I am pretty sure I am in the majority when I say I didn’t give a shit about the first Avatar, and I especially didn’t give a shit when they announced the new one. It’s not a hot take but this franchise never pulled me in or made me care. Nevertheless, I knew I had to see it. For the visual effects alone, I knew it would still be an entertaining and thrilling watch. But after seeing it in a packed-out cinema yesterday, I can safely say I was surprised…
James Cameron made an excellent decision going into this film that completely saved it for me – Avatar 2 isn’t about Jake Sully or Neytiri. Instead, it is about the kids. One of the worst parts about that first movie is how boring the protagonists are. They have no charisma and charm and have a super predictable arc. In this movie, we explore the relationships between the children and the reef clan. These characters are engaging and for once I care about these blue people on the screen. It truly saved the franchise and made me excited to see them grow up.
As the lights went dark and the film started rolling, I quickly settled into the world of pandora once again. Avatar 2 starts at a breakneck speed that I loved. It gets the audience up to date and doesn’t waste any time. What’s even better is that the film keeps this pacing. It bounces between action set pieces in a thrilling first hour. Then, we go into the Water Clan. Now I enjoyed the dynamics between the families and a lot of the underwater scenes, but it just goes on for about 15 minutes too long. In particular, the Tulkun set peices. I get it’s pivotal for the themes and arcs but some of it could be cut out.
You can’t talk about Avatar 2 without going into the Visual Effects. They are obviously incredible. I think they especially shine in the action scenes in the final act. The way the fire and water bounce of each other is astonishing. I also love the style of this film. Each shot has this super exaggerated lighting that is refreshing amongst a slate of grey action films. The colours pop and bounce and the Navi were never not convincing as real beings.
While all of these elements worked for Avatar, it still had some fundamental flaws. The main weakness (which has been said plenty) is that the story is predictable. It has no twists or turns and went the exact way I expected. Although it didn’t ruin the movie for me, this needs to change if they want to keep this franchise exciting.
Another core issue I had with Avatar 2 was the performances. Everyone kind of blended in together for me and didn’t stand out. It’s not that they were terrible it’s just a movie this big should have better performances. I truly believe it’s because James Cameron is so focused on the VFX and action that he doesn’t give his attention to the actors. Even Kate Winslet felt underutilised with her range. I know how talented these actors are and I would love to see them really attempt something bigger in the following movies.
SHOULD YOU SEE AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER?
Absolutely. Avatar 2 is a movie that must be seen in cinema for the Visual Effects alone. While the story is predictable, it is still a thrilling and entertaining ride that has incredible action set pieces.