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Avatar: The Way Of Water: Non-Spoiler Review

13 years after its debut in the theatre, the Nav’is return to cinemas with Avatar: The Way of Water. Everyone is now asking if the long wait was worth it. Hopefully, this non-spoiler review will give you some insights into what to expect from the movie, not only its strengths but also its weaknesses.

When the first Avatar came out, many marveled at the technological advancement it meant in the history of cinema since its computer-generated visual effects (CGI) were something never seen to that level before, and the world of Pandora was rich and simply extraordinary. Furthermore, as the second chapter of the blockbuster came out last weekend, the general reaction has been remarkably similar. Indeed, Cameron has surpassed himself, and the sequel is even more technically advanced and ahead of its times than the forerunner.

There is no doubt that The Way Of Water must be seen in cinemas. Disney+ has announced that unlike usual, the film wouldnt be available to stream on the streaming platform any time soon, this being an invitation to the viewer to watch it on the big screen. In this sense, watching Avatar on a personal television or even on a smartphone or laptop would compromise the viewer’s experience.

On the other hand, many reviews suggest the best way to watch Avatar, available in 3D, 4D, and Imax, to get the most immersive experience. However, 3D might not be the best option for everyone. The many layers of tridimensionality in the film might be a bit too much at times. In my case, mainly, I had to get used to it. It had been a long time since I saw a 3D movie, and indeed, this is the case for many viewers.

However, the initial discomfort was worth it. Especially in the sequences underwater, you will marvel at how immersive and engaging photography is. After all, the director James Cameron stated that it is his mission to attire spectators to the theatre because this film ‘is authored for the big screen.

Moreover, this second chapter focuses on the Sully family following Jake, Neytiri, and their children, Nateyam, Lo’ak, Kiri, and Tuk. In an interview with Variety Cameron explained that the focus on the family and its dynamic follows his experience as a father of teenagers, further stating: ‘The family’s your fortress. I wanted to somehow, through my art, convey that because I thought it was a big missing piece in action movies these days.’

Avatar: The Way Of Water is a film on exploration like the first one. The viewer, as well as the characters, explore the immensity of Pandora, realizing that what we have been seeing so far is nothing more than a bit of part of a planet rich in ecosystems and cultures. The characters move from their home in the forest to Metkayina, a Navi clan living by the sea. Here, Nav’is have adjusted to the environment and live in symbiosis with the sea. In this sense, Jake, Neytiri, and their children are as new to this world as we are.

Following the same dynamic as the first movie, Jake’s voiceover narration guides us through this new world he is learning about. This narration device works well in passing on even complex information. Like the first Avatar, the film's major weakness is its plot. The movie is predictable for a significant part, and some dynamics repeat themselves more than necessary.

Likewise, given the increased quantity of characters, many of them are not explored enough. This is the case for the former female lead Neytiri and the newly acquired Ronal, interpreted by Kate Winslet. However, the film's protagonists are not Jake and Neytiri but their children, these characters that we came to love in the first film lack in their characterization. The characters’ stakes are high, but their motives are not necessarily valid enough to justify their action, like in the case of the villain of the story, who, as the trailer announced, is Quaritch once again, seeking vengeance, and in general, the humans who have not given up on colonizing Pandora.

Although the story tries to be more layered and crossed than the first one, there is not enough time to characterize every one of them. The following chapters will hopefully fill us out on some storylines that did not have enough coverage during this film. If this happens, the audience will see more about Jake’s adopted daughter Kiri and about Spider, a human boy who, much like Tarzan, is brought up as a Navi and whose development in this chapter was not fully convincing.

Avatar: The Way of Water is longer than the first one, running for 3 hours and 12 minutes. However, never during the watch, this time feels too long. It is easily arguable that many scenes were not necessary for the development of the plot and the characterization of the characters and could have been edited off. However, these scenes are extraordinary and a visual experience more than necessary to the storytelling. The exploration of the planet, its marine ecosystem, its creature, and its culture are at the core of the marvel on the screen.

Additionally, this second part can bring you under its illusion. The high quality of CGI makes the viewer forget that what they are watching is not accurate, but instead, a cartoon created using computers. It is only when humans appear that the viewer is brought back to reality. The work on water and on the new sea creatures that feature on the screen is astonishing. These scenes might as well be taken from a documentary of some existing exotic place and animals.

This new movie already counts on record numbers at the box office, having cleared $134 million at its debut in North America. Besides, Hollywood has high expectations, and with these initial numbers, they will not be disappointed.

Now, there is not much to do than waiting for the next chapter, which luckily is just one year away, saving us from the agony of waiting another 13 years. In fact, 95% of the movie has already been shot with the second one, so it is imaginable that the film will continue from where it left off. During this, it was revealed that Cameron had already handed in 9 hours of film and had announced that he would not cut it off too much.

In conclusion, Avatar: The Way of Water deserves to be watched on the big screen. Despite its weaknesses, it is a feast for the eye; a visual experience you would be sorry to miss. We will be on the look for more information about the third chapter, which is set for release on December 20, 2024.

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