When a Pandoran whale bemoaned, in Papyrus-subtitled dialogue, that its past was “too painful” to recount, I think that’s about the time that I realized I had completely bought into Avatar: The Way of Water. I think it was right about then that a Pandoran whale lamented that its past was “too painful” to recount. Some things never change, like the fact that whenever James Cameron decides to make a sequel, he expands and embellishes the preceding story in surprising and engaging ways. The success of the film Avatar, which was released in 2009, had a significant impact on the development of digital filmmaking and distribution. Even though the world has changed significantly in the 13 years leading up to the release of this sequel, some things remain the same. Avatar: The Way of Water is not afraid to be weird as hell, as it doubles down on the naked sentimentality of the first movie, refocuses the plot on more interesting characters, and yes, it has to be said, sets the high water mark for visual effects in film all over again. Avatar: The Way of Water is not afraid to be weird as hell.
The lengthy gap in time between movies is bridged by The Way of Water, which includes a detailed prologue that recounts what took place after the resource-hungry humans of the RDA fled from Pandora. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a former Avatar pilot turned full-time Na’vi, and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), a former military officer, begin a family while serving as the new leaders of the Omaticaya tribe. This family eventually expands to include three biological children as well as two children who were adopted, and it is this growing family that serves as the primary motivation for Jake and Neytiri’s decision to go into exile following the RDA’s return to resume their plundering, led by the virtually nonexistent General Ardmore (Edie Falco). In these early scenes, a lot of exposition is provided, and in doing so, essential details about the status quo and the nature of particular relationships are glossed over. The Way of Water, despite having a running time of a bladder-busting 190 minutes, almost always finds the time to circle back to reinforce the most crucial plot elements. However, this does mean that there will be times when you will be searching for a character’s name or their place in the social hierarchy. Cameron is placing his bets on the fact that you will be awestruck by what a decade’s worth of technological innovation has done to bring Pandora to life on screen, and the effects speak for themselves.
Although we do spend a little bit of time in the woods during the first movie, the main majority of The Way of Water is set in the homeland of the seafaring Metkayina tribe, and the rich underwater habitat provides James Cameron with an even more dreamy canvas to work with. The feeling that Pandora is a living, breathing world is reinforced even more effectively than it was in Avatar thanks to the bioluminescent rainbows that are cast by the flora that lives deep within the ocean’s depths, sunsets that reflect off the waves and cast the shores in a purple hue, and the thoughtfully designed marine life. But when the time comes to blow all of that calm up in favor of blockbuster action, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Cameron delivers the goods in this department as well. Even the most chaotic action sequences are easy to follow, have a thrilling pace, and most importantly, they are impossible to take your eyes off of. I was taken away by how visceral the destruction felt during an early raid on an RDA cargo shipment, which is shown by a train disaster that I found myself grinning through the entirety of.
The Way of Water allows for a great deal more humor and lightheartedness than its more solemn predecessor.
” Cameron’s environmentalist interests continue to be the backbone of the larger plot of Avatar, and his heavy employment of familiar character archetypes and story devices seems to feel like a clear message that the Na’vi good guys and military bad guys are more important as a collective than individually. And if we’re going to be discussing iconic characters, we can’t ignore Cameron’s choice to (quite literally) bring back Stephen Lang’s Miles Quaritch as The Way of Water’s principal antagonist. This is something that needs to be discussed. Quaritch’s attitude as a hyper-macho drill sergeant felt old in 2009, and he was little more than a receptacle for all of the worst aspects of Avatar’s themes of colonialism; nonetheless, Lang’s scene-chewing zeal always kept the character fascinating. Because he now possesses his own Na’vi body, Quaritch is granted a second opportunity to exact revenge, and the fact that he is now physically superior to before only adds to the confidence that he exudes. His personal vendetta is not developed through lengthy lectures on the meaning of life or the expectations of a military man; rather, it is made obvious in the straightforward fact that, despite being given a second chance at life, he is still out to get the Sullys.
However, there are some new wrinkles to the character that suggest a little more depth than The Way of Water has time for – and this is true even though the film is over three hours long. Lang manages to showboat without feeling like a showboat, with all the subtlety of Quaritch holding his own human skull aloft in grand Hamlet fashion. After more than a decade of seeing the benefits and drawbacks of interwoven narratives, it is clear that the decision made by The Way of Water to delay the expansion of the franchise’s world is in the best interest of the overall experience.
The self-serious antecedent to The Way of Water has a lot more room for humor than its sequel, which has a lot more room for humor because the focus has shifted to the next generation. The children of Jake and Neytiri argue and taunt one another, and they get into fights with members of their new tribe, but above all, they support one another. Cameron puts a lot of stock in the middle kids Lo’ak and Kiri as the next representatives of the Na’vi’s warrior and spiritual leanings, and the two of them struggle to figure out where they belong in the world. Because of the way the plot develops, Spider, the human child that the Sullys adopted, does not spend as much time as his siblings, but he manages to stand out thanks to a combination of wild energy and witty attitude. The oldest and youngest Sully children have very little to do and are often overlooked because of this fact, with the exception of those times when someone needs to be in danger so that the story may continue.
Because of the central role that the Sully children play in the plot, Jake and Neytiri’s participation in the narrative is correspondingly reduced, but this is not a problem. Jake is not a more intriguing character than he was in the previous iteration, but he does have usefulness in this iteration as a demanding father figure for his kids to strive to live up to. Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana, appears to be the legacy character with the least amount of development, as she only lobbies Jake to pay attention to her children. The leaders of the Metkayina tribe, represented by Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet, are made of very similar fabric to Jake and Neytiri, and as a result, they frequently wind up feeling redundant. Jake and Neytiri are portrayed in the film by Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet.
The return to Pandora in Avatar: The Way of Water is a sophisticated and opulent experience.
Despite the fact that the vast majority of The Way of Water’s technical gambles pay off, the film’s failures in this area are far more noticeable. To be more specific, Cameron makes a strategic error in the manner in which he brings to life one of Jake and Neytiri’s offspring. Kiri, the eldest Sully daughter, is voiced and played in performance capture by Sigourney Weaver. Her connection to the late Dr. Grace Augustine, who was also played by Weaver, is an important story point; however, the decision to have Weaver herself play this younger incarnation frequently distracts from the overall experience. It has less to do with the concept of an adult playing a child through the use of motion capture technology and more to do with the fact that… well, it’s Sigourney Weaver. Weaver is, of course, game for the attempt, but pitching her voice up and shrinking her Na’vi body down isn’t quite enough to bridge the uncanny valley of hearing an icon – an icon in Cameron’s own filmography, no less – being transposed into an adolescent. This is despite the fact that Weaver is game for the attempt.
It is a thoughtful and delicious return to Pandora in Avatar: The Way of Water, which fleshes out both the mythology created in the previous film and the Sully family’s place therein. Avatar: The Way of Water is a profound and sumptuous return to Pandora. It is possible that this is not the best sequel that James Cameron has ever done (which would be saying a lot given how high the standard is), but it is without a doubt the most noticeable upgrade on the movie that came before it. The lightning strikes that occur in the oceans of Pandora happen in the same spot twice, which expands the visual language that the series has to work with in an aesthetically pleasing way. The straightforward narrative may leave you shaking your head and muttering the word “cliché,” but if its purpose is to take you to another universe, it does its job enough. This is nothing less than a good old-fashioned blockbuster from Cameron, full of cinematic spectacle and heart, and it is an easy recommendation for anyone wishing to escape into another world for a three-hour adventure.
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