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Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water

A great sequel that is as epic as it is beautiful.

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A father protects his family. This is a mantra that the former marine Jake Sully repeats to himself during several stages of his new life on Pandora. In The Way of Water, he raises no less than five rascals, two of which stand out: one is Grace's daughter Kiri, who was born out of mysterious circumstances, and the other is more of an iron cat, the human puppy Spider who believes himself to be Na'Vi.

Also, raising his family has become quite difficult when the vengeful human race travels back to Pandora to reclaim what they believe is theirs. This means that Jake Sully becomes more of a war general than a father, which then forces Sully, Neytiri and the rest of the Sully clan to flee to a water tribe. However, their waters are anything but calm. A father protects his family. At any price. But how do you protect your family when you are constantly a target?

Returning to Pandora felt a little bizarre, 13 years later, mostly because a lot was the same. The 3D hysteria quickly died down after Avatar took the world by storm, and Cameron has since gone to great lengths to refine his filmmaking technique and justify the use of 3D. This means that the 3D glasses are back. Cameron has also managed to use the High Frame Rate technology, as Peter Jackson did in his Hobbit films. This means that several scenes will feel sped up, as if taken from a cutscene of a video game. Those put off by this increased frame rate might do best to check out a more traditional 2D display.

Avatar: The Way of Water
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I admit it was a little hard to get used to the HFR scenes at first, but it doesn't really matter. As soon as our characters take a dip in the turquoise Pandora ocean, the viewer is thrown into an absolutely unparalleled, magical film world that only a budget of 250 million dollars can create, and you forget the doubts you had at first. I'm not exaggerating when I say that The Way of Water is one of the best-looking films I've ever had the pleasure of seeing on the big screen. It's definitely the most impressive blockbuster I've ever seen, because here my brain melted over the fact that computer-animated space smurfs could look this good. It's like floating around with the characters in the otherworldly waters and swimming among the mysterious waves. It's almost documentary in its dizzying storytelling magic. Marvel can only dream of achieving this spellbinding effect.

This is where the film is at its very best: when the characters are just trying to adjust to a new life outside their comfort zone. We marvel through the wide-open cat eyes of the Sully clan as they discover what it means to change their lifestyle, their habits and their ways of thinking. In fact, I could sit for seven hours just studying the Sully family's integration with the water tribe, learning more about their relationship with the oceans, and falling asleep to the sound of pike flying during a solar eclipse.

Avatar has always been criticized for its simple premise, but if anything, Cameron is a master at creating natural tension and drama out of the simplest of stories. In the sequel, Cameron has significantly more balls in the air than the last: in addition to Quaritch having an unpicked space goose with the main character, the parents Sully and Neytiri take a bit more of a back seat to focus on their children. It is not always that all characters get the space they deserve, where, for example, Kate Winslet's stubborn matriarchy ended up a bit too much in a corner. I guess they're saving the money for the third installment, but I quickly learned to love the mischief seeds of the Sully clan. Cameron manages to strike a balance between teenage angst and his pro-ecological message, with the story later putting a greater focus on imperialism through some lowly whalers.

Avatar: The Way of WaterAvatar: The Way of Water
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The length almost never feels off, but towards the film's final act there is a bit too much back and forth regarding the conflict escalations. There are also a few too many repetitive beats. It's a bit messy towards the last twenty minutes for Cameron, who is usually so tight with his storytelling. However, it is easy to forgive such minor flaws when Cameron still manages to find a footing for all his blue figures. It's not about any greater emotional depth than its predecessor, but simplicity doesn't matter if the story of parenthood feels natural, and here the filmmaker manages to hold the viewer's interest all the way through, even when the pace slows down to explore new dynamics between blood ties, cultures and societies .

Whether Way of Water is a better film than the 2009 hit is a difficult thing to decide at the time of writing. In many ways, Way of Water is a nice echo of its successful predecessor, but in many ways, it is also a refined improvement on several fronts. The Way of Water is a movie that takes your breath away basically the entire time with its deep richness of detail and every sea scene is like taken from a dream. Cameron's passion for the oceans and for film technology is thus more palpable than ever. The next thing you want to do is reach out your hand in the cinema to feel the warm water, the smooth sand, the rough coral reefs, the scarred giant fish. The Way of Water is an audiovisual dream world with a simple premise, but also with big promises to continue exploring Pandora's deeply beautiful ecosystem. Not all questions are answered in this installment, but one thing is for sure: this is a movie I want to keep swimming in until the third installment arrives.

09 Gamereactor UK
9 / 10
overall score
is our network score. What's yours? The network score is the average of every country's score

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