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Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water
Not too different from the first film, but that’s not really a bad thing.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Synopsis:
Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their home.

We return to the world of Pandora in . It has been 13 years since Jake Sulley (Sam Worthington) was permanently transferred into his Navi Avatar and became the leader of the Omaticaya along with his mate Neytiri (). Together they have three biological children, Neteyam (), Lo'ak (), and Tuktirey (), and have also adopted Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), the daughter of the late Grace Augustine's Avatar, and Miles “Spider” Socorro (), a human left behind on Pandora.

The Sulley family's peace on Pandora is disrupted by the return of the RDA, which now plans to colonize the planet with humans seeking escape from a dying Earth. Part of this plan is the creation of Recombinant Avatars using the memories of fallen soldiers led by the resurrected Colonel Miles Quaritch (). Not wanting to endanger the Omaticaya, Jake relocates his family to Pandora's eastern seaboard and seeks shelter with the Metkayina clan, led by Tonowari () and his wife Ronal (), accompanied by their children Tsireya () and Aonung (). There, the Sulleys learn about the way of water and the Metkayina's unique connection with the whale-like Tulkun.

Avatar: The Way of Water Synopsis

Avatar: The Way of Water is the long-in-development sequel to the original 2009 film, once again co-written and directed by James Cameron. Part of the reason for the 13-year gap between films came from Cameron's intentions to develop multiple sequels simultaneously, with the third film already being shot, as well as developing technology that would allow the motion-capture CGI to be shot underwater. Avatar: The Way of Water quickly brings the audience up to speed about what happened since the original film's conclusion, with Jake Sulley and Neytiri now being parents to five children, two of whom are adopted. When a familiar threat returns in the form of the Recombinant Avatar of Colonel Miles Quaritch, Jake chooses to do everything he can to protect his family.

My Thoughts on Avatar: The Way of Water

It is easy to go into Avatar: The Way of Water with a level of cynicism since a narrative had developed that the original Avatar was popular for its time but never made any pop cultural impact. The question going into Avatar: The Way of Water is whether people would still care about the world of Pandora after a 13-year gap between films. Admittedly, Avatar: The Way of Water doesn't feel all that different from the original, but perhaps that is not a bad thing.

If there is one thing James Cameron proved that he is good at, it is creating a visual spectacle, and Avatar: The Way of Water does not disappoint in that regard. In particular, the underwater sequences are pretty breathtaking, especially in IMAX 3D. However, I am still on the fence about using High Framerate (HFR) in films since it tends to play tricks with my mind, making the action appear much faster than it should.

Avatar: The Way of Water focuses less on Jake Sulley and Neytiri and more on their children. Of these children, the ones that receive the most character development are Jake and Neytiri's outcast middle child Lo'ak, who befriends a similarly outcast Tulkun named Payakan, and their adopted daughter Kiri. Kiri is a standout character in the film, not only because it involves Sigourney Weaver playing a teenager. Kiri seems to have a unique spiritual connection with Pandora, which will likely be further developed in future sequels.

While I enjoyed Avatar: The Way of Water, I admit that the actual story is the weakest element. While the original film was criticized for essentially being a retelling of Pocahontas, this film has been receiving comparisons to Free Wily for its “save the whales” plotline. However, I tend not to view movies in such simplistic ways, and I found Avatar: The Way of Water to be a satisfying sequel, even if some of the feelings of awe from the original are gone. That said, I remain skeptical about James Cameron's ability to turn this into a five-film saga since even though Avatar: The Way of Water does keep enough unresolved for a third film, it will be stretching things to do another two films after that.

Trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
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