The sense of water, there are things that never change

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Spoiler-free review of Avatar: The Sense of Water. Theatrical release on December 16.


I think it was just at the moment when a Pandora whale was lamenting, in subtitled dialogue, that its past was “too painful” to tell, that I realized that I had totally bought into Avatar: The Sense of Water. The success of Avatar in 2009 greatly influenced the direction of digital cinema and its distribution, and while the world has changed a lot in the 13 years since this sequel, There are things that never change… like when James Cameron decides to do a sequel, he expands and embellishes the previous story in surprising and compelling ways. Avatar: The Water Sense isn’t afraid of being weird as hell, as it doubles down on the first film’s bare sentimentality, refocuses the plot on more interesting characters, and yes, it must be said, sets the mark for effects. visuals in the cinema again.

The sense of water bridges the long interval between films with a dense prologue which explains what happened after the resource-hungry RDA humans withdrew from Pandora. Avatar deserter pilot and now full-time Na’vi Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) start a family as new leaders of the Omaticaya tribe. That family grows to include three biological and two adopted children, and is the driving force behind Jake and Neytiri’s decision to go into exile after the GDR returns to resume its plunder, led by the virtually non-existent General Ardmore (Edie Falco). These early scenes are very expository and miss important details about the status quo and the nature of certain relationships. Running at 190 minutes, The Sense of Water almost always finds the time to re-enforce crucial plot elements, but that means there will be times when you’ll have to search for a character’s name or their place in the story. social hierarchy. Cameron bets you’ll be blown away by what a decade of technological advancement has done to bring Pandora to the screen, and the results speak for themselves.

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Although we spend a brief time in the woods in the first film, most of Avatar: The Sense of Water takes place in the territory of the Metkayina seafaring tribe, and the vibrant underwater ecosystem is an even more dreamlike palette for Cameron to work with. Bioluminescent rainbows of deep-sea flora refract across the moving surface like aurora, sunsets on the broad horizon bounce off waves and dye shorelines a purple hue, carefully crafted marine life, all it reinforces the feeling that Pandora is a living, breathing world, even more effectively than Avatar. But when it comes time to blow up all that calm in favor of action, it’s no wonder Cameron rises to the occasion. Even the most chaotic action sequences are readable, fast-paced and, above all, impossible to take your eyes off. In one of the first raids on a GDR cargo, there was a train derailment that made me smile the whole way, amazed at how visceral the destruction was.

The Water Sense has much more room for frivolity than its earnest forerunner.

Cameron’s environmental interests remain the backbone of the plot The overall picture of Avatar: The Sense of Water, and its heavy use of familiar character archetypes and plot devices seems like a clear message that good Na’vi and bad militaries are more important collectively than individually. And if we’re talking about archetypal characters, we have to talk about Cameron’s decision to (literally) revive Stephen Lang’s Miles Quaritch as the main villain of The Sense of Water. Quaritch’s drill sergeant character seemed dated in 2009, little more than a vessel for all the worst aspects of Avatar’s themes of colonialism, but Lang’s enthusiasm always kept the character’s interest. Quaritch gets a second chance at revenge thanks to his own Na’vi body, and his newfound physical prowess gives him even more arrogance than he already had. His personal vendetta is not played out in lengthy monologues about the nature of life or the expectations of a military man, but is manifested in the simple fact that, even with a new life, he continues to pursue the Sullys.

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Lang manages to flaunt it without looking like a braggart, with all the subtlety of Quaritch holding aloft his own human skull à la Hamlet, though there are a few new wrinkles in the character that suggest a bit more depth than Avatar: The Sense. of the water has time. Yes, even with more than three hours of duration, is in no hurry to expand the universe of the franchise and, after more than a decade of seeing the ins and outs of interconnected narrative, that comes in handy for the experience.

Thanks in large part to a shift in focus towards the new generation, The Water Sense has much more room for frivolity than its earnest forerunner.. Jake and Neytiri’s children argue and tease, fight with their new tribemates, but most of all, they stick together. Cameron invests heavily in Lo’ak and Kiri, as new representatives of the Na’vi’s warlike and spiritual leanings, each struggling to understand their place. Spider, the Sullys’ adopted human son, doesn’t spend as much time with his siblings because of the way the story progresses, but his mix of wild energy and goofy attitude help him stand out. The older and younger Sully children have little to do and get lost in the shuffle other than to keep the plot moving.

With Sully’s children at center stage, Jake and Neytiri’s role in the story decreases proportionally, and that’s fine. Jake isn’t a more interesting character than he was last time around, but he does have his utility here as a tough father figure that his children have to fight to measure up to. Zoe Saldana’s Neytiri seems like the legacy character with the least to do, especially advocating for her children in the face of a distracted Jake. The leaders of the Metkayina tribe, played by Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet, are cut from a very similar pattern to Jake and Neytiri, and are often redundant.

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Avatar: The Sense of Water is a thoughtful and sumptuous return to Pandora.

While the vast majority of Avatar: The Water Sense tactics work, the errors in that area are more flagrant. Specifically, Cameron exaggerates by giving life to one of Jake and Neytiri’s children. Sigourney Weaver voices and plays Kiri, the Sully’s eldest daughter, and her connection to the late Dr. Grace Augustine (also Weaver) is a major story point, but the choice to have Weaver herself play this young incarnation is frequently distracting. It doesn’t have so much to do with the idea of ​​an adult playing a child via motion capture as it does with the fact that… well, it’s Sigourney Weaver. Of course, Weaver is willing to give it a try, but raising the pitch of her voice and shrinking her Na’vi body size isn’t enough to overcome the strange valley of listening to an icon (an icon of Cameron’s own filmography, no less) transposed into an adolescent.

Avatar: The Sense of Water is a thoughtful and sumptuous return to Pandora, which develops both the mythology established in the first film and the Sully family’s place in it. It may not be the best sequel James Cameron has ever made (which is a very high bar), but it’s easily the clearest improvement on the film that preceded it. Oceans of Pandora sees lightning strike twice in the same place, expanding the visual language the franchise works with in a beautiful way. The simple story may leave you screaming “cliché,” but as a vehicle to transport you to another world, it’s good enough to get the job done. This is nothing short of an old-fashioned Cameron blockbuster, packed with cinematic spectacle and heart, and an easy recommendation for anyone looking to escape to another world for a three-hour adventure.