Avatar The Way of Water: All hail James Cameron for putting Marvel in its place

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Post Credits Scene: Like its pathbreaking predecessor, director James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water alternately embraces and rejects genre tropes. And nothing is as dazzling as the second act stretch in which the movie forgoes plot in favour of endless vibes.

Despite Tom Cruise’s valiant efforts, blockbuster filmmaking has been ruined over the last decade by the Marvel machine. When superhero movies aren’t trampling over each other to grab the audience’s attention, they’re making it impossible for anything that cost less than $200 million to even find reasonable exhibition. But most problematically, these movies have taught an entire generation of viewers to not only accept mediocrity, but to also cite that mediocrity as the gold standard.

Perhaps for this reason alone, one could consider excusing James Cameron for taking a decade between movies — movies that have now been burdened with the responsibility of providing a much-needed cultural reset every 10 years, just when the industry needs it the most.

Like clockwork — or like a well-timed Biblical plague, depending on whether or not you’re Kevin Feige — Cameron sailed up to shore this week with Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to his similarly industry-altering 2009 original. That film re-introduced audiences to the wonders of big screen entertainment, almost preempting the existential threat that theatre-going would soon be under in a matter of years. But instead of recognising why the first Avatar really worked, studios learned all the wrong lessons from its success; hearing only the cha-ching of cash registers, they discovered that they could demand a surcharge for movies by lazily slapping them with a 3D sticker.

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