When James Cameron released the first AVATAR film in 2009, he broke numerous records and single-handedly reignited the 3D craze. It took nearly 14 years for this sequel to be released. Along the way, the 3D craze had all but died away, and interest in the film had also waned. Its main star, Sam Worthington, saw his promising career tank, and he never had another big hit after Avatar. The moviegoing public has been subjected to an onslaught of repetitive superhero films, which has arguably diminished the average moviegoer’s appetite for anything challenging. Their attention span limited with expectation for “action” to happen every 5 minutes.
Avatar: The Way of Water appears to be something from the past while also offering something new. It also no longer has the advantage of an existing audience. And steadfastly adheres to its IMAX3D format for maximum impact. The end result? Watching Avatar: The Way of Water was like a breath of fresh air for me. It felt familiar while also managing to improve on the original. The original film’s weakest point was its predictable plot and poor characterization. We no longer have these points dragging the film down, and instead can concentrate on the new adventure ahead. The introduction of the wondrous new clan that lives by the sea, and a bunch of youngsters who carried much of the film’s plot and theme. The planet of Pandora’s beauty extends to underwater and we see a new world unfold. Some may object to the film’s incredibly long runtime, which exceeds 3 hours! The film did, indeed, take its time telling its story, but I thought it was well paced and helped us invest in the characters as well as the film’s universal theme of family love, respect, and bonding with nature.
Despite the fact that much of the film is CGI and there is very little “real life” content other than the humans in the cast, the film never felt like an animation. Technically, this has advanced far beyond the original Avatar. The 3D effects were fantastic, but they never felt exploitative. It is unlikely, however, to spark another 3D craze like the original did. I believe that most people dislike wearing 3D glasses. The final act of the film, which involved our main characters being trapped in a sinking ship, felt nostalgic, as it reminded me of James Cameron’s other masterpiece, Titanic.
Performance wise, I would like the actors and actresses playing the roles of the sons and daughters of the main characters excelled. Sigourney Weaver in particular stood out playing the role of her character’s daughter Kiri, while the other standout for me was Jack Champion playing the role of Spider, a young human that was brought up locally, making him more Navi than human. He manages to convey the sense of conflict despite having very little dialouge. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana and Stephen Lang reprising their roles somehow came across less effective and memorable.
Overall, Avatar: The Way of Water did not let me down. It was visually stunning and told a compelling story along the way. It provides a cinematic experience that is sorely lacking in today’s cinemas. What’s not to like about this?