Say what you want about Avatar: The Way of Water, the wettest movie of all time, but it prompts more questions than it answers: Is Avatar: The Way of Water going to trounce the most successful movie of all time and become the new most successful movie of all time? Do people care more about the Na’vi than they do, say, Spider-Man? Why did Kate Winslet have to hold her breath for seven minutes? Couldn’t it be, like, four minutes and that would be fine? But perhaps more important than any preceding inquiry: how is it possible that more than a decade has passed and they (science) haven’t found a way for people to see a three-hour long movie in 3D and also in IMAX without getting a migraine? Seems like we should have figured that one out by now.
Everything there is to read about the Avatar sequel centers around two topics: its box office and the science that went into the making of it. The movie is already well on its way to making a billion dollars at the box office, though there’s a lingering discomfort about what its success means for both the franchise and movie-going in general. They spent so much fucking money on this movie, in part because they had to invent stuff to make water look wetter than it’s ever looked before.
All this hand-wringing about the future of cinema, but a total lack of hand-wringing about the fact that these box office numbers would fucking skyrocket if there was some way to see the film and not get such a big headache by the end that you’re almost falling asleep (I’m not saying this happened to me; I am just suggesting this could happen to anyone). Why has no one figured out how to make 3D glasses that don’t pinch at the nose or behind the ears? The 3D glasses are inexplicably triangular, which means they can’t fit around my round plasticky frames, leaving a margin of vision not in 3D. I get it, I do, but if science has stalled out on the big stuff — climate change, cancer — they could stand to refocus and work on something smaller and more manageable.
Along with the 3D glasses, movie theater employees should hand Avatar: The Way of Water patrons a handful – three? four? – Excedrin migraine to take at their discretion during the film’s three-plus hour run time. Maybe there can even be a part of the movie where words flash on the screen and say, “IF YOUR HEAD HURTS A LITTLE, YOU CAN CLOSE YOUR EYES FOR FIVE MINUTES WHILE JAKE SULLY’S TEEN DAUGHTER SIGOURNEY WEAVER ACTS WEIRD — IT WON’T MATTER TIL THE THIRD OR FOURTH MOVIE WHAT HER DEAL IS.” Or maybe there could stand to be a part of the movie without all of the diving and swirling and dipping, preventing motion sickness. Maybe at one point, Jake Sully and his family — on the run from the “sky people” (the American military led by Edie Falco) — could chill out and read books.
If the film industry is that concerned about getting butts in seats, there’s got to be a way to balance the spectacle of movie magic with the possibility of having a pain so sharp behind one of your eyes that you throw up before you go to bed after seeing the movie. Migraine-sufferers are artistically inclined, by which I mean they are usually women and/or have nothing else going wrong in their lives so that “getting a bad headache” is the worst of it. These people want to support art and culture – they just also want to be able to go to bed without a hot compress over their eyes or a snort of Sumatriptan.