HOLLYWOOD—Is there anything that Director James Cameron cannot do? This man is a fantastic filmmaker. I will be honest there has yet to be a movie he has made that I have not enjoyed. “The Terminator” iconic, “Aliens” better than the original, “Terminator 2” is just fantastic, “Titanic” is sensational and “Avatar” was a game-changer that should have won Best Picture. He is not one of those filmmakers that crank out a movie every single year, but when he cranks out a movie, he ensures that movie is top-tier and his sequel to the 2009 hit “Avatar” is worth every single moment.
“Avatar: Way of the Water” is a long movie people. I mean when have you watched a James Cameron flick that is under 3 hours? You already know you’re going to watch a movie that is long, but it absolutely entertains you. One thing I have to point out there is a slight dull as the sequel transitions from the first act to the second act, but once we enter that third act you will be glued to the screen from start to finish. There is that question if you need to see the previous flick before watching this sequel. I will just say this, it does not hurt to see the first film that was released nearly 14 years ago, but you can go into this sequel and pick up on a few things, but having that backstory helps the narrative honestly.
This sequel I thoroughly enjoyed because it immerses the audience even more into the world of Pandora, a fictional place that the humans have been desperately attempting to take over as Earth is a dying planet. The first movie explored Pandora in pockets as we jumped between what was taking place on Earth and how this foreign planet was expected to be the new human civilization. However, there was a problem, as Pandora was inhabited by the Na’vi.
Quick refresher, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who was initially helping the humans with their takeover of Pandora, but he developed a relationship with Na’vi, native Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). Neytiri and Jake have four children, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) and adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver).
Cameron does a fantastic job introducing these characters and making the audience easily connect and develop emotions with these characters that we quickly become attached to, especially the children. Kiri is an interesting one because she is adopted and happens to be the daughter of Grace (Weaver), who died in the first flick. We really don’t get an answer on her conception, but the fact that the movie brings Weaver back is important because the actress is incredible here.
Speaking of the past, you remember Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the villain in the first flick, he’s back in avatar form of the Na’vi and the humans once again plan to take over Pandora to ensure Earth’s population sustains. With that said, it creates a heightened battle between Jake, Neytiri, their kids and Miles and the human race. It is so riveting that a movie of this magnitude forces you to root for people that are not human beings. I found that so captivating and that is a direct result of Cameron’s storytelling capabilities that are seamless and fun to witness.
I did see “Avatar: The Way of Water” as a revenge tale and that was fun, I wasn’t quite sure what Cameron would do with this sequel and it works because the narrative hits on those cylinders inviting the audience into Pandora right away and you get immediately immersed in this world that you know is NOT real, but it is so visually stunning, captivating you believe it to be real. When the narrative transitions from Omaticaya (Jake and Neytiri’s native home) and retreat to the Metkayina, another portion of Pandora that is all immersed is absolutely the best thing I have witnessed on the big screen in my entire life. When they are in the water, you feel as if you’re in the water as well, words cannot express what you will witness, and it’s a result of how Cameron utilizes the camera to bring the audience in.
This world is even more epic than Omaticaya. What Cameron does with the camera and immersing these characters that live and thrive on the seaboard and near the ocean is incredible. They have been deemed the reef people and they do indeed look different from the Na’vi. They are led by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and Ronal (Kate Winslet). These are two characters who take in Jake’s family who is seeking refuge from the sky people as they are called, as Miles threat looms and he has a secret weapon in Spider (Jack Champion), who has a special connection to Miles and was raised on Pandora with Jake and his family. Spider has a special bond with the kids and that relationship is crucial to the narrative as it develops over time.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” is visually a masterpiece; you will never see anything like this ever again, and Cameron does an exceptional job of not just relying on the visuals to captivate the audience, it is the script that has a consistent pace that keeps you enthralled. The special effects just heighten the story at large. The climax is so much fun and delivers the action, explosions firepower and amazing set pieces that are epic in 3D on the big screen. Should audiences expect another sequel in the near future? Hello, have you seen the box-office numbers? Yeah, it’s in the can and I will be at the theater to see that sequel and any other subsequent sequels that Cameron has planned for the audience.