Co-hosts Robert Meyer Burnett and Mike Bawden talk about Rob’s impressions from CinemaCon 2022 which wrapped up yesterday – and what he thought about the presentation of AVATAR: THE WAY OF THE WATER.

Some movies have a message – and sometimes it’s the other way around.

by Mike Bawden

Rob is back from Cinemacon in Las Vegas and he gives us a full report on today’s ROADTRIPPIN’ podcast (while he’s driving down the 10 and then taking the exit to the 15 and then …).

Of all the studio presentations made during the convention, Disney seemed to be the most impressive. They understood the assignment (as the meme goes) and made sure to provide enough, in-depth looks at their major projects without grinding everyone down with the sheer weight of all the movies planned for release in the next 12-18 months.

But the one thing that stood out most for Rob was the presentation of the second Avatar movie. AVATAR: THE WAY OF THE WATER was shown on an IMAX screen in an HFR (high frame rate) format that allows for excruciating image detail. Everything about the presentation was perfect, according to Rob, and the effect was as planned.

But there are unintended consequences that come with these AVATAR movies, I think. While people like to complain that the first film was just DANCES WITH WOLVES or FERNGULLY in space, it seems they’re missing a few, key points.

First off, if a movie-goer thinks that every story shown on the silver screen needs to be truly unique in order to be worthy of their time – they’re over-estimating both the value of their time and the number of story archetypes that exist in the world.

That number would be seven.

Yes. Only seven.

Sure, there are twists and turns and other ways to disguise an archetype so it feels different or unique. But it’s just a disguise, folks. And that’s okay. There’s plenty of room for innovation – and, in reality, it’s those innovations we fall in love with. Characters, setting, dialog, romance. It’s the seasoning on the steak that makes us eat it up.

Here’s a link to a great article on the seven classic story archetypes.

Listen to “The World needs the world of AVATAR 1 and 2 (#017)” on Spreaker.

The other point that people – especially critics – miss with movies like AVATAR (and, I presume, its sequel) is that they often can’t tell the difference between a movie with a message and a message disguised as a movie.

AVATAR is a movie with a message. Some people call it “woke” and, in the true sense of “wokeness,” it is. But the term “woke” has been appropriated and given a negative connotation now. The term actually refers to becoming aware of a greater, more important situation that has always existed but ignored or unacknowledged for a long time.

Today, the term is used almost exclusively in the context of racial relations. But in the case of AVATAR (and, I presume, AVATAR 2), the “woke” messaging is not just about the biases the humans express toward the Na’vi, but more importantly, the way humans seem to be unaware of the deep damage they do to the planet Pandora.

The movie sets up the situation and then demonstrates the problem, allowing the viewer to arrive (or awaken) to the conclusion. The story definitely delivers a message (as stories are wont to do) and that message is woke.

But that’s a far different approach than what we see with movies and television shows that start with the message first and then try to construct a contrived series of events, loosely connected with a narrative, and then try to pass that off as a story. It’s not. It’s a lecture.

Rob can probably point to dozens of examples of this in nu-Trek, and he’s not wrong. In fact, Patrick Steward admitted in an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air a couple of years ago, that this was what interested him about Star Trek: Picard in the first place. That may explain how story development is done on ST:PICARD and why we’re getting what we’re getting in nu-Trek, altogether.

In the meantime, we want to know what you think. You can do that by sending us a letter.

Just click here and then send us a message to let us know how we’re doing and what’s on your mind.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Be sure to subscribe to the podcast

I invite you to listen in on my weekday conversations with my friend and business partner, Robert Meyer Burnett, as we talk about the things we love: great movies, inspiring television programming, nostalgic genre entertainment, and pop culture.

This episode streamed on April 29, 2022.

Does “stunt casting” work?

Does “stunt casting” work?

Imagination Connoisseur, ROBB, shares his thoughts on how Star Trek: Discovery handled its casting of Democratic politician, Stacey Abrams, as the president of a united Earth in the show’s finale. Personal politics aside, ROBB seems to feel Star Trek’s producers missed an opportunity to send a message about unity at a time when we could all use it.

Will Superman be returning in 4K someday?

Will Superman be returning in 4K someday?

Long-time PGS Member, Kenny Kraly Jr., writes in to the LET’S GET PHYSICAL MEDIA show to ask for their predictions on the possibility of getting more Superman movies out on 4k Blu-Ray.

On the topic of “Gatekeeping” …

On the topic of “Gatekeeping” …

Imagination Connoisseur, Jason Miller, writes a letter of support for ROBSERVATIONS host, Robert Meyer Burnett, who has recently proclaimed himself the Gatekeeper of Geekdom. Jason shares his experience defending RMB’s joke (made on Twitter) and arrives at an inescapable conclusion that everyone should probably take to heart.

Attention Star Command, there seems to be a problem with Buzz Lightyear

Attention Star Command, there seems to be a problem with Buzz Lightyear

ROADTRIPPIN’ co-hosts Robert Meyer Burnett and Mike Bawden respond to letters from listeners proposing a variety of reasons as to why Pixar’s latest animated feature, LIGHTYEAR, didn’t meet expectations during its opening weekend. Was it a result of bad casting, a strained relationship between studios, convoluted marketing or stronger-than-expected competition? No one is sure – but it’s possible the problem runs much deeper than an origin story for an action figure might let on.

How to accept Star Trek now so you don’t go insane!

How to accept Star Trek now so you don’t go insane!

Imagination Connoisseur, Adam Talley, writes in to explain how he now views the Star Trek franchise – a way that acknowledges the “good old days” so many OG fans pine for and the new innovations we’re seeing in stores, online, and in theaters.

Sign up to have the PGS come straight to your Inbox every day!

Click on the button below to be taken to an email subscription page where you can register for your choice of email alerts, newsletters and offers from the Post-Geek Singularity.

Join the Post-Geek Singularity Community on Discord to talk about this post and other subjects of interest to Imagination Connoisseurs from throughout the galaxy.

Meet your fellow Imagination Connoisseurs on any of our social media channels dedicated to interesting, engaging discussions of genre entertainment. Just click on the icon above to join!