Avatar changed the process of filmmaking and pushed the edges of what was possible to create with technology and film. Even a decade+ later it looks good on the small screen. But now there’s the opportunity to watch it once again in theaters, in a remastered 4K format and in 3D.
And to go along with this, as the wait for the newest installment for the series, Avatar: The Way of the Water ticks down, interest has ramped up for the original film and the massive success it was when it released in December of 2009.
Recently some of the cast and creators of the groundbreaking 2009 film Avatar gathered on the eve of its re-release to discuss the legacy of the hybrid CGI and live action film that captivated audiences when it first released nearly 13 years ago.
Moderated by Producer Jon Landau, the discussion included the man himself, Director/Writer/Producer James Cameron, as well as Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine), Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon), and Stephen Lang (Miles Quaritch).
It was a treat to hear from the original cast of the film reminisce and discuss their roles and the lasting impact it had on their own lives and filmmaking in general.
With the release of this remastered version of Avatar, James Cameron sought to bring the experience people had in 2009 back to a new generation.
“It’s looking better than it ever looked, even back in its initial release. And there’s so many people out there, a whole new kinda generation of film fans coming up. Even if they like the movie on streaming or, you know, Blu-ray or however they saw it, they still haven’t really seen the movie the way we intended it to be seen.”
To refresh minds, in the year 2154 a former Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is now confined to a wheelchair. He gets an opportunity to travel across the universe to a new world known as Pandora, where a company is mining a rare mineral that could be the saving grace of Earth’s energy crisis.
Enter the Avatar program, which infuses human and Na’vi DNA to create an inhabitable body that can survive in Pandora environment, which is harsh towards human physiology. Sully gets to walk again in this avatar and is ready to get to work.
It’s all business until he meets Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and is welcomed in by her community of Na’vi. From then on there is adventure, romance, and a lot of incredible action scenes on Pandora.
Zoey Saldana, who played Neytiri and will return to that role for the sequels, remembered the initial emotions from getting the phone call to be part of what a lot of people referred to as the ‘new James Cameron movie’ at the time.
“It was excitement. It was gratitude. I was getting to work with my idol. Like, the creator of Sarah Connor and, you know, and Ellen Ripley. And then it was like, oh, I got to get to work. She has an arrow and she knows martial arts and she does this and she climbs trees and she does… so that kind of excitement of wanting to go to school, and then not knowing where all this was gonna fall into place.”
And as the premiere of the newest installment comes near, it will be interesting to look back and compare the stories and visuals of a series separated by 13 years and even more advanced filmmaking technology.
Cameron ended with, “I just look back on everybody’s work and just so grateful to have had an opportunity to work with these amazing people. And I think that’s why I promptly went out and wrote another and another and another Avatar. I just wanted to continue with this family which is such a great, great experience.”
Avatar is now (once again) in theaters.