Avatar: The Way of Water is pretentious. For more than three hours, James Cameron shoots to the fullest, which is what cinema technology has to offer these days. But a good film also needs a good story, otherwise there is a risk of shipwreck. The director seems to have run out of ideas.
“More cinema is impossible,” promises the advertisement for “Avatar: The Way of Water.” And indeed: the film is undoubtedly the film event of the year. It’s been 13 years since the original Avatar movie took the screens by storm. 13 years ago, director James Cameron introduced viewers to the fantasy world of the Na’vi. 13 years since he seemed to revolutionize cinema with hitherto unique animation art and 3D perfection. And 13 years in which striptease became the most successful film of all time.
But that’s not the only reason why expectations for a successor are huge. They were fueled by the director himself and his team, who gave the impression that they had an almost endless reservoir of brilliant ideas at their disposal to easily continue Avatar for decades to come. Items 3 and 4 should already be in the box. A fifth film is also in development. In theory, Cameron explained that he could have continued Avatar for the rest of the day if there wasn’t a biological limit for him. Now the director is 68 years old.
But 13 years is a long time. What seemed revolutionary in 2009 is already yesterday. At the same time, after the premiere of Avatar, a kind of counter-revolution spread. In any case, the hype around 3D has died down a bit since then. “Departure to Pandora” did not become a general departure to the third dimension.
The movie is over three hours long.
However, Cameron seems to want to punish all other lies with Avatar: The Way of the Water. Like the original, the sequel was of course also filmed in “true” 3D for XXL IMAX and was not subsequently converted. In terms of 3D technology, not much has happened since 2009 – at least from a viewer’s point of view – no matter how many additional frames per second have appeared since then. The situation is different in the field of animation and performance capture – computer recording of sequences of movements and facial expressions. Here development is still making noticeable quantum leaps.
Quantum Leaps as you can see in Avatar: Path of Water. The movie is kind of like an IFA tour where you see what’s the hottest shit on the electronics market right now. Cameron really shoots from all cylinders with what cinema technology currently has to offer. And this is nothing but the final transition from the aesthetics of computer games to photorealism. As if the wide-eyed blue Na’vi creatures with pointed ears and tails were actually flesh-and-blood creatures whose four-fingered hands could be shaken. Or as if the fantastic book world of Pandora with pictures can really be found somewhere on a neighboring planet. It’s all about high definition in 4K – and more than a total movie running time of more than three hours.
When asked if you can have fun on a three-hour walk through the IFA, everyone must answer for himself. But Cameron really does everything to keep you from being bored. In particular, the underwater worlds he created are truly phenomenal. A particular hit, of course, is that it brings back 73-year-old Sigourney Weaver, whose character died in the first Avatar movie, as a Na’vi teenager (!). The only thing he seems to have completely forgotten about this whole tech show is something that is inevitably part of a really great movie: a good story and a meaningful plot.
History of the Wild West on Pandora
You look for them in Avatar: The Path of Water, but, unfortunately, in vain. Instead, the film essentially focuses again on telling the story of its predecessor in a simplified form again. The great backdrop in which Avatar once fused spirituality and materialism, peaceful civilization and brutal oppression, harmony with nature and capitalist exploitation, comes down to a personal feud between Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who also allowed to return as a cloned villain after his death in the first installment. What remains at the end is a rather simple Wild West story, as if Santer was blowing his revenge campaign against Winnetou with all the cavalry. The only difference is that the action takes place not in Death Valley, but on Pandora, with blue Na’vis instead of “pale-faced” and “red-skinned”.
He lacks not only originality, but also logic. Because just as the cavalry wouldn’t join Santer, it begs the question why an entire company that really only wants to exploit Pandora puts itself at the service of a clone’s vengeance. Especially since Sally really gave up a long time ago and fled into exile with his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and children among Metkain’s people connected with the sea…
With “Avatar” Cameron once faced the throne. After all, he is also the creator of Titanic, which previously topped the list of highest-grossing films of all time for years. Cameron in his element in the water. Revealing that Avatar: The Path of Water also evokes some Titanic memories shouldn’t spoil too much.
One can only hope that Cameron didn’t have a personal titanic moment with Avatar. Maybe he and his cohorts have already missed their weakest script with Part 2, and the really brilliant ideas are yet to come to bring the franchise to life beyond technical perfection. Or with a soul, as the Na’vi would surely say. But if it all boils down to – and Avatar: The Path of Water makes you suspect to a certain extent – just replaying history over and over again, Cameron is in danger of shipwreck. No more movies? It would be a pity.