It’s been a long 13 years since the first Avatar film which revolutionised the cinema industry with it’s groundbreaking visuals, making audiences truly believe they were far away on the fictional planet of Pandora amongst the Na’vi. The hype is always going to be high for a film that went on to break record after record becoming the highest grossing film of all time, before it tussled with Avengers: Endgame and then rereleased so it would take the top spot once again. Little was known about this sequel apart from most of the cast returning with some fresh faces, James Cameron returning to direct and that it was going to focus on the ocean with some more groundbreaking visuals.
Jake Sully must protect his family from the returning humans who are out to take over Pandora, as Earth is dying. Sully moves his family to a new colony of Na’vi who live by the ocean and become one with the sea life in order to protect their home.
James Cameron does a fantastic job of pulling the audience back into the spectacular world of Pandora. It’s not hard to tell you that Cameron is such a unique filmmaker who loves the industry and strives for the best, putting so much time and heart into each of his projects, it’s clear to see his love for this world he has created. His writing and story might be his weakness but in terms of directing and producing a film like this, it’s an incredible achievement on it’s own. 192 minutes for a runtime can be daunting but this film doesn’t feel close to that, only really slowing down in the middle section which is the weakest act of the film, as it feels the plot grinds to a halt so we can sit and watch the beauty of the CGI ocean and the sea creatures. We’ve had The Batman this year which was 20 minutes shorter than this, but felt a lot longer.
The incredible level of detail in the CGI, the piece of art that the visual effects teams have produced is jaw dropping, there are many times where it feels more likely that characters, creatures and moments are real than made on a computer. There are a couple of moments that don’t look 100% or crossover into the uncanny valley, particularly Kiri who looked weirdly too human for me, but that doesn’t take away from the sheer brilliance the team has created. The first film certainly changed the VFX world, and I hope that big studios like Marvel, who are known for rushing their VFX artists, are reminded of how good films can look if they give artists the time they need to produce high level work, so we get more films that look like this and less like Thor: Love and Thunder.
The vast majority of the cast return to this sequel. The spotlight certainly moves from Jake Sully and Neytiri to their children, primarily on their second oldest, Lo’ak and Kiri, a daughter who came from Grace’s Avatar. The fact that the focus is a lot on children means we get a host of relatively unknown actors taking the limelight. Britain Dalton playing Lo’ak has the most screentime and delivers the strongest performance, I think will probably go on to becoming one of people’s favourite characters in this franchise. Jamie Flatters and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss play the eldest (Neteyam) and youngest (Tuk) children respectively, we don’t get as much time with either of them and I wish we did. The first film focuses so much on Jake Sully and Neytiri’s relationship, so it feels like a shame that it firmly takes a backseat in this film, when you have such talented people involved, although it feels like that is likely to be a result of Zoe Saldana’s busy schedule with the Avengers films and Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, so hopefully that will clear up and have allowed her to have a bigger role in the third instalment.
There are certainly some weaker areas of the plot which don’t get explored too much, which I won’t go into for the sake of spoilers, but considering the 3 hour run time there’s certain things that were drawn out in the first one but in this one there are people that can just instantly pick up doing those same exact things, taking away some of the “chosen one” feel that Jake Sully has.
Overall, James Cameron understands the cinema experience perfectly, he knows how to make big blockbusters. Avatar: The Way of Water doesn’t have the tightest and best script, but it doesn’t matter, that doesn’t take away from the fact that this film is incredible to look at, another extraordinary feast for the eyes and incredibly impressive piece of art that will hopefully once again shape cinema for years to come and help audiences and studios see that sometimes good things come to those who wait.
What did you think of Avatar: The Way of Water?
As we come towards the end of 2022, it has been a fantastic year of cinema when we think back to the likes of Top Gun: Maverick, The Batman and Everything, Everywhere, All at Once. I will be posting my Top 10 films of the year over the next few weeks and my preview for the first half of 2023! So be sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter via the links below to not miss those, and for all the reviews on the way as we start to head into award season.
Happy Christmas to all my readers!