Avatar: The Way of Water | Crooked Media
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December 16, 2022
X-Ray Vision
Avatar: The Way of Water

In This Episode

On this episode of X-Ray Vision, Jason Concepcion and Rosie Knight swim with the tulkun! First in the Previously On (3:19) Jason recaps his recent time at Game of Thrones Con before he and Rosie dissect the Across the Spider-Verse teaser and discuss the rise, risks, and redflags of AI generated art. Then in the Airlock (42:15), Jason and Rosie dive deep (deeep) into the waters of Pandora for James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, recapping the film and analyzing its purposeful apoliticism, which character they hate the most and why, and theorize where the future of the franchise is headed. 


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Some helpful Instagram posts (courtesy of Rosie) with more info on AI art.




Jason Concepcion Warning. This podcast contains spoilers for the first Avatar and the sequel Avatar Way of Water in theaters now. Hello, my name is Jason Concepcion. Welcome to X-ray Vision, the Crooked’s podcast where we dive deep into the beautiful blue waters of Pandora to talk about your favorite shows, movies, comics and pop culture. In this episode on the Previously On, lots of news. We’re gonna be talking about the new across the Spider-Verse trailer I’ll be talking about some some stuff that I saw at the Game of Thrones convention. We’re going to have a discussion of A.I. in the recent A.I. art controversy. In the Airlock, folks, we’re going to Pandora, baby. We’re getting in cryo sleep. We’re thawing out. We’re like putting on our little breathers, and we’re going to be running around in the forest and then diving into the crystal blue waters. And joining me today with all of that to commune with AWA together, she’s the number one Pandora historian, the number one harvester of whale brain juice. It’s a great Rosie Knight, yay.


Rosie Knight I must say. I have never harvested a whale’s brain juice. That will make sense when you see Avatar: The Way of Water


Jason Concepcion It will make sense when you see Avatar: The Way of Water.


Rosie Knight Yeah. How are you doing?


Jason Concepcion I’m doing well. I’m doing well. You know, I my voice is coming back after doing so much, talking over the weekend and speaking so much. And, you know, I’m hopped up on on Pandora buzz after seeing 3 hours of James Cameron’s latest masterpiece, Avatar: The Way of Water.


Rosie Knight So you just live it.


Jason Concepcion It looks luxurious and amazing. I’m just livin. How are you? Yeah. You ordered. I ordered my comic book collection. I put, like, everything in order and.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion And it’s a good feeling I want to keep and give away, like, in separate piles. I feel good. How are you?


Rosie Knight Yeah. I love to hear it. Yeah, same. I was. I was immersed. I was fully immersed for 3 hours and 10 minutes in the vibrant 3D of Avatar: The Way of Water. I actually that was my always my biggest complaint about the original Avatar is somebody who likes a 3D movie where like an ax comes at your face or like, you know, one of my favorite 3D movies is the My Bloody Valentine 3D remake that they did. I thought that was like the peak of 3D, the 3D. And this is really good. I was very impressed.


Jason Concepcion It’s tasteful 3D.


Rosie Knight It’s tasteful but it was pushing the boundary. At one point, Neytiri did almost shoot in our In My Face, which I appreciated. And also there was moments when you’re underwater where it feels like things are floating past your face. I felt like the boundaries of the 3-D was quite limited in the original, so I was always love. 3D is back, baby, make every movie in 3D, but like real 3D, I want to see a ladder coming towards my face. Like I’m in Muppets 4D.


Jason Concepcion All right, let’s get into it. Let’s get to do it first up, Previously One.


Rosie Knight Tell us all about the Game of Thrones Official Fan Convention, because that is very, very cool. And you were really it was you and Greta, right? Doing the whole thing.


Jason Concepcion It was Greta and I. This was the first time we’d ever met in person, which was wild. Here’s the thing. I don’t know if this happens to you, but when you meet people for the first time in now in the COVID era, I don’t know about you, but it doesn’t even register almost anymore. Like it feels like we have met.


Rosie Knight When you and I did the same thing.


Jason Concepcion I met in person. I was like, if somebody mentioned all this the first time you guys meeting, I was like, Oh, oh, yeah. You just feels.


Rosie Knight Cool.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Like, almost like it feels so normalized now. Anyway, it was the first time Greta and I had met in person and it was just I got to see old friends, you know, our friends from History of Westeros, Aziz and Ashaya were there, which was wonderful. They were covering the whole thing. Kim Renfro from Insider was there and it was just it was so fun. We were hanging, you know, just like hanging out in the green room and like this one fun moment where, like, Esmé Bianco was there, played Broz.


Rosie Knight The best.


Jason Concepcion First three seasons.


Rosie Knight One of my all time favorite characters.


Jason Concepcion And then Daniel Portman, who played Podrick Payne a.k.a Sex God Pod came in and they started catching up. And, you know, like Grant and I are pretending like, Oh, this isn’t cool. We’re just.


Rosie Knight This is just normal.


Jason Concepcion We’re just like hanging out. And they started having this conversation, Esme was like, Oh, did you live? Did you make it to the end? He’s like, Yeah, I did. I made it. I lived all the way to the end of the series. All these like fun little moments occurred. It was great seeing everybody in in costume. And then I was really just like, pleasantly surprised at how generous everybody was with their answers. We interviewed Kit. Kit Harington. Ever heard of him? The famous Jon Snow, a.k.a. the Bastard of Winterfell, a.k.a. The King in the North. A.K.A. the Lord Commander of the Night’s Watch. And he, like, he was just, like so wonderful with his answers. Took time with all the audience questions he could you could really sense how important like connecting with these people was to a lot of the fans who got to ask their questions, just how delighted they were to see everybody. There was a great moment where we were interviewing Patty, Patty and Steve. Patty, who plays King Viserys, and Steve Toussaint, who plays Corlys Valaryon. And I don’t think, Patt had fully realized, like how beloved Viserys was after this season. Because I you know, we had been talking for a little while and I said, you know, I’d be remiss if I didn’t ask you about that incredible scene in the throne room where Viserys comes in to defend his daughter and, um, just like the crowd exploded at the mention of it. It was cool.


Rosie Knight I love that.


Jason Concepcion It was so cool. So, oh, this is a funny thing. So we’re there for three days. Friday, Saturday, Sunday. By Sunday, listen, it’s great, great fun, but I’m beginning to get, like, a.


Rosie Knight You were like napping  on the floor.


Jason Concepcion So what happened was we had a panel, and I forget what it was, but we had, like, an extra 15 minute like break on top of our existing 50 minutes because Greta was like in showing some behind the scenes video. So I went up to the green room where where all the talent works, like everybody from the cast was in there and various people who are also like handlers and and, you know, Althea Allen’s manager and stuff like that. So it was like I go in there and all the there’s like three roundtable, four roundtables, and they’re all the seats are taken because it’s like Kit Harington sitting there, Alfie Allen is sitting there, Daniel Portman is sitting there like fucking Jack Gleason like. So I go and lay on the ground to just kind of like relax for a little while. Next thing I know, I fall asleep and I wake up to one of the, um, one of the convention people being like, Oh my God, we’ve been looking for you. And like, we’ve come in this room, like, four times, and this is the first time you speak. So I was like, I was like out in the open. Like, if you take four steps into the green room and by the way.


Rosie Knight You can see you.


Jason Concepcion It. Yeah, it was the same. It was Where were we for the L.A. Comic-Con? We were at 402.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I was in there.


Jason Concepcion We were 407. So we’re literally like down at the end of the hall. And if they would have taken five steps or three steps into the room, it would have been obvious that I was right there. But they didn’t do that. So they missed me like a million times. And so I woke up and I hear the music for the panel going on and they’re like, It’s it’s starting right now. Do you want to, like, run on stage? I’m like, No, that would be fucking weird. I guess I just missed this one. And so it was the Patti It was it. That one was Patti’s like solo panel which which I watched from the side of the stage. It was really funny. He came out, like, tottering on a invisible cane, you know, when they opened the doors, he pretended to, like, totter out like Viserys. That was super fun. It was just it was a really great time. Like, everybody was was clearly so excited. You know, it’s whenever someone gets up on the mic to ask a question and their voice is shaking, it’s like, wow, it’s you realize, like, how this series really just it just means a lot to people. And again, everybody was really, really great with their, you know, in answering the questions and it was just a fun time. I love cosplay, I love conventions, I loved it all I got, I got a a Corlys and Viserys funko pop. Not a single funko, I got two Funko Pop.


Rosie Knight Yeah, yeah, yeah. One each.


Jason Concepcion And then of Viserys. Yeah. Now Viserys without the Golden Mask, but it’s so it’s like a younger Viserys. But it was really fun. It was a great time, man. It was, it was it was a long time, but it was really, really fun and it was cool to see how much it meant to the fans.


Rosie Knight Yeah, I mean, it was the first ever official Game of Thrones fan, right? Which is why you had so many unbelievable. That was like a stacked cast of guests. Oh, it was everyone. You want to be there, I mean, Kit.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, like, holy shit. There he is. It’s fucking Jon Snow. And you never know what to do. You know, like our friend Kenny, who is my manager, was like he was there for day one because his wife is also is Daniel Portman’s rep and, you know, just there to support Greta and I and he and, you know, like Alfie Allen was there and Jackie Gleason were there and Tom Glenn Carney was there. You know, plays Aegon the elder. He said, oh you got a go say hey does it and I was like, you know, introduce yourself for them. You got to do that. You got to do that. You make sure that you know, they know who you are and stuff like that. I’m like, I don’t want to bother someone. So there’s just like, you know.


Rosie Knight It’s everybody with balance.


Jason Concepcion It’s the balance. But everybody was like super, super sweet and super charming. There were some really thirsty asked questions at times like, Oh, my God, I had I had Tom. It’s interesting. Day one. The original setup was Gretta and I were going to like, you know, like trade off panels and certain bigger panels we’d do together just to kind of save our energy. But then we got to the end of day one and did the panel together and were like, Let’s just do all the panels together. It’s so much better and so much easier. But so originally, day one, I did Tom Glenn Carney just by myself. And someone got up and was like, the first question was. Hello, Tom, you’re very handsome. And we were like, okay, that’s not a question.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion And then another person was like, Hi, Tom. Just so you know, I call you King Papi Chulo.


Rosie Knight To to be a moderator at a Con is like a it. You are like the teacher, and the fan, and the historian, and the question asker, and the bodyguard I. New York Comic-Con. I did a movie premiere and one of the people that I should have stopped before the last question. But the last question, the guy came up and Jake Lacy was in the movie. Is this really fun movie called Significant Other with Maika Monroe and Jake Lacy and the last guy came up and just made some really weird comment about. How lucky Jake Lacy was that he’d, like, rode in the hay with some hot woman who wasn’t even in the panel, like Jess, I think it was Jessica Chastain or something. And I had to be like, Let’s keep it clean, let’s keep it clean.


Jason Concepcion Keep it moving.


Rosie Knight And everyone was like, I could just be like I was like, Oh, I should never have let that last guy ask the question. But that’s always the way people are excited to talk to people.


Jason Concepcion People are so excited.


Rosie Knight But is that balance. It sounds like it was respectful thirst at the Game of Thrones, which is.


Jason Concepcion Mainly respectful for thirst, there was like a 0.5% of like things that were like, okay, it was it was a it was a very respectful thirst when the questioner was like, I call you King Papi Chulo. Tom was like, What’s that mean? He like, leaned over to me and it was like I was like, Oh, that’s like a it’s like a very handsome guy. Basically, I go, okay, that was and forget it for Podrick Payne because who we always who of course you know sex god Pod. He made the AP you know the whores of King’s Landing. We’re giving him, you know, rolls in the hay for free, etc.. There was.


Rosie Knight They were giving him money.


Jason Concepcion They were giving men money. There were so many questions about like, so what do you think he did? What do you think it was?


Rosie Knight What was the back story that you created?.


Jason Concepcion What was it? What was your.


Rosie Knight Specialty?


Jason Concepcion Yeah, it was it was like, oh, my gosh, it it was your it was it was a wonderful, fun time. Absolutely fun time. Shall we talk about the across the Spider-Verse trailer that is due?


Rosie Knight It’s very exciting.


Jason Concepcion Full trailer for the highly anticipated Spider-Man across the Spider-Verse dropped this week. Of course, lots of returning characters. Miles Morales, his dad, his father, Jefferson Davis, one of the most perplexing choices in recent comics history.


Rosie Knight Don’t even get me started.


Jason Concepcion Gwen Stacy, Peter Parker, etc. and lots of new characters appearing in this trailer. Jessica Reed, Spider Woman, The Vulture, various Spider-Man variants. We got  Spider Punk, shouts out to Zig.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion And it just, man, it just seems extremely fun. I, I, I’m of the opinion this is not a controversial opinion that into the spider-verse is like. Top two comic book movies ever like. It’s certainly one of the greatest.


Rosie Knight Maybe objectively the best one. Meaning everything and the best. Everything else is like your own feelings, but it’s definitely the best Spider-Man movie. And I love that Tom Holland, MCU, Spider-Man movies. I love Andrew Garfield, I love Tobey. But that movie is unbelievable. I thought this was so much fun. I love the way they managed to do this great job with the trailer where they ground it in this conversation that Miles is having with his mom, Rio, where she’s kind of just like I spent all my life just looking after you. And I don’t want you to be in a situation where I’m not able to do that. And if I’m not doing it, then I need you to do it and to take on that responsibility. And they ground it with that human like loving heart, which was such a big part of the movie. And then they just like, Boom. Bombastic bagman, like armored Spider-Man Mayday Parker, by the way. Oh, yes, so Peter B. Parker looks like he had a baby with Mary Jane. They revealed an image of the baby we don’t see in the trailer. He’s wearing the baby Bjorn. But it is May Day Parker. But then there’s also a grown up May Day Parker. We see in this, there’s so many different people. They have the PS4 Spider-Man. They have like a silver armor Spider. There’s all different kinds of variance. It’s really we don’t it’s hard to see them in the trailer, but they released a really cool character design for Spider-Man India. So there’s a lot of characters here. And then we have Spider-Man 2099 and this is the biggest question of the movie is what is his role? Because in this and in the previous trailer, it looks like he is either an antagonist or a straight up villain. And at the end ends with I think it’s Spidey Gwen who says, Oh, I thought we’re supposed to be the good guys. And then he says, We are, but he’s like smashing Miles’s face into the ground. So it’s unclear what kind of cataclysms and drama they’re doing here also. So, Jessica, Drew, Spider woman here, play voiced by Issa Rae and they did black Jessica Drew. I think that is going to be in the I think Jessica Drew is going to be black in the MCU, too.


Jason Concepcion I agree with you. I think I think that that is going to be the case. I’ll say I’ll go a little. This, I’ll go a little further on on this. I think that this animation style, I think you could make an entire like Marvel animated universe.


Rosie Knight I agree.


Jason Concepcion And just do. Do you do Avengers. Do West Coast Avengers. Do X-Men. Like. Do all. Do a whole universe of stories that’s separated from the from the MCU canon like this. Because I just think the animation style is so engaging and exciting.


Rosie Knight A long time ago we’d said maybe it was around the time of What if I don’t remember? But we were like, They should use Marvel Animation to basically tell a different famous comic book arcs.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight I would love to see that. In the Sony studio space where you’ll reach literally no joke. I was on my Instagram the day the trailer came out and like every cool artist I followed was like, so proud. This is out, so happy. I got to do a bit of work on this. Like they bought like the best of the best illustrators anime is everyone in to make this sequel, and I just feel that there’s so much space. I mean, think about how great Kingpin was in that first movie. Obviously, Miles’ movie like it’s it’s all about Miles, but I think so much about the visualization of Kingpin and how terrifying he was and how interesting and how visually exciting. And I think I would love to see, you know, you could even do a Punisher movie like this. And I’m not someone who’s always advocating for many Punisher stories, but Punisher, that’s a Spider-Man villain. You know, that could be a really interesting space. And they do so much intriguing animation. I’d love to see them do silk. You know, we know that Sony is now doing this Amazon deal where they’re going to be making TV shows like Silk. And I would be really interested to see that. I’m also very interested. To know and to think about when the animated Miles Morales movies will inevitably spit a real live action Miles into the MCU, because it’s just it’s so, it’s going to happen.


Jason Concepcion It has to happen. It feels and. Here’s my question. Is it? Do they do it when Tom is, like, on his way out? Tom’s going to die. Or, you know, at the end of his contract, he doesn’t want to do it anymore. Is that when they bring in Miles or is there a period of time where we get both of them?


Rosie Knight I think it sounds so minor. While it might just be my own Miles bias. Right. But I believe that the way that they ended No Way Home, essentially establishes a world where Miles can exist because Peter doesn’t have any personal connections. Now, in the comics, it’s that Peter died, invited commerce, whoever dies. But people thought he was dead in this. The notion that Peter Parker doesn’t exist, even though Spider-Man as a figure does, that could inspire Miles to become a local Spider-Man and then to have that duality. So my fingers are crossed, and I think, you know, Spider-Verse is really the most successful multiverse kind of accessible storytelling that we’ve had. So it makes sense that there could be a world where that multiverse spills into the MCU. But I also think that Sony is probably keeping Miles Morales very close to their chest. Because he is


Jason Concepcion They’re not going to give him away just yet for nothing. And that’s going to be a negotiation that.


Rosie Knight Looks so great.


Jason Concepcion If he does come in, if and when he does come in to the live action world while Peter Parker is there. And think about how heart wrenching a death of Spider-Man like an ultimate Spider-Man if Peter Parker’s run, how, just like gut punch level, that would be on a live action screen.


Rosie Knight Exactly.


Jason Concepcion On a live action screen.


Rosie Knight They’re establishing so many of the character relationships that would need to be set up for that to happen in these spider-verse movies. And my gut says that with the the looming threat of DC attempting this kind of wildly ambitious James Gunn, Safran led animation TV film Interconnected Universe in a more streamlined way because DC has been doing that for a while, but it’s not been widely recognized. I think that that pushes that likely pushes Marvel to to want to connect spider-verse with the MCU in a more distinct way.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Up next, A.I. Art. You may have noticed lots of people you follow on social media sharing various portraits of themselves that are done in this kind of like artistic way. Here they are in space. Here they are in a forest. Here there is some kind of comic book warrior. This is probably the Lensa A.I. App that allows people to create portraits of themselves according to whatever prompts, the user might input into the user interface. But this technology is raising a lot of red flags with artists. Isn’t it Rosie?


Rosie Knight Yeah. So, Lensa A.I. Worked on an open source image. The text model called stable diffusion.


Jason Concepcion Mm hmm.


Rosie Knight And. That is run by a nonprofit company. And what it does is it scrapes art from the Internet without artists consent to train the A.I. Now that in itself is its own wider ethical issue, the problem that really upset people was Lensa is actually charging people for this. So it’s no longer nonprofit. And as many different people managed to source, that was some really great kind of just like community journalism, where it became quite obvious that you could actually still see signatures in the corner of the ark because the A.I. is trained off of people’s artwork that had signatures. And for some artists it was very easy to see an image that somebody shared of Lensa that was clearly kind of what you would say, like biting their art style. But in this, it’s less of a human choosing to plagiarize. And the nature of the way that the A.I. is being trained is on the art of others. So for, yes, a lot of cartoonists and the illustration community, this is like a big kind of upset, understandably so, because a lot of conversations about the ethics of A.I. have been very widely agreed upon. And I think for a lot of people in the comic book community and the cartooning and illustration community, this felt like everyone was just like, Oh, wait, but I want to look, see what I would look like as a cool, like superhero. So I’m just going to pay my $8 and put in my ten photos. And then outside of that, that that which is a huge part and is the main issue that a lot of people have had.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight My understanding is that the nature of the way that stable diffusion works and the company Alioune who run this nonprofit. Your photos once they are in there. Not only are we talking about a likeness rights which they will own, and that is in the terms and conditions of many people have done great reporting on that. But also they can then use your photos and will use your photos to train your eye to do stuff like facial recognition that can then be used in like a surveillance state. So there’s a lot of different layers to what to the problems with it and the different ways that it can be exploited, most of which just come from the fact that it’s new technology. And a lot of us don’t really understand it.


Jason Concepcion I think that. To your point, there’s a lot of different implications of this. This is obviously kind of, you know, not to overstate it, but A.I. In general is world changing technology. You know, change the way we generate ideas, change the way a lot of people work creatively. And I think on the one hand, it’s it’s unstoppable in the sense that it’s moving so fast that it’s here and it’s kind of not going anywhere. That said, because of the way it works and the the stuff that it scrapes to build out how it works, it is essentially, at this point, theft. You know, it’s it’s intellectual property theft. Now, I guess the people who are very pro, I would say, well, you know, we’re working on safeguards and things like that. And but it’s also like, you know, this is moving so fast that it’s kind of you can’t really stop where this is going. And therefore, you know, it’s better to, you know, to support this kind of progress than worry too much about the various eggs that are going to be broken. Yeah. To which I would counter, you know. This is, you know, artists are not the illustrators that we know are not like they’re not raking it in.


Rosie Knight Exactly. I think this is the bigger problem is that artists already, whether it’s the artists who draw your favorite superhero comics or it’s an artist who’s trying to make their own independent work, they are already being exploited and undervalued. And the biggest problem with that approach to this is that essentially erases all the work that has been done in the years of work that artists have done to even be able to train the A.I. in the first place, let alone just. To learn how to do art. And then I’ve been reading some really interesting more kind of philosophical questions about it, which is kind of the notion of like, what does it mean to you? Like, is art just a series of photos or images that. Tell a story. And if so, then how does that change when it’s AI or it’s a human? Because if a human is making the art, the art is a. Long gestating result of that ideas and their experiences and their influences. And I’m not averse. I’m very much like, I think a lot about like I grew up on sci fi, right? So I have a lot of feelings about the nature of A.I. and the possibilities of sentient A.I. and and the right. Nobody is like air is bad forever. Blanket ban bad. The problem is that right now. With stuff like lens are companies are profiting off art that is stolen from artists who didn’t give their consent. And it’s being kind of widely accepted as the norm, which makes it more easy for corporations and single singular people to exploit artists. I saw multiple examples of. Some really some of the stuff that shocked me the most was after I’d learned about Lanza, which I was down on from the beginning, some of the I loved Creator, right. So I always felt suspicious about it. And but some of the wildest stuff I saw was other artists who had had their art style directly stolen and fed into A.I. generators and then had people sharing their art and winning competitions with their art and getting paid for the art that they’d just fed somebody else’s art into the generator. And that’s the other side of it, is it? It makes it a lot easier to plagiarize a specific art style or to take work away from working artists. So it’s it’s really complex. And I feel like this is probably just the beginning of like a much bigger conversation. I mean.


Jason Concepcion Like this is before we even get into the questions of A.I. generated revenge porn.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And also the mysogyny.


Jason Concepcion Like propaganda. The way in which you can create propaganda using A.I. created art. Yeah. Whether or not the A.I. algorithm and the underlying mathematics in it were created with inherent biases that were transmitted from the biases.


Rosie Knight The images you see, the examples. I think it was Megan Fox who had said it. I think Niecy Nash had shared some. But there was The Guardian did a piece about where they put images of famous women who had done historically notable things. And one of them was one of the ones that got spoke out was like Amelia Earhart laying naked on a bed and Megan Fox, all of her pictures were just all just the boobs. That was just all it was.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight So, I mean, they make people skinnier and like.


Jason Concepcion Before we even, before we even get to that, like, philosophical part of it, really what we’re really dealing with is a a transfer of. It’s really a transfer of wealth from artists to capital because, listen, Art, this is not in the short medium. And I would dare to say, even in the long term, this is not going to replace artists and real art at the top level. Like, you know, this is not. People aren’t going to walk into a gallery and buy an A.I. generated art piece. Maybe they will.


Rosie Knight We say that but the NFT have been becoming very successful.


Jason Concepcion Well, did they or is that just a scam perpetraed by people hear so. And at the same time NFTs are basically digital versions of human created art anyway. But the way this will be applied is I am a movie studio. I don’t want I want to cut costs anywhere I can. Therefore, when I’m storyboarding out a script, rather than pay an illustrator, I will put my script into an A.I. and that A.I. will create a storyboard that is using art styles and details scraped from actual artists. And I will create this product that will then help me create my other product. And that is one or two or a handful of illustrators that now don’t have a job because I’ve cut that part out of it.


Rosie Knight It definitely seems like that could come into fruition in animation.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. Or if I’m, you know, if I’m like mocking up graphics for a book or for.


Rosie Knight Covers, definitely book covers.


Jason Concepcion Or, or a sign for my bakery, you know, now all of a sudden you’re transferring the, the moneys that would have gone into the pocket of an actual human being, an illustrator, and you’re moving it towards the technologists who have created this A.I.. So should you should we be doing that? Is a is a is a kind of basic question I think is going to be the more everyday question that we have to grapple with before we start grappling with these kind of really big and obviously, you know, super impactful questions about like, okay, what if someone wants to create a picture of me committing a crime and then report me to the police, or what if somebody wants to create, you know, completely realistic propaganda or what if somebody wants to get back at their ex and create nudes of them? Like those are all issues that are going to get dealt with as well and they’re probably going to get dealt with at the governmental level because they’re just so salacious and huge. But stuff like what about the illustrator that lost a storyboarding gig because, you know, did this in that company use an AI rather than them? Those are the things that we should be thinking right now, because that that’s the that is an application that’s going to happen like tomorrow.


Rosie Knight It’s like.


Jason Concepcion There’s.


Rosie Knight Already yeah. If it’s not already happening in some studio. And the other thing is as well that so there’s a, there’s a website called that you can look at could have I been trained dot com and you can put in any image and see if it was used to train the A.I. stable diffusion or the different processes. The most interesting thing about it is that when people started to look into it, they also realized that there was some unhinged things collected in there. And this is kind of the the problem that. This massive data set that isn’t necessarily regulated you know offers up is that was a Twitter user called Lapin who found that a bunch of before and after medical photos that she had had taken by a clinical physician had ended up on there. And then through that, people started to realize that there were thousands of medical photos and all different kinds of things that ended up on that. That, again, really start to. Blur the lines of consent because there is the consent of, oh, you put your selfie on Instagram and anyone can look at it and use it. But then there’s the consent of something that is private, like a medical image or a nude, which other people found on that. And these are the things that are being used to train it. So it’s just very messy. And I think, Jason, you made a really great point that. Really the most direct question to ask yourself is, would I rather give money to an independent artist or would I rather give money to somebody who is creating this tool that, as we said, has like multiple ethical questions surrounding it before we even just get to that baseline question of. Could I just pan out this and I will say, you can just pay an artist. Guess what?.


Jason Concepcion Just pay an artist.


Rosie Knight You can commission an artist. A lot of artists on Instagram are open to commissions. Your favor as you can pay someone like Jim Lee. He’ll do a charity commission. It’ll be $10,000 if you’re wealthy. Maybe you want a Jim Lee commission to someone who’s doing a $10 commission of your favorite character for charity. There is every range. You can get portrait commissions like Lensa. A lot of artists do those. I have had multiple portrait commissions done of me and people that I love, and it’s a really great way to support art and you get something that’s absolutely unique. So I think that’s just the most important thing is to just say support artists. And at this point, I think that’s the kind of the baseline of our response that we can have to this because it’s incredibly complex. And like Jason said, it’s not going anywhere. It’s only going to get more complex.


Jason Concepcion Speaking of computer generated graphics, up next, Avatar: The Way of Water.


Jason Concepcion <AD>.


Jason Concepcion  I love them so much for Avatar: The Way of Water in theaters now. Oh, folks. Avatar: The Way of Water. The long, long, long awaited sequel to 2009, Avatar. Let’s do a quick recap of Avatar: The Way of Water, which follows ten plus years to the I forget now, I’m going off memory.


Rosie Knight It was around ten years later.


Jason Concepcion It’s about ten years after after Jake and his Na’vi allies have evicted humanity from Pandora, from the planet of Pandora. Jake and Neytiri have a family together, a growing family, and their family is you know, at this point, like their eldest son is of warrior age. Their youngest son is not quite there, but clearly like the equivalent of a human teenager. And then, in that time, they also have two daughters, one an adopted daughter, Kiri, who is the. To the daughter of Dr. Grace, played by Sigourney Weaver in the first film and has something of her personality still. And her there’s clearly some kind of like chosen one aspect to her.


Rosie Knight It was essentially an immaculate conception from all that we know. How Kiri was born of Grace’s seemingly dead avatar.


Jason Concepcion But one day, everything’s beautiful on the on the the beautiful utopian planet of Pandora. But then one day the sky people, a.k.a. the human beings, come back and then we fast forward another year. And this the sky people have. Basically brought Colonel Miles Quaritch, who is the antagonist from the first film played by Stephen Lang. The fucking ageless Stephen Lang is 70 years old.


Rosie Knight I know. Unbelievable. And he’s he’s in every action movie, every crazy horror movie. He’s doing it all.


Jason Concepcion He’s fucking. It’s. It’s truly insane. The first time I ever saw him was in a little, little remembered action movie called Band of the Hand from the eighties, which I don’t know if anybody but me has ever seen. And it’s basically about it’s kind of like Miami Vice meets 21 Jump Street. There’s like this cop who takes these teenage runaways and turns them into, like, a special, like, DEA, like Special Forces fighting group, anyway. And Stephen Lang was like their captain, so. And the sky people return. Colonel Miles Quaritch is his his consciousness that, you know, or at least the consciousness that existed before his death is uploaded into a Na’vi body grown from hybrid Na’vi slash human DNA. There, he’s leading a bunch of other similar Na’vi Marines, and their mission is find Jake Sully, wipe them out, stop his insurgency by decapitating it in order to save his people. You know, spare them the the trouble and heartache of the attacks that are that they know are coming. Jake and Neytiri decide to flee to the coast. They go to the end there. They are taken in by the reef people, who are not quite, you know, kind of grudgingly, like take them in. They learn new ways. They learn the way of water, much like the much like the title says. They learn about how important the tulkuns are to the to the reef Na’vi and this you know, the tulkun are like these these whales, whale like creatures that are intensely smart, intensely emotional. And they go on these long, long journeys throughout the ocean. But but over time, they come back and they return to the various villages to commune with the Na’vi, who have an almost like familial kinship bond with individual tulkun whales. And they come back and they’ll tell each other stories about what’s been going on with their lives. But unfortunately, the brains juice of these tulkuns is is worth a lot of money. Unobtainium, which you might remember from the first movie that is no longer the MacGuffin, the new McGuffin.


Rosie Knight They aren’t interested.


Jason Concepcion They don’t care about that.


Rosie Knight They don’t even say a word.


Jason Concepcion And they don’t even say it .It’s off. It’s fucking off the board. The new thing is this this juice that is that is secreted in the tulkun’s brain is this beautiful amber liquid that can only obviously only be harvested by brutally murdering these creatures. The juice is then harvested and is shipped to earth, where apparently it just flat out stops human aging, according to the men who harvest this this substance.


Rosie Knight Yeah, we’re going into, like, deep seeding territory to the potential next three movies because not only are we going to have an ageless elite, thanks to the brain juices of the tulkuns, but as Edie Falco’s character, General Francis Ardmore says, wiping unobtainium off the board as asked to produce a soul hilariously just pointed out in the chat, they obtained the unobtainium.


Jason Concepcion They obtained it.


Rosie Knight So she says, you know we’re not mining anymore that terraforming they they want to make Pandora the planet.


Jason Concepcion Earth has cashed out.


Rosie Knight Yeah so they want that’s going to be the long battle here is Pandora is being targeted as a place for them to bring the rich and the wealthy and probably the ageless thanks to the brain juices.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight And that is probably ceding the the next three potential movies.


Jason Concepcion So we’re over in the coast. But eventually, Quaritch in his Na’vi body manages to track the Jake to the coast.


Rosie Knight Look, I know what you mean in this regard. I was just.


Jason Concepcion I’m about to do it. He is aided, he he’s aided in this regard by his biological son, Spider, who human, little human Tarzan boy with dreads who was raised among the Na’vi certainly seems to have something of a crush on Kiri, Jake and Nehtiri’s daughter, but is captured by Colonel Quaritch early on in the movie and then basically acts as a mostly unwilling but actually way, way too willing.


Rosie Knight So willing and so quickly.


Jason Concepcion Betrayer of the Na’vi ways. He teaches the fucking Colonel Quaritch how to bond with with the the flying creatures whose name I don’t know he like translates for them when they raid various villages, looking for Jake.


Rosie Knight And be like burn and play people’s houses down.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. And though he’s like, No, you shouldn’t be doing this, he’s still fucking helping. So fuck Spider. Anyway, Spider Spider, anyway, Spider is helping them and this eventually leads to to Quaritch getting the the whaling fleet to target tulkun not in the deep ocean but right off the coast of inhabited Na’vi coastline, because the understanding is that because the Na’vi are so, you know, so emotionally bonded to these creatures, killing them is akin to murder. This is going to cause a response and this will flush Jake out. It works there. So there is a big response. The Na’vi, you know, strike back against the whaling fleet. They’re helped by a rogue tulkun named Payacan, who has been cast out of tulkun society because he they killed.


Rosie Knight They think he killed a bunch of them, but actually they were hunted by.


Jason Concepcion Right. And so he defended them


Rosie Knight People who  want to steal the brain juice.


Jason Concepcion And he defended them from the brain juice harvesters. But even that.


Rosie Knight Is against the rule.


Jason Concepcion Is against the rules of the tulkun who only live in in nonviolent peace.


Rosie Knight Absolute passivism.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, absolute peace. Payacan is like, you know, fuck this shit and goes free willy on the whaling vessel like, you know whipping .


Rosie Knight Literally jumps into the water, like Free Willy.


Jason Concepcion Literally like Free Willy. And then there’s a big showdown with Sully and Neytiri and Quaritch and eventually. The Whalers and Quaritch driven off Quaritch survives thanks to Spider who saves him from drowning.


Rosie Knight For no reason anyone can understand apart from they need him to be in the next movie.


Jason Concepcion Again. We will talk about this in depth after the recap. But once again, Fuck Spider. And this leads to a narration from Jake in which he says, you know, my family is my greatest weakness, but it’s also our greatest strength. Now I realize that this is our home, the entire planet is our home, and we need to defend our home. And that is setting up Avatar three, in which we would imagine Jake and his Na’vi forces wage complete war against the human colony on Pandora. Folks, let’s talk about it. We saw it in 3D, which I will say. And you mentioned, it’s, the 3D is really great.


Rosie Knight Like, yeah, it’s very immersive. It was it was much more 3D than the first one, which I am.


Jason Concepcion I agree.


Rosie Knight A fan of.


Jason Concepcion And it’s not just like dumb like, oh look, now the arrow is coming pointing right your face, you know, it’s it’s stuff like.


Rosie Knight But they do add a little bitout of museum which I.


Jason Concepcion Like they do have a little bit of that in but it’s not just like that wow kind of stuff of like Quaritch’s gun is pointing directly at you or like the the beak of his flying beast is like, you know, coming out of the screen. It’s more like as they’re underwater.


Rosie Knight That’s the stuff that really got me.


Jason Concepcion Yeah. You see these like moats of, of of light and different substances.


Rosie Knight Just flowing.


Jason Concepcion Into the theater.


Rosie Knight Yes. Yeah, that’s the coolest stuff.


Jason Concepcion And it just it it really feels like you’re underwater. It was really cool.


Rosie Knight Yeah, that was that to me was my favorite new development in this movie. I am not the biggest original Avatar, Stan, and I cannot say that this film has turned me into one, but I was very immersed in that spectacle and experience, especially for me, the immersive 3D. I really enjoy that experience and I’d love to see that, you know, in all different kinds of movies. So that that was a big selling point for me.


Jason Concepcion Rosie, do you think people need to see this movie, need to see the first Avatar before they see Avatar one?


Rosie Knight You know, I don’t think it’s a full necessity because I feel like the opening of the movie does a lot of heavy lifting when it comes to introducing the characters, introducing the family, introducing Jake’s journey. I would also say that this movie follows a lot of similar thematic beats as the first movie, so I think they can really understand the world of Avatar. But I will say that I do think that if you wanted to rewatch it and also see whether you were a fan, because I feel like this is very much like if you really like the first movie, you’re probably going to really like or love this movie. So it’s also a good kind of watermark, but I don’t necessarily think it’s a necessity to see the first one before coming into this. I do think that if you’re going to do it, probably watch the first one before you see this, because once you’ve watched this one, the graphics of the first one look very dated.


Jason Concepcion Oh, yeah, yeah. Very, very, very dated. I’ll say this. I think what’s I think if you wanted to go back and just kind of refresh or you haven’t seen the first avatar, what you need to do is watch the first 30 minutes of the first avatar because you need to understand how the avatar technology works, like what it is. That’s a great how how Jake came to be in the Na’vi body where the Na’vi bodies come from. And, you know, there are various scenes like the torture of Spider that kind of like hinge on the audience’s understanding of how the kind of like Avatar and the high tech technology of this sort of this, you know, age of humanity’s ability to peer into the human brain, like how, you know, what they can do with that technology. And so I think it’s important to kind of like have that as like a an understanding of the world and the kind of world building of it, how human race came to be on Pandora, how they get there, how far it is.


Rosie Knight Why they’re there.


Jason Concepcion Why they’re there. I think all that stuff happens basically in the first half hour, 45 minutes of of the three hour plus epic of Avatar, number one, 2009, you know, Avatar. And if you didn’t have 3 hours plus to carve out, then just watch the first 30 to 45 minutes of the first avatar to kind of understand the reality of of where we are and the rest of it you’ll understand. Like there’s a bad guy, it’s basically dances with wolves in space. Only this time the the indigenous win.


Rosie Knight Yeah, but it’s, it’s very interesting. Let’s talk about something because you say that, right. And that immediately makes me feel like, you know, we talked a lot about the way that Andor dealt with real life analogous storytelling that felt radical. But you made a really great point in the lead up to this episode about your reading of the accessibility of Avatar. And could you speak a little bit to that?


Jason Concepcion Sure. Well, I just think James Cameron is a man, is truly a master filmmaker. A truly master storyteller in.\ In a medium that is that is basically like. Box office blockbuster like that is his milieu. He understands how to create a story that crosses all kinds of national ideological and political lines, to create a story that is accessible to the biggest possible audience ever. This is one of the, what, five movies this year, American films that’s going to open in China, right? They think it’s going to do 200 million in China. Why is that? It’s because he’s able to gesture at all these different kinds of groups and concerns that different groups have about stories in this extremely fractured, you know, political era that we’re living in and create something like unified out of it. And there’s something almost diabolical about it. So this is like this is this is what I mean. On the one hand, like, we live in an age in which I think people rightly and fairly are concerned about diversity, about depictions of diversity, and they want to see themselves reflected on screen. So here is a story about an indigenous people, right? An indigenous group. They’re essentially underdogs. At the same time. So that that gives you, like, entre. They don’t look like us, right? They have different ways of being. They’re very connected to nature in a way that feels like, you know, a and at times almost simplistic mapping of indigenous concerns and an indigenous character onto onto a sci fi character. At the same time, this is a group that also reaches like across, that has an appeal beyond that kind of, you know, kind of narrow sliced appeal because they’re a unified ethno religious group right there. There they have a they and their their religion is at the center of their existence. So they’re very religious mono culture and they have very, very traditional gender roles. Like at one point, Jakes says a father’s role is to protect, you know, like this film opens with Jake teaching Neteyem, his oldest son, like, how to fish. And meanwhile, it’s like Neytiri, his wife, who’s the bow and arrow, is her thing. Like she is an absolute fucking artist with the bow and arrow. And that is, in fact, in this movie that’s like her calling card. Like Quaritch is able to identify like her by her arrows. But it’s Jake who’s teaching the kids to hunt, not Neytiri. Who’s doing Neytiri? Not to say that. But at the same time, she is a warrior. She is a fierce warrior. By that same tulkun, we never we see her like preparing food in a very traditional kind of way, like in the huts, chopping up fish and preparing stuff for the family life. An act we never see Jake do it, right. So it’s able to appeal to people who care about diversity and also people who are like, there’s too much diversity in this world. It’s able to open in China, right? Because who are the fucking bad guys in this movie? The American military, the American corporate and military interests are the bad guys in this film. Who are they and why can it open in America also? Because who’s the good guy in this film? An American soldier, a white guy. The greatest Na’vi in the history of Na’vi is a white man named Jake. We love shit like that. And so it’s really interesting the way he is. He is like crafted this story that just has absolutely massive universal appeal, not just to people like who, you know, love movies, quote unquote, the way they used to be. But people who care about like about representation and things now like that, is it it’s diabolical what he’s done. It’s really crazy what he’s done. And it and it absolutely works. Like, is there a a cynical element to it? Yeah, I think so, yes. At the same time, like when Payacan starts wrecking shop and hurling whalers like into the water and slapping them with his tail so their bodies just like fucking go ragdoll across the deck. And then the Na’vi show up and start spearing dudes like out of their Quadcopters I’m like, Fuck yeah, kill them abs, let’s kill these fucking bastards. I please like kill them all. I love it. So this really works like it’s it’s it’s amazing. And it’s got and there’s a through line with a lot of the stuff that James Cameron has cared about for basically his entire filmmaking career, which is, you know, militarism, the the effects, the wide ranging effects of corporate power, the effects of capitalism outside of the view of the kind of the the general public like this is. It’s always like what happens when a corporation goes to space with military power? What happens when a corporation, you know, is mining off world as in aliens? What happens when they’re when their place in colony is on another earth and another world? Excuse me, what happens when they’re mining outside of the view of the press and stuff like that? This is like the kind of shit he cares about what happens when when technology runs amok. This is the stuff that James Cameron cares about. And of course, we all know he absolutely loves the oceans. This guy, he.


Rosie Knight Loves it.


Jason Concepcion Loves the ocean.


Rosie Knight Go submarine, loves that.


Jason Concepcion So it’s really incredible what he has done here.


Rosie Knight Yeah, the I think that your point is so astute about that wide appeal. I think that’s why. What? For some people like myself, it’s not always going to hit because that the vagaries or the or the the lack of making a solid commitment to a message or a story, you know, and I also something that I struggle with after watching last night, the ABC 2020 special Avatar The Deep Dove, about making this movie. I think that there is a very interesting conversation to be had by different people than me, but I will be seeking it out the the way the Na’vi have always been very coded towards, like different races.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight But then the people that are born to play the characters like I was very surprised to find that Ronal, who is the wife of the, you know, the Metkayina, the water people’s leader again, she’s the wife and he’s the he’s the husband and he’s the leader. She’s played by Kate Winslet, even though they’re very obviously inspired visually by the Maori and Maori communities. Now her husband is played by a Maori actor. But there’s just some things like that for this and the kind of the choices that they make in representing this kind of alien indigenous community that just doesn’t really sit for me. But I will say it does follow many of the traditions of things that we love about comic books. It is an analogous story. It’s just now we’re living in a great time. 2022 is a been an amazing year for Indigenous entertainment made by Indigenous people, whether it’s Spirit Rangers on Netflix or Pray or you know, which wasn’t made by Indigenous person but had a lot of Indigenous people working on it, including the producer also, you know, obviously reservation dogs. Yeah. So I think like that puts it into a different light. I feel like this is still a very 2009 story even in 2022. And I think that for me shines through a little bit more narratively because of the other entertainment that we kind of get to imbibe in the stories that we get to experience. But it is a it’s a it’s a wild spectacle and an absolute feat of kind of showing what you can do with CGI. I also like to think this movie took, you know, like 13 years to get made.


Jason Concepcion Yeah.


Rosie Knight I like to think that it’s like the most, I hope that this is not wrong and there won’t be horror stories coming out. But I like to think that this is like the most sustainable CGI heavy movie that’s ever been made and that everyone who worked on it got like a long time to do all the effects and everything because like, that’s the horrible thing about watching a Marvel movie or a DC movie, a Star Wars movie. You know, you hear all these horror stories about the incredible VFX artists just being run into the ground. And I love the idea that James Cameron’s just like chillin, taking his time, giving everyone, like, a really good amount of time to work on the movie. This seems like a very James Cameron move.


Jason Concepcion It really does. This movie needs to make over $1,000,000,000 just to, like, break even. So that’s going to be something to watch.


Rosie Knight Yeah, post Covid, how do you think that’s going to go? Because we are in a different cinema, I think, landscape.


Jason Concepcion I think this movie is going to make. I think it’s going to make billions of dollars. I think it’s going to do it again because I think, you know, I was struck when I was doing my research for for rewatch of Avatar ahead of watching Way of Water. How, why again, how wide reaching the appeal of that movie was. There is like a story from 2009 of these Palestinian protesters dressed up like they had painted their their bodies like Na’vi. And again, you have this story that appeals to people who feel. On who feel like they fall on either side of the various conversations about imperialism and colonialism, like to name one of the of the many dualities that this movie manages to straddle in these two movies, manages to straddle. It’s it’s honestly really crazy that he’s managed to do this. And I feel the same way about you in terms of like the, the Maori coded ness, obviously the first one. You know when I was rewatching it the other night, it is like striking how, it, how American indigenous coded it is like it’s not even you can’t even see coded because it basically is like from the war yelps to the casting of Wes Studi to.


Rosie Knight And it falls into the like.


Jason Concepcion This is what it is, you know.


Rosie Knight The strange, like the one thing that I think I saw some reviewers kind of astutely point this out, but like the costume designs, they lean into this strange like sexualization of the characters even. And that, I think, is something that feels more in line of that outdated kind of coding of how the how those characters were often portrayed. So it’s those little things that I think. But you know what? If it if it gets people to feel a little bit more thoughtful about this stuff, that’s always a good thing.


Jason Concepcion Now, I will say that I think I liked it. Clearly I liked it more than you. I had a good time because, you know, I for me, it’s like the story is whatever. I feel the same way about the first avatar. It’s like that movie opens up and half an hour into it. It’s like, okay, I understand what’s happening here.


Rosie Knight Yes. It’s not subtle.


Jason Concepcion So bizarre. This is not a subtle movie. And it’s the same thing with Way of Water. You know, this is not a movie where, you know, you get to the end of act two and you can feel the story mechanisms working adequately so that like the villains, you hate them more to, you know, like more than anything else in the world. And you want the heroes to just, like, work their asses and you understand that this movie is going to give it to you. There’s never a moment where you’re like, This movie’s not going to give me that hero’s kicking the villains asses moment. So I enjoyed it for the spectacle. And because there’s almost something, again, mathematical. Yes. Would agree about. And about the amount of kind of thought that Cameron has put into crafting a story that, you know, somebody, Sasol and I, we’re talking about like tropes of sci fi and how many various tropes of sci fi and storytelling writ large that the Avatar series uses, that it’s really beyond tropes the way, the way. This story in Cameron is able to take themes and things that different groups care care about and kind of like boil them down into the most universal like ideals that people hold. Like it’s important to protect the family and that your land is worth defending, that people should have a connection to their community, that religion is important and is worth respecting. That, you know, unchecked consumerism that destroys cultures is bad, you know? And and at the same time, there are a lot of things here. Like, I’m interested to see what the response from the Maori communities. Like there are a lot of things here where I’m like, Gosh. I wonder how people are going to feel and talk about this because, again.


Rosie Knight I’m very interested to see that.


Jason Concepcion And it feels like the most consciously apolitical movie that we’ve seen certainly in a long time. Now, the other thing that I do like about this movie, actually love about this movie, is that we haven’t had a smoke, a big joint, just like sit back movie we had.


Rosie Knight That’s the only way to watch the movie. Absolutely


Jason Concepcion I haven’t we have not had one of those in a long time. Like, you know, the MCU movies. You kind of have to understand what happened in like 33 other films. That there hasn’t been like an epic, just like get baked and enjoy the visuals movie in a long time. And in that sense, I actually quite liked Avatar. And again, when the Na’vi in the third act start striking back, the story mechanisms absolutely worked on me and I was like, Yes, show me in in slo mo, deep, you know, 60 frames a second detail, show me a Na’vi, grab a guy by the head and throw them off the ship into the water. Show me, show me a Na’vi hitting them in the face with their bow.


Rosie Knight Show somebody’s hand chopped off in 3D and coming towards you into the light to.


Jason Concepcion Show me Payacan, like, fucking bouncing a explosive harpoon off his metal skull plate. That was pretty.


Rosie Knight Good.


Jason Concepcion That was pretty badass. So that it hits another boat and those soldiers go flying like that part of it was really cool. But I will say again, there’s a level, there’s a way to look at the way this entire story is structured and feel like there’s just like a lot of cynicism here.


Rosie Knight I on the funniest thing is right I think talking to you about as always has enlightened me I think. I think the major reason one of the major reasons that I didn’t love the first one and I still have not been fully converted though I did enjoy this one more with the visuals. You know, I really I do not enjoy war movies. They are not something I’ve ever particularly enjoyed. There’s obviously exceptions of movies that are like masterpieces, like All Quiet on the Western Front and Come See and stuff like that, but like generally a militarized movie about like giant people. And then I shoot, well, if it was Giants that would be cool. But like big guys and they got guns and they’re killing a bunch of people. That’s never appealed to me. And those were actually the moments, the militarization aspects, even though they are portrayed negatively. And I do love to see the American military.


Jason Concepcion Quite negatively.


Rosie Knight That to me the stuff where I’d feel myself really getting immersed is like swimming under the water and seeing some cool creatures and, and then as soon as it got back to the like, violence and the military and stuff, that’s kind of where I would lose my immersion in the movie and my kind of enjoyment. So I think that it is in in some ways and this is the nature of the movie. It’s a war movie. It’s an anti-war movie. But through the lens of here are the horrors of war. And in this case, that is not necessarily what I’m looking for. In a way, I kind of like the more the aspects of it where it feels more like your I used to go to the IMAX a lot when I was a kid in London. They have a big IMAX there that for a long time was the biggest one in the world. And you could go and pay like five or $6 and see a 25 minute to 45 minute long movie that was made specifically to show off the IMAX. And it would be I’d saw, I’d saw ones about like the X Games. I saw ones about dinosaurs, I saw one about under the sea. And there was a lot of moments in this where I was just like, I just wanted to lose myself in that huge spectacle of the vibe and experience a different world. And this does deliver that at some points, but there’s just things that were kind of taking me out of it. And I think it’s that that aspect of a story about war, I’ve always found that hard to connect with, even, you know, throughout my life as a film lover. So yeah, I think it is. It’s a very interesting conversation piece and I think the conversations about it will be far more complex and long running than the kind of meme of the original avatar, which was kind of like, Oh, it’s forgettable, even though it’s the biggest movie in the world. This feels like there’s going to be a lot more kind of in-depth conversation had about it.


Jason Concepcion Let’s talk about Spider. So, Spider, we must talk about Spider. So Spider, again, the son, the biological son of Colonel Quaritch, he’s raised on Pandora. He is both part of their world and not part of their world. He puts on blue body paint in a way that feels, you know, both, you know, a nod and a kind of there’s some, you know, like a nod to the culture that. It is immersed in, but also feels like weirdly and just feels weird that he’s, like, doing that.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion And Quaritch captures him and then he is tortured, which is awful, but then kind of bonds with his father in an interesting way.


Rosie Knight Even though so so we just need to say, like James Cameron in Avatar 2, Way of Water, goes out of his way many times to say he is not technically the biological son of this quaritch because this quaritch is like a random avatar. He is the biological son of the other Quaritch who all of his brain matter memories and on a USB drive went into the avatar. So they do have a connection, but they don’t. And they play on that a lot to kind of do this like moral gray area where you’re like, Will they look after each other? Will they know? And they do, obviously.


Jason Concepcion And so Spider really becomes. Quaritch is begrudging at times, but really right hand person like he helps with translations. He teaches them how to bond with animals using their braids and. In a moment that I think actually burns the character because all throughout Spider, you can tell, is empathizing with the various, you know, Na’vi who are being brutalized by these by his military forces in their search for Jake. He he stops at various times his father from just like flat out murdering the Na’vi, like just to find Jake and to to like send a message. But after the kind of, like, climactic battle between Jake and Quaritch under the water where Jake chokes out Quaritch spider. Who is who has entered the wreck of this whaling vessel, sees his father in Na’vi form there drowning and decides, fuck it, I’m going to save them. And it’s a weird moment because on the one hand. This story is like wants you to feel for Spider as a as a as a being without a home, without a father. Yeah. His only father figure is not his father. He feels more at home among an alien species who don’t. Mm hmm. Who. Who are very, very kind and accepting to him and.


Rosie Knight Fully embrace him as a family member.


Jason Concepcion They don’t fully embrace him, right. They’re never mean to him in any.


Rosie Knight Kind of way. Is is cold. But the the kids see him as a sibling. Right. But really, it’s only Kari.


Jason Concepcion Who improves, who truly embraces him. Right. And. For him to save the life of their tormentor for reasons.


Rosie Knight It just has to be narrative reason. That’s the only.


Jason Concepcion Yes. But sure. I mean, like, obviously, it’s because. No, because there isn’t even the narrative reason.


Rosie Knight Because we’ve like because they want him to be in the movie next time.


Jason Concepcion But that doesn’t even that doesn’t even make sense because they’ve already established at the beginning of this movie that the death doesn’t matter. Just upload another fucking version.


Rosie Knight Oh, that’s actually really great point.


Jason Concepcion Saved on the hard drive into another Na’vi body and dealt with it. No, you don’t need him to die.


Rosie Knight I really felt that choice, which is hilarious because like Spider, I mean, to me that’s a classic. Like it’s almost become a trope that like young sidekick, human sidekick, that kind of annoys people. But the funny thing is, the moment that I found most powerful in this whole film and its message about family was when Spider turned up. He’s at the end of the movie. He’s on the ship. He’s obviously been in cahoots with Quaritch and everything. But the moment he sees his, you know, his Na’vi siblings, the people who he’s been raised with, he wants to help them. He helps them. And not for a single second do any of them question why he was with them, judge him. They’re just like, we’re happy you’re here. You’re making the right choice right now, and that’s all that matters. I thought that was such a empathetic, interesting, compassionate choice, and I was so deeply bummed to see that final choice which sells out the character, but also just. Like I said, it doesn’t really make sense. Just upload a new one, make a new super super Na’vi or something.


Jason Concepcion Which is. Which is why I feel like the. I think the way the movie is going or the series is going is that eventually. Spider is going to be, you know, originally, the reason that create these avatars is to, you know, to send humans into Na’vi societies so that they can learn from them and hopefully find a diplomatic solution to the fact that the human race needs unobtainium and various other resources from Pandora. And the Na’vi, you know, are rightly and fairly and justly and brutally defending their homeland. So how do we come to an agreement on this? And then eventually quietly, it’s like, okay, Jake, you’re going to go in, you’re going to learn from the enemy. You’re going to learn their ways so that we can more effectively destroy them from within. I think if I’m right. I think that’s what Spider is being set up to do. Spider, they are going to like Quaritch eventually they’re going to move him aside and the true villain. I hope this is what they’re doing. This is actually what I hope that they’re doing. Yeah. And that eventually Spider becomes that. Dagger pointed directly at the heart of the Na’vi, who understands their ways, who is raised among them. It’s really speak their language perfectly, who understands the way they think, the way their cultures work, the things they care about. And it’s eventually in the further movie in the, you know, the later sequels. Spider who is going to be the uber weapon of humanity that Jake never was that Jake rejected. That’s the only way this makes sense to me.


Rosie Knight I think that makes a lot of sense, especially there would be a lot of good, sad kind of irony in. Spider in the fourth or fifth movie gang to become Na’vi and using an avatar himself and being able to achieve the one thing that he’d always wanted to achieve. But in. A space where he’s using it to destroy them also makes a lot of sense on a narrative level. If we think about the fact that him and Kyrie have this deep connection and something this movie clearly sets up is it’s almost implied that Kiri is sort of the daughter of Pandora. Like Kiri is partially made of Pandora. Kiri can


Jason Concepcion Right. She has a connection with the planet and the planets, like bio consciousness.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion That is. She’s able to command. She’s able to command the the plant life in the and that and the animal life to attack like the human naval forces in a way that is clearly superhuman super Na’vi.


Rosie Knight Yeah. And super Na’vi. I like that. Yeah. And, and I think it would make a lot of sense because then you can have the inevitable conflict between Spider and Kiri. But the real truth is that an spider would likely come in the final moments, would make the right decision because Kiri is the person that he was connected with.


Jason Concepcion Now, if that is the case, if spy if they are setting up Spider to eventually be like the uber villain of this series, I actually think now this is a really interesting. Now I’m really interested in this.


Rosie Knight Now I’m like, wait a minute.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, yeah. Because I think the implications of him saving him beyond the plot, because again, I think it doesn’t matter for the plot because.


Rosie Knight I think the point that you upload.


Jason Concepcion I think the implications are really interesting because like what happens when Spider tells them? Or does he?


Rosie Knight That’s what I’m thinking.


Jason Concepcion Or does he not tell them?


Rosie Knight I’m assuming he doesn’t tell them that.


Jason Concepcion Right.


Rosie Knight And then that becomes the the third movie is really about the conflict of them finding out and Quaritch being an active player or you have a kind of situation where Quaritch is still injured and in the forest and Spider is secretly helping keeping him alive while they do this kind of greater battle against the Sky people.


Jason Concepcion I hope that that that that is the case because this conversation reminds me a little bit of see the Inarritu movie, The Revenant starring Leo.


Rosie Knight Oh, yeah.


Jason Concepcion Which is a movie that I enjoyed for the spectacle, but also kind of disagreed with in the sense that, you know, there’s Leo’s character. The movie didn’t seem to understand that Leo’s character,  while a hero in the course of the story, is also like the vanguard of this European invasion. That is that is like pressing its way into the heart of the indigenous lands, like the fact that he is out there, like looking for furs. And, yes, he has a Mohawk wife, but the fact that he’s out there leading people deeper and deeper and deeper into this territory, albeit in a peaceful way, is like forging the path for the conflict that is coming. And in that sense, like Jake and then Spider after him make you grapple with the question of is there any way for a technologically advanced society to interact with, with a less technologically advanced society, in a way that is at all equitable? Like, is there any way that those two groups can come to an understanding based on the values, knowledge and material culture that they both have? And in that sense, like, again, if Spider is the villain, that’s interesting. If it’s just like a weird thing to keep the plot going, then I think this is terrible. But but I’d be fascinating to see what happens when Jake and his family find out that fucking Spider, who.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion They have been nothing but great to nothing but wonderful.


Rosie Knight They raised him.


Jason Concepcion They fucking raised this kid. They let him hang out with them, pull on their tails. He hisses like a Na’vi when he’s threatened, when they find out that he saved the life of their greatest tormentor. I wonder what their reaction will be. I really do.


Rosie Knight And we will get to find that out because Avatar three yet untitled, though we can probably guess it might have something to do with, you know, fire or wind.


Jason Concepcion Fire.


Rosie Knight Yeah.


Jason Concepcion Air.


Rosie Knight You know, I’m not exactly, you know, things are all great until fire came along. But but we Avatar three was actually filmed alongside this. So whatever happens, however, this Avatar performs in this post-COVID landscape, Avatar three will come out. So we will find that the question is whether it will perform well enough for Avatar four and five to be made. So whatever happens, we’ll find out what happens in the third movie. And James Cameron, as he always is in his fox jacket, had a very cool, chill viewpoint on it. On the special I watched where he was kind of like audiences have changed things that people like have changed. Let’s just see how it goes. I hope people connect with it and if they don’t, that’s also okay.


Jason Concepcion He doesn’t care. He’s like. This guy is so fucking rich.


Rosie Knight Dude, he’s so rich.


Jason Concepcion He has created like with Titanic and Avatar. He has twice directed the the biggest box office hit.


Rosie Knight Also let’s not forget Terminator Two was like the most expensive movie ever made when it came out. And I’ll just say Spider does fit into, in my opinion he is the worst version of but look aliens new James Cameron put a kid in that you know ragtag kid who the who needs to be helped.


Jason Concepcion Also had matted also had matted, matted, dready hair.


Rosie Knight He’s the best version of that character in my book. John Connor in Terminator Two. If you’re making a James Cameron sequel, you got to have a small child. Sadly, Spider, he’s low on the ranking for me of the James Cameron small child sequel trope. But yeah, I’ll be very interested. I really like that. It’s so funny how I never really thought I never really been like getting deep into, like, avatar theories. You know, my theory is very much in the in the comic book movie, an action movie kind of franchise horror space. But I’m very invested in your Avatar theory. I think if that’s the way they’re leading, that could go somewhere pretty interesting.


Jason Concepcion Yeah, I think that that’s when. You know, this story has been again, it’s pretty basic. It’s all about the spectacle. Like, if you’re looking like, Oh my God, will I be spoiled by it? Don’t worry about it. But if they go in that direction, if they go in that direction, I actually think, you know, the questions about like how, again, how, how technologically advanced culture can interact with a with a more, you know, with a more naturalistic culture, I think is a really interesting one. And if they explore that via Spider, who I think is terrible, maybe that’s pretty interesting. I’ll be interesting to see what happens. A big thank you to Rosie Knight for joining us on X-ray Vision. Rosie. Plug stuff. Plug, plug, plu, plug.


Rosie Knight That’s me. You can read my writing at Nerdisst, IGN, Den of Geek, all those cool places. Polygon We got our big comic books, best comic books of the year. I was shouting out some of my faves. I Watched Their Diaries, such a great comic. Also, My Aunt is a Monster. Those two of my favorites. Yeah, you can find me on Letterboxd and Instagram at Rosie Marx and here.


Jason Concepcion Catch the next episode on December 23rd. That’s going to be our live panel taped at L.A. Comic-Con from a few weeks ago. We will be taking the last week of December and the first week of January off, and we hope that you’re able to do the same. Our first episode of 2023 will be Wednesday, January 11th. And then, folks, are you sitting down? We’re going to be doing two episodes a week, starting then for the rest of time. We’re just going to be doing them two a week, so get ready for more X-ray Vision than your ears can possibly hold. This means episodes of X-ray Vosion every Wednesday and Friday starting January 11th, 2023. Don’t forget to subscribe to the show on YouTube. Follow @XRVpod on Twitter and hopefully somewhere else soon. And check out that Discord where you can hang out with lots of other amazing fans of X-ray Vision plus, Rosie and I. Five star ratings. Five star reviews. We love them. We gotta have them. We need them. It’s like the whale brain juice. We need them to stop our aging. Here’s one from Egypt Brown: Essential listening. Rosie and Jason have quickly become one of my favorite podcasts. The pair are not just knowledgeable, but funny as heck too. Thank you very much.


Rosie Knight Thank you. We try our best.


We try our best. X-ray Vision is a Crooked Media production. The show is produced by Chris Lord and Saul Rubin. The show is executive produced by myself and Sandy Girard. Our editing and sound design is by Vasilis Fotopuolos. Delon Villanueva and Matt DeGroot provide video production support. Alex Reliford handles social media. Thank you Brian Vasquez for our theme music. See you next time folks.