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Release Date: 12/15/22
Genre: Action/Adventure/Fantasy

Studio: 20th Century Studios

"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."


The king of the blockbuster sequel is back! James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water surpasses the original in nearly every foreseeable instance and manages to be an even greater 3D spectacle that deserves to be seen in the cinema for the visual storytelling alone. 


Avatar, unlike for most viewers, grew on me the longer I was away from the initial theater experience. The hype overwhelmed me and I ultimately left disappointed with the first entry beyond the visual aspect, which even that didn’t live up to expectations. This time ‘round expectations on a personal level were dwindling, especially as more years passed with no sequel in sight. Now after reentering the world of Pandora in all its 3D glory, I am more invested in this story and these character’s fight for survival than ever before. 


Jake Sully was a fine character in the original, but here he is promoted to a father figure and he excels at it as his children take center stage. Britain Dalton as Sully’s son Lo’ak steals the show on the Na’vi side of affairs, while the avatar recreation of the deceased Quaritch continues to take the cake on the enemy side of things. The CGI lifeforms, not just the Na’vi are all beautifully expressive and make the experience incredibly immersive as their stories individually develop. While it’s great to see some familiar faces in the world, some are an odd rehash of the first with a newly introduced character of Kiri continuing on the legacy of Sigourney Weaver’s Grace. Kiri is one of the most curious characters with a lot left open by the film’s final scroll, making it seem like she is most certainly a key component of Cameron’s bigger picture. 


While the story is a rather standard revenge plot between Quaritch and Jake Sully, the 3 hour 12 minute runtime is more than just that, with a more expansive understanding of the characters themselves and another piece of Pandora that has yet to be explored - the sea. As war is on the horizon between the sky people and the Na’vi, Sully must relocate his family to a fresh tribe, going from a leader to fish out of water. As the family struggles to fit in, Sully must try to get everyone to play by the rules and stay secure as a sinister threat closes in. 


The stakes are aggressive with any given character at risk of being killed and Cameron knows exactly how to send a message while simultaneously delivering a stellar blockbuster. The film is structured with a massive exploration focused 2nd act and in all honesty, outside of the 3D format it’s unclear how that will play out. It’s a beautiful and wondrous site in the 3D screenings but take that magic out and there is some worry that it may fall flat. Nevertheless, the third act does wonders and reinvigorates the final act of a standard blockbuster for the first time in years - the film has stakes and you see them in full effect. 


What a way to end the year - leaving the year yearning for a third Avatar feature and another adventure in the world of Pandora; a feat no one could have seen coming.

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