Review: Avatar: The Way of Water
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.
Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Bailey Bass, Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters & Stephen Lang.
Avatar: The Way Of Water is 3 hours long and that alone is enough to turn many audiences away. With the sequel being many many years after its predecessor, the thought of the film even being released is a crazy one. Especially due to Cameron’s eagerness to create new technology and change the industry again & he does it again here too with impeccable visual effects.
Following the first film, it is at its most consistent with all technical elements blowing every film of the decade out of water. There isn’t a single minute that you don’t say to yourself “show off”, blown away by every single frame, full of visual flair and impressive cinematography. Unfortunately I do believe the film to fall rather flat in visual storytelling, never offering any metaphoric meaning through shot composition or expanding the emotional depth.
James Cameron is known for his incredible stories and world building, while the story in this is as simple as it comes, it’s just as effective. Playing with the Romeo & Juliet trope between characters completely worked for me, but what didn’t particularly work was the overall screenplay. It’s rather inconsistent with the dialogue, often feeling rather unnatural and cringe. While in other moments, dialogue shines, with real rhythm and naturalistic delivery. Every actor does try their best with certain lines but the dialogue is hard to ignore. Particularly with the character Spider, who was by far the weakest here. Played mediocrely and rather poor at times, damaging his overall character, therefore the overall film due to his large involvement. For a 3 hour film, I would have expected a lot more character work for each character, adding more depth but we never truly got that with everyone. Some characters towards the end feel forgotten, that loses the emotional weight when it reaches its peak in the third act. I would have loved a much more polished, perfect screenplay to complement the perfect technicals.
The villain played by Stephan Lang was fantastic as per usual. Endlessly engaging and intimidating, even stepping up his game over the first film in motivation and prescience. The narrative carried by his character, actively pushing Jake and his family further and further away, testing their humanity with not only themselves by others. Resulting in a lot more tense, emotional scenes that, while didn’t get me, were a lot more impactful as the first one that I thought felt rather empty at times.
However, I wouldn’t call the technicals too perfect, as the score was rather a letdown. Sometimes feeling generic and dull, then it shift and be a lot more complex and exciting. As well as the editing feel rather inconsistent and janky, pulling me out the film for a second or two. Its visuals constantly pull you back in and never lets you go.
To finalise, the action is sublime, smooth and well choreographed. With much better stakes and circumstance, as well as being a great driving metaphor for people’s treatment of the oceans and forests. Avatar: The Way of Water is the biggest of step ups from Avatar with much better narrative, visuals, characters & action that sets up what could be one of the most exciting franchises to come.