AV Brew: Avatar: The Way of the Water Review (No Spoilers)
We waited 13 years for this?
Thirteen years after its record-setting premiere, Avatar has a sequel. Set to be released in theaters on Friday, December 16th, Avatar: The Way of the Water hopes to transplant its predecessor at the top of the box off*ice heap.
From IMDB: 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. James Cameron returns as director with the screenplay written by James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, and Amanda Silver with Sam Worthington & Zoe Saldana returning as Jake Sully and Neytiri.
It will be difficult for me to compose this review without mentioning that while I appreciated the technological achievements of the first film, it was OK at best for me. Also, I thought the first film was a complete story and did not see the need for a sequel.
But now here we are, the first of 4 planned sequels.
When I watch any sequel, I want a continuation of the story, to see the growth of the characters, and to experience any changes in their circumstances. In, Avatar: The Way of the Water, we got a change of circumstances for the lead characters. We are immersed more in Pandora. Everything else felt like a rehash of the original film with touches of other films that James Cameroon directed and ones he wishes he directed. I was actively naming the films as they appeared.
The story has plot holes that one can fly Scorpion Gunships through. I’m sure are intentional as they are more sequels coming to this series. The film clocks in at a hefty 3 hours and I identified at least an hour that could have been left on the cutting room floor. If Cameroon wanted to keep it at 3 hours, there are other areas where they could have added to the story than where he did.
I was aware going into this screening that my bias could work against the film, so I invited my friend Carlynn Newhouse, who is a huge fan of Avatar (2009), and was very excited about this sequel. Her thoughts:
Avatar: Way of Water was a beautifully filmed movie. If you are watching the sequel to revel in the nostalgia of the first movie, to enjoy the gorgeous cinematography or breathtaking CGI, you will not be disappointed on those fronts. However, I cannot say the same if you are watching the long-awaited story. The premise of the film, evident plot holes, reasoning behind character choices, and de-centering of Neytiri as a central character, to name a few, left a lot to be desired as a die-hard Avatar fan. I felt immersed in imagery, overflowing from the beauty of water and nature – I wish that the script would have filled my cup in the same way.
The screening Carlynn & I attended was in a 3D Dolby Theater, the film is stunningly beautiful and with the 3D you felt as if you were on Pandora. This is going to trick some viewers into believing that it’s a “masterpiece.” It’s a beautifully shot and directed film, but the script is dreadful with way too many ideas. There is a plot point at the end of the film that is only there to support a sequel, it was unnecessary.
Enjoy the scenery, enjoy the CGI, but do not expect the blown away by the story itself.
2 moons out of 5