Thirteen years have passed since “Avatar” released in theaters. At the time of release, it became the highest-grossing film ever up to that point. Now, director James Cameron has returned with the first of four planned sequels: “Avatar: The Way of Water.”
Taking place just over ten years since the first film’s events, the story sees Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) seeking to find a new home for their family. Elsewhere, a new Avatar body has been given to Col. Miles Quartich (Stephen Lang), who seeks to have Jake’s head for crossing him in the first film. While the story may not reinvent the wheel in terms of narrative, the sequel is still a visually-stunning 192-minute epic that builds on the innovative special effects of the first film from 2009.
Though many doubted the film could reach the lofty heights set by its predecessor, Cameron has added to his list of impressive film sequels that include the likes of 1986’s “Aliens” and 1991’s “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.” With each sequel to the 2009 film budgeted at $250 million each, the visual spectacle is a sight to behold. Everything from the advances made with the Na’Vi to a host of otherworldly sea creatures are rendered in immense detail, with the oceans themselves setting a new benchmark for depicting bodies of water in CGI. While the film’s final act may be lengthy to an extent, the conflict between Jake and Quartich is what makes the film’s finale truly worthwhile.
With the film currently outpacing the first’s record box office returns (having made over $2 billion worldwide as of this writing), “Avatar: The Way of Water” has proven to be a worthy followup to its groundbreaking predecessor, setting the stage for the next sequels in 2024 and 2026.
Starring Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Joel David Moore and Cliff Curtis with Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver and Kate Winslet, and introducing Jack Champion
Directed by James Cameron