(IANS Review) Avatar: The Way of Water – Elevating, engrossing and a beauty (IANS Rating: ***1/2)

Film: Avatar: The Way of Water. Duration: 192 minutes.

Director: James Cameron. Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis and Joel David Moore.

Cinematography: Russell Carpenter. Music: Simon Franglen.

IANS Rating: ***1/2

Thirteen years after its first franchise was released, ‘Avatar: the Way of Water’ has hit screens, much to the amusement as well as dismay of many. No, there’s nothing about the sequel that may be even remotely

disappointing; the only thing that may work against such a sharp visual treat is the fact that there have been many other huge-budget Hollywood blockbusters that have captured viewers’ mindspace over the years.

After delivering the highest Hollywood grosser ever, ‘Avatar’ (2009), James Cameron is back as the helmer of the 192-minute saga, and as expected, has used far better technical gloss to take the story forward. It isn’t as if the fans are waiting with bated breath about what to expect here. In fact, many of the original fans who have grown up to become young adults, don’t probably care which way the narrative is headed.

But having been a part of a journey that had not one but umpteen scintillating exciting moments, they would like to once again relive the roller coaster rides. And the futuristic ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ doesn’t disappoint even one bit. It takes viewers on a wonderful, colourful ride to a place named Pandora inhabited by the blue-skinned humanoids, Na’vi. who are over nine feet tall and have been attacked by humans seeking habitable planets away from a dying planet Earth.

By all means, it is an incredible awe-inspiring place that is bound to make viewers truly engaged. The sequel takes us back to the original many times during the journey, back to the time when 3D was reintroduced to the then generation of film buffs, and the film had used CGI like nobody else had by then. In the present day, although one takes technical sheen and supremely executed shots for granted, it still excites many among the audience to marvel at the breath-taking sequences that follow one after the other.

Some 10 years after the events of the first film, Jake Sully lives as chief of the Omaticaya and raises a family with Neytiri, which includes his sons Neteyam and Lo’ak and his daughter Tuk, his adopted daughter Kiri (born from Grace Augustine’s Na’vi avatar), and a human boy named Spider, the son of Colonel Miles Quaritch, who was born on Pandora and was unable to be transported to Earth in cryostasis.

To the dismay of the Na’vi, greedy humans return to Pandora to colonise it, erecting a new main operating base

named Bridgehead City. As another threat begins to rake up dark memories of the past, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na’vi race to protect their home.

Not just fans in India, but many critics in the West too, have run short of words to describe the heightened visual quality of the film as the immersive experience makes the audience become a part of the lives of the characters as the story unfolds.

Of course, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water; had to be much bigger in scale. But is it really better? That would trigger a debate between the ones who get emotional about the memories they have of the spectacular technology that Cameron used to entertain them in the 2009 movie and the others who, over the past decade and more, are definitely far more exposed to much more.

What works for the film is the emotional connect one feels throughout. Having invested fervently in it, few would write off the characters or the film with nonchalance. There may be some who don’t think much, but Cameron’s vision must be seen and experienced to tell coming generations of all age groups what a far-sighted, inventive and original dreamer he is.

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