Jake Sully started a family on Pandora, but his peaceful, harmonious life is threatened by the return of the military from Earth, led by a dark ghost of the past.
Today it is difficult to find a spectacle that, with its spectacularism, will really make you fall asleep in an armchair. When everything can be assembled in a computer, backgrounds and explosions can be added, and the whole thing looks like the real thing, if you give the animators enough time and dollars, what else can please the viewer. When James Cameron filmed his great opus Terminator 2 over thirty years ago, if you wanted to capture a breathtaking shot right in the eye of the camera, you had to do just that – catch it on camera. Remember the scene where the T-1000 is chasing the movie characters in a helicopter, keeping just above the road level, trying to eliminate its target? At some point, he needs to fly over the viaduct to continue the chase. Not a problem, because it’s just one small viaduct. However, his target later enters a longer tunnel, so the car, not wanting to lose him, enters right behind him. A crazy scene that might not have been in the movie. Or it could have been filmed with CGI. Only then it wouldn’t look so good. So, Cameron found a brave pilot, grabbed the camera himself and filmed the flight… Twice! Because two different shots were needed. Today, no one would even let him do something like that. But he’s James Cameron, so even with all those restrictions, you’d expect him to wow the public in some way. As Roger said after the screening, “If this movie doesn’t save the theater, no one else will.”
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) – Movie Review [Disney]. The plot as an occasion to show new corners of Pandora
Literally the first “Avatar” never made much of an impression. A cosmic combination of Dances with Wolves and Disney’s Pocahontas, with a touch of The Smurfs and Fern Valley. Also, slapstick proper names, like the name of a very greedy corpsat (Selfridge) or a very rare ore they are looking for (unobtanium), sounded like they were made up for placeholders. They would fit the new Ratchet and Clank, not a serious movie. So it was to be expected that the sequel would not take off its hats in that regard.
Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have been living peacefully on Pandora for over a decade. They had four children – two sons and two daughters. One of them was adopted and played by… Sigourney Weaver. You can either way. However, after many years of peace, the threat returns. They are led by an old friend of Jake’s who has a score to settle with him. The military power of the people is too great, and since their target is Sally, he and his family decide to run away, find a new home where they can feel safe. They decide to join the Na’vi who live in the water. They will have to learn how to live like them, get acquainted with their customs, make new friends.
I must admit that for a film that is over three hours long (not three and a half as they say on the Internet. Actually it’s more like 190 minutes) the action develops quite quickly. In the first minutes, Cameron very skillfully, although somewhat naively, sets up a conflict and prepares all the pieces for the game. Shortly after, we see the first action scene, followed by… National Geographic. We are introduced to a completely new place, a new ecosystem, and James categorically refuses to move on until the viewer understands very precisely what works here and how. The water shots look beautiful, you can be sure of that, but at times it got so documentary that I just waited for David Attenborough to start talking to me from the start. Well, that never happened, but Jake himself boldly leads the story, so the effect is there. However, the last hour is a hard ride without holders and action scenes that only Cameron can shoot. Can this film be cut without losing too much? Rather yes. Is thirty minutes of a shorter run good for him? I think definitely yes.
Avatar: The Way of Water (2022) – Movie Review [Disney]. You’ve never seen anything like it
Filming this movie must have been torture for the actors. Virtually everything after dating takes place in or around the water, and you can bet that Cameron made his actors spend hours in the water. Kate Winslet, who plays one of the Na’vi, reportedly learned to hold her breath for more than seven minutes for the film. It’s funny considering how little time she spends on it in the final film. But, apparently, James immediately filmed material for the next parts, so maybe there will be a little more of her in the third. Whatever we say, it was worth the effort because the movie looks incredibly good, also thanks to the TITANIC work done by the animators. The way the bodies of the characters affect the surface of the water, how they pierce it, how the light is refracted under it, and therefore the image is simply a masterpiece of the world. Of course, it doesn’t have the instant wow factor that the first Avatar produced thirteen years ago, because today computer technology has reached such a level that the devil is in the details.
The Na’vi’s perfect, ahem, leathery face, covered in pores and fine hairs, gleams beautifully in the sun as the heroes emerge from the water. On the other hand, when dry, it absorbs light much more efficiently, reflecting only part of it. The transparency of objects, the shadows, the movement of water and the way light plays on it, small details such as the sand that remains on Neytiri’s heel when she steps on the beach and partly falls off with her next steps. All these little things work together in perfect harmony, creating the illusion of being on another planet, as if we are actually watching aliens and their home. And when one of the people threw a fishing net on one of the Na’vi, which, of course, reacted perfectly to any movement, the fight of the blue alien, adding the dive variable under water, I literally said out loud that now it’s just to show.
In order to properly show the beauty of the underwater world, Cameron went for an increased number of frames per second, as in Jackson’s The Hobbit earlier. So instead of the standard 24 frames, we get 48. But not always! In just a few scenes, where the director wanted to give the audience a better, clearer view of the world he and his team had prepared, our eyes are attacked by twice as many images per second. Then it looks like some absolutely incredible computer game. On the one hand, an interesting interpretation, on the other – especially when we see people on the screen – their movements are too smooth for the viewer’s eye, accustomed to the standard frame rate. Then everything becomes too realistic and, paradoxically, more artificial. Also, when we suddenly jump back to 24 frames per second, the image seems too fragmented for a moment before the eye gets used to the illusion again.
Avatar: The Way of Water is a technological masterpiece – as you’d expect from Cameron – but at the same time, it’s a fairly standard film, if not basic. The relationship between the characters is pleasantly warm. It is felt that this is a loving family, their feelings are clearly visible, who has a grudge against whom, and so on. The later part of the film also includes typical teen themes – teasing, first love affairs and even mild racism. However, they are never overly important or deeply written. As well as the military theme. One seemingly important character simply disappears at some point, at least two potentially important topics are postponed for continuation. It’s absolutely the most beautiful movie I’ve ever seen (even if most of what we watch is computer generated), but aside from that visual splendor and great, sharp camera work, Avatar 2 is aggressive… all right. An indispensable thing for fans of the latest technology. Or for everyone else? I’m not sure.