Wednesday, December 14, 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water - Movie Review

The Movie: Avatar: The Way of Water

The Director: James Cameron

The Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet

The Story: Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the planet of 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 planet.

The Review:
This is easily the most beautiful movie you will have ever seen. No doubt, No question. Throw all the visual awards and special effects awards you could ever think of at this movie, there is no compeition. This year or any year. What director James Cameron has created is a cinematic experience that in no way shape or form could ever be recreated with any sort of home theater system. This movie has to be seen in a movie theater, on the biggest screen you can find, and in 3D. Yes, see it in 3D.

For the second installment in what is destined to be one of the biggest, if not the biggest movie franchises of all time, Cameron takes his cast of characters, now a full fledged family unit, out of the forest and dunks them straight into a vast ocean of adventure. Leading up to this journey, the movie feels like a slightly upgraded rehash of the first one which I guess is okay since the filmmaker first introduced us to Pandora, all of it's inhabitants, and the financially driven destructive force commonly known as humanity.

I feel like Cameron was really excited to show audiences what he, and all the special effects teams, could do with, around, and under water because he spends a lot of the three hours and twelve minutes run time basically showing off. Is all of it necessary or needed to drive the plot forward? Definitely not and I feel like the movie would have been better served with about 30 minutes or so trimmed out. It's hard to find fault with a movie that is so expertly crafted from beginning to end and it's also hard to think I would have wanted to spend less time witnessing such an amazing visual spectacle but it just felt long and long winded in a few spots. Come on editors, where you at!

It's interesting to see Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña back together again on screen especially when you consider the career paths each have ben on since. While Saldaña has become one of the biggest, most bankable stars in the entire world with appearances in the Star Trek franchise and the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would ask you to name a movie that Worthington has been in since Avatar. Yes, he's been in  lot of movies but has managed to stay very much under the radar for someone who is front and center of the number one box office movie of all time.

That being said, the pair pick up right where they left off and deliver great performances with Zoe Saldaña in top form as usual and I'm wondering at what point does a motion capture performance either garner a voice acting award or just a straight up acting award. Sp[eaking of characters, I fell like the movie would have benefited with less of them overall. There were times it was hard to keep track of who was who and what everyone was doing and that muddied the waters a little in an otherwise crystal clear body of metaphorical water.

Speaking of water, did I mention there's a lot of it in this movie? Cameron, of course continues his themes of environmentalism and just about every aspect of the movie is a metaphor for something humanity does to ruin the planet we live on. I would even say this movie is even more overt in that type of story telling than the first one was which is fine, I feel like we need constant reminders that may prompt us to actually do something about things like deforestation, whaling, and colonization.

Ultimately, if you were ever able to move all of the flash and spectacle, there is a story about family that the director tries really hard to make the core of the story (or should I say in this case the heart of the ocean?) but there's only a couple times where the emotional resonance really hits home. There's just so much going on and so much to see, I feel like it's more important to go into this movie with the expectation of sight and sound over anything else. This isn't meant to be Oscar bait style storytelling and it really isn't and there are zero things wrong with that because the movie will have your eyeballs bursting and your brain exploding from how indescribably amazing it all looks on screen.

The Verdict:
Avaar: The Way of Water is James Cameron unleashed. This is the mega project we've been waiting over a decade for and the spectacle of it is everything you could ever want it to be and more. The cinematic blockbuster has once again obtained its event status and don't you dare wait to watch this one at home. Go find the theater that has the biggest screen available and watch the movie in the highest grade format that isn't sold out. Yes, see this movie in 3D. Yes, see this movie in IMAX.

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