Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water - Review

For over a decade now, the original Avatar has taken its fair share of punches for its derivative story and somewhat weak characters. Somewhere in that same span of time, people have forgotten the true phenomenon that it was and how truly magnificent the visuals were on the big screen. It’s been called overrated so often in the last thirteen years that it has actually become underrated, and the anticipation for its sequel has fluctuated in turn. But now it’s here, and James Cameron gets a chance to remind everyone to never doubt his skills ever again.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Ney'tiri (Zoe SaldaƱa) 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.

In reality, an entire essay could be written on the world-building talents and visual storytelling acuity of one James Cameron, but even then its hard to put into words the gorgeous nature of this film’s visuals. The film opens with with a refresh of the world introduced in the first film, but it quickly pivots to exploring the oceans of Pandora. And if there is one thing you should know about James Cameron: he LOVES water. The new setting provides ample opportunity for Cameron to build upon the foundation he constructed before, and expand the culture and natural life of this alien planet beyond what the audience already knows.

It’s a gorgeous experience, particularly in 3D and on the biggest screen you can find. 

However, the visuals were likely never going to be an issue, the trailers and promotional materials certainly confirmed that even if there was doubt somewhere down the line. Where Avatar: The Way of Water would have to improve to win audiences back would be in its characters and its story. It’s safe to say both are measurable improvements over its predecessor.

The story picks up over a decade later, and Jake and Ney’tiri now have a family. And while the film does go exposition heavy to begin and establish the new normal for our main characters, its necessary to introduce the family members and the new dynamic that’s essential to this film’s narrative. Whereas the first film featured plot points which were quite derivative of other films, the sequel strives to build a narrative around the family and get the audience to care about these characters before introducing new conflicts. 

And it works. It’s certainly not a perfect screenplay, but it gets the job done in ways the original couldn’t. There is more thought put into creating characters the audience can care for and become invested in by the time the big fights and explosions start to roll in. The first film undoubtedly establishes a world worthy of revisiting, but the follow-up establishes characters with a story worth telling.

Many people scoffed at the idea of James Cameron planning (and writing) four sequels to Avatar. The lack of Avatar labeled merchandise outside of Disney World and its seemingly non-existent pop culture impact as lead many to believe that the franchise had no staying power beyond the original 2009 phenomenon. But Avatar: The Way of Water is here to change all that, and with any luck, silence those who ever had the gall to doubt James Cameron in the first place.

No comments :

Post a Comment