Latest Avatar film a satisfying sequel

‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ better than original film

Avatar: The Way of Water
Where: In theatres
What: Movie
When: Fri., Dec. 16
Genre: Fantasy
Why you should watch: An incredibly beautiful film with a storyline worthy of the images. James Cameron has successfully crafted another blockbuster film that’s more than just a bunch of pretty pictures.

Canadian writer-director James Cameron continues his role as an undisputed and reliable blockbuster-builder with his latest release, the stunning and irresistible Avatar: The Way of Water, his 13-years-later sequel to the most financially successful film ever, Avatar.

Even better than the original, Avatar:TWW is a mesmerizing experience, a trip inside a dream with a story worthy of its incredible effects.

One of the reasons Cameron supposedly waited so long to produce his sequel is he was waiting for the filming technology to catch up with his vision, especially in terms of underwater filming. If that’s true, it was worth the wait as Cameron’s delay looks prescient.

The 3D effect of this film is the best I have ever seen. You’ll be reaching for a towel during the many water scenes and want to flick burning embers off your clothes during on-screen fires.

And the magnificent creatures — both underwater and in the trees and clouds of the paradise moon of this world, Pandora — can’t help but fill the viewer with glee and wonder. There are so many beautiful creatures and you want to believe they are real; you almost do believe they are real.

And should we really be that surprised that a kid that grew up in Niagara Falls, as Cameron did, is fascinated by the power and the beauty of water? From The Abyss to Titanic and now the latest Avatar, this guy knows how to shoot water.

Do you need to have seen the first Avatar to understand this movie? It helps but is not essential; and even if you did, hell, it was over a decade ago.

The quick refresher/primer is: Pandora is a moon light years from Earth, inhabited by large blue people who treat their paradise of a world with respect and live an existence integrated with the beautiful nature that surrounds them.

In the first film, nasty humans come looking for a prized mineral; in the second film the shitty humans — “sky people” — are back, this time to fully colonize the place as Earth is about to collapse.

Avatar technology has allowed humans to “become” like the noble Na’vi people, Pandora’s Indigenous community. This ability saw human Jake Sully become a Na’vi and then refuse to return to his human form at the end of the original Avatar.

In The Way of Water, he is now a leader of the Na’vi people with a rocking family and some classic issues one might have with his teenage kids. Life is good until really horrible humans come looking for him, the invaders now fully inhabiting avatar Na’vi bodies of their own.

The cold-blooded expansion into the territory of one race by another — the invader using superior technology against a determined, Indigenous foe — has obvious parallels with our own history, the connection made all the more painful and jarring by recent news about Canada’s own genocide against the country’s original inhabitants.

And as space-aged versions of helicopters fly through Pandora, unleashing potent artillery payloads on the local population, images of the U.S. in Vietnam also come to mind.

When Sully and his family flee their piece of paradise for a reef-dwelling community, the filmmakers are given a whole new magnificent world to explore as the tree people learn the ways and creatures of the ocean.

Avatar: The Way of Water
is certainly one of the most beautiful films ever made, employing a visual palette simply not available to filmmakers before Cameron.

And that would be enough but the story is good too — not just a premise to hang pretty images on but a compelling tale, loaded with nuance propelled by well-developed characters. The film’s massive length — over three hours — flies by, propelled by delightful images, real drama and a what-comes-next storyline.

Despite providing a satisfying narrative, the writers have left room for sequels — a bunch of them — and why not when you have such a cool new box of “crayons” to work with?

Look for regular arrivals of sequels in 2024, 2026 and 2028 — and a film-loving public eagerly awaiting them.

Cameron has created yet another mega-hit that will own movie theatres this holiday season.