Alex Reviews "Avatar: The Way of Water"
It has been 13 years since James Cameron’s Avatar was released and was credited with ushering in the rebirth of 3-D cinema. Its success truly thrust back into the public eye, and since then it has mostly become a small niche or fad depending on who you speak with about their moviegoing experience. I am of the opinion that 3-D has never made a film better, but Avatar: The Way of Water may become the exception to that rule.
Taking place not long after the conclusion of its predecessor by covering the outcome of those events succinctly with Sam Worthington’s voice-over style that is prevalent in both films, it transitions through the following sixteen years that end up bringing the “Sky People” returning to invade Pandora for a number of reasons but centering around “traitor” Jake Sully and his growing family.
First things first: be ready for A METRIC TON to happen in three hours and twelve minutes. This is more of an experience than it is a film for me because its visual effects and advanced technological achievements constitute literally the most stunning film I have ever seen in a way that even sets itself apart from the first film. The shock I got from feeling like I was inside this universe (furthered by seeing this in a premium format of Dolby 3-D) is enough to stagger even the most cynical of critics for its extended runtime.
Unfortunately, the story asks for several mental leaps which made fully engaging in it difficult for me. On at least five separate occasions, I found myself asking “Wait…what?!?” while fighting to re-engage with the narrative. I will keep this spoiler-free (because that’s what we do), but I will tease that one of these moments involved a very large plot point being almost note-for-note one done on Rick and Morty over three years ago. Avatar: The Way of Water honestly feels like a film torn between two ideas: showing off visual effects laying an immense amount of groundwork while not entirely paying off a complete story in a runtime where it truly could have.
While I struggle to comment on the acting (almost every character is CGI), the cast embraces the complete range of expression vocally which resonates well alongside the visual effects to present genuine emotions of every kind. Worthington totally balances stern patriarch and concerned father well in his delivery and is paired well with the one person that can execute the balance of animalistic and engaging counterpart to him in Neytiri than Zoe Saldana. On another note, I would love to have been present when James Cameron talked to Sigourney Weaver about returning in the way that she does because (again, no spoilers) is nuts and still somehow not the craziest thing to occur in the story. Joining the returning cast, Cliff Curtis (The Meg) and Kate Winslet (Titanic) blend perfectly in as the leaders of the water tribe seen in the trailers. Curtis continues to be the perfect choice whenever a Pacific Islander father is the role (unless it’s a wild man, then you call Temuera Morrison), and if Neytiri is animalistic, Kate Winslet brings regal fire to Ronal and ensured I felt every single emotion she conveys and gets bonus points for setting the record time for free diving time while filming (formerly held by Tom Cruise).
If there were a way to experience the highest premium formats at home, I might recommend watching Avatar: The Way of Water in a setting where it can be broken up for restroom breaks. Since this is not necessarily a thing for the average family, you would be doing yourself a disservice to not go see this experience in the highest format available. Anything less or not seeing it at all would be a mistake as I will guarantee this to win every visual award when that season gets rolling.