|Jake Sully: I know one thing: wherever we go, this family… is our fortress.|
|Director: James Cameron|
|Writer(s): James Cameron, Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver|
|Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis|
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 no secret that I’m a huge admirer of the film director James Cameron. He’s responsible for creating some of the highest-grossing and most beloved movies of all time, including the likes of Titanic (1997), The Terminator (1984), Aliens (1986), and Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991). He’s a true visionary in the industry, and his latest offering, Avatar: The Way of Water, is no exception. The film is a stunning follow-up to his 2009 blockbuster Avatar, and it once again showcases Cameron’s signature themes of environmentalism, family, the power and beauty of water, overcoming adversity, technology and its impact on humanity, self-discovery and personal growth. His ability to seamlessly weave these themes into his storytelling is one of the reasons he’s widely regarded as one of the most talented and accomplished directors of his generation.
In 2009, I had the pleasure of watching the original Avatar in 3D Imax, and I was completely mesmerized by its stunning visuals and use of 3D technology. Recently, I watched Avatar: The Way of Water in 3D at a Gold Class cinema, and I was once again captivated by the breathtaking scenery and immersive audio. It’s clear that James Cameron is a master filmmaker with an incredible vision that is truly amazing to behold. Avatar: TWOW takes place ten years after the original film with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington delivers a commanding performance in the role), now the Chief of the Omaticaya Clan, leading a peaceful life with his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana portrays the role with striking beauty and an exotic allure). and their children, including adopted daughter Kiri (73 year old Sigourney Weaver portrays the character with a youthful and playful energy, befitting of a teenager), sons Neteyam (played by Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton delivers a lively and spirited performance, imbuing the role with playful energy), and a human boy named Spider (Jack Champion portrays the character with animalistic qualities, adding depth and nuance to the performance) who was unable to be transported to Earth as an infant. Despite Neytiri’s distrust, the children get along well and enjoy each other’s company, with Spider embracing Na’vi culture over his human heritage. However, their idyllic existence is disrupted when they notice an RDA spaceship, carrying humans who plan to colonize Pandora once again, causing destruction in their wake. One of the new arrivals is Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang’s return to the role is marked by his commanding and brutal performance), now cloned into a Na’vi body and with his memories of his death erased. Despite his inability to recall his defeat at the hands of Jake, he remains determined to eliminate him as part of his vengeful mission.
To prevent the RDA from exploiting Pandora once again, Jake takes charge and leads a strategic guerrilla operation to weaken the RDA’s supply lines. During one of the operations, Lo’ak disobeys Neteyam and tries to assist Jake in battle, resulting in him getting wounded. Jake rescues and disciplines him to prevent him from endangering himself by being reckless. Later that night, while tending to Lo’ak’s wounds, Neytiri reminds Jake to not be too hard on their son, to which Jake expresses his concern for the safety of their children. Meanwhile, Quaritch initiates a search mission to kill Jake in retaliation for the attacks on their supply lines.
One day, Jake’s children, along with Spider, venture deeper into the rainforest. Unbeknownst to them, Quaritch and his team are in the area, exploring the site where Quaritch discovers his human remains. An observant Lo’ak notices their presence and quickly informs Jake. A skirmish ensues, and Quaritch’s squad captures Jake’s children. Although Jake and Neytiri manage to free most of them, Spider is taken by Quaritch, who recognizes him as his son. On the ship, the RDA attempts to extract information about Jake from Spider, who refuses to cooperate. In a change of strategy, Quaritch addresses Spider as his son and offers to explain more about the Na’vi in exchange for his freedom. Although uncooperative and unaware of Quaritch’s actual mission, Spider teaches him about Na’vi culture, and Quaritch is even able to successfully tame an Ikran flying creature as his vehicle.
To protect themselves from the danger posed by Spider’s knowledge of their whereabouts and to prevent another catastrophe, Jake persuades a hesitant Neytiri and his family to exile themselves from the Omaticaya Clan and seek refuge in Metkayina, a coral reef island inhabited by a clan that has adapted to Pandora’s aquatic environment. Jake passes on his role as chief to his successor and departs with his family to Metkayina. Upon arrival, they are met by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis delivers a performance that is both compassionate and commanding), the clan chief, and his initially skeptical wife Ronal (Kate Winslet delivers a standout performance in the role, seamlessly disappearing into the character’s ethnicity while bringing a brilliant level of nuance and depth to the portrayal). Jake explains their predicament, and they are granted permission to stay and provided with shelter. Although some of the tribesmen ridicule Jake and his children for their human heritage, the family assimilates into the reef people’s way of life and earns their respect. Kiri is captivated by the aquatic life of Metkayina and establishes a spiritual connection with the sea and its inhabitants, while Lo’ak becomes friends with Tsireya (played with stunning beauty and captivating gaze by Bailey Bass), the daughter of Tonowari and Ronal.
As Lo’ak adjusts to life in his new environment, he becomes embroiled in a conflict with Tsireya’s brother, Aonung, who makes a crude joke about Lo’ak and Kiri’s mixed human lineage. Jake scolds Lo’ak for his behavior and encourages him to apologize to Aonung and his friends. However, Aonung and his companions trick Lo’ak into venturing into the territory of a dangerous sea predator, the akula, and leave him stranded as revenge. The akula attacks Lo’ak, but he is saved and befriended by Payakan, a tulkun, a cetacean species revered as spiritual family by the Metkayina. Lo’ak communicates with Payakan through signing and removes an old harpoon head from the beast’s fin. Upon his return to Metkayina, Chief Tonowari discovers Aonung’s deceit and insists that he apologize to Lo’ak, but Lo’ak takes the blame himself and earns Aonung’s friendship. He also learns that Payakan is an outcast among his kind.
The film is visually stunning, and I highly recommend watching it in IMAX 3D or Gold Class 3D if possible. Cameron transports you to another world and immerses you in the beauty of Pandora. Each frame is a masterpiece, from the vibrant Pandoran forest to the breathtaking water world of Awa’atlu, the Metkayina Clan’s village off the coast of the Eastern Sea. The film’s stunning creatures and landscapes are portrayed with Cameron’s eye for majesty, making it difficult to look away. While the film’s characters and dialogue can be clumsy at times, which is typical of a James Cameron film, the film’s action and beauty make up for it. In my opinion, this film surpasses the original and opens up new possibilities for the world of Pandora, making it a potential science-fiction fantasy franchise on par with Star Wars or Lord of the Rings. I’m excited to see what comes next.