By Sayoni Ghosh, Masters, English literature
Thirteen years after James Cameron wrote and directed the highest-grossing film of all time, Avatar (2009), he's come back with a sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water (2022).
The film follows the life of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) fourteen years after the Na’vi were able to defend their sacred land of Pandora under his leadership. We find him as the chief of the Omatikaya clan and as a family man, raising five children with Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). But trouble looms over them as the Resources Development Administration (RDA) or, in other words, the Sky People return, this time to colonise Pandora.
Stephen Lang reprises his role as antagonist Miles Quaritch, who has been revived by transferring his memories to a new avatar. He is the leader of the paramilitary security division of the RDA and wants to kill Jake Sully regardless of the cost. To protect his clan, Jake leaves with his family to take shelter under the Metkayina clan, the reef people.
Returning characters from the first film are developed; we see an empathetic side of Jake Sully in his determination to protect his family and how he copes with being a father; we see Miles come to terms with his son; we see Neytiri fight the internal battle of accepting humans.
We are also introduced to new characters in Jake’s children, who have such distinct personalities that it is difficult not to get emotionally attached to them. My personal favourites are Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), their second eldest son, who struggles to win his father’s approval, and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), their adopted daughter, who struggles with discovering her identity.
James Cameron takes us on a sensational ride to show an exquisite and immersive world of Pandora’s ocean life and how the battle between mankind and the children of Eywa continues. Russel Carpenter’s masterful cinematography makes the film a heroic and extraordinary theatrical phenomenon.
I gazed with awe at an entirely different way of living life for our main characters, whether it be their relationship with various animals of the reef world, learning the art of breathing underwater, or the cultural context of intelligent herds of majestic whale-like creatures called tulkun. Every frame of the underwater scenes is mesmerising, and we are introduced to an entirely new world in this already-existing universe.
It is truly breathtaking how well Cameron has interwoven environmental storytelling into this spine-tingling adventure and so many thoughtful and emotionally well-written characters. The action set pieces, which include an epic underwater chase sequence and fight scene, are jaw-dropping. The film’s stunning score by Simon Franglen gives due credit to the late James Horner’s unforgettable soundtrack from the first film during the intense moments, beautifully capturing the tension.
We can see the love and passion of thirteen long years oozing from every scene, every storytelling choice, every action sequence, every dialogue delivery and every character transformation.
Its runtime of three hours and twelve minutes does feel long at certain points and could have been truncated, but the massive scale of the franchise does not steal from the intimate and raw moments of each character. It did not fail to give me goosebumps or make me shed a tear and it was a powerful way to end 2022 in the world of cinema.
Featured Image: 20th Century Studios, courtesy of IMDB
Were you mesmerised by this visual feast?