A few months back I watched a film that I quite honestly had very little interest in watching.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)
Why wasn’t I fussed about watching it? Well, there are a few reasons as it happens. The main one being the run time of 3 hours 12 minutes. I don’t mind long films but it’s harder to find the time to fit them in. Also, as much as I enjoyed the first film it’s never been a movie I’ve found myself going back to revisit more than once. Add to that the amount of time that’s gone by since the first movie and it just felt to me like a lot of hype for something that, quite frankly there didn’t seem to be a lot of demand for.
Nevertheless me and Mrs Screenroom (who also wasn’t fussed about watching it either) found a window during a lazy Saturday afternoon and decided to give it a go.
If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s a sci-fi/fantasy/action-adventure co-written and directed by James Cameron (Terminator 2: Judgement Day), starring Sam Worthington (Rogue), Zoe Saldana (Guardians of the Galaxy), Stephen Lang (Don’t Breathe) and Sigourney Weaver (Alien) among many others.
It’s the first sequel to the 2009 smash hit (and highest grossing movie of all time), Avatar.
This is what it’s about according to the internet:
“Over a decade has passed since the events of the first movie and Jake Sully (Worthington) now 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 (Saldana) and a water-dwelling culture of the Na'vi race to protect their home.”
Initial reviews of this film according to what I’d read and what I’d been told by friends were basically that it was visually stunning, but that it wasn’t a whole lot different to the first movie.
Funnily enough I went to see the first film expecting it to be nothing more than a CGI-fest, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it not only had a solid story, but that it was a really good movie in general. It was pretty much the same situation with this latest film.
Personally I don’t think it’s fair to say The Way of Water is “the same” as the first movie. There are similarities in the plot, sure, but the thing that really sets this one apart is the new setting.
As you can probably guess from the title this one has a lot to do with water - more specifically, the ocean, and I really enjoyed that aspect of the story. It freshens the whole “Avatar” idea up and introduces us to a load of new characters (and creatures), as well as offering up some new and impressive visual effects.
Joining the returning members of the cast are Kate Winslet (Titanic), Cliff Curtis (The Meg) and Jemaine Clement (Men in Black 3), although you wouldn’t necessarily recognise the first two due to the extensive CGI used.
This time around the story mainly centres on Jake Sully’s and Neytiri’s teenage kids who are rebellious and keen to fight against “the sky people” despite their father’s wishes.
One thing I wasn’t too keen on was Sigourney Weaver returning to voice the character of Kiri, her inert avatar’s daughter (all is explained in the movie…kind of). I didn’t have a problem with the character as such and I love Sigourney Weaver, I just thought her voice seemed too mature for the character considering her young age. I guess I felt like they could’ve used anyone, but opted for Weaver so they could use her name to help sell the movie. I don’t know, it just felt a bit weird to me.
Something I did like was how they brought back certain characters that we thought we’d seen the last of. It’s interesting how they do it and I think it’s one of the best things about the story.
For a long movie the pace is actually pretty good, and the film takes the time to show the main characters adapting to their new environment, as well as learning and mastering new skills and forging relationships. This is something that I think really pays off in a film like this. One of my biggest issues with the last Star Wars trilogy is that Rey had no character progression so I struggled to root for her. Everything just came so easily to her, unlike Luke who spent an entire movie training with Yoda to become a Jedi. I think it’s always nice to feel like they’ve earned their stripes.
Much like the first film this entry really makes you think about how despicable we are as humans. I’ve always thought that if we were able to travel to other planets with ease, we would be the invading alien race that we so often see in sci-fi movies. All it would take is for us to discover some new valuable commodity and we’d go in and take it. It’s ironic when you think about it.
All in all I really enjoyed this film. It’s yet another shameful example of me writing off a movie before I’ve even seen it. Once again though I’m glad to admit I was wrong to do so (I’ll never learn).
If you liked the first Avatar and still haven’t seen this for whatever reason I definitely recommend giving it a watch. It’s a fun and often emotional thrill ride with stunning special effects and a surprisingly good and meaningful story.
Three more movies are scheduled for release, but with Disney recently announcing delays, the next instalment won’t hit cinemas until December 2025. After that we’ll have to wait another four years for Avatar 4 (expected December 2029), and then a further two years for Avatar 5 (expected December 2031).
Is there still 3 film’s worth of story to squeeze out of the franchise? James Cameron obviously thinks so. All I know is next time I won’t be so quick to dismiss another entry to the saga.
Avatar: The Way of Water is currently streaming on Disney+.
Have you seen it? If so let me know what you think in the comments below.