick", 30 years later, gives hope.
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