It has been over a decade since we had the first Avatar movie which is not dissimilar from an empty vase – it’s pretty to look at but gosh, there isn’t much inside. Now we finally have a sequel – Avatar The Way of Water.
Set years after the first film, The Way of Water follows Jake Sully and his new family as they live in the glorious world of Pandora. However, soon humanity comes back and threatens Jake’s idyllic life. In order to escape the insurgence, Jake takes his family to the Reef people and they all have to learn…the way of water…to survive.
The world that Cameron has created is vast and plentiful, and The Way of Water opens up a whole new element to Pandora. Thousands of CGI artists have painstakingly provided astonishing visuals, transporting you to this colourful (though mainly blue), vast world. The beauty of Pandora is truly the heart of this film. From the vast array of unique and bountiful creatures to the neon underwater world of Metkayina, The Way of the Water is brimming with vibrancy as you dive into the deeper waters of Cameron’s imagination.
It all really come to a head with spectacular action sequences that are gripping and engaging and explosive.
The acting is pretty impressive too. Stephan Lang returns to give new dimensions (literally) to Colonel Miles Quartich and has one of the most metal scenes to ever grace the big screen blockbuster. Newcomers Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Trinity Bliss are great as the Sully children and grapple huge emotional journeys in a fantastic way that keep you somewhat engaged with the story. Jack Champion is also terrific as Spider, a human child immersed into the Na’vi world. It’s a shame, then, that Kiri – the Sully’s adopted hybrid daughter – is played by Sigourney Weaver when the role could’ve equally been given to a new and upcoming actor.
It is also a shame that good work is wasted on an overstuffed plot. There is a whole multitude of new characters to keep a track of, a brand new tribe, and it is woefully unexplained as to exactly why the “sky people” returned and demolished half the planet. Some elements are quickly disposed of as the focus falls on Quartich’s immersion into Na’vi culture and some whale hunters. Even if this information is presented in the film, it is not clear or concise, and most definitely hard to track.
Plus, the Avatar team clearly are setting up the future films, but they spend so long focusing on these arcs that the film ultimately feels unfinished, despite being over three hours long.
On top of this, the casting of Kate Winslet feels a little off. As Ronal, she plays the wife of the Metkayina tribe leader Tonowari (played by Cliff Curtis.) The Metkayina, or the Reef People, are just an alien replica of the indigenous Māori tribes of New Zealand. The casting of Winslet doesn’t sit well in this instance and leaves the wrong aftertaste after viewing.
Is Avatar: The Way of Water an astonishing piece of movie-making? There is no doubt about it. It is incredible to see what we can do with VFX technology, and no one showcases that more than James Cameron. Does the story warrant its three-hour runtime? Well, let’s just say it was a fond reminder that I broke my tailbone recently.
The Way of Water is simply a much bigger vase that leaves you with a much bigger feeling of emptiness after viewing.