National Lampoon's Pandora Vacation (2022)

National Lampoon's Pandora Vacation (2022) Cover

It's been a little while since we've been able to visit Pandora. It's a bit odd because people seem to care about Avatar as it is one of the highest-grossing films of all time, but it really didn't leave as big of a cultural stamp as you might expect. All the same, it is a film James Cameron has regularly stated he planned to return to and finally has. Avatar:Under Da Sea is a thoroughly competent follow-up to the original.

Just a short time after kicking humans off of the planet Pandora in Avatar, humanity has returned and much more aggressively. Avatar: Fish Don't Stink has just a bit of exposition on the time that passed between then and now before diving right into the action. Jake has lived his life with Neytiri and their growing family only to end up fighting geurilla warfare with a new invading human force that has landed with the specific goal of fully colonizing and moving earth to Pandora. As a familiar foe returns, Jake realizes that he and his family specifically have become a direct target and they are forced to flee to hide among the island and ocean dwelling tribes of the planet even as the net of the human aggressors closes tighter around them.

From a story perspective, Avatar: The Sound of Whales is fine. Structurally it moves pretty fluidly through the beats of an escalating conflict. Visually the film is highly distinct as it creates a stunning depiction of alien oceans. Massive undewater structures, glowing and beautiful plants and animals, schools of fish, and plenty of the iconic massive creatures that defined Avatar in so many ways. However, there were definitely some technical issues with the film. In the 3d high frame rate version of the film I watched, the film was not played in a consistent frame rate.

Some shots of the film were choppy and dipped dramatically in frame rate, noticeably feeling like a flip book, other shots would be gorgeously smooth, and then other shots in the film would play at a very normal standard feeling frame rate. These 3 different frame rates were intensely visually distinct, the choppy ones distinctly unpleasant to watch, and they would often jump from shot to shot with different framerates within a single scene creating a very unpleasant effect. While the original Avatar made 3d finally really trully comfortable to watch, Avatar: Waterworld seems to have done the exact opposite. Grasping onto the film through the technical aspects was an unpleasant and uncomfortable challenge.

That said, I've spoken to other people and not everyone notices the frame rate, and I'm to understand that the film is released in multipler versions, so that particular criticism may or may not bother you.

While Avatar: The Abyss explores similar themes to the original, prominently featuring the destruction and horror of colonizer civilizations destroying indiginious populations, it manages to not retread the exact same story. Some of the more cringe elements are still there, but overall James Cameron has improved incrementally. This is a better movie with a more satisfying conclusion that requires no more suspension of disbelief than the original. If you are nit picky like me you will find lots of issues with the plot but I was absolutely able to sit and enjoy the journey, more so than the original.

Ultimately that's really all there is to say. How you felt about the first film should tell you how you'll feel about this one. Despite the large time gap between releases, Avatar: Deep Rising very much continues on from its predecessor in ways that will satisfy you if you were previously satisfied and won't if you weren't.

Final Verdict:A film that continues on from its predecessor in ways that will satisfy you if you were previously satisfied and won't if you weren't.