Avatar: The Way of Water makes a splash


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With stunning CGI and a captivating plot, Director James Cameron brings to screen the entrancing “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

As the eclipse hangs over a sparkling ocean of turquoise, its waves are set in a violent flame by exploiters from another world: the Na’vi peoples’ sacred way of life is about to be uprooted.

After 13 years, director James Cameron finally released the highly anticipated sequel to “Avatar,” “Avatar: The Way of Water” on Dec. 16, 2022. Though it is a sequel, I would argue it shines just as brightly as the iconic 2009 original film.

The film follows the story of the human-turned-Na’vi Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), his Na’vi wife Neytiri ( Zoe Saldana) and their children as they fight the imminent threat of “star-people” (humans) invading their beautiful planet of Pandora.

Though the plot is a little bit tangled and confusing at first, all of the complex storylines eventually intertwine in a masterful way. I was impressed by Cameron’s ability to take potentially flat characters like Spider, played by Jack Champion, and add meaningful arcs that enhanced the story.

The movie felt like a whirlwind at times because of the violent, high-stress battle scenes. There was never a dull moment in the story, as Cameron included a couple of jumpscares to raise the tension of every viewer.

A visually breathtaking movie, every frame was meticulously perfected by Cameron. From the luminous forest scenes to the mystifying and vibrant underwater world he created, the film was undeniably captivating. The creativity that went into both the animation and cinematography reminded me of something from a “Studio Ghibli” dreamland.

I couldn’t help but draw parallels to Cameron’s famous 1997 film, “Titanic,” as well. With the same dramatic and equally terrifying sinking ship scenes, the director definitely took inspiration from his earlier work. The same vibrant turquoise water slowly engulfing the most beloved characters is just as heart-wrenching as watching “Titanic.” To an extent, the similarities in this scene were a bit too obvious in my opinion, but didn’t take away from the movie too much.

Though there were recurring themes from the first movie, such as the emphasis on the destruction of colonized land and the conflict of assimilation and feeling out of place, “Avatar: The Way of Water” incorporates new themes as well. The main conflict the movie grapples with is being forced to choose between fleeing for your family’s safety and fighting for your family’s future. Sully and Neytiri navigate parenthood with the knowledge that they are being hunted by people from their past, struggling to decide what is best for their family.

Cameron’s interpersonal dynamics between characters were very thoughtful. I especially appreciated the complexities of the father-son relationship between Sully and his son, Lo’ak. The acting could have been stronger, but considering the amount of special effects on every character, it was hard to tell what was the fault of the animation or actor.

The characters’ empathy for each other and their world was a strong prevailing theme. The story showcases people’s ability to feel compassion towards strangers through shared experiences. When Sully and his family seek refuge, the people of the Metkayina clan, though reluctant at first, eventually acclimate and accept the Sully family into their island community.

Even some of the most undeserving and cruel characters receive empathy from other characters. Our heroines maintained an impressive amount of mercy and restraint towards some of the most vile antagonists.

Although I spent 13 years of my life anticipating this movie, I have to admit that the time taken to perfect it paid off. Cameron creates a mythical world that is so sensationally realistic, I had a hard time remembering it was almost all CGI.

Though sequels usually fall short of expectations, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a cinematic masterpiece that truly encapsulates the same impact and magic of the original “Avatar.”