After three weeks of pre-booking tickets, we finally got to watch The Way of Water last night in Dolby Atmos 3D (as it should be experienced in!) and I had some thoughts...
After thirteen years, the wait was over for Avatar fans to experience one among multiple sequels which are planned by the filmmakers.
The film starts off a few years afterward from the time the first film leaves us at. Jake Sulley fully lives in his Na'vi Avatar becomes the chief of the Omaticaya clan, marries and has four children with Neytiri (including one adoptive daughter who is the birth daughter of Grace's inert Avatar- which is unknown as to how it actually happened and who her father is).
When their past comes haunting back to their homeland, threatening the lives of the people in the clan and their home, Jake makes the decision to leave with his family to prevent the people from dying and goes into hiding among the Metkayina reef people clan- who live "The Way of Water" which is quite a contrast to Jake and his family who lived among the forest all this time.
The film progresses into Jake and his family learning the ways of the Metkayina clan and the challenges they face while doing so, which seems very similar and parallel to how Jake learned through the ways of the Omaticaya clan in the first movie.
This phase takes up the majority of the film and even though the visuals and details such as the characterizations, the ways of both the clans, and how they intertwine, were very mesmerizing, it feels as if being dragged on far too long.
The surprise elements (more like one or two) linked to Jake Sulley's past are very few and are completely predictable. Just as the story is too.
There are a few instances that bring up some questions as the film progresses (particularly with Kiri - the birth daughter of Grace Augustine's inert avatar) which indicate that they will be addressed in the sequels being planned. Yet, it was just a brief experience that doesn't make an impact strong enough. Which I think was on purpose, so that they can make something of it for the sequels, but I strongly felt it could have been better considering the ample duration of the film.
There were however some instances that were indeed impactful and which touch your heart and may glaze your eyes over, and I must say, that the minute details of every scene, dialogue, and character brought forth, really blow your mind as to how the filmmakers came up with these things!
It even felt very relatable to the present situation of our planet where we are beginning to look for new planets to start occupying and how the earth at present is being utilized. How innocent beings are killed or harmed in the name of "luxury" or "comfort" for humans, and the way they depict that in the film is truly applaudable.
Every character makes their mark for sure, be it the four children of Jake and Neytiri or the individuals from the Metkayina clan (Including an unexpected- yet not so impactful- human character). Maybe due to some elements being addressed in the planned sequels, and considering the vast length of the film not being utilized enough for a unique plot compared to the first film, it begins to feel uninteresting. Yet, we are still engaged with the visuals and effects.
The first film's plot and action scenes stick strong and for the time it was released, it was so unique and impacting that it blows our minds to this day. However, this sequel fails to do the same as everything is very similar and parallel to the first film with very few elements that barely glue the plot together.
The climax fight and ending are watch-worthy but very predictable and bland. It's unfair to compare to the first part, however, I felt that the impact of the first film should have been carried over to this one as well to engage the audience apart from the visual aspect. Since it failed to meet up to the level of the first film, it's susceptible to being compared to it without a doubt.
Overall, it's a great experience in Dolby Atmos 3D and a definite visual treat for the entire family (rated PG-13) to enjoy. However, it's best to not expect a magnanimous plot and unique elements like the first film to fully immerse yourself in this experience.