The following movie review does not contain direct spoilers for the film Avatar: The Way Of Water, however general information in regards to the plot, characters, key climax points and events from the original 2009 film that directly relate to events in the 2022 sequel will be heavily discussed.
Please read at your own discretion, or after seeing Avatar: The Way Of Water in theaters.
In 2009, famed director James Cameron took us into the mid-22nd century by way of Pandora, a majestical place where an indigenous humanoid species known as Na’vi exist. The blockbuster sci-fi film, aptly titled Avatar, would go on to become the highest-grossing film of all time, still holding that title to this very day — sorry, Endgame!
The hype for a sequel to Avatar has been on the minds of many movie buffs for the better part of 12 years now. Well, after recently catching an early screening of the official follow-up film, Avatar: The Way Of Water, we’re here to tell you that it was 100% worth waiting for over a decade to see!
Everything that made Avatar such a visual masterpiece is replicated in The Way Of Water with even more technological advances. We saw the film in a Dolby Cinema enhanced with Dolby Vision 3D — glasses included! — that truly helped elevate the experience to be even more immersive. Underwater scenes, and there are a lot of them, pop out with such luminosity that it makes you feel like you’re right underwater with them. Fish swimming by your face, whales making Earth-shattering sounds, explosions from the big climax fight — everything comes alive with the Dolby Cinema experience.
As the ending of Avatar suggests, Sully (Sam Worthington) is alive, well and living full-time reborn in Na’vi Avatar form. He and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) are raising their own tribe amongst a village of their people before a familiar foe comes along and threatens their decade-long peace of mind.
Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) is also back and wants revenge, but there’s a personal catch for him; he’s got a son! Sully and his family have been ironically raising Quaritch’s abandoned offspring (Jack Champion), and his fatherly connection, as much as he tries to fight it, plays a key role in character development throughout the sequel.
Kate Winslet as Ronal is captivating. Sam Worthington continues to shine as male lead Jake Sully. It will amaze you to discover how Sigourney Weaver captures the youthfulness of teenage empath Kiri — she’s voices the hybrid daughter of her own character from the first film. Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss each give stellar performances as Na’vi siblings Neteyam, Lo’ak and young Tuk, respectively.
With all that said though, it feels like a slight cultural disconnection to see white actors playing the indigenous Na’vi people with features, hair textures and dialects synonymous with African and Native American cultures. For context, Worthington’s Sully is rocking a full head of dreadlocks for the entire duration of the film. You’ll also spot a literal sea of Na’vi’s rocking cornrows, box braids and other protective African-inspired hairstyles. We won’t go as far as to call it cosplay, particularly since Na’vi are a fictional race void of real-life rules, but cultural moments in time like this deserve proper representation. Thankfully the cultural confusion is balanced out with the other half of the main cast, including the return of Zoe Saldaña as female lead Neytiri, a powerful performance by Cliff Curtis as male co-lead Tonowari, C.C.H. Pounder back as the wise and spiritual Mo’at, newcomer Bailey Bass as youthful beauty Reya, Filip Geljo as Aonung and Duane Evans Jr. as Rotxo.
Stephen Lang’s incredible performance as Colonel Miles Quaritch is a standalone; his MAGA-style buzzcut follows over even into Avatar form, and every step of the way you view him as an entitled hyper-masculine white male with misplaced aggression. Yeah, that type!
The continuing love story between Neytiri and Sully, intertwined within the family dynamic of raising both biological and adopted children, is probably more beautiful to witness than the actual graphics themselves, outstanding as they may be. You feel their passion, pain, grief, anger and most importantly pride in being Na’vi people with every scene. Fans of Saldaña will immediately notice her signature raspy rage, as seen in more emotional roles, during one of the most pivotal scenes of the film’s climax. The pain and aggression, madness even, when you see what happens is both heartbreaking and understandable, while also rendering praise for her revenge tactics.
Overall, the movie captivated an array of emotions that will surely appease all types of moviegoers. From getting to know the ways and lifestyle of the underwater-savvy Metkayina tribe to witnessing how family and love are some of the strongest bonds in human and/or humanoid life, Avatar 2 shapes up to be a strong competitor for movie of the decade.
Let’s see if it matches the success of its predecessor. We’ll go out on a limb and say it most definitely will.
Watch Avatar: The Way Of Water right now in a theater near you. Peep the trailer below:
Review: ‘Avatar: The Way Of Water’ Was Definitely Worth The 12-Year Wait was originally published on blackamericaweb.com
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