The Reel Review
Jake Sully, the human turned Na’vi avatar, is forced to flee with his wife and kids to the neighboring water kingdom of Metkayina on their futuristic world of Pandora, after Jake’s human nemesis returns as a Na’vi avatar to try to kill him, in writer/director James Cameron’s anti-colonialism sequel to 2009’s 3D pioneering action/fantasy film, Avatar.
The only real praise for Avatar: The Way of Water is for its incredible visuals – they truly are phenomenal. But watching these soulless images clunkily act out a shockingly bland story (even by Avatar‘s low bar) is akin to staring at a computer screensaver nonstop for several hours. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver (this time, also as one of the kids) and Stephen Lang (as the villain Quaritch) are all back from the original blockbuster, joined by Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet as the leaders of the water kingdom, Edie Falco in a strange, pointless role as a villainous human general and Jack Champion as a distractingly bizarre son of Quaritch who, adopted by our protagonists, runs around the entire film in a loincloth and a space helmet. (We are not kidding.)
With an exhausting three-hour-and-12-minute runtime, Cameron’s self-indulgent sequel is at least an hour too long. And while visually dazzling, it is in a more sterile way. Long gone are Cameron’s mesmerizingly immersive, 3D worldbuilding from the original film. The same corny dialogue, however, is still there and Cameron’s decision to recreate a very Titanic-like third act is a sad reminder of just how much better he did it in his 1997 epic blockbuster. There aren’t enough incessant battle scenes to breathe life into this lifeless story – and we have three more sequels to endure.
• The original Avatar is the world’s box office champion of all time, grossing $2.92 billion at the box office. With a budget of $350 million, Avatar: The Way of Water has already grossed more than $889 million at the box office.
• During filming, Kate Winslet set a new free dive record for holding her breath while underwater – an astounding six minutes and 50 seconds.
• Cameron insisted on having final scripts for Avatar 3, 4 and 5 be completed before filming this second and the next film simultaneously in New Zealand.
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