In 2009 two things happened, movies were completely changed forever and the entire world sighed in agony as we were about to get bombarded with horrible 3D effects because of what one singular movie did and showed us how 3D can be used. While no one really raves about the story behind James Cameron’s Avatar, the special effects revolutionized the way we perceived movies and continues to be talked about in terms of special effects high bar thirteen years even later. So what can audiences expect with Avatar: The Way of Water, well a lot of the same but with some vast improvements on the story line front, but a surprisingly downgrade on the 3D front?
While that last sentence is certainly shocking, however with the sequel being approximately thirty five minutes longer than the first entry, the improved storyline certainly helps the running time. Moreover though, for a sequel to a film that completely revolutionized the 3D medium and has been the bar for 3D since, the lack of 3D exploration in Avatar: The Way of Water is disappointing. That is not to say though, that the visual effects as whole have not improved a tenfold. If you’ve ever had the pleasure of going to Disney World and have been to Animal Kingdom and gone to Pandora and have been able to take in Avatar Flight of Passage: Fly a Banshee in Pandora then you will understand how absolutely immersive Avatar: Way of Water is. It is an experience where numerous times throughout the film you can get lost in the world James Cameron has created, and forget you’ve essentially in a movie theatre and think you’re truly in the world of Pandora. It is one of the most immersive and engaging visual spectacles ever to be seen on a screen, while granted there are some incredibly entertaining and visual spectacles that have graced screens this year, there is not another movie that is as hypnotic and appealing to the human eye.
The plot of Avatar: Way of Water, is a tightly kept secret so we are going to keep it brief. Jack (Sam Worthington) along with his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and children, are forced to flee their home of Pandora and ask the Neytiri (the water tribe) to give them shelter as they are under attack from a familiar face in the form of Quaritch (Stephen Lang). There isn’t much more to say about the plot itself, as we don’t want to give away too much but also there just isn’t much more to it as well. Sure there is a lot of social commentary if you want to dissect some of what Avatar: Way of Water is trying to say, and there certainly is some argument to be made about the power of blood over bond, but again the movie isn’t focused on telling a story as much as it is focused on shaking the audience to their core over the aesthetics and visuals of the film itself.
Moving back to what we’re all naturally curious about though, and that is how Avatar: Way of Water looks there are a few things we can break down and talk about in further depth. We had the distinct pleasure of seeing it in 3D HFR IMAX and while, previously mentioned, the 3D isn’t fabulous especially in comparison to Avatar, the 3D is still substantial and looks great when applied. The same goes for the HFR as it does switch between 48 fps (frames per second) (the HFR) and standard 24 fps is a little distracting but the further into the movie you get, the better it does look and becomes less jarring. However, overall, the special effects are some of the most impressive effects we’ve seen since 2009’s Avatar. It is nearly impossible to forget that you’re surrounded by literal hundreds of like minded people in a theatre, but to feel that complete immersion and get transported to another world is something special in of itself.
As well, there is certainly more heart and soul in the plot of Avatar: Way of Water than its predecessor, but the story is still lacking any real substance of traditional filmmaking. It is a feast for the eyes that will fill your soul with wonder and amusement, but the story is certainly going to leave you wanting a little more. However, if the over three hour run time is getting you into the theatre for story, there are better options, yet if you’re looking for one of those movies that will change the movie theatre experience for you forever, and will forever be that benchmark of cinematic achievement on a technical level, then absolutely run out to your closest biggest screen you can find and embrace the world James Cameron has created and brought back for audiences to get lost in yet again.