Let’s blow this thing and go home: Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) and Top Gun Maverick (2022)

I can’t really claim to have been particularly invested in either Avatar: The Way of Water or Top Gun Maverick. I watched Tom Cruise’s 1980s navy erotica as a teenager, off of a VHS copy, and I remember very little, other than snippets of Goose’s death. Meanwhile, I enjoyed watching the piece of Na’vi erotica that was the original Avatar when it came out, but it proved utterly forgettable, and when we recently rewatched it, I found its spectacle tacky and its white-saviour narrative too trite and bland even to be particularly offensive. When the reviews of the two decade(s)-late sequels started to come in, I was surprised to find almost universal praise for Maverick and some surprisingly positive takes on James Cameron’s return to Pandora, even if a lot of the reviews weren’t exactly enthusiastic – including some very complimentary reviews from critics who aren’t exactly fans of big CGI blockbusters.

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The Rear-View Mirror: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)

Each Friday we travel back in time, one year at a time, for a look at some of the cultural goodies that may appear closer than they really are in The Rear-View Mirror. Join us on our weekly journey into the past!

If there was alien life out there that had discovered a method to objectively measure charm and they used that to discover intelligent life in the universe, they would surely have discovered the Earth after the release of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid in 1969, directed by George Roy Hill, written by William Goldman, but most importantly starring one of the greatest double acts in Hollywood history, Paul Newman and Robert Redford as the titular characters. The effortless chemistry between Newman and Redford, combined with Hill’s assured direction and Goldman’s wit, make the film a master class in ’60s cinema. There are few films that are as purely enjoyable as Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid

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