Avatar: The Way Of Water Review – What Cinematic Sorcery Looks Like At Its Best
Avatar: The Way Of Water Review: An epic action-adventure film that rides on the most stunning visual effects – the ‘magic’ on the screen looks ‘real’ for the most part.
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet
Director: James Cameron
Rating: Four stars (out of 5)
James Cameron returns to the wondrous world of Pandora after 13 long years and the gargantuan box that he unpacks throws up an array of delights rigged to hold spectacle-loving audiences in thrall for every nanosecond of the immersive, explosive and beautiful-to-behold 192-minute ride.
The movie’s length might at first seem a tad daunting, but once you have plunged into the fascinatingly detailed extrasolar world where the action unfolds there is zero risk of boredom or monotony setting in.
Such is the sepulchral power of the storytelling that Avatar: The Way of Water, written by Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, does not for a moment feel like it is peddling more of what the super-successful Avatar had done in 2009. It not only goes beyond; it also soars higher and dives deeper.
The ‘way of water’ has no beginning and no end… water connects everything… death to life, darkness to light, says one of the reef people among whom Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) takes refuge with the intention of protecting his family from harm when an old, ruthless foe returns to torment the Na’vi all over again in a new body with an old mind that retains the memories of a defeat.
The film certainly isn’t like water – free-flowing and whimsical. It does have a riveting beginning and a rousing end with a sturdy middle holding the two perfectly structured ends together. But it indeed has the rhythms of water. Moreover, the fantastical yarn that it spins serves as a connector of a whole gamut and ideas and themes.
They range from the sanctity of family bonds to the innate tenacity of those that live in spiritual communion with the natural world around them. Both these defining elements are central to the fierce battle that Sully, his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their children wage.
The Sullyu family has three biological children – Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and Tuk (Trinity Jo-li Bliss) – an adopted one (Kiri, played by Sigourney Weaver) and a human boy Spider (Jack Champion), who was stranded in Pandora after the events of the earlier film because he was too young to be transported back.
Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who has assumed a Na’vi avatar to avenge his human-form death at the hands of the forest people in the latter’s victory over invading humans bent on destroying their way of life. He unleashes mayhem and leaves a trail of destruction in his wake. He wants Jake Sully to give up the fight. That is what the war between the two men and the forces they represent boils down to.
Colonel Quaritch has a larger mission to complete: conquest of Pandora. The reason is clearly spelt out by General Frances Ardmore (Edie Falco). Earth is dying and humans need another world to colonise and turn into a new home for humanity. The project, needless to say, is completely devoid of humanity although Quaritch’s enthusiasm for the job at hand has a personal angle to it.
Jake Sully, as chief of the Omaticaya, takes his responsibilities with all the seriousness that they merit. He is no less committed to giving his children the wherewithal to stand up for themselves when danger looms. He is particularly hard on his younger son Lo’ak (Britain Dalton). Lo’ak yearns for acceptance as a warrior but more often not earns the ire of his father.
When Neytiri points out to Sully that he should go a little easy on his children, he retorts: “I am their father. It’s my job.” His wife chastens him: We are not a squad; we are a family.” It is when one member of his extended brood is taken captive by Quaritch’s squad, Jake can foresee the threats that lie ahead. He moves out of the forest of Pandora and sets up home on the island where the Metkayina reef people live.
Avatar: The Way of Water is an epic action-adventure film that rides on the most stunning visual effects – the ‘magic’ on the screen looks ‘real’ for the most part and that bears testimony to the spare-no-effort approach of Cameron and his unit – but like its predecessor it incorporates into its phenomenal sweep topics that are both emotionally engaging and thematically on point.
The question of protecting one’s world against attacks from aggressive colonial forces does not put in the shade the issue pertaining to the need to adapt to new cultures and fresh – a sort of microcosmic mirroring of the long human history of migration of endangered individuals and communities and the attendant challenges – no matter how alien they might be.
Indeed, the family that Jake Sully has raised with Neytiri is true to the axiom that it takes all kinds to make the world. It is mixed and at peace. That is precisely the argument that he advances when the Metkayina people led by their chief Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and his wife Ronal (Kate Winslet) are initially reluctant to take them into their fold.
A couple of skirmishes apart, Jake’s children find ways to form deep relationships with the Metkayina people, the sea that is an integral part of their lives, and the creatures that live in it, including an ‘outcast’ tulkun, an aquatic creature that is perhaps more intelligent and sensitive than humans and with which the reef people have a special bond, a fact that Lo’ak quickly grasps.
Post a comment The unrelenting pace of the narrative, the amazing quality of the CGI work and the consistently sharp delineation of the characters make Avatar: The Way of Water a follow-up that is just as good as, if not better than, its precursor. It is and ceaselessly inventive and spectacularly entertaining. It is what cinematic sorcery looks like at its best.
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