I can still remember going to see the first Avatar movie as a kid all those years ago in 2009.
At the time, I was awed by the insane visuals and adored the film.
In the 13 years since, my passion for Avatar has dulled.
I still think its a good film with great CGI, even now, yet the issues with the story became more apparent to me as I got older.
Well, now, after over a decade, James Cameron has finally released the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water.
Going into the theatre, I was curious to see how I would feel about the film.
Oh, I had not doubt that I would once again be wowed by amazing CGI, but I wondered if I would love the story and characters line I did in 2009 or if I would be as jaded about it as I am now?
After seeing The Way of Water, I can say that it definitley needs to be seen in theatres.
The incredible visuals and CGI of the Na’vi and the world of Pandora make the film a spectacle to behold.
As for the story and characters, they hold the same quality of the original film, which is to say they are fairly generic yet not bad.
Honestly, The Way of Water retreads the structure of the first Avatar fairly often.
The film once again follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) who, in the many years since the events of the first movie, have started their own family.
This includes their three natural born children, Neteyam (James Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) .
They have also adopted a Na’vi girl named Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), who was born through unknown means by Grace’s Avatar, and a human boy named Spider (Jack Champion) who was left on Pandora by the fleeing humans.
It is these teenage characters who take up the majority of the screen time in The Way of Water so if they had been badly written or acted poorly then I think the film would have failed.
Thankfully, they all manage to be pretty likeable.
Although, I will say that it was quite jarring to have the 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver playing the teenage Kiri.
The fantastic CGI covered up this problem visually, yet Weaver’s voice sounded weird coming out of someone who is supposed to be a teenager.
Along with the kids, the other main focus of the Way of Water is the Metkayina, a water tribe Na’Vi whose culture we spend the majority of the film exploring, after Jake and his family are forced to flee from their home when the humans come back with a vengance.
There was some pretty excellent world building with the Metkayina way of life, especially involving the whale species known as the Tulkan.
One of these Tulkan, Payakan, is a highlight in the film.
Despite fleeing their home, Jake and his family are still pursued by Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who returns as the main antagonist.
When I heard he would be returning, I dreaded a retcon, considering that Quaritch died at the end of the the first movie.
However, I actually really liked the way he was brought back and used in the film.
It was inventive and made a lot of sense.
What did not make a lot of sense were some parts of the third act.
For example, an entire army just seems to vanish in the final battle just so the last fight can be more personal.
There is also a tense scene between Spider and Neytiri, which is never addressed afterwards, which was extremely weird because it felt like there should be some consequences from this event.
Maybe Cameron is saving the fallout for the next movie?
These problems aside, the third act is actually pretty great, with a lot of well shot action set pieces.
As a whole, the film works pretty cohesively, some plot holes aside.
It does run over three hours and that is mostly due to the long second act exploring the Metkayina culture but, as someone who enjoys good world building, I liked it.
All in all, The Way of Water is a good sequel to the original Avatar.
The visuals are, of course, incredible, and the story and characters are well done, although mostly nothing new.
It will definitely make for a better viewing experience in the threatres so, again, I would recommend watching it there.
I am also interested to hear about the future of this franchise and how far it will go, since the budget for each following movie will likely be extreme.
If James Cameron’s full vision for the Avatar story is realized, it will certainly make for stunning visual experience after stunning visual experience.
So, with my review out of the way, I only have one more thing to say.
Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.