A $2 Billion Triumph: Avatar 2


Ben Price, assistant editor-in-chief and movie aficionado, has high praise for Avatar 2. Photo by: Miguel Tsang

Avatar: The Way of Water is an awe-inspiring spectacle for the ages. It is nearly as visually spellbinding (Dare I say groundbreaking) as its predecessor, but in moments, rises even above it in terms of the sheer number of staggering, titanic moments, emotional and visual. This is a film made for the big screen, so many frames engineered to be seen on a screen big enough it could swallow you whole like the Tulkun of the film’s invented, vibrant world. Avatar: The Way of Water is a movie you can get lost in, not just with the rather complicated plot mechanics, not to mention the underwater bliss of the ocean-set scenes, but director James Cameron always brings it back to what it’s really all about: family.

Set over a decade after 2009’s Avatar, which broke all kinds of box office records and set a new standard for visual effects in the movies and 3D as a storytelling medium, the sequel returns to the fictional planet of Pandora and follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family as they flee from the might of their earth-dwelling aggressors who have returned to claim the world as their own. They’re there as the welcome party for an incoming mass
exodus of the people of earth to Pandora as Earth is on its last legs. Sully exiles himself from his chosen Na’vi clan, a.k.a. the blue people, and goes to the Metkayina tribe to try to lose the target on his back. He claims a kind of
asylum with the people of the reef as he and his family struggle to acclimate to their water-based ways. However, trouble soon finds him in the return of a familiar adversary, who’s back in a new form with a vendetta against Jake and his whole family. As a result, Jake and his family must fight for their family, their newfound tribe and their home.

Full disclosure, I love this movie. It is a classic epic, luscious, expansive, ovewhelming. It harkens back to the old-fashioned magic of a 3 hour runtime and plenty of knock out vistas. I’ve seen it 3 times and it gets better with each watch no matter the format. 3D, IMAX, 4DX, James Cameron’s vision and the story of the Sully family maintains its power. Very little of this should work, I mean 73-year-old actress Sigourney Weaver is playing a teenager, there are whales who can communicate empathically and play a pivotal role, but it’s utter commitment to everything it’s doing makes it sing. Even I want a misunderstood space whale buddy now. And If True Lies is James Cameron’s “Ok, so I’ve been through a few divorces” movie, this is his “I’ve been a crappy dad but I’m working on it” movie. Even with all its scale and scope, there’s a voice that shines through.

When you’re reacting to a fortune telling, empath whale losing its temper and revving up for battle with the level of hype reserved for when your home team wins the Super Bowl, you know you’re under a trance that only cinema can provide. I hooted, I hollered. I love it when big things go boom, but I also love when a movie this big, this loud, can truly move me. James Cameron knows how to make a real deal movie. And I hope he continues to bring the heart and soul that is just tumbling out of this one.