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  • Writer's pictureMatthieu Côté

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Review: Never Doubt James Cameron

The original Avatar was released in 2009 and it's fair to say that the landscape for blockbusters has changed drastically since that time. The 3D introduced by James Cameron was a huge game-changer and that's what made it the most successful movie of all-time at the box-office. It's now 2022 and we are finally getting the sequel that James Cameron has been planning for the past 13 years, some people want it, some people don't care. Personally, I was never a big fan of the original Avatar but I highly respect the craft that went into it. So what did I think of this long-awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way Of Water?

Synopsis: "Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home."

It's not without its issues but completely spectacular visually, Avatar: The Way Of Water is a fantastic welcome return to form for James Cameron with game-changing special effects and his sixth sense for entertainment that is shining on screen. It's not perfect but people are gonna love it. Fans of 2009's Avatar are going to be under a spell revisiting this world with the 13 years of technological advancement, Cameron was clearly hard at work behind the camera. The theme of the new sequels seems to be clear: it's about family.

With the gap since the last movie it was important to recreate the magic of Pandora right from the start and the film does take you right back into it from the first scenes with amazing visuals: the colors are popping, the scenery is magnificent and similar to its predecessor, Way Of Water sets the bar very high for special effects in future blockbusters. You can trust James Cameron with rich world-building but also for directing action that feels realistic and this movie gives you one hell of a ride in terms of spectacle. At times Cameron is paying homage to its own movies and I was totally on board with that. It is an absolute achievement on a technical level without a doubt.

The story has a lot to juggle with and I would say that most of it was a success. We are introduced to Jake Sully and Neytiri's family right from the beginning and overall they did a great job giving some heart and personality to every one of their kids. While the first Avatar movie was focused on the relationship between Jake and Neytiri, this is clearly meant to set the stage for his family and the sequels James Cameron is already planning. There's a strong message about immigration that is handled pretty well in terms of having to live with different people. We are introduced to the water tribe and the Sully family has to learn the way of the water in order to be accepted in the clan. I loved that they don't beat you over the head with the message, it just naturally works within this universe.

I was able to see the film in IMAX 3D (HFR Experience in 48fps) and I'm going to get into a minor nitpick that doesn't affect my overall judgement of the film. I am not a fan of high-frame rate (60fps instead of the usual 24 frame per seconds), and the screening I saw had some shots going back-and-forth between 60fps and 24fps which was distracting for me at first. I doubt this will be an issue for most people, and this might actually not apply to every screenings as it's going to be showing in Regular 3D and 2D everywhere, but this is something that bothered me, I'm not going to lie. It's as if someone was turning the motion smoothing on and off as you're watching a scene. That is the only technical nitpick I would have to add and this is why I want to see it again this weekend to get a better judgement.

I don't want to say too much about the story and the characters because Cameron is clearly building something big that everyone needs to experience by themselves on the biggest screen possible. I would also suggest rewatching Avatar before going into this new one. Will it have the same effect that the original Avatar had? I guess we're going to find out in a couple of days, but my guts tell me that the audiences worldwide are going to love this movie and this is only the beginning for this franchise. Sure, a lot of this movie felt like setup for the future, but it's absolutely gorgeous to look at and never boring. Welcome back Mr. Cameron, we missed you!

Initial Score: 8/10

Avatar: The Way Of Water is being released on December 16th worldwide.

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