It’s been thirteen years since Avatar took the World by storm with its revolutionary use of 3D in the confines of modern filmmaking.
The 2009 film written and directed by legendary filmmaker James Cameron became the highest-grossing film of all time and later regained its title for highest-grossing film of all time with a re-release to beat Avengers: Endgame.
Over the course of the next decade, James Cameron not only worked on the sequel to Avatar but mapped out the next several sequels of this franchise all the way up to Avatar 6. While Cameron spent years working on his Magna Carta, nobody behind the scenes addressed the elephant in the room.
After 13 years, is there really that much interest to see another Avatar movie in 2022? Disney certainly believes there is as the studio has sunk a couple of billion dollars into the production of Avatar 2 and 3 with the expectation that these films will blow up exactly the way that the first one did.
2022 was a much different beast than 2009. The gimmick of 3D movies has run its course with mainstream audiences, especially with films that don’t truly adapt 3D in the way James Cameron did. Not to mention the first Avatar movie was a visual spectacle, an experience that you had to see in movie theaters which led to its massive box office success.
Story-wise, it wasn’t really much going for Avatar to hold the audience’s interest 13 years later.
‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’ takes place years after the events of the first film, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is chief of the Omaticaya and raises a family with Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña). Jake now has two sons Neteyam and Lo’ak, his daughter Tuk, adoptive daughter Kiri (born from Grace Augustine’s inert Na’vi avatar).
Jake’s new family also includes a human boy named Spider who is the son of Colonel Miles Quaritch who was killed in the events of the last film. However, Quaritch is cloned as a Na’vi and uploaded with his template’s memories, from before his death.
Quaritch is still obsessed with killing Jake after the events of the last film and once again, he will not stop taking out as many Na’vi as possible to do so. But things get complicated when Quaritch becomes aware of Spider’s existence.
‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’ is a film that exists for two reasons. To update audiences on the characters that were introduced in the first film and introduce new characters that can play an important role in films moving forward.
No one can belittle the efforts that went into making this movie. ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’ is an impressive feat from start to finish simply by looking at the detail that went into creating every shot with the use of VDX and set building. The production certainty didn’t waste 400 million dollars.
You have to wonder if the shortcomings of this movie are due to the fact that James Cameron spent so much time over the last decade creating several Avatar sequels simultaneously under the guise that this story would be so amazing that everyone was going to love it from the jump.
As much as praise this film deserves for its technical filmmaking aspects, The Way of Water has the exact same problem as the first movie: it’s not very compelling. It doesn’t help matters that the film’s runtime is far longer than the first movie at 3 hours and 15 minutes excluding trailers.
The central theme in the movie It’s all about family, more specifically it’s the story of Jake doing everything he possibly can to protect his family. While the intentions may be admirable, It’s very difficult to emotionally connect with CGI characters that sometimes look like you’re watching a video game being played rather than the movie.
There are way too many characters in the film, we went from Jake having no kids at the end of the first movie to having 3 kids in an adopted daughter and that doesn’t even cover half the cast that is introduced in this film.
Other elements of the story include the human characters oppressing the natives, mining the world for their resources, and Aligning with some Environmental towns along the way. This isn’t a terrible movie but the biggest sin against it is that it feels like it’s 3 hours of filler that only serves the purpose of setting up a 3rd film.
The biggest selling point for this entire franchise is the 3D. This time around, the visuals aren’t nearly as impressive as it was the first go around. ‘Avatar: The Way of the Water’ is an uneven mess of a movie that may kill anyone’s interest in seeing the next 6 Avatar movies.