After Aliens and Terminator 2 : Judgement Day, James Cameron proved sequels are one his specialties – somewhere he can go big and wild, taking what’s come before and elevating it to greater heights (or in this case, depths).
Avatar : The Way of Water doesn’t break the streak either, with Cameron splashing epic, eye-shocking impressive action sequences across an even wider canvas than his original.
The other gift, of course, is managing to beat every other artist to the punch when it comes to utilizing the newest in technology – in this case, taking special and visual effects to greater heights than everything that’s come before.
With The Way Of Water, he’ll even send Marvel into a nervous pooh – the $350 million he’s spent on image perfection is all up there on the screen.
The same amount of time has seemingly passed on screen as it’s taken to get the sequel (13 years). Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Ney’tiri (Zoe Saldana) are ow with a rather large family, the eldest of them teenagers.
After the newly reincarnated Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) lands in Pandora, guns-a blazing, determined to finally nab his turncoat pupil, the Sully’s are forced to leave their leafy terrain for a new area on the planet: In this case, the water and the beachy isle’s surrounding it.
Where Corman-protégé Cameron, who has been a favourite of exhibitors going on three decades now for his effortless ability to put bums on seats, has never truly exceeded though is in dialogue and script – with the first Avatar widely criticized for not taking as much care in the original, captivating storyline with smart dialogue as, perhaps, other filmmakers who’ve also been a favourite of the Academy.
Sadly, The Way of Water hasn’t been able to scrub off the welts that stood out in its ambitious predecessor, like the plodding, cheesy script, and repetitive beats.
Just as was the case with the first, Way of Water is part ecotourism commercial, part Pocahontas, and a compilation of the best bits from other Cameron movies (like Aliens, The Abyss, and in this case especially, Titanic).
Yet there’s also no denying it’s a thing of beauty you can’t take your eyes off. The Oscar winning director efficiently mixes those dazzling visuals with thrilling, theme park like action-adventure sequences that mostly distract from those screenplay issues. To be fair, there’s a story easier to invest in here and characters easy to root for making the punishing runtime a little more tolerable, than there was in the first – helped by the fact the film is no longer charged with having to provide as much exposition this time around, since everyone has been introduced, and the fantastical scenario explained. And thanks to its talented ensemble, you’ll likely still be interested in seeing them reach the end of their arcs – even if, yes, you’ll spot them all coming by the end of the epilogue.
Cameron’s a master at casting, and he’s got some great new additions to the cast here – one born at Weta studios, a CGI animated that might just be one of the sweetest, easy to root for sidekicks we’ve ever seen on screen. Coupled with those ground-breaking effects, and impossibly great action sequences on water, The Way of Water is well worth seeing – especially on the big screen, and in particular, 3D.
If it hasn’t already been advised by Disney, Avatar’s captain just really needs to either learn to let go or be locked out of the editing room on the next one. Even the most jaw-dropping of action sequences seem stretched or recur unnecessarily, likely testing even the most patient of Cameron devotees.