Having released the first part of “Avatar” in 2009, James Cameron not only once again proved that he is one of the best directors in the world. Especially when it comes to the technological achievements of cinematography. The story of Jake Sully on the moon of Pandora managed to popularize the technology of 3D films so successfully that it became the new standard of filmmaking. In 2022, Cameron returned with “Avatar: The Path of Water” to surprise everyone again with advances in film technology. We tell you in the review below how the second part of “Avatar” turned out.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” / Avatar: The Way of Water
The genre is a fantastic action movie
Directed by James Cameron
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, C.C.H. Pounder, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang
Release year 2022
The plot of the film “Avatar 2” unfolds on the same satellite of Pandora as in the first part. Former marine Jake Sully has finally merged with the body of an avatar of the Na’vi people and is now considered a hero of Pandora. Humanity has been driven from the satellite, but it is only a matter of time before it returns with colonizing ambitions.
However, Jake and his wife Neytiri managed to live peacefully for several years and have children. So in the new confrontation between the Na’vi and humans, Sally will have to be responsible for all her relatives, approach all issues more carefully so as not to frame anyone.
The first part of “Avatar” is very difficult to call a film with a good story. Yes, it has a thoughtful and interesting world, but it is practically not supported by charismatic characters. After viewing, only the beautiful landscapes of Pandora remain in the memory, but not the characters who drove the plot. Therefore, with the second part of “Avatar” Cameron had to correct this deficiency as well.
And the director succeeded. Not without questions, of course, but the script of “Avatar: The Path of Water” can already be called good without modesty and shame. It has adequate development of heroes and villains, interesting conflicts and unexpected discoveries. It’s nice to follow the plot, the characters differ from each other at the level of character and behavioral characteristics, so they don’t disappear from consciousness immediately after the end credits.
The main part of the story focuses on the children of Jake and Neytiri. The move is logical, considering that in the 13 years since the release of the first “Avatar”, many viewers have probably had their own children. On the one hand, new accents in the plot make it possible to consider the eternal conflict of parents and children from an interesting angle, transferring it to the fantastic conditions of the fight against human colonizers. But on the other hand, sometimes “Avatar 2” approaches the image of teenagers too naively.
The phrases “I’m so lonely” and “no one understands me” are heard several times during the film, which after a huge number of mediocre young adult films already seems to be in bad taste. It is the young adult genre that “Avatar 2” seems to focus on in its worst moments of the scenario. There are not so many of them, but against the background of all other well-thought-out scenes, such subsidence of the story looks especially noticeable.
However, such nuances can partly be blamed on the film’s focus on the widest possible audience. Including the crowds who go to the cinemas at most once a year. “Avatar 2” therefore looks as safe as possible in terms of experiments with submission. It develops according to all the laws and traditions of cinema, it is practically an academic work of art that can be studied as a reference example of a well-made film.
It is especially nice that even with a duration of three and a half hours, “Avatar: The Path of Water” does not feel drawn out. Every moment, every dialogue in it seems appropriate, there is absolutely no need to be bored. And for three-hour films, this is a rare case, so Cameron was able to do it here.
Only now the director cheated a little, because “Avatar 2” is far from always able to offer creative scenes to capture the attention of the audience. And here the main advantage of the film comes to the fore. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the most technologically beautiful film to date.
The PR campaign around the movie was built around this, but all doubts disappear from the very first seconds of viewing. Cameron specifically inserted several large-scale landscapes at the beginning so that you can fully appreciate what the crew has been working on all these years. “Avatar 2” has a jaw-dropping look. And even the last skeptic, who appreciates the artistic component in works of art, and not the “graphon”, will not be able to disagree with this.
When the film industry adopted 3D imaging technology in cinema as the norm, many directors and production companies seemed to never understand why they needed it. And they inserted 3D into their works just to match the trend. However, Cameron is very aware of how to use 3D properly. The frame structure, camera pans, and other technological nuances work on this technology. Therefore, while watching, the viewer is literally immersed in what is happening, and it is almost impossible to break away.
The underwater entourage of most of the film works to “immerse” in the story. The underwater depths of “Avatar 2” are a pure wonder and the most beautiful depiction of ocean beauty in pop culture. Every underwater shot feels like real magic. That’s why it’s interesting to watch even the long swims of heroes that don’t seem to move the story anywhere in particular.
This, in principle, is one of the main secrets and at the same time miracles of “Avatar: The Path of Water”. If you think about it, many scenes in it are noticeably stretched. This applies to peaceful dialogues, and battles, and the movement of heroes.
In any other film, something similar would seem too artificial and superfluous. But in “Avatar 2”, thanks to the amazing use of technology, it is possible to feel pleasure from even the most banal scenes. Believe me, no one else has done the “doctor shines a flashlight in the patient’s eyes” scene as well as Cameron.
“Avatar: The Path of Water” wants to be disassembled into individual details, because there are enough of them in the film. The physics of water, friction of materials against each other, reflections and work with color – all this causes sincere delight. Watching “Avatar 2” does not get boring for three hours, and Cameron also regularly changes the conditions of what is happening to maintain a sense of novelty. And the lighting work in the film deserves all the applause in the world.
Separately, the director showed how to properly shoot films using an increased frame rate. Many moments of “Avatar: Path of Water” are shown in 48 frames per second instead of the standard 24. The film industry has tried to flirt with a similar decision before, for example, in Gemini with Will Smith. But the attempts were mostly unsuccessful.
“Avatar: The Path of Water” is quite capable of making the technology of filming at an increased frame rate a standard, as it was once the case with the first “Avatar” with a 3D image. The increased fps adds additional tension and passion to the scenes of research and battles.
And everything is done so well that even in “Avatar 2” itself, the scenes with a normal frame rate closer to the end start to feel a bit sluggish. Be prepared that literally every other movie, series, and even video game can be a bit of a pain to watch after Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Frankly, with such a breakthrough visual, Cameron could make at least a three-hour techno demo, where beautiful scenes would change every half hour without much meaning. And it would already look breakthrough. It is all the more surprising that “Avatar: The Path of Water” turned out to be a good, competent movie. The first part against its background seems outdated and ill-conceived. Even in some ways unnecessary.
After all, Cameron plans to release two more films about the Na’vi world, and “The Way of Water” is a kind of prologue to future events. It only introduces us to the new living conditions of the main characters on Pandora, depicts the future large-scale conflict between humans and the Na’vi. At the same time, it still remains a finished and independent story.
And after what I saw in “The Way of Water”, I really want Disney and 20th Century Fox to allow Cameron to realize all his ideas. Because if the director’s prologue turned out to be so epic, it’s scary to even imagine what he has prepared for the finale.
Pros: mind-blowing graphics that can easily be called the best in the film industry; the first in the history of full-length cinema competent use of filming at an increased frame rate; eye-pleasing decorations; an interesting story that adequately implements all its characters Cons: flirting with the young adult genre harms some storylines; the general focus of the film on the mass audience does not allow him to take risks or experiment too much with the plot Conclusion:
“Avatar: The Path of Water” is an excuse to go to the cinema, even if you never go to them at all. It is a triumph of the human mind that uses technology to push the limits of imagination. And, most importantly, this is just a good movie that does not break under the weight of its phenomenal technological achievements