AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
Since Director James Cameron seems to be all about breaking records versus creating original stories, it seems like he should have been able to find 5 minutes of footage to make AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER his longest film to date, but for whatever reason stopped shy of breaking his own obnoxious record and kept AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER at a measly 190 minutes when he could have gone for 195 and topped his own TITANIC record of 194 minutes.
Ahead of its time for visuals, Cameron’s 2009 AVATAR was a stunning visual feast but lacked creativity with its blatantly obvious white savior story rip from movies such as POCAHONTAS and FERN GULLY.
Cameron’s latest film, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER, is a bit less obvious as to where its story has been coopted from, but nonetheless, it’s not the original creative work we’d hoped for 13 years after the first.
Initial reactions online likened AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER to a blend of FREE WILLY collides with DANCES WITH WOLVES. It’s also got some storylines akin to TITANIC (at least we’re borrowing freely from our own IP this time) as well as some JUNGLE BOOK vibes.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Visuals
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER was the visual ecstasy I expected it to be. Between the 3D and Dolby Atmos, you feel fully immersed in many scenes, especially battle and water scenes. The underwater scenes are particularly breathtaking—at moments you feel like you’re swimming underwater with them.
In many battle scenes, you feel as though bodies and debris are thrown at your feet, while others still feel like the refresh rate of your video game feels off leaving a lack of consistency in the visuals even within scenes. Other scenes yet felt pulled from Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom‘s Flight of Passage and left me wondering if they even created new footage.
Special effects lovers will still probably appreciate the scenes that do have incredibly seamless special effects and for that, it’s worth a watch.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Family Theme and Storyline
However, beautiful visuals alone don’t sell a movie. The family theme is strong throughout the film and well-enmeshed, but that is where the strong storyline ends. For a movie that is unnecessarily long, to begin with, the characters are mostly underdeveloped and the antagonist’s motives are questionable at best.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is Too Long
There is rarely (if ever) a need for a movie that hits the 3-hour mark. Even mega-blockbuster movies such as Avengers: Endgame, which is a culmination of handfuls of movies, need to be that long, but at least it’s a bit easier to justify. A 3-hour and 10-minute movie that still has plot holes and fails to explain well what the objective was is unnecessary and even worse, annoying.
I didn’t quite want my 190 minutes back, but a 2-hour movie would have been much more appropriate.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Choreography
Perhaps the best part of the battle scenes is the choreography in fighting from characters such as Zoe Saldana‘s powerhouse performance as Neytiri. Her martial arts work is well-choreographed and had me wanting more of her staff work.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Better than the Original
It’s not often I suggest a sequel is better than the original, but in this case, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is better than the original AVATAR. It’s also not a high bar to cross. However, as a whole package, it’s a slightly better movie.
About AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive and the tragedies they endure.
Runtime: 190 minutes
Director: James Cameron
Screenplay by: James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver
Story by: James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver & Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno
Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Executive Producers: David Valdes, Richard Baneham
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Ribisi, and Kate Winslet
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is in U.S. theatres December 16, 2022.