Avatar: The Way Of Water
Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis
Thirteen years after the release of James Cameron’s original ‘Avatar’, a picture which despite being absolutely huge left no significant pop culture footprint, comes this soggy sequel.
It’s a decade after the events of the first film and human turned 9ft blue-skinned Na’vi chieftain Jake Sully (Worthington) is living in peace in the forest on the planet Pandora with his partner Neytiri (Saldaña), sons Neteyam and Lo’ak, daughter Tuk, and adoptive daughter Kiri, the latter spawned from the avatar of Sigourney Weaver’s character Grace from the first picture. Tuk is also voiced by Weaver.
Their idyllic life is shattered with the arrival of a new army of humans or ‘sky people’ fronted by a crack squad of marines, resurrected as Na’vi avatars and led by Quaritch (Lang) an avatar resurrection of Sully’s late nemesis from the original.
Not wishing to put their fellow tribesman in danger, Sully and family go into voluntary exile, seeking shelter with the Metkayina reef people, where they receive a mixed reception. Quaritch has been tracking them however and begins a full on assault.
Over nearly three hours, Cameron chronicles internal tribal politicking, alliances, kidnaps and betrayals via risible 80s action movie/young adult dialogue - if you had a slab of unobtanium for every time you heard ‘bro’ you’d be doing very well for yourself.
Worthington remains a charisma vacuum, while the next generation of Na’vi fail to register above 2D types. Only Weaver manages to invest her character with something like recognizable, ahem, humanity.
The aquatic 3D visuals are occasionally spectacular, frequently lurid in a prog rock gatefold sleeve manner. Cameron’s decision to shoot certain scenes 48 frames per second, instead of making them more realistic-seeming, imbues them with a smooth, artificial screensaver-like quality. A climactic hour-long action sequence, which nods to earlier Cameron pictures ‘The Abyss’ and ‘Titanic’, may have worked if the combatants felt tangible, rather than weightless, visually unappealing videogame escapees.
Avatar: The Way of Water is out now.
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