New from Kevin Wozniak on Kevflix: Movie Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

 

It has been thirteen years since the last time we visited the world of Pandora, but James Cameron takes us back in Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel that was well worth the wait.

Don’t remember what happened in the first Avatar? That’s fine. Cameron starts the film off with a juxtaposition-heavy introduction highlighting what happened in the first film and what our characters are up to. Following their victory against the sky people (humans) on Pandora, the humans have left and the Na’vi, led by Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) seems to be living a peaceful life. Jake and Neytiri have a few kids, their village is prospering, and everyone seems to be happy.

That is until the humans return looking for vengeance and to capture Jake. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the psychotic military leader from the first film, is back to lead the humans against the Na’vi and take over Pandora. But wait, didn’t Quaritch die in the first film? How is he back? Well, in a classic James Cameron move, Quartich made a Na’vi clone of himself before going into battle on Pandora, just in case he died. Now, Quaritch is even more blood-thirsty to destroy the Na’vi and Jake and has the strength and speed of the Na’vi, while still carrying the same militaristic mindset.

When Jake and Neytiri discover that Quaritch and his men are after them, they flee their forest home with their children to keep their people safe. They wind up finding sanction with the Metkayina, a group of Na’vi who live in harmony with the water and their creatures. Jake, Neytiri, and their children must learn to adapt to their new surroundings and way of life, all while Quaritch searches high and low for Jake.

Kate Winslet (left) as Ronal and Cliff Curtis (right) as Tonowari in Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)
Kate Winslet (left) as Ronal and Cliff Curtis (right) as Tonowari in Avatar: The Way of Water (20th Century Studios)

That’s the gist of Avatar: The Way of Water. It’s a straightforward plot, probably one that we have seen before in several movies, but that is how most James Cameron movies are and how most of them have been throughout his career. Cameron isn’t worried about reinventing storytelling or coming up with overly smart, crafty dialog. He writes functional movies that tell a story. He writes dialog that moves the plot, gives exposition when needed, and tells us character details that help flesh them out slightly even if most of them are written relatively thin. Cameron’s writing may not be his greatest strength as a creator, but that’s because he has bigger things on his mind.

Where his writing might be his biggest flaw (if you even want to call it that), Cameron proves once again that he is a master at the art of filmmaking, world-building, and technology. Cameron completely immerses us in the world of Pandora by utilizing top-notch sound design, understanding the scale and scope of this world, and using 3D technology better than any filmmaker ever has. There were moments when I found myself quietly chuckling to myself in complete astonishment at what I was witnessing. Cameron doesn’t just care about the characters or the action that is in front of us, he cares about everything that is on Pandora. The way a certain creature might swim, the details about the villages and tribes, how the waves in the water move, what plants live beneath the water, and even the way the sun hits the moon are all things that Cameron has thought about and brought into the film. Part of why the film runs so long (it’s over three hours, but it really flies by, especially the final hour) is because Cameron isn’t just building out a story or characters, he is building out a world and by the end of the film, you feel like you have completely escaped Earth and entered Pandora.

Writing a review for a movie like Avatar: The Way of Water is tough because it is a movie that must be seen. I could explain to you every detail about the plot. I could tell you which characters die, I could recite lines of dialog to you, I could give you a shot-by-shot recreation of the exhilarating action sequences, and none of it would do the film justice or help you fully understand just how incredible this film really is. Watching Avatar: The Way of Water is a truly stunning, completely immersive experience. It is why movie theaters were created and a movie that should be seen in 3D on the biggest screen you can find so you can fully see, hear, and feel James Cameron’s vision.

 

 

 

 

 

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