Most filmmakers evolve and change as they get older. The things they found exciting or inspiring in their younger years don’t touch them the same way. And sometimes they look back at their films — even those that are considered the best action films ever made – and want to change something. Steven Spielberg, for example, changed the weapons in the hands of special agents in his family film “Alien”. An alien in a walkie-talkie. It may seem strange, but this is his prerogative. Similar emotions were caused by the changes made by James Cameron in Avatar: The Way of Water, as he now explains, as the film is in theaters.
The sequel to James Cameron’s sci-fi blockbuster has exceptionally good box office receipts and is expected to soon exceed the $1 billion mark. And now Cameron is talking about his process of making the film. He talked to CinemaBlend about the next chapter of his Avatar saga and about the films he had seen in the post-Avatar world that he felt were consistent with using 3D. And in a recent interview with Esquire Middle East, Cameron revealed that he removed the gun violence scenes in his sequel because he doesn’t want to fetishize the use of guns. As Cameron explained:
In fact, I cut about 10 minutes of a movie dedicated to the shootout. I wanted to get rid of some ugliness, to find a balance between light and darkness. Of course, you must have a conflict. Violence and action are the same thing, depending on how you look at it. This is the dilemma of every creator of action movies, and I am known as the creator of action movies.
Needless to say, we are in a completely different culture regarding gun violence. So it’s interesting to see a proven action director like James Cameron change course and even go so far as to say that he probably won’t star in the two films that launched his career and made him one of the most famous directors of our time. Of course, any rating of James Cameron’s films should include Titanic and Aliens. They are classics of their genre. But the Terminator franchise made Cameron who he is, and he told Esquire Middle East:
I look back at some of the films I’ve made and I don’t know if I’d like to make this movie now. I do not know if I would like to fetishize weapons, as I did in a couple of Terminator films 30+ years ago, in our current world. What is happening with guns in our society makes me sick.
It would be unusual if a storyteller like James Cameron did not evolve in his thought process and continued to make the same film over and over again, regardless of the climate. 13 years have passed between Avatar and its new sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, and the world has changed. The audience has changed too. Cameron can talk about the technical changes he now has at his disposal that will improve his old films like “The Abyss.” But he, as a storyteller, also has different messages that he wants to convey to his crowd. And in the case of Cameron, he decided not to focus on the use of weapons.
The audience responds. “Avatar: The Way of Water” received a 92% rating of “fresh” viewers on Rotten Tomatoes and, as already mentioned, has box office receipts. Reaching $2 billion may not be easy. But the film is already well received, and Avatar 3 seems to be a flop after the reaction to this new sequel.