This Time It's War
Avatar: The Way of Water is just as beautiful and hollow as its predecessor
James Cameron has quite a reputation making sequels that many consider better than the original. Both Aliens and Terminator 2 frequently top lists of sequels that are a noted improvement on the films they followed (a sentiment I don't particularly agree with), so expectations are high when he makes possibly the most anticipated sequel ever. After 13 long years, Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters and much like the original, it is a feast for the senses but doesn't leave much for the mind to chew on.
More than a decade after the humans were kicked off of Pandora, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) has fully integrated with the Na'vi and is raising a family with his mate Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). However, when the Earth military comes back to Pandora along with an old adversary (Stephen Lang) bent on colonizing the planet, Jake and his family must go into hiding amongst a seafaring tribe and must learn their ways in order to survive.
Much like the original, this film is visually dazzling, succeeding in making Pandora look both uniquely alien and invitingly familiar. That said, the high frame rate gives every movement a kind of unnatural fluidity making us feel less like "I am there" and more "I am playing a video game." Also, after getting over the initial awe of the scenery, the story of naturalistic forces versus greed and exploitation doesn't leave much food for thought. This colorful world has a very black-and-white sense of morality that can't sustain interest through the gargantuan runtime. The spectacle, awe-inspiring as it is, is only surface level. We can peek through the visual splendor into the shallowness of Cameron's vision.
Directed by James Cameron // Written by James Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver // Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Bliss, Jack Champion, Jemaine Clement, and Kate Winslet // 192 minutes // Rated PG-13 // 20th Century Studios