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James Cameron’s “Avatar: The Way Of The Water” Reviewed

Thirteen years for this?

Don’t believe the hype, the sequel to 2009’s “Avatar”, “Avatar: The Way Of Water” is an unmitigated disaster going from the jungles of Pandora to the oceans of Metkayina while it tries to remain in focus. Beautiful but bland, it is the moral equivalent of dating a top model: you never know where its attention might wander… or not.

In Avatar, paraplegic Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) goes to Pandora where his DNA is the only thing that will get an avatar created for his late brother to work and goes full native once meeting the Naa’vi, eventually marrying Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and ridding the country (continent?) of the marines invaders and their leader (and Jake’s superior officer) Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in a pitched battle that leaves the hated Miles dead.

Fast forward fifteen years and the space invaders are back, they finally figured that if they used Naa’vi avatar’s themselves they could take over Pandora and colonize it for the humans on a dying Earth (how they plan to actually fit 8 billion folks is a different question entirely). Scully takes Neytiri (why is Scully suddenly the boss of Neytiri? Sexist bullshit) and their four children to hide from the marines among the amphibian inhabitants. This is bad, bad, not good for the inhabitants and a huge battle insures after two hours of National Geo prettiness and a moral to the story (it isn’t Space Invaders who kill whales, the pacifist whales kill themselves by refusing to defend themselves: pacifism kills).

And it is boring. They needed to pay off on one of the teen romantic threads at the very least (and probably two), or Scully to get back the charm the curmudgeonly father Scully does not have, or a tightening of anything as it toggles between underwater magnificence and more underwater excellence. As for Neyteri, if she was male I’d claim she had been castrated. Easily the best (and hottest) Naa’vi in the first movie, she all but disappears in the second movie.

Nothing really works (and being part two out of five it clearly doesn’t standalone). Yes, underwater stop motion animation is terrific but it needs to be tied to something else entirely, it is waterlogged. Think of misfires like “Thunderball” and “Waterworld”: water doesn’t work on film and exceptions, Cameron’s own “Titanic” and “The Poseidon Adventure” for instance, are tied to rock solid storylines. Why am I watching these teen kids cgi’d and frollicing, even as it hints at budding sexuality it resists going even close to “Blue Lagoon”? the kids will not flip for this Young Adult nonsense. The kids are not clearly envisioned, the eldest son (I nicknamed him “Spare” hours before he became one), the adults are uniformly horrible, and the story goes on for years and years.

To call it boring for long stretches is to underestimate the terribleness, why should I watch Way Of Water when i can see Leni Riefenstahl’s “Impressions Underwater”? There is no comparison between Leni’s underwater photography and Cameron’s. Cameron tricks the camera to showing what isn’t while Leni showed what certainly was.

It looks as though it will make up the bucks needed to break even and therefore have the already filmed Parts III – V released…. stay away.

Grade: D

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