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avatar: the way of water


starring: sam worthington, zoe saldana, cliff curtis, and kate winslet


REVIEWER: lyall carter

Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home.

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) as a resurrected Colonel Quaritch attempts to hunt them down. The Sully family head for the safety of the Metkayina, sea-faring Na’vi clans, where they seek refuge. But trouble follows them as we follow the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.


Thirteen years after the original smashed all box office records left, right and centre, its sequel heads to the multiplex. While the money it hauled in demanded a sequel and the world of Pandora at Disney World in Florida is astounding, the original film didn’t seem to elicit a Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, or Marvel kinda fanbase. 


And I reckon that it all comes down to story and character development. While visually groundbreaking, Avatar lacked depth in its narrative and there weren’t any characters that truly captured the heart. Even with a three hour runtime with so much room to move, The Way of Water faces the same struggles as its predecessor. 


Apart from the tulkun, beautifully rendered whale-like creatures, I didn’t feel any real connection with any of the characters. I weep readily in films, but even in the action stacked final act when so many Na’vi were in peril I wasn’t on the edge of my seat or shedding a tear. And it’s not because they’re some giant, CGI created being that I didn’t feel connected to the characters. Paddington, Narnia’s Aslan, and Planet of the Apes Caesar has shown us that CGI creatures can connect with audiences as well as any actor. Unfortunately, The Way of Water doesn’t have that. 


Despite all of that, The Way of Water is a cinematic spectacle that needs to be seen in 3D on the biggest screen possible. The watery world of the Metkayina is a densely populated one with eye popping creature design. Director James Cameron’s love of the ocean is very much on display here. The final act of the film is a breathless salvo of action, confirming once again (if you really needed any convincing) that Cameron is the king of the cinematic spectacle world. 


While Avatar: The Way of Water suffers from a lack of story and character development, its real power lies in its spectacle with sumptuous visuals and a breathless salvo of action in its final act.


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