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Avatar The Way of Water Review: James Cameron's Underwater World Comes in Waves of Beauty and Flaws

By: Dishya Sharma

Edited By: Bohni Bandyopadhyay


Last Updated: December 16, 2022, 07:13 IST

Mumbai, India

Avatar The Way of Water Review: The James Cameron film releases this weekend in India.
Avatar The Way of Water Review: The James Cameron film releases this weekend in India.

Avatar: The Way of Water U/A

  • 16 December 2022 | English
  • 3 hrs 10 mins | Science fiction
  • Starring: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, and Kate Winslet.
  • Director: James Cameron
  • Music: Simon Franglen

Avatar The Way of Water Review: James Cameron takes us out of the woods and into deep waters for a visual treat but the story keeps resurfacing to catch a breath.

Avatar: The Way of Water Review: I was an excited aspiring film journalist when Avatar (2009) was released. I remember dragging my family to the theatres to watch and celebrate James Cameron’s new world, Pandora. I vividly recall also being blown away by the concept, despite its flaws. Now, 13 years later, James Cameron has done it again with Avatar: The Way of Water. However, the flaws are a little more evident.

With a runtime of 192 minutes (3 hours and 12 minutes), Avatar: The Way of Water takes audiences back to the fictional world of Pandora. Set a decade and a half after Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) decides to forgo his life with ‘sky people’ and become a part of the beautiful Na’vi clan. He has come a long way in life. He not only married Ney’tiri (Zoe Saldana) but they also have four children now: Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and an adopted daughter, Kiri (Sigourney Weaver).

While life seems all good and beautiful at first with the sky people nowhere around, the film takes a massive turn within the first half hour by bringing back a troop of sky people led by Stephen Lang’s Colonel Miles Quaritch, who is now somewhat a part of Pandora. This time, he’s got revenge on his mind. His only goal is to watch Jake crumble. Their clash leads Jake, Ney’tiri, and their children to leave the forest-dwelling community and find refuge with the Metkayina Na’vi tribe, led by Cliff Curtis’ Tonowari and Kate Winslet’s Ronal. The forest dwellers now learn the ways of the water while preparing for an inevitable clash with Quaritch’s troop of sky people.

Avatar: The Way of Water comes with massive expectations, considering James Cameron made fans wait for 13 years before he returned to Pandora. The director, who has delivered some of the most memorable cinematic experiences, lives up to visual expectations. Avatar: The Way of Water is far richer and bigger than its 2009 precedent. Cameron plays it smart with both halves, banking on nostalgia in the first half while serenading us with the new world in the second.

He reminds us that he has an imagination like no other as he takes us on a never-before-seen journey of land and water. He takes his leisure time to transit from the woods to the water, thus making full use of the 3-odd hours of the film. Cameron not only uses the underwater world to show a different side of Pandora but also uses it as a poetic tool of storytelling. Cameron asks us to be patient and be a part of the forest dwellers’ learning journey before we dive into the action sequence.

The filmmaker also inevitably gives a nod to Titanic in the climax scene. The only difference was that this time it had Zoe instead of Kate in the frame. While the film provides visual poetry and a bunch of new characters, it sadly doesn’t manage to even things out. Introducing the Metkayina Na’vi tribe and having us invest in their ways of life grows weak in the climax. I am ready to give the benefit of the doubt that we will get to see more of them in the upcoming sequel, Avatar 3, but their treatment left me with several questions. While the film belongs to Jake and his kids, it was disappointing that Cliff Curtis’ Tonowari and Kate Winslet’s Ronal were completely sidelined despite the hype.

The writing of Avatar: The Way of Water could have been better, especially the plot. The film falls short of drama and grandeur when it comes to the premise. The first half could have been shorter or more tightly layered. While Cameron does not shy away from using all the time in the world to revisit the forest and lead us to the waters, it feels like he took way too many eclipses to finally get to the point of the film. While he provides a fulfilling visual experience, you also start looking at your watch, waiting for the point of the film to finally kick in.

The editing also appeared to be weak in most parts of the film. There also seemed to be a disbalance in the pace of the film, considering that Cameron chose to slow things down underwater but suddenly pick up a strangely fast pace for the action scenes.

The biggest win for Cameron with Avatar: The Way of Water is undoubtedly the jaw-dropping cinematography, the impressive VFX, and the music. The actors — Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana — make us forget their human versions altogether. Unfortunately, Kate Winslet was underused, leaving a massive disappointment for fans looking forward to seeing her in the film. As someone who loved Avatar (2009), it did fall short, but it was an experience I wouldn’t have missed for the world.

20th Century Studios India will release ‘Avatar : The Way of Water’ in English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Kannada, and Malayalam on December 16, 2022. Only in cinemas.

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first published:December 16, 2022, 07:10 IST
last updated:December 16, 2022, 07:13 IST
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