Avatar: The Way of Water has been in development chaos for years, and has now come to theater screens everywhere. While it hits all the marks visually, it struggles to impress with a lackluster story, and disappointing family dynamics.
First thing’s first, director, and creator James Cameron managed a visual spectacle. The forest and the water are all fantastic, and the high frame rate in some sequences enables you to get, almost a slowed down visual of everything that’s going on. In fact, this movie could have probably been 45 minutes shorter if it wasn’t so vain about how good it looks. Ultimately for me, it’s not worth it that we spend a lot of time dawdling. Maybe if the plot had helped speed things up it would have helped.
The characters in Avatar: The Way of Water suffer immensely from being too many, which assists in there being not enough life on screen. Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who was so interesting to me as a huntress in Avatar, is disappointingly left sidelined for a good portion of the movie. Jake (Sam Worthington) is nothing short of borderline abusive in the name of protecting his family, and we don’t see any other side of him. Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) makes his return and it’s a terrible story move. It’s rushed, and seems entirely purpose-less because of some specifics I’ll leave out for spoiler reasons. It could have been so intriguing to build on. Especially in one specific scene, which could go so far. But it’s left wide open and untouched.
And that’s what most of Avatar: The Way of Water is. Open threads of potentially interesting plot points. They’re left frayed as Cameron and co-screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver work through the whole film. Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) are working as heads of their family with four kids, and their tribe. They then leave the tribe because of Quaritch hunting Jake, and settle with the Metkayina, the water tribe we spend the majority of the time with. And all we get character wise is kids misbehaving and no correction made. A moment of humanizing Jake could have went miles in adding some big characterization moments for everyone involved.
Overall, I’m not thrilled with Avatar: The Way of Water. To the point of I have no desire to waste my time in theaters seeing whatever Avatar 3 will be. Point blank, CGI is never a big thing for me unless it’s really good, or really bad. I’m giving this movie all the credits for its production effects because it’s truly stunning. If there’s boring characters, and a terrible plot, that’s what’s going to knock everything down for me. The teenage drama with no parenting was not a movie I signed up for though. –Katie Rentschler
Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now.