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In Preparation for Avatar – The Way of Water

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Art of Lily K
| December 6, 2022
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As we get closer to stepping into the world of Pandora again, let’s look back at James Cameron’s epic: Avatar. This article is here to help you remember what happened in the first movie and the potential consequences of what happened there. 

The first movie seemed to come out of nowhere, to say the least. I remember seeing the first trailer and being amazed by what I saw. I knew immediately that it would be on my Must See list. I fell in love and watched it in cinemas 21 times. Yep, you read that right. 21 times. I was amazed by the visuals, in love with the characters, and appreciated all the achievements they attained. Whether you look at it as a “Pocahontas” story or you are just joining in to enjoy the spectacle, Avatar has a lot to offer. 

Let’s look back at what happened in the 2009 entry. 

Welcome to Pandora, a new planet discovered by humans as they look for new ways to escape from the overpopulated and polluted Earth. It’s a whole new world full of resources and danger. Obviously, humans immediately find the most invaluable resource and want to get their hands on it, no matter the cost. However, the natives of Pandora, the Na’vi, are not too keen on the human’s destruction, and are desperately trying to protect their land. Sound familiar?

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) a paraplegic, who, after his twin brother’s death, gets a free pass to Pandora. He is the only person who can use the Avatar made for Tommy, his brother. 

What’s an Avatar? 

They are bodies created from the mixture of Human and Na’vi DNA, which can be operated by the people whose DNA was used. There’s a big difference between the two brothers, though, as Jake is a soldier while Tommy was a scientist. 

Dr. Grace Augustine (the amazing Sigourney Weaver) is not very happy with the replacement as her scientist team doesn’t need a soldier. However, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) sees a big opportunity in Jake, so he asks him to spy for him. He offers the gift of walking to the veteran in return. Jake says yes, but his whole world gets shaken by a chance encounter after he gets lost in the forest. Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) saves him from an attack and takes him back to her tribe once Eywa sends a sign. 

Dr. Grace Augustine aka Sigourney Weaver in her mo-cap suit

Who is Eywa?

She is the All-Mother, the guiding force of life, and the deity of Pandora and the Na’vi. They believe that Eywa keeps everything in balance and all who die will return to her. 

The Omaticaya Clan accepts Jake after realising that he is not one of the human scientists but a warrior. So through Jake, we get to know the ways of the Na’vi, what they believe in, and what is important to them. We also get a closer look at the wildlife and nature. As Jake’s connection deepens to the Na’vi (and Neytiri, for that matter), he soon finds himself in the crossfire. Colonel Quaritch seeks to destroy, while Parker Selfridge (Giovanni Ribisi) is eager to get his hands on the unobtanium, the element that Pandora thrives in. However, Jake quickly learns that the Omaticaya won’t leave their Home Tree (the next target of the humans) no matter what. He loses the Na’vi’s trust and gets captured by Colonel Quaritch and his people after he sabotages one of their machines that destroys the forest. 

Miles Quaritch (Stephen Long)

Thanks to Selfridge, they make a final attempt to get the Omaticaya Clan to leave before Colonel Quaritch reaches the Home Tree with his small army. But no matter how he begs them to run away, his words no longer find listening ears. The destruction of the Home Tree and the Na’vi is one of the most heartbreaking scenes accompanied by the late and great James Horner’s music. 

After they get imprisoned, Trudy (Michelle Rodriguez) comes to their rescue, but Dr. Augustine gets wounded while breaking out. They have to act fast, and Jake knows the only way to get back the Na’vi’s trust is to become Toruk Makto. Toruk is the greatest among the flying creatures of Pandora, the ultimate predator. Only five Toruk Maktos were known prior to Jake’s capture of the beast. 

Once the Omaticaya recognise his achievement, he asks for their help to save Grace. They try to transfer her soul from her Human body to her Avatar, but no matter how hard they try, Grace joins Eywa. 

And from that point onwards, the preparation for war begins. The fighting happens in the air and on land, with some of the most amazing visuals the movie industry offers. Though Colonel Quaritch almost reaches his goal, Neytiri and Jake manage to defeat him, and thus the film ends with the humans’ walk of shame back to their ships to leave Pandora behind. Jake’s soul gets transferred from his human body to his Avatar, and the movie ends there. 

Transferring of the Soul with Eywa’s help

Now that we refreshed the memories from the first film, it’s worth highlighting another thing. Besides Avatar being the biggest movie of all time (it regained its title after its re-release this October), it also brought many innovations to the film industry.

The special effects, aka the CGI, were created by Wellington’s Weta Digital. The company that’s responsible for epics like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and the new Planet of the Apes trilogy, just to name a few. They created the film’s digital characters and environments using James Cameron’s new camera system. It was Weta Digital’s team that perfected facial capture. They developed their own software that could map out which muscles in the face were moving and then translated this information to apply it to a facial-animation system. They also created a system that allowed James Cameron to see the actors in their Na’vi form, in Pandora’s environment, as they were shooting the scenes. Quite a few innovations were introduced thanks to the film’s enormous scope. 

Zoe Saldana during shooting and after the magic of CGI

Avatar was in the plans way before they actually started working on it, but they simply couldn’t do it any sooner. So many new changes needed to happen for it to work. Even now, in 2022, the film easily beats most of its opponents, even though the film industry itself has become incredibly reliant on CGI since then. Looking at the trailer of The Way of Water, one thing is already clear: they perfected the technology even more. The Na’vi look more realistic than they did before, and they looked damn real in the first one already! It’s incredible to see how many things we can achieve through technology and to think that there’s even more we can reach is unreal. 

Jake Sully in his Na’vi form

I personally can’t wait for this next chapter, and I am damn lucky that it will arrive on my birthday yet again. Will I watch this as many times in the cinemas as I did with the first one? It is very possible, yes. Here’s to the next adventure. It’s not so far away anymore. 

Why are you excited for Avatar? Let us know in the comments!

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