(L-R): Tsireya (Bailey Bass), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Review – Avatar 2: The Way Of Water

By: Robert Prentice
Avatar

2009. It’s been 13 years since the first film. Seems like forever ago but also far more recent. James Cameron’s first Avatar film broke records and was way ahead of its time visually and technically. Many have panned the plot line of the first films as a mix of either Dances with Wolves or FernGully, or both. Whether or not the plot was the best in the world you cannot argue with the #1 spot it has with just over 2.9 billion in box office sales. The question is, was the 13-year wait worth it?

Jake Sully and Ney’tiri have formed a family and are doing everything to stay together. However, they must leave their home and explore the regions of Pandora. When an ancient threat resurfaces, Jake must fight a difficult war against the humans.

Review

I had high expectations for the technical and visual marvel of the film going in. My author avatar on TiBS should be a clue to that. Not just because of what Cameron did with the first film but his ego-driven comments about the sequel. He was very confident this new film would surpass the original and drive moviegoers to the theatres. The original film’s plot wasn’t terrible but it also wasn’t all that original. That being said, the original film was ahead of its time with the visuals and technical achievements but 3D never really took off.

© 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Avatar 2: The Way Of Water opens up nearly 10 years after the original film, and as you might expect Jake and Ney’tiri now have a family. The young cast playing his kids was talked about and debuted back in 2017 and we have to realize it’s now 2022. 5 years have gone by. Some of the young cast who started 12, are now full-blown adults. But not to worry, because during that 5-year span, Cameron (being the overconfident person he is), has already completed the shoot on Avatar 3 as well which lands in 2024. The idea was he didn’t want the kids to age out and have to change actors for future sequels. But does it all work?

The plot for the new film is SO much better than the first film (low bar I know). Jake turning on humans and becoming one of the resident Na’vi is only so entertaining. We enjoyed it mostly because we were exploring a new world but a world centered around Jake and Ney’tiri would tire quickly. Queue the family. Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) as Jake and Ney’tiri’s sons and their daughter Tuktirey (Trinity Bliss). Outside of the direct family, there are also 2 more interesting characters: Kiri, their adoptive older sister (Sigourney Weaver), and Spider (Jake Champion), an adoptive human brother.

Jack Champion as Spider. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

This story’s focus on the younger cast did wonders for the overall elasticity of the story and future sequels. As well as being able to draw in new and younger audiences to the film and the world of Pandora. I also appreciate the dedication of Cameron and the studio for being willing to film the other sequels back to back to ensure the young actors remained throughout the growth of their characters in the film.

What about the visual and technical achievements of the film? Part of the reason Cameron took so long to make the film was waiting for the technology to support his desire to do motion capture filming underwater. Well, after seeing it in 3D IMAX I can say that he achieved that goal with spectacular results. The film comes in at 3 hours and 10 min long (nearly 30 min longer than the first). However, the engrossing visuals left me seeing that time mostly fly by.

Avatar 2: The Way of Water is by no means perfect though. The film boasts a high frame rate of 48 fps versus the standard 24. This leads to some moments between heavy action scenes and underwater scenes that you go from that video game cut scene feeling to standard frame rate and it can be a bit distracting. The second issue isn’t so much a problem with the film as it is the viewing experience at home down the road. The film is so far ahead of its time with the high frame rate, sound, and 3D that home watchers will miss half the experience at home. Time will tell how quickly that catches up.

All in all, I have to admit that Cameron was right. Avatar 2: The Way Of Water exceeded my expectations and is a film that given its advancements in visual/technical filming, and its immersive world, has to be seen in IMAX 3D to fully experience what the director had in mind. Will it be enough to bring audiences back to theatres in large enough numbers to be in the top 3? (Cameron claims it needs that level to be profitable) That remains to be seen but I am fairly confident it will break records.

Avatar 2: The Way Of Water hits theatres 12/16.

© 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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