By Jason Delgado
Warning: light spoilers
Avatar, the highest grossing film of all-time, was a marvel to behold in cinemas. It featured the most life-like 3D that I have ever seen, sparking a 3D revolution in theaters. I was excited to see the long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of the Water in 3D to find out if it could recapture that technological magic. The special effects are once again magnificent, especially those found in the beautiful underwater areas of Pandora. The 3D is good, but I was not blown away like I was with the first movie, like when The Matrix came out and audiences were impressed by the slow-motion bullet-dodging effect, but not so much in the sequels.
Avatar: The Way of the Water is an action-packed epic, with a family story at the heart of it all. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) are back, now with four kids in tow, besides the wild human boy who tags along named Spider (Jack Champion). The villain from the first film, Quaritch (Stephen Lang) also returns, this time as a Na’vi clone (for added strength and agility, besides the fact that his human form is deceased), in order to lead a squad of Marine Na’vi clones to take out Sully so that Earth can colonize Pandora without any problems. After a near-death experience with one of his sons, Sully decides to take his family on the run to better protect them. This leads them to the water tribe of the Metkayina Clan, where they must adapt like fish out of water, both in the social and environmental senses.
The story itself is nothing that we haven’t seen before. There are some nice bonding moments with whales, a la Star Trek 4: The Voyage Home. The third act is reminiscent of another James Cameron epic: Titanic. The first Avatar has been compared to Dances with Wolves, and there is more of that once again. Overall, the main theme is about protecting your family, which is quite relatable for the masses.
A large chunk of this film is devoted to the children, and how they try to fit into their new surroundings. It is fun to see Sigourney Weaver back, this time as the Na’vi teenage girl named Kiri who has a strong connection to the spiritual surroundings underwater. The other kids, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) deal with bullies from their new tribe, which is another thing to which we can all relate.
Did Avatar: The Way of the Water need to be three hours and ten minutes long? No. It seems like a personal preference by Cameron at this point to draw things out. The first film feels brisk in comparison at two and a half hours, and I think that this movie would have been better served if it had trimmed off the fat. I still enjoyed the movie, but in the end, familiarity is comforting but not awe-inspiring.
I give Avatar: The Way of the Water three and a half hot sauce packets out of five. It didn’t blow me out of the water, but it’s a worthy entry when you have a chunk of time to kill.