By Andrea Carlson
The long-awaited James Cameron blockbuster sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, stuns visually in ways the first could not. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana return as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Worthington is intense and passionate while Saldana continues to put on an emotionally powerful performance.
The PG-13 film follows Jake Sully and Neytiri as they flee the forest and Na’vi with their children, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuk (Trinity Bliss) to seek refuge with the Metkayina water tribe. They must learn to adapt and stick together as a family in a new environment.
The film opens with a dense prologue that explains what happened after the humans of the first films retreated from Pandora. The audience learns about the Sully family and the children as they are important characters in the film.
The Sully children are played by newcomers Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Trinity Bliss. Flatters, Dalton, and Bliss do an excellent job in such intimidating roles. Flatters stands out as Neteyam, the protective older brother who wants to make his father proud. Weaver plays Kiri, the teenage, adopted daughter of the Sully’s. With the help of de-aging and technology, she portrays the youth of Kiri, despite Weaver’s own age (73). Kiri is different from the others in her family, leaving the audience to wonder why and how.
The film also features performances from Kate Winslet, of Titanic, Cliff Curtis, of Fear the Walking Dead, and Stephen Lang, of Avatar and Don’t Breathe.
It is enjoyable to see Winslet and Curtis play the strong leaders of the strong and powerful leaders of the Metkayina in the film. Stephen Lang returns as the antagonist, Marine Miles Quaritch. This time he returns as an Avatar to seek revenge on Jake Sully. Through his intense acting, Lang gives the audience someone to root against.
At times, the plot can seem predictable and simple, but the element of family creates a powerful story. Cameron clearly wants the audience to connect with at least one character in the film whether it be the overprotective father, the strong mother or the misunderstood teenager.
The differences between the Na’vi and the Metkayina add an interesting element to the plot. The Sully family must adapt physically and culturally to their new home. Cameron is crafting new elements to the world of Pandora, leaving the audience with something to look forward to in future films.
The visual effects are incredibly immersive. They make the audience want to become an Avatar just to experience the world of Pandora. The scenes when the characters are existing in nature evoke intense emotions and longing for a world like theirs.
The score, composed by Simon Franglen, paired with the visuals pulls the audience into the film. The score is fast-paced and powerful during action scenes. While visually appealing scenes, including underwater, have a beautiful and calm score.
In all, Avatar: The Way of Water is an entertaining, emotional film worth watching simply for the visuals, if nothing else.