Film Review: “Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022)

Not too shabby, Jim.

Chris Salazar

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When we last visited the beautiful world of Pandora, it was in the year 2009. I was a freshman in high school who was both an angsty teenager and floored by the visuals of James Cameron's Oscar-Winning Blockbuster. I embraced the wave of 3D films that came in afterward, attempting to get a piece of that box office dough, despite being in row 3 of a jam-packed IMAX 3D screening that night. When it came to the incredible visual effects work done by Weta Digital and the world-building of Pandora, I was singing the film’s high praises. As for the story and characters, not so much. The only character I found memorable was Michelle Rodriguez who plays..well.. Michelle Rodriguez. No shadiness intended but, she only stuck out to me because while she was playing the same role that she’s played since 2001 (via “The Fast & The Furious”), every other character (despite good performances from Zoe Saldana and the legendary Sigourney Weaver) felt paper thin, generic, and forgettable. You’ve got the scientist who’s always right, the grunt who doesn’t belong, the aforementioned rebellious bad-ass, and the power-hungry military villain with a hate boner that can never be satisfied, and that’s just only the human characters. The Na’vi characters aren’t much better. The storyline is also derivative as hell, being a recycled version of the 1990 Kevin Costner film, “Dances With Wolves”.

My relationship with the work of James Cameron is kind of complicated: I admire and respect him as a filmmaker but, his recent work hasn’t been doing it for me. I absolutely hated “Titanic”. I found it to be bland, cheesy, and emotionally manipulative. As for “Avatar”, I wouldn’t call it a great movie but, an excellent display of visual effects. Hell, the only reason I’m even going to see “The Way of Water” is because of the VFX. As far as Cameron’s filmography, I’ve always favored “True Lies” over most of his other films due to how simple and unpretentious it was. Sure, it was your typical 90s Schwarzenegger vehicle but, it wasn’t as emotionally manipulative as “Titanic” was nor was it as self-indulgent as “Avatar” was either. I’d go as far as to say that “Alita: Battle Angel”, a film in which he served as producer, had a perfect balance by having great visuals like “Avatar” did without the need for pretentious tedium.

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Chris Salazar

28 | Fiction Writer | usually writes about anything but, mostly about film