Avatar: The Way Of Water
Duration: 192 Minutes
Director: James Cameron
Writers: Amanda Silver, Rick Jaffa, James Cameron
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, and Joel David Moore
The wondrous lands of Pandora took everyone by surprise back in 2009’s Avatar which became the highest-grossing film to date. After 13 years of anticipation and production delays, James Cameron has finally made his way to the water to deliver a sequel. There is a lot of hype and scepticism surrounding Avatar: The Way Of Water and I entered the cinemas after wrapping up work on a Friday evening expecting a visually stunning cinematic experience, the film definitely delivers in that arena. However, does having stunning visual effects at a time when CGI-heavy films release every Friday enough to captivate the audience? This is where Avatar: The Way Of Water takes a beating!
Over a decade has passed since the first film in the Avatar universe and Jake Sully has gotten busy building a family with his Na’vi love Neytri played by Zoe Saldana. The family and his tribe face an imminent threat from the ‘Sky People’ aka human beings who return to Pandora to resume their exploitative activities and seek revenge. This threat brings out the protective father inside Sully who travels across the seas to seek refuge on a coral reef Island with the Metkayina clan. This is pretty much the story of the new Avatar film without jumping into spoiler territory.
The first Avatar film was not a pioneer in its story either, these films rely on a simple story structure but are backed by awe-inspiring visuals which make up for a cinematic delight. However, this time round the visual spectacle did fall short to make up for a half-baked story. There are indeed plotholes here and there sprinkled throughout the film and Jake’s sudden decision to go from a clan leader to seek refuge away from the forest does not entirely make sense. The water sequences in ‘The Way Of Water’ come roughly after 50 minutes in the film and stay till the end. It is clear that Cameron wanted to shed a light on humanity’s ill-treatment of our ecological resources. There is a well-drawn-out whale hunting sequence in the film that broke my heart and made me shed a tear. Overall, while the story is stretched out and feels repetitive at times it is bearable.
One clearly does not watch blockbuster films for their Shakespearean narrative. People are drawn out to the cinemas to experience the extraordinary stimulus of breathtaking visuals with films like Avatar, and there is no doubt that the film hits the ball out of the park in that arena. Some shots here will have you wondering ‘How the hell did Cameron pull this off?’ All the water sequences in the sequel are beyond just stunning. Cameron plays around with the frame rates during sequences which adds on to the hyper-reality he’s built in this franchise.
Stunning In Parts
It is easy to set high expectations from blockbuster films to ultimately be disappointed. However, my expectations with Avatar: The Way Of Water were set pretty low thanks to the internet discourse around the film franchise. Even with low hopes, the film fails to captivate the audience’s attention to the highest degree. It can easily be chopped down by at least 10 minutes to keep it crisp. Character motivations are all over the place, some plot points don’t entirely make sense, and the conclusion leaves more to be desired even though a long climax takes place right before it. Cameron takes heavy inspiration from his previous film Titanic for The Way Of Water’s climax, which is not a complaint! Ultimately, the second visit to Pandora was overwhelming and underwhelming at the same time.