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Justin at the movies
Cameron delivers another masterpiece with Avatar: The Way of Water

Thirteen years ago, James Cameron returned to making movies with his highly anticipated follow-up to Titanic with Avatar. Just like that film, it became the biggest box office success in history and it still remains the highest grossing film of all time.
Now Cameron is back with his eagerly awaited sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water. Needless to say, Cameron has delivered in spades.
In the face of unbelievable expectations, Cameron delivers a sequel that soars visually and emotionally without having to sacrifice story and characters for spectacle.
The Way of Water begins a decade after the first film and Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana return as Jake Sully and Neytiri, now married and having a family of four kids. One of them is Sigourney Weaver who's back as their adopted teenage daughter, Kiri. The circumstances surrounding that plot thread involve combining the DNA of Weaver's avatar from her character, Grace Augustine, giving birth to her despite dying in the first one.
The humans have also returned. Stephen Lang is also back as Miles Quaritch, who also died in the first film, but he's resurrected as an avatar himself with the memories of Quaritch and he also has a son named Spider (Jake Champion). Quaritch leads a campaign against the Na'vi to continue plundering the planet and he also seeks revenge against Jake for betraying the humans.
Spider was born on Pandora and prefers spending his time outside interacting with the Na'vi. However, Quaritch eventually catches up to him and does his best to persuade Spider to join his team.
Jake and Neytiri realize the threat from Quaritch and leave their home in favor of a new one. They head for the Metkayina clan, which is surrounded by the oceans of Pandora. Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet are the leaders of the clan who teach Jake and his family their ways.
Now let's get into the visuals. Cameron has perfected the performance capture technology he invented for the first film and surpasses it in every way. The sequences underwater are completely convincing and detailed and it looks as though we're underwater with the characters. It lacks any kind of artificiality and is presented as fully immersive. One key sequence involves one of Jake's sons befriending a sea creature and certain shots could be viewed as actual art. These sequences alone must be seen in IMAX 3D.
The action sequences are amped up to a visceral wallop and Cameron crafts perhaps some of the most breathtaking imagery ever put on film. However, Avatar: The Way of Water has much more going for it than just being an epic spectacle. It also deals with themes of families sticking together, and just like the first film, it develops an idea of protecting our oceans, just as the first one was about protecting our forests.
Worthington plays Jake as strong as ever; Saldana makes an excellent stoic heroine and their children are equally fleshed out as characters who will no doubt play bigger roles in the sequels.
Some of the supporting characters also deliver fine work, including Curtis and Winslet and Lang still has a menacing presence and Champion also does a solid job. I'd love to see where his character goes.
Cameron is a filmmaker who knows how to push the boundaries of innovative cinema and this sequel is a perfect example of how $250-plusmillion should be spent.
Even with a runtime of 192 minutes, Avatar: The Way of Water proves itself as a visually spectacular and emotionally resonant achievement.

Grade: A

(Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language.)

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