The sky people are back. Like the rebellious machines from the Terminator, they again march across Pandora with an iron tread, burning everything in their path, crushing skulls and tirelessly pursuing the one who is guilty of their defeat – the traitor and messiah Jake Sully. The hero cannot risk his native tribe, and therefore he goes with his family to emigration – to a friendly tribe that lives in harmony with the ocean and is friends with whales. After all, the unkillable colonel won’t get them here, right?
Was 2009’s Avatar… great? Overrated? First of all, overhyped. A new word in 3D technologies! Two billion box office receipts – a record that is still valid!
It seemed that the film itself was simply unworthy of such a hype. He was praised so much that I wanted to hate him. To accuse of plagiarism from “Pocahontas”, from “Dancing with Wolves”, from “Valley of the Ferns”, or from what else this cocktail is brewed …
It took a while to see Avatar for what it is: like a James Cameron film. Not the best, not very original. But a beautiful, fascinating, technically perfect action movie. And besides, filmed in its own universe, and not one of a handful of successful franchises.
Let us from the very beginning perceive the Way of Water in the same way. No, he did not become a revolution, even such as the first part. The use of motion capture underwater is not at all the same level of novelty as the 3D “Avatar” was. Rumors about 3D without glasses have remained rumors. But this is again a spectacular fantasy action movie from Cameron. And another part of the now new franchise, wedged into a close circle to Star Wars and Marvel. Is it worth asking more of her?
Here they returned everything important from “Avatar”
“Next” is an important word. Cameron is especially famous for the world’s best sequels. Terminator 2 is a sequel that surpasses the original. “Aliens” – at least not worse than “Alien”. But the secret of these sequels is that they were endings. James took what seemed to be a finished story and ended it on a high note.
“Avatar 2” did not become like that, and could not, and no one promised it. It’s part of a pre-planned long series – there’s at least one more movie to go, and if you’re lucky, three more. The film does not complete the story, but only serves as its next episode, besides partly repeating the original.
Of course, the earthlings did not leave poor Pandora alone. Earth, judging by the characters’ fleeting remarks, is in little better condition than in Interstellar – and the Na’vi planet is full of lucrative resources. Wasting no time, Cameron, after a brief introduction, hurls us and the heroes from a tropical paradise into a fiery hell. Landing starship engines burn the jungle. The heavy legs of walkers and caterpillars turn exotic vegetation into a mess.
And along with a new expedition to Pandora, the one we were waiting for returns: Colonel Miles Quaritch with a detachment of loyal marines. And this is so expected that it is not a spoiler at all.
It’s not like The Way of the Water is a remake sequel like The Force Awakens. There is enough new here – take at least the way Quaritch was returned! The Na’vi themselves have also changed – they are mastering technology, using radio communications. And starting from the second act, the action is transferred (for a somewhat far-fetched reason – the heroic Sally gives up and runs very easily) from the familiar jungle to a fundamentally new place – the oceans of Pandora. But at its core, this is again the same story – about the confrontation between the natives, living in harmony with nature, and greedy humanity.
Only Avatar was the story of Jake Sully. And now it’s a family story.
The protagonist of the film is a family
We used to see almost everything through Jake’s eyes. We watched the exotic Pandora with the eyes of a stranger, a stranger. Now Pandora is a home for him, and for all other heroes it is a homeland. And even the Na’vi language is mostly voiced in English. But most importantly, Jake Sully is no longer the sole protagonist.
This is a terribly beaten cliche, but you can’t say otherwise: “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a film about a family. A family of Sally and Ney’tiri, consisting of almost a dozen blue faces that you will gradually learn to distinguish. Its members are almost equally central characters, they have their own character arcs, and sometimes separate storylines.
For most of the film, we follow three main characters:
- Lo’ak, the youngest son of Jake and Ney’tiri (the older one is only there to set him off). An impatient, cocky, difficult teenager who always disappoints his father, but makes friends with a local whale – a payakan.
- Kiri, daughter of the late Grace. A charming not-so-like-everything girl who dreams of visions, does not know who her father is, and is the best to connect with Ava. Kiri is perhaps the most pleasant surprise of the film: she (the daughter of her own character!) is played in the mo-cap by the returned Sigourney Weaver, and she plays brilliantly – but without credits, you will not guess who she is.
- Spider, aka Miles, is a human cub adopted by Sally and comically trying to imitate the cooler Na’vi. His line is one of the most dramatic, he will meet with his real father.
The relationship in this family is as much the plot of the film as the conflict between the Na’vi and the sky people. They are sometimes touching, sometimes dramatic, sometimes funny. For example, we are once again reminded that Sally is a military man, and sometimes he treats children like new recruits. You hardly expect that the most common phrase from the lips of young Na’vi will be the soldier’s “That’s right!”
The theme of the family touched not only Sally – Quaritch is also revealed from a new side. The “Way of Water” allows him to be not only a “father to the soldiers”, but also a real father, to experience feelings that the steel warrior from the first part probably could not even imagine. Cameron again showed the colonel as an ambiguous character – a villain who can be understood, believing in his innocence and respecting a brave enemy.
However, this abundance of main characters does not benefit the film. It is difficult to keep track of such a crowd, not only for the viewer, but even for the director, who now and then switches between them. So, the hilarious scene in which Quaritch learns to fly the ikran dragon cuts short at the most intense point to show that it’s like Sally and company.
Ney’tiri especially suffers from this. The logic of the plot and emotions push her to become another “cool mom” in Cameron’s filmography, to stand on a par with Ripley and Sarah Connor. But if in “Avatar” she was the second most important hero after Sally, then here she has little time, she was pushed almost into the background. So in almost all of his scenes, Zoe Saldana plays the same rage and hiss like a cat.
This is a great film about the ocean and diving.
But the main difference between The Way of Water and Avatar is the abundance of water. Literally!
Anyone who was interested in James Cameron knows that he is an avid submariner, ocean explorer, owner of his own submarine. He is the third person to visit the bottom of the Mariana Trench (and the first one alone). He directed The Abyss, and also three documentaries in the spirit of Cousteau’s Odyssey, full of beautiful views of the underwater world.
So it’s no surprise that The Way of the Water is a marvelously beautiful film about scuba diving. This time not on real oceans, but on the imaginary waters of Pandora, which are as beautiful and full of details as the jungle from the first part. Glowing algae! Jellyfish! Corals! Schools of fish moving in unison! In many ways, this ocean resembles the earth’s, only here there are creatures similar to mosasaurs, intelligent whales, and living “wings” that allow you to breathe underwater.
In the second act, Cameron pauses the main plot and conflict to immerse us in this sea world – and in the life of the Metkayina tribe, similar to the natives of Oceania. You can relate to this in different ways. The plot in this part of the film frankly sags – the characters, in fact, only ride on sea creatures, but they sort things out on the little things. But, let’s be honest, “Avatar” has always been valued not for the plot, but for the universe, and here they plunge into it the deepest.
To be continued!
Don’t worry, the good tale of blue Polynesian life doesn’t take up the whole movie. In the third act, Cameron again recalls that he, damn it, Cameron is the god of harsh and bloody action movies. The climax of The Way of Water is a massive, albeit somewhat chaotic, aquatic battle, reminiscent of Aquaman and Waterworld. Gunfights, explosions, whale attacks and shipwrecks continue until the very end.
Intermediate final, of course. He does not put a point – only an ellipsis. The conflict is not resolved. Mysteries (mostly related to Kiri) are not revealed. The arcs of most of the characters still require development. Heroes almost in plain text say that “to be continued.” Avatar has moved into Star Wars mode: it’s now a saga that will be unfolded piecemeal.
And I want to continue waiting. Not for the sake of the plot or the disclosure of secrets – seriously, well, what kind of intrigue can there be? — but for the sake of returning to Pandora. What other amazing part of this amusement park will Cameron show us?