Monday, 7 December 2015

Why the Avatar Sequels will be better than the original

James Cameron’s Avatar sequels will be bigger, better, smarter and more spectacular than the original Avatar film.

Cameron, the director of Avatar, Titanic, True Lies and The Abyss began his career working on sequels. Though he might wish to forget Piranha 2: The Spawning, this was the film that gave the young James Cameron a shot at making his own feature films.

With Avatar being officially the biggest box office behemoth of all time, Cameron will have his work cut out to create something even more spectacular in the two/three sequels he has promised fans.

How can James Cameron top the biggest blockbuster in history? Well aside from Piranha 2, he has an excellent track record for making sequels that improve on the original films.

After writing and directing The Terminator, Cameron took on the unenviable task of creating a sequel to Ridley Scott’s horror classic Alien. Instead of giving audiences more of the same with another run around a dark spaceship, Cameron gave the world Aliens, a superior sequel that swapped some of the tension for all out action and made Ripley the iconic female bad ass that she is today.

Switching genres from science fiction horror to a science fiction war movie, notably making his cast of gung-ho marines into Vietnam War archetypes, Cameron upped the stakes in countless ways. Star of Alien and Avatar, Sigourney Weaver returned as Ripley but now had a little girl to look after. The supporting characters became tough as nails marines ready for a fight with the aliens, rather than cowering, whimpering space truckers easily picked off one by one by a single alien.

The master stroke is clear from the title however. Cameron gave audiences not one Alien, but many, many Aliens. If the monster had been scary in the original, the director gave us a hundred more reasons to be afraid of the beasts as they appeared from out of the walls surrounding the heroes at every opportunity.

When James Cameron wrote and directed a sequel to his own independent success story, The Terminator, it looked like it might be a case of same old story but with a bigger budget. Less brains, more blockbuster excess.

However Terminator 2: Judgment Day was released in 1991 to overwhelming critical praise and huge global success. Handed a then huge budget of $102 million, Cameron managed to make a sequel that was bigger, better and smarter than the original. While The Terminator had been made for an incredibly modest $6 million and grossed over $78 million worldwide, Terminator 2 cost over 16 times more than its predecessor but raked in over $500 million world wide.

Cameron switched Arnie from bad guy to good guy and made the Terminator an even more iconic presence. Sarah Connor went from slightly bland final girl material in the first film to ultimate bad ass saviour of the world in the sequel. The T-1000 terminator became even more terrifying than Arnie’s villain had been in the original with Cameron also taking special effects into a brave new world of digital photo realism.

He knows when to say enough is enough too, jumping ship before the Terminator franchise turned to campy silliness and diminishing returns in Terminator 3. He chose to walk away rather than make an inferior sequel.

So when James Cameron finally delivers his Avatar sequels, you can bet that they will be bigger, more iconic and better than the originals. If his previous work is anything to go by, we can expect the technology he uses to provide even more spectacular effects and his strong female character Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) to become an even more powerful and iconic presence in the sequels. What is most exciting is that James Cameron will write a better story, developing his characters and upping the stakes for all on planet Pandora.

I for one cannot wait to return.

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