‘Avatar: The Sense of Water’ is a great war spectacle: James Cameron returns to the epic adventure in a pharaonic blockbuster that is far from the best of the year

Avatar: the sense of water’ (Avatar: The Way of Water, 2022) opens on December 16, finally closing a cycle that began 13 years ago with the special effects revolution of the first part. Now, with 3D technology assimilated and almost forgotten by the general public, there was expectation for the new technological bet of James Cameron and the achievements he has developed after more than a decade of research in evolution.

The result does not squeak with respect to the previous one, but it also does not quite achieve what it is supposed to be trying to implement. On the one hand, there is an improvement in terms of the consolidation of the advances seen in the previous one, on the other, 3D continues to be a way of enriching the image on the screen based on the difference in distance between spaces that It does not stop looking like cut-out elements dancing in a fishbowl. In that aspect, it is very difficult for this premiere to convince the unconverted.

The story, in reality, does not tell anything especially new either. We follow the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their children), and the efforts they make to stay safe on Pandora, after humans attack the planet again with vastly more resources and destructive power. The trailer showed us that a lot of the action takes place in or under water, but the truth is that the film takes a long time to get there. And that is something that does not have a reasonable explanation that would convince us that the approach did not deserve to fire that cartridge as soon as possible.

With the first delivery clocking in at a long two hours, Cameron has defended the sequel’s runtime, telling Empire Magazine: “I don’t want anyone complaining about the length when they sit and binge-watch TV for eight hours..” The problem, James, is that at home you can pause. And that is the dilemma that surrounds ‘Avatar: the sense of water’. There is no way to justify the 190 minute length. The experience is exhausting and when we get to the pyrotechnic third act we are out of steam, and on top of that leaving the impression of having witnessed a very long teaser of something to come.

Technological competence and fantasy safari spirit

After more than a decade, it is understandable that quantity is one of the arguments to try to improve what we have already seen, but honestly, the quality has not improved as much as it has been presumed in the first impressions networking. On the one hand there is a logical geographic expansion of Pandora, but there is no narrative element different from the previous one. We might think that the introduction to the creatures and mythology of the planet and its inhabitants has already been assimilated. But it is not so completely.

Once we have a new contact with a different ecosystem and tribe, the protagonists go through a period of adaptation and learning that serves as a strategic reset to retell the same thing, once again. The structure is very, very similar to the previous one, even with a mirror reflection of the scale of the conflicts. For example, at the climax we see a big confrontation and then move on to a small-scale resolution in which the main protagonists and antagonists are more important. There is a predictable element that constantly plays against.

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Fortunately, the visual spectacle is overwhelming, with a new immersion in the fauna and flora of a new habitat, shot with techniques that make the impossible real, and again, the naturalistic exploration sections are very interesting, like a National Geographic documentary of an alien ecosystem. The confrontation with Cameron’s world of metal and technology is quite fascinating, as he doubles the number of robots, submarines and state-of-the-art ship-copters.

A return to the classic maritime adventure

If there is something that ‘Avatar: The Sense of Water’ achieves, it is to recover a form of exotic adventure lost in Hollywood. Conflicts on atolls and sci-fi populations in oceanic locations are reminiscent of the George Pal of ‘the lost continent‘ (1968) and large animals with human interaction is not different from what was proposed in series B as ‘The depths of Bermuda‘ (1978), but the ingenuity of the director of ‘Terminator 2′ takes it to a mammoth, unusual scale.

But in essence, the company is perceived anachronistic and naive, the script continues to rely on the same commonplaces, snippets from other films already seen that build an epic story that is still a kind of hybrid of ‘Waterworld‘ (1995), which borrows more than its share from ‘the emerald forest‘ (1985) and a little bit of ‘Free Willy’ (1993), but if they had been imagined by Cecil B. DeMille, although in principle this does not necessarily have to be bad.

Avatar The Way Of Water

What is difficult to digest are the jumbled expositions on the philosophy of water, the spirituality of sperm whales, the visions of a deepfake by Sigourney Weaver, the mystique of the new tribes and, in general, the sensation of dialogues written for the cinematics of a video game that never quite see their characters as living beings, but as true avatars of template stereotypes that never manage to break the barrier of spontaneity. Sometimes they are so accomplished at a level of textures and photorealism that more holes are perceived than necessary due to their poor rhetorical definition.

Fascinating in its own way

A case that draws attention is that of Neytiri; Zoe Saldaña’s Na’vi continues to be reduced to a series of convenient reactions for the protagonist. Confronted, angry, or roaring like an animal. Her role is reduced to a mere reaction to Jake Sully’s always stubborn and logical decisions. A symptom of another series of repetitive situations that replicate the same conflicts between resident tribe and newcomers from the previous movie. The best advice before seeing it is not to do an early review before going to the cinema.

In the worst case ‘Avatar: The Sense of Water’ is a template blockbuster packed with awesome action scenes, perhaps familiar and not as definitive as what could be expected after these 13 years, but reasonably necessary in a scenario of mimetic superhero universes that seem to have flooded the big theaters every weekend, without there seeming to be even the slightest action movie alternative. And if someone knows how to do great action movie scenes, it’s the director of ‘Risky lies’.


But the situation is not the same as 2009, we have seen technological revolutions with better battles, digital characters and more heart and intelligence like the trilogy of ‘The rise of the planet of the apes’, so the toy remains an expansion of the known, so anachronistic and with the same ugly designs or atrocious excessive luminescence as the original. Of course, in a year in which we have seen on screen ‘Top Gun: Maverick‘, it is difficult to fit ‘Avatar 2’ close to the best of 2022, but it is still true that the oceanic location awakens a more dedicated Cameron to the causewith some reflections of his’titanic‘ and sketches of underwater artifacts that only someone very diligent in the subject could imagine, which is endearing and fascinating, in its own way.

‘Avatar: The Sense of Water’ is a great war spectacle: James Cameron returns to the epic adventure in a pharaonic blockbuster that is far from the best of the year