AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, CCH Pounder, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass, Filip Geljo, Jack Champion, Edie Falco, Joel David Moore, and Jemaine Clement
Director: James Cameron
I found it relatively easy to get past The Way Of Water’s glaring issues, including the fact that it’s too long, the character writing is weak, and the high frame rate dips often. However, despite all that, returning to Pandora after all these years felt like the wait was worth it. Director James Cameron’s stunning world-building truly feels like you’ve been transported to a whole new universe, thanks to the revolutionary visual effects and gorgeous underwater cinematography. Writing certainly has room for improvement, but I was delighted to watch this franchise continue, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
The Way of Water is making a splash with its stunning and jaw-dropping visual effects, and I was in a constant state of aww and immersion being back in the world of Pandora. Director James Cameron promised us something special, and he delivers. You can feel Cameron’s love for the ocean and the importance of environmental conservation within this film. But honestly, it’s a very simple story just told in a big way. With this second installment focusing more on character and world-building, the overall plot takes a backseat, leading it to feel more like a filler movie.
Whatever you think of Avatar, good or bad (I lean bad), The Way of Water is more of the same. The story is another riff on Dances with Wolves (with a touch of Mean Girls) that lacks genuine heart and thrilling action because nothing really matters outside of director James Cameron’s ego…er…tech; considering that is -THE- reason to see the movie, it’s mostly a failure on that front (at least in 3D HFR). It’s so smooth and computer generated that it feels like watching video game cutscenes with very noticeable green screening. At 3+ hours, it’s more of an exhausting tech demo than a movie.
Director James Cameron is the king of blockbusters. Even after decades away from directing, there’s no questioning his passion for the theatrical experience. With The Way of Water, you clearly see the years of intricate detail he pours into his craft. The story and characters are straightforward, but that doesn’t make it any less entertaining. It’s a breathtaking spectacle that feels like the best video game cutscene you’ve ever seen. For some, that may feel fake; for me, it was cool to witness. Cameron reminds you why the original was so special, and proves there is a reason to return to Pandora.
The king of sequels has returned! Once again, director James Cameron delivers a sequel that improves on the original in almost every way. While the special effects are once again extraordinary, it's the characters that we meet and get reintroduced to that make everything in this film work. We care about this entire Na’vi family more than we cared about Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in the first one (even the villain is given more dimension to make the stakes of the film more complex). All this only enhances the action-packed finale that once again cements Cameron as King of the World.
Despite some lackluster pacing in the second act and a few issues with the ending refusing to let the “franchise” of it all go, The Way of Water remains a successful sequel to the 2009 film and a marvelous visual spectacle. The water work is as beautiful as you’ve heard, and the visual effects Oscar race is over. While it’s not quite as clean-cut as its predecessor, director James Cameron once again provides thrilling action alongside miraculous imagery to deliver a truly stunning cinematic experience despite the fact that the characters haven’t gotten any thicker and he still struggles with dialogue.
While the stakes of The Way of Water aren't as high as its predecessor, the grandeur of storytelling is. Director James Cameron provides a visual experience that reminds moviegoers of the art of blockbuster filmmaking. Technically masterful, Cameron's worldbuilding continues to be unparalleled in terms of sheer immersion, and while not quite as good as the first, the further exploration of the characters and introduction of new ones still makes for one of December's most entertaining films. Best seen in IMAX 3D, Cameron has proven that he still has plenty more to say about this world, and more than enough gas left in the tank to tell you about it.