Director: James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron & Jon Landau
Star cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis & others
It’s worthwhile to make the long journey back to Pandora merely to see the extraterrestrial space whales, thirteen years after filmmaker James Cameron’s groundbreaking picture “Avatar.”
“Avatar: The Way of Water,” the first of four anticipated sequels to the 2009 sci-fi blockbuster, outperforms the first movie practically in every way. It is rated PG-13 and hits theatres on Friday. The new film is an emotionally packed adventure that once again touches on themes of colonialism while adding environmental concerns and relatable family drama. It is a magnificent and stunning thing to look at, with great images of underwater fauna.
The plot of “Way of Water” isn’t the most intricate ever, and not everything goes according to plan, but most viewers won’t care when they’re witnessing large blue figures fly and dive in fascinating ways while riding interesting creatures. (Parents, please be aware that your children may now request a space whale for Christmas.)
In Cameron’s most recent film, the action takes place for than ten years after former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington in motion capture), his Na’vi girlfriend Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their native clan drove mankind off the lush moon of Pandora. In the years that followed, Jake and Neytiri had three children: feral human child Spider (Jack Champion), two sons who were warriors-in-training named Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and a young daughter named Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). They also adopted a teenage girl named Kiri (Sigourney Weaver).
When a far larger force, led by General Frances Ardmore (a scenery-chewing Edie Falco), appears on Pandora seeking to take it over as a replacement for the increasingly uninhabitable Earth, mankind once more disturbs their peaceful existence. This time, humanity have also produced their own 9-foot-tall cloned Na’vi troops, including one with Miles Quaritch’s (Stephen Lang) DNA and memories, who was last seen receiving two lethal arrows in the chest from Jake and Neytiri in the original movie.
In “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Stephen Lang’s motion-captured replacement Quaritch receives instructions from his human counterpart.
The fact that Jake is the most desired person by the evil guys forces him and his loved ones to look for a new place to live in order to protect their tribe. Though Quaritch’s goon squad and a legion of human-piloted machines, from high-tech shark subs to robotic crab suits, are close on their trail, they eventually find refuge with a village of Na’vi reef dwellers, led by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and the pregnant Ronal (Kate Winslet).
This time around, a major topic is water, which serves as the inspiration for some of the deeper philosophical ideas (the recurring motif being that “the way of water connects all things”). Additionally, a lot of the coolest things happen in the ocean: There are many battles and fantastical adventures, but the most exciting scene in the film’s lengthy three hours and twelve minutes involves the troublesome middle child Lo’ak adopting a misfit Tulkun, a whale-like creature that can converse with Na’vi.
In “Avatar: The Way of Water,” Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) is a teenage Na’vi girl who adores animals and has a puzzling link to a higher force.
The majority of the primary characters from the first “Avatar” are back in the sequel along with a large number of new faces, but Kiri and Lo’ak in particular are the ones who really propel the film’s compelling coming-of-age narrative.
They add a sense of novelty when “Way of Water” veers toward familiarity by bringing back plot aspects from the first film, such as Quaritch 2.0 becoming able to get along with Pandoran species in the manner of Jake or people going to great lengths to obtain a valuable resource. (Thank goodness, it’s not the weirdly titled Unobtanium this time.
One of James Cameron’s most breathtaking creatures for “Avatar: The Way of Water” is the Tulkun, which resembles a whale.
It’s better to just weather some things, like one lengthy segment resembling an incredibly harsh animal documentary, and not to worry too much about others, like at least one immaculate pregnancy. Even though the visual effects are often fairly amazing, the movie occasionally has a goofy feel compared to the more opulent scenes, like in a video game or theme park ride.
Even though Cameron is a virtuoso at following up on franchises, “Way of Water” falls short of his masterpieces “Aliens” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” However, this latest journey does demonstrate that there is still some gas in the “Avatar” tank after all, perhaps unexpected to some after such a long gap between films, thanks to new characters and vibrant fauna.