Avatar: The Way of Water


By: Adam Freed

James Cameron’s big, beautiful, expensive and riveting 3 hour sequel somehow adheres to a 3 act structure, which means in honor of Big Jim, each act has earned its own title.

ACT 1: Remember This?

The Way of Water wastes no time in returning audiences to the spectacle that is Pandora. Although repeat Disney+ showings and Disney theme park rides have filled the 13 year void, there is nothing quite like looking up into the gravity defying mountains through the magic of IMAX and stunning 3D. Here BJ is quick to remind us just how perfect a world he created more than a decade ago. With updates to the Sulley clan in hand, the film's plot seemed ready for liftoff and for change of venue.

ACT 2: Watch This!

At about the time that the visual spectacle begins to feel comfortable again, Cameron shifts focus from the familiar skyward low angle to the welcome geographic pivot to the sea. It is here in Act 2 that the film comes to life. Who knew that beneath the surface of Pandora’s oceanic landscape, ignored in the original, there exists a world even more majestic than anything found in Pandora’s jet stream? Here, under water Cameron flexes his artistic and technical muscle as impressively as any visual filmmaker has in history. Witnessing this world in IMAX 3D is a must. As visually stimulating as the second act is, the seamless transition to the final movement is a stark reminder that very few in Hollywood history can stage a battle set piece quite like Cameron.

ACT 3: Beat This!

With over two hours of tuning and arranging the instruments behind him, Act 3 is when the great conductor unleashes his glorious symphony upon his audience. Big Jim attacks by air and by sea. He wields weapons of man made destruction in hostile combat against organic native weaponry with a seamlessness that seems natural. Battles rage between man, machine, native species of both airborne and aquatic origin. Simultaneous lives are lost both beneath the glittering surface of the sea and on the emotionless steel deck of robotic design. It is man against machine against Mother Nature, and it is glorious.

As he has done so many times in his illustrious career, James Cameron has dropped the gauntlet. Liquid Metal, Alien Queens, Ghost ships reborn, and a new world created. Fair criticisms of dialogue and plot holes aside, there is no director in history who can present a story the way that Cameron does. It is time for critics to hop on board or get out of the way. With at least 3 more Avatar films in the works, Big Jim may be gaining momentum…