Avatar: The Way Of Water – The DVDfever IMAX 3D Cinema Review – James Cameron

Avatar: The Way Of Water

Avatar: The Way Of Water proves that since 2009’s Avatar was Dances With Wolves In Space, the sequel is Dances With Wolves 2: Neighbours Under The Sea!

And I know Neighbours is shot in Australia (and it’s returning later in 2023, thanks to Amazon Freevee), while Avatar: The Way Of Water is a co-production with New Zealand, but both are about “family”; and in this, “Sullys stick together“, whereas in Neighbours, it was the Scullys.

# Sullys, Scullys, let’s call the whole thing off! #

In this review, I will mention a couple of new and/or returning characters – because it’s difficult not to, and they’re also listed in the IMDB cast list without any attempt to hide them under ‘uncredited’. I will put that part behind a spoiler header, though.

But what brings us back to Pandora? Because the ‘sky people’ (i.e. those of us from Earth) come back to invade the land again in their oversized gunships… and again, and again, and again… and that’s why it lasts three hours and twelve minutes.

Dear Mr Cameron, less is more.

(That said, January’s movie, Babylon, starring Brad Pitt, will be 3hrs 9mins… Why so sort? jk lol.)

So, yes, multiple attempts to take down the blue creatures, thus provide that if you thought Top Gun Maverick‘s story was threadbare, that’s nothing compared to this movie. Oh, and since those gunships weren’t exactly difficult to take down in the first movie, wouldn’t you come back with something new and improved?

And about those returning actors…

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

Avatar: The Way Of Water

# I’m blue, Da ba dee da ba di, Da ba dee da ba di… #

But before long, instead of flying creature, the Na’vi move on to a life under the sea, where there’ll be no accusations, just friendly crustaceans, and they find underwater creatures with which to bond their hair, as well as having a ‘spirit tree’ underwater rather than in a normal place. So, no difference, then.

What Avatar: The Way Of Water DOES have going for it, is that without a doubt, it has the most impressive visuals ever seen on an IMAX screen, but given that there’s so much of the same thing happening over and over, it gets a little tiresome. Either give us something new (and going underwater, but doing the same thing ISN’T that), or shorten the running time. There’s at least two film lengths in this, or three if you look to the wonderful My Life as a Courgette.

That said, provided you have a bladder made of steel, you can indulge in the entire movie without taking a break to drain the lizard…. or whatever non-male members of our own species refer to their doings as.

Plus, there’s a great IMAX shot at the start, as Neytiri strafes to her left while looking direct at the camera, a scene, like the entire film, is in 1.78:1 on IMAX screens that can also show 1.43:1 70mm movies, whereas digital IMAX projections will crop this to 1.90:1, and other ‘cinemascope’-style screens will crop it further to 2.39:1, which is a shame that you’re losing part of the image.

At the time of writing, I’m not sure if regular 1.85:1 screens will show the film in that ratio, or if they’ll be cropped to 2.39:1.

As an aside, two separate characters state, in relation to the title: “The way of water has no beginning and no end” – which explains just why it’s so damn endless…. and elsewhere, one character refers to another as “fish lips“, which made me chuckle. However, that was the only thing that did in a film with zero other humour.

There’s also movie cliches aplenty, such as when… (ooh, one more potential spoiler)

Spoiler Inside SelectShow

As of December 28th, the film has now taken $1bn, but 13 years on, people have been fooled based on nostalgia for the first film, and won’t be for another round in 2024. James Cameron is planning up to SIX sequels. I think they’ll get to No.3, it’ll barely break even and then the studio will call it a day. You heard it here, first!

Avatar: The Way Of Water – The DVDfever IMAX 3D Cinema Review – James Cameron

Avatar: The Way Of Water

Masks are still a thing in 2952… or whenever this is meant to be set…

Just some more thoughts about the visuals: While they are fantastic and the best I’ve seen, the way James Cameron kept switching back and forth between 24fps and 48fps seemed very much on a whim, as it was happening even within the same scene. And I’m sure some were at least 60fps (like Gemini Man), or possibly even 120fps if they’ve upgraded the technology? I know Vue didn’t show Gemini Man in anything other than 24fps, while Odeon Trafford Centre did have it in 60fps and 3D.

It reminded me of Michael Bay with Transformers: The Last Knight where he used about eight different aspect ratios, even chopping and changing during a conversation. That was an extreme example, but I didn’t expect Cameron to chop and change so much. I expected more like Top Gun Maverick – use it (well, opening up to 1:90:1) for one set of scenes (aerial scenes in TGM) and changing back for regular scenes.

And while I try to avoid packed screenings (a bit difficult in the first weekend of a major film at Christmas), when I’m in the IMAX, I do prefer to have a seat free next to me – at least on one side – so I can put my bag and coat on there, and stretch out, set out my pad and pen and make notes as the film goes.

I couldn’t do that in the week before Christmas, so had to make the notes later from my head: Good job it wasn’t exactly plot-heavy!

And while I saw that the back row of the IMAX was completely full (bar a few wheelchair-only-with-carer seats and spaces), to my left was a lady who was able to put her bag up on the chair because that seat’s occupant didn’t turn up! I was well-jel, as they say.

However, we did have a brief chat just before the film, because she encountered the same problem with the new-style 3D glasses that I had, the first time I wore them (for September’s Avatar screening). Before, they used to give you once-only-use glasses which were sealed, but now use ones that are more expensive (£40, I was told) and so they want to collect them at the end of the screening.

The problem is that the IMAX screen switches between different projectors for film content, adverts and so on – sometimes many times over, eg. even the BBFC title card isn’t on the same ‘reel’ as the film, so there’s another switch right there, as well as one just before when you get the IMAX 10-to-1 countdown). So, if you wear them at a point where the glasses can’t really use the image, it looks like the right-eye is defective. In September, I swapped them over for another pair during the adverts, as I thought they were broken, even though when I looked at the lights at the sides of the auditorium, I could see through the right eye perfectly fine. When I got back to my seat and realised the glasses were no different, I rather hoped this was just as they should be, and that they would be fine for the 3D, since I didn’t really want to go back down again AND miss part of the film.

Thankfully, they were fine, but the lady next to me asked, during the trailers, if I was having any problems with my glasses. I explained the above, and put her at her ease. I’m not sure what the technology in the glasses is that causes this, so if anyone does know, please comment below, but it would be interesting to know.

Avatar: The Way Of Water is in cinemas now, and isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD, but you can buy The Art of Avatar The Way of Water in Hardcover.

Avatar: The Way Of Water – Official Trailer 2 – Warner Bros

Detailed specs:

Running time: 192 minutes
Release date: December 16th 2022
Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures International
Format: 1.85:1 (3D version), 1.90:1 (digital IMAX version); 2.39:1 (X-OCN RAW)
Cinema: Vue Manchester Printworks
Rating: 3/10

Director: James Cameron
Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau
Screenplay: James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver
Story: James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver, Josh Friedman, Shane Salerno
Music: Simon Franglen

Jake Sully: Sam Worthington
Neytiri: Zoë Saldana
Kiri: Sigourney Weaver
Quaritch: Stephen Lang
Ronal: Kate Winslet
Tonowari: Cliff Curtis
Norm Spellman: Joel David Moore
Mo’at: CCH Pounder
General Ardmore: Edie Falco
Scoresby: Brendan Cowell
Dr. Garvin: Jemaine Clement
Neteyam: Jamie Flatters
Lo’ak: Britain Dalton
Tuk: Trinity Jo-Li Bliss
Spider: Jack Champion
Parker Selfridge: Giovanni Ribisi
Tsireya: Bailey Bass
Aonung: Filip Geljo
Rotxo: Duane Evans Jr
Max Patel: Dileep Rao
Ta’unui Olecthan: Robert Okumu
Ta’unui Tsahik: Jennifer Stafford
Tarsem: Keston John
Stringer: Phil Brown