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HBO Watch Movie Review: “Avatar: The Way of Water”

by Matthew Smith
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Who is going to care about Avatar after all this time? Oooh – blue space cats, great. Just some of the wayward thoughts in the run up to the delayed and delayed and delayed release of James Cameron’s first film in 13 years – the direct sequel to 2009’s world-building and world-conquering epic which, at that time, was his first film in 12 years. It also happens to be the biggest film of all-time, so where any doubt came from, it’s impossible to know.


Say what you will about the overall strength of the story, dialogue, etc – James Cameron redefines the cinematic experience with every film he releases. This should not be undervalued and is a fact that no other director can even remotely lay claim to.  Nolan and Villeneuve have swung big in recent years, but they’re not INVENTING TECHNOLOGY to deliver on their next vision.

What Cameron has brought forth with Avatar: The Way of Water is nothing short of miraculous. It is a giant leap forward for visually-led filmmaking that leaves recent Marvel fodder deep in the dirt. For a film that is largely created digitally, it is perhaps the first that very, very rarely leaves you questioning it. Regardless, it is perhaps the most singularly immersive cinematic experience ever rendered and one that, though will most obviously have benefited from the biggest screen possible, will not lose too much pop on home viewings, provided you’re not watching it on DVD, or some such medium that would be a disrespect to the effort applied to bring this film to life. The underwater sequences alone are worth spending money on.


While criticisms of an alleged shallow story will sure surface on your typical neggy- I’m a film fan with a Youtube channel but all I do is complain about hating stuff-fronts, it is genuinely a step up from the first film in more ways than one. Namely, liking it to Fern Gully and Pocahontas is completely justifiable. While it was everything new, it was nothing new. And yes, the RDA is back to torture the Na’vi and the planet of Pandora, and yes, Colonal Quarritch is back as the primary antagonist. However, the latter and its conception are actually pretty well considered and justified, and even managed to up the threat ante. But what really launches the film into the stratosphere emotionally is the element of family (not so fast, Vin Diesel). Where the inclusion of a youth-heavy Sully clan was, on the surface, something to be wary of, the fact of the matter is that their inclusion raises the stakes for Jake and Neytiri immensely, and as viewers, you are given so much more to connect with as the peril compounds.

Sure there’s some eye-rolling cringe- worthy dialogue in that a team of teenagers was written by a  68-year old man who is likely to have never held a conversation with someone of that age, but have you seen The Dark Knight? NO MORE DEAD COPS! What’s easy to forget is that for all the cinema purists who hold Cameron’s earliest work most dear, that this film is not for YOU. It is for everyone to get something out of and, guess what? Everyone did, as $2.3 billion at the global box office will attest to.

There are films whose theatrical releases transcend and become events. There are plenty. But there are few films that equally stand up and appeal to the masses when the time comes to ‘bring the magic home’. Jurassic Park. Titanic. Lord of the Rings. But there’s been nothing like this as far as creating a spectacle in your living room.

Avatar: The Way of Water is now available to stream on MAX and HBO channels. 

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