Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar: The Way of Water ★★★★½

After 13 long years, we finally have a sequel to the highest-grossing movie of all time. I feel like the public perception of the first one has been like a roller coaster. When it first came out everybody was raving, going nuts over it, calling it the future of cinema, and all that jazz. Then it became the "cool" thing to hate on the movie, say it's trash, and call it overrated. Then there was the other public perception where it started having this weird following that was brewing, while everyone else was forgetting about the movie's story, and instead just saying it's "the blue people movie." With the initially unholy announcement of 5 sequels, everybody was confused. Who wants this? Now there's been this rejuvenated love for the original and here we are, in December of the year of our lord 2022, Avatar: The Way of Water is finally here.

I used to love 3D, but over the years it just started to give me a headache. The glasses felt uncomfortable on my ears, and the novelty just was starting to wear thin. Most movies didn't even utilize 3D, it just felt like a ploy to get extra dough.

This is a film that is made to be seen on the biggest screen possible and in 3-D. If you plan on watching this movie, you have to go that route, seeing it in a small theater in 2-D just ain't going to work, and god forbid seeing it at home will not do the movie any favors. Right from the jump, Cameron sucks you in. It's overwhelming in all of the best ways possible. It really does make you feel like you're in Pandora.

The lengths Cameron goes in building his world are impressive. I loved spending time with the water tribe, seeing new creatures, and learning more about Pandora's ecosystem. We should have never doubted Big Jim. Because now we look like assholes.

The story itself is also a big step up from the first movie. There are some beats that are a little derivative of the first, and yes there's an entire subplot that just feels like Free Willy with aliens, but it works. The emotional core is incredibly strong and I became attached to these characters in ways I didn't expect.

Sam Worthington's acting has definitely improved a lot since his first go-around as Jake Sully. He's genuinely great here and he has that movie star energy that he lacked in the first movie. Zoe Saldaña is also excellent as Neytiri, despite not getting as much to do in the film as I expected. I loved how Stephen Lang's Quaritch was used in the film and how they give him a lot more depth and complexities than they did in the first movie. His story in the film is one of the most compelling out of the entire ensemble. The kids are really good here as well, particularly Sigourney Weaver's Kiri, who is destined to become a fan favorite, and Britain Dalton as Lo'ak whose storyline is also very strong. The others are a bit underutilized and the same goes for Kate Winslet, who isn't given too much to do here.

There are things that you can definitely nitpick. Some of The Way of Water is very corny, especially some of its dialogue, and there are certain plot points that just show up and don't really go anywhere. It's not like they're plot holes, but more so that they just didn't feel like they had much of a point.

Even so, I can't see how anybody who is excited about this movie being let down by it. If you didn't like the first movie, there's a chance you still might like this one.

This is what going to the movies is all about.

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