Movies & TV Shows

Avatar 2’s Long Runtime Can Fix The First Movie’s Biggest Flaw

Avatar 2 is set to be over 3 hours long, and James Cameron’s fantasy sequel should use that time to rectify a missed opportunity from the original.


James Cameron’s eagerly anticipated blockbuster Avatar: The Way of the Water is set to be well over 3 hours, and it can use its long runtime to correct Avatar‘s biggest problem. When Avatar was released in 2009 it broke new ground in the visuals department thanks to the use of world-leading motion capture techniques that brought the fictional Na’vi and their planet, Pandora, to life. Despite the cinematic spectacle James Cameron produced, Avatar‘s legacy has been questioned, with critics arguing that it is largely style over substance and that Avatar‘s characters and storyline are relatively forgettable.

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The long runtime of Avatar: The Way of the Water should be used to rectify Avatar‘s biggest problem by providing much greater depth of story and character. Encouragingly, in a recent interview with GamesRader, James Cameron explained that the main intention of Avatar 2‘s 3-hour 10-minute runtime is to develop a compelling story that is driven by characters, relationships, and emotions. By Cameron’s own admission, the storyline wasn’t always the focus of the visually phenomenal Avatar, so it’s reassuring that Avatar: The Way of the Water will be making steps in order to rectify that.

Related: Why Avatar 2’s Box Office Predictions Are Much Lower Than The First Movie


Avatar 2 Needs More Focus On Character

Avatar 2 The Way of Water James Cameron Discusses Movie Length

Long runtimes aren’t for everyone, and this has only become more true in recent movie history. But if Avatar: The Way of the Water spends those minutes creating more layered and nuanced characters, rather than just showing off how beautiful Avatar 2 is, then the extra time will be worth it. Avatar 2 has the opportunity to dig deeper into how Jake (Sam Worthington) has adapted to life as a Na’vi now that he has lived with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and built a family with her since the events of Avatar.

By investing time in understanding what Jake’s new life and family mean to him, the inevitable violent conflict with the resurrected Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), a story in itself that will need to be carefully explained, will have greater emotional weight. Similarly, the introduction of the Metkayina needs to be more than just an underwater spectacle. Cameron needs to make the Metkayina a community that viewers can root for if they are expected to sit through such a long movie.

Director James Cameron is not a stranger to making long films, and he has proven that he can create interesting characters that endure years later. Titanic is 195 minutes long, but Cameron made the sinking ship story captivating by focusing on the social class-breaking relationship between Jack (Leonardo DiCaprio) and Rose (Kate Winslett). Avatar: The Way of the Water can learn from Titanic’s success by balancing its stunning visual action with a grounded, relatable love story between Jake and Neytiri.

Why Avatar 2’s Long Runtime Could Still Backfire

Avatar 2 The Way of Water Recombinant marines

As well as developing Avatar‘s existing characters, James Cameron has gone on record to say that Avatar 2 needs a longer runtime because new faces will be added, with the likes of Kate Winslett and Cliff Curtis joining the original cast as members of the Metkayina tribe. That is a potential red flag because rather than focusing on bringing out a rich story with the humans and Na’vi already established in the Avatar franchise, The Way of the Water is going to have to spend a good portion of time introducing new Avatar characters. That means that Avatar: The Way of the Water runs the risk of becoming overstuffed, rather than being the tight character-focused story that James Cameron has promised.

Next: Avatar 2’s Quaritch Trick Risks A Death Problem For ALL Sequels

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