Within the last few months, I was able to view Avatar (2009) when it had a theatrical release once again. I am not one to have viewed it multiple times on a disc, nor on regular television. I recall leaving the theater after the recent viewing of the 2009 film moved so much more by the story than the first viewing. The storytelling by director James Cameron and team hit harder now. It seems to sting more hearing the term “hostiles” used so repeatedly about the native people of the planet of Pandora, when in fact the native people are defending themselves from hostiles from another Earth. Humans going to put a claim to a land and resources that are not theirs. Earth beings invade to secure want what they want and kill with no mercy if anyone stands in the way. As we view the sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water, the audience will see the themes of family, survival and saving what is important to them and their way of life. The scenes of destruction never get easier to view. Decisions are made and not all have positive outcomes.

Avatar: The Way of Water has been made with more advanced technology than what was available when Avatar was being made. Avatar: The Way of Water is available in 3D, and I was only able to view less than half of the film in 3D before the theater’s projector went out of service. I finished watching it in 2D and remained mesmerized by the color and detail of the production. The water scenes are magnificent as they go from tranquility and beauty to all other manner when the “sky people” are in pursuit of the native people or the aquatic life for greed. The action scenes at that point have the viewer feel that “edge of your seat” tension. Unfortunately, it is reminiscent of the hunting done for sport here.

Cameron begins with scenes of Pandora, a tranquil planet and where the Na’vi family lives. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), a Na’vi leader and his partner Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), now have a family. Two sons, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and their daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). They are guardians of Kiri (voiced by Sigourney Weaver) who is daughter to Weaver’s 2009 character. They have also been in care of a human baby, Spider (Jack Champion), left behind when the Earthlings were sent back at the end of Avatar (2009). Growing up among the remaining scientists and the Na’vi family, he has learned the ways of the Na’vi clan.

The tranquility for the Na’vi family ends when the “sky people” return, but this time Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and his men return as former-human-now-Na’vi soldiers. Quaritch has vengeance on his mind – get Jake Sully and his wife – as he considers him a traitor/her a killer. The scenes of Quaritch and unit of soldiers who capture the children use them to lure the parents out and it is hard to watch. Their abusive ways and the potential danger they are placed can make any parent feel chills. The soldiers manage to keep young Spider and he is thrust into the human military world that is completely foreign to him. Lang is extremely good at being the bad guy (previously and now), so he is looming tall and strong as a Na’vi.

As Jake moves his family to another region of Pandora with the clan called the Metkayina, led by Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and wife, Ronal (Kate Winslet), he knows they must be respectful of their customs. Some in the clan also see them as having “demon blood” – not full Na’vi” – and are hesitant to have them there. Jake also knows he wants to keep his fight with the “sky people” away from the new home, but for how long?

This hunt by the “sky people” is for Jake, and another group with greedy intentions is forced to help the soldiers. They know the waters around the region and hunt for something to sell to other Earthlings. Spider is taken along by the soldiers and learns of this transaction. The hunt for the animals considered sacred to the Metkayina is cause for all out combat. The scenes are very real and churn up all sorts of emotions. I can’t say much more as to not spoil the engaging story.

Watching Jake’s sons learn the ways of the water, as well as Tonowari’s sons learn from them, the audience can anticipate there will be more to come in future sequels, as well as Spider who remains with the Na’vi. The connection Kiri has to Pandora is shown and beautifully lit in the night scenes, and that should be interesting to see how it is developed more in the future. The cinematography is outstanding.

The film cast also includes Edie Falco, Giovanni Ribisi, and Jemaine Clement, among many on the ships and in the clans that are in the action scenes.

Screenplay by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver. Story by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver & Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno. David Valdes and Richard Baneham serve as the film’s executive producers.

PG-13, Duration: 3 hours and 12 minutes

Avatar: The Way of Water is available in theaters on Friday, December 16th.

Source: 20th Century Studios

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