James Cameron is a filmmaker who doesn't do anything by halves and after waiting thirteen years, his long awaited sequel to Avatar is finally upon us in The Way of Water. Back in 2009, after a long absence from the Hollywood scene and major success of Titanic, Cameron delivered something truly special in Avatar and he's back to do it again so, those who underestimate the man, prepare to be proven wrong. 

Years after battling humans and becoming a Na'vi himself, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) lives with his newfound family on Pandora. When a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and an army of the Na'vi race to protect their home and loved ones.
It's been a long time since we've been in Pandora, a time which has seen the likes of Star Wars and the MCU take control of the blockbuster status with their respective billions earned at the box-office. There was a while where I thought James Cameron would never be taking us back but his passion and desire to deliver more Avatar films for the fans is one to be admired. The long wait only makes it harder for a film of this magnitude to feel worthwhile however, I'm so glad to report Avatar: The Way of Water is a triumphant sequel that sees Cameron show everyone just why he's such a great filmmaker when it comes to entertaining blockbusters, all while making it feel as if we've never been away from the wondrous world of Pandora. 

Simply put, The Way of Water is a technical marvel full of life and a spiritual essence that makes it one of the best films of the year. There's layers to this sequel's narrative revolving around family and the cost of protecting them that makes it a stronger and more character-driven story than the first film, which was never really lauded for its originality. Jake and Neytiri being parents changes their outlook on life, a sweeping sci-fi epic ensuing as they take their family on a journey across Pandora's oceans to reveal a new awe-inspiring landscape for the majority of the film to take place. If the emotional narrative doesn't get you maybe just how incredible the film looks will.
It's a mightily engrossing experience, Cameron pioneering technology yet again to create such a mesmerising visual experience. The use of higher frame rates did take me a little while to get used to however, once I did, the film became something else entirely. It may be expected but even I was taken aback by just how good it looked, maybe even TOO good at times. Seriously, some of the underwater sequences felt like watching an extended episode of Blue Planet. For a film that possesses such a mammoth runtime, The Way of Water rarely has moments that makes it feel as if the film is dragging and that's what happens when you create such a captivating setting. I could have sat through another three hours easily.

The out of this world visual effects really do bring everything from the creatures of Pandora, including the beautifully designed Na'vi, to the bombastic action sequences to life, and James Cameron is having an absolute blast behind the camera. The final hour of this film is one hell of a ride and features some of the best looking action you'll see in a major blockbuster ever. Simon Franglen has some big shoes to fill after James Horner produced such an amazing score for the first film and he does a grand job in creating some aptly epic sounds to accompany oceanic battles and quieter character moments.
The characters are brought to life using not only state-of-the-art technology but through fine performances that don't get lost amongst all the visual effects. Sam Worthington may not be the most charismatic leading man of all time but he works as Jake Sully, who was trained as a marine first and foremost. It's Zoe Saldana who steals the film yet again with an emotionally powerful performance as Neytiri, joined by Kate Winslet as Ronal in truly elevating the film when it comes to the evoking emotion from the audience. Quaritch may be a one-note villain but sometimes that's all you need to stoke the fire and Stephen Lang brings him to life, albeit in a very different way, so brilliantly.

The children of Pandora are very welcome additions, offering a different perspective to the narrative and an innocence that comes with not knowing the pending danger heading their way. Britain Dalton as Lo'ak, the second son of Jake and Neytiri, brings a lot of depth to his performance as the forgotten member of the family who always seems to disappoint while Sigourney Weaver, rather oddly, plays Kiri, their adopted teenage daughter. She's a great character to add to the franchise but it does feel a little odd hearing Weaver's voice playing such a young character.

Avatar: The Way of Water is a truly special cinematic experience that proves James Cameron just knows how to deliver one hell of a sequel. Listen, and understand! James Cameron is out there! He can't be bargained with. He can't be reasoned with. He doesn't feel pity, or remorse, or fear. And he absolutely will not stop... ever, until you are taken to Pandora!

Verdict: ★★★★★


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