Film, Film Review

REVIEW: Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) dir. James Cameron

Never bet against Jim.

by

It’s hard to believe the day has finally come. After years and years of delays, the sequel to the highest-grossing film of all time is here, and it actually does exist. James Cameron is about to become king of the world once again.

Many years have passed since Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) were victorious in their fight against the sky people laying waste to Pandora. Jake, having successfully transferred his consciousness full-time to his Avatar, has taken charge of the Omaticaya clan and started a family. His children are hardly teenagers when the sky people suddenly return, intent on claiming Pandora for Earth and eliminating the Na’vi. Among them is the resurrected Colonel Miles Quartich (Stephen Lang), now in an Avatar body of his own. In order to protect his people, Jake and his family flee to the ocean, where they take refuge with the Metkayina clan, a seafaring race of Na’vi. The Sully family must learn the way of water in order to survive and face the dangers of the ocean head on.

Obviously, this thing is crazy. Just bonkers. You will believe Pandora is real, but if you’re one of those people who got depressed after watching the first film I hope you seek medical attention. Even though the film is not *incredible*, with a languid first hour and plenty of awkward exposition, it is an undeniable experience. I will never understand ‘high frame rate’, but Cameron knows how to wield it well. Only a few scenes suffer and look like PS4 cutscenes. The rest of the time, it is witchcraft. These sea creatures are real, and James Cameron discovered them. I don’t ever want to go into the oceans of Pandora myself, so it’s nice that Cameron did it for me.

The Way of Water is much more about the Sully children than the parents. While children are normally the worst thing you can put in a movie, these kids are pretty good. It does help that one of them is played by the 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver. Kiri (Weaver) is the film’s most fascinating character, one who is clearly key to the future of Pandora. We don’t know the full story, but the actual first minute of the film establishes that she is apparently the virgin birth of Dr. Grace Augustine’s Avatar body, which is sleeping in a tube as Dr. Augustine died during the first battle for Pandora. Kiri visits the Avatar and calls her “mom.” Kiri also has some kind of connection to Ewya, controlling plants and animals at will. Like I said, this is fucking crazy.

We are not ready for the reaction to this film. People are going to become addicted to this movie, to the subtitled whale dialogue, to the climax that’s literally just Titanic again, to everything about family. Seeing Avatar: The Way of Water early feels like waiting for a tsunami. It is going to make $3 billion dollars in a month. James Cameron understands how to make an event so entertaining all your concerns are thrown away. He even weaves some threads for Avatar 3, which I now do believe is real and will happen. And everyone will go crazy for that too.

Avatar: The Way of Water
2022
Dir. James Cameron
192 min

In theaters everywhere Friday 12/16

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