The way of water has no beginning & no end. Our hearts beat in the womb of the world. Water connects all things, life to death, darkness to light. The sea gives & the sea takes. The sea is always around you…..before your birth & after your death.
In 2009, the whole world donned the 3D glasses for the first time to witness the sci-fi cinematic extravaganza Avatar. Written & directed by James Cameron, Avatar marked Cameron’s return to filmmaking after 12 years (Titanic in 1997). The result? Cameron created a far-distant world of Pandora so vividly diverse, beautiful & authentic that anyone in their wildest dreams could ever imagine. He proved that human imagination has no limits. No one had seen anything like that before. Avatar changed the definition of blockbuster cinema. It became the highest grossing film of all time with $2.9 billion. It left a mark on everyone. It won three Oscars for Best Production Design, Best Cinematography, Best Visual Effects. Finally this December, James Cameron brought back the voyage to Pandora with Avatar: The way of water. But times have changed. Audience’s taste has changed. 3D isn’t new anymore. Will Cameron strike gold once again?
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, former marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) & his wife Neytiri (Joe Zaldana) are living a peaceful life along with their three kids. Their existence is threatened by mankind once again led by General Ardmore looking to take over Pandora as Earth has become increasingly unlivable. This time men have also created their own 9-foot tall Na’vi soldiers. One of them is General Quartich (Stephen Lang) who is hell bent on taking revenge against Jake & Neytiri. Will Jake be able to protect his family?
Things take a turn for the worse forcing Jake, a leader (Toruk Makto) himself to exile from his lush green forests, mountains of the Omaticaya clan & take refuge to the coral reefs of the Metkayina clan. Together they must adapt a new life & figure out “the way of water”. Apart from the wow factor of the visuals, Cameron along with screenwriters Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver deftly balances the intricate story of Jake’s & Neytiri’s kids- Neteyam, Lo’ak, Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Tuk & a human child, Spider who explore this world with heightened thrill & curiosity. And as an audience watching this film, we are rightfully up with them. Cameron embraces the idealism of adolescence with moral outrage. Just like water, it flows smoothly exploring the themes of family values, identity, expulsion & responsibility. The cultural difference between the two clans adds an interesting dimension to the film.
Both Avatar and Avatar: The way of water have deep relationship with each other. Cameron being an activist himself, advocates the real issues about environmental conversation & planetary exploitation. The first film was about the Omaticaya clan (forest people) conserving forests, worshipping the great mother Eywa (tree of souls) who gave life to the world in many meaningful ways. This film emphasizes about a deeper philosophy about the water & the seas. The Metkayina clan (sea people) consider it as a birthplace of life, revere it & it’s creatures especially the tulkun with whom they share a spiritual bond. Cameron elevates it to almost religious level that becomes the driving factor for them to fight. On the contrary, the humans are greedy, callous- military, hunters poachers with colonial mindset & even more deadlier weapons extracting resources by any means necessary destroying the natural ecosystem & everything that’s connected to it showing utter disregard for nature.
Let’s talk about the technical aspects of the film. Each & every shot is so perfectly detailed upto it’s finest pixel (sprawling forests, floating mountains, majestic creatures, bioluminiscient flora & fauna, vibrant coral reefs etc) that you won’t believe it’s all computer generated. Even our earth looks dull in front of Pandora unless you visit some exotic locations. Cameron has taken motion-capture on a whole new level by perfectly capturing the facial nuances of the actors underwater with his newly developed camera. This is cinematic sorcery at its zenith reaffirming his unique talent of immersive, imaginative filmmaking. This experience is elated by its soothing soundtrack which mesmerizes us with serenity. In the final hour, he shows what he his capable of with expansive climatic action sequences that are brutal at times. But beneath all this 3D visual splendour, is a palpable warmth of the Sully family, an emotional connect with them to root for.
This is a film 14 years in the making. All these years, Cameron had been developing scripts, new technologies to shoot underwater scenes & experimenting with 3D, HFR etc., to go beyond what he has already accomplished. Such is his passion for filmmaking. He is one of the sci-fi pioneers (Ridley Scott, Steven Spielberg, Christopher Nolan, Denis Villeneuve) who has found a way of telling compelling stories with a monumental spectacle. He manifests his beliefs through the power of cinema by making you believe that aliens are killing machines (Aliens), humanity can defeat time-travelling cyborgs (The Terminator), an underwater journey can be thrilling as well as harrowing at the same time (The Abyss) & a film can transport you to a significant historical disaster (Titanic). And now he has returned to conquer the world. With his most ambitious film Avatar: The way of water, he wants you to celebrate nature around you by experiencing his dream-like world of Pandora that will fade everything else away. I believe in James Cameron! I believe in cinema! Do you?