Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet, Joel David Moore
Distributor: 20th Century Studios
Runtime: 192 mins. Reviewed in Dec 2022
Reviewer: Fr Peter Malone msc
This is the first sequel film to Avatar (2009). It takes viewers back to the Sully family to depict the trouble that follows them, and what they do to keep each other safe.
This film is the most eagerly awaited science fiction movie of 2022, eclipsing the expectations that surrounded The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power series which began streaming in September. Seven cast members from the 2009 film, including Worthington and Saldana, return to reprise their original roles. Weaver comes back in a different role as Kiri, the adoptive daughter of Jake Sully (Worthington) and Neytiri (Saldana).
Winslet enters as Ronal, the wife of Tonowari (Curtis), leader of the reef people. The original Avatar was an award-winning science-fiction epic about the battle for natural resources between humans on Earth and the native Na’vi people who live on a distant moon called Pandora in the year 2154. It was the highest-grossing movie of all time and won three Academy awards. This film is the first of a number of planned sequels.
The villain of the film is Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who led the forces whose task it was to colonise Pandora. He seeks revenge against Jake Sully for deserting his military command, and failing to pass back information to help relocate the Na’vi away from their mineral-rich land. He resents Jake forming an emotional bond with the Na’vi, and loves ‘the smell of napalm’. He is the antagonist in all the planned sequels.
The movie is partitioned into three sections. Sully and his family are first under attack by Quatrich in the forests of Pandora, before action is transferred to the ocean where the forest Na’vi are taught the way of water by their kindred ocean brethren; the photography where the Na’vi ‘learn’ the way of the water is quite extraordinary. The third section is an action spectacle where Quaritch attacks both the Forest and Ocean Na’vi on water. The final section emphasises family togetherness and parenthood as strong themes, but there is some animal cruelty en route which may disturb some viewers.
The technology behind this film is innovative. It conducts never-before attempted ‘Performance Capture’ photography under water. The technology speeds up the number of camera frames per second, and provides a heightened sense of reality. Director James Cameron creates a vivid water universe.
The plots of the two Avatar films have been designed to flow in an integrated way from each other. Planet Earth is attempting to solve energy-security issues which gives this movie a contemporary relevance. Back in time, Worthington inhabited one of the Avatars, but fell in love with Neytiri, one of the Na’vi. This 2022 film inventively explores the future of the Na’vi, as Indigenous peoples, and depicts their battles to stay alive a decade after the events of the first film. The dream-like imagery of the 2009 film is captured in the sequel, and it is visibly enhanced by the movie’s use of Performance Capture photography. This film focuses much more on character and relationship dynamics than did the 2009 film, but maintains the visual spectacle that distinguished the earlier movie.
The 2022 film will be released as a 3D experience, which is recommended for those who admired the original 2009 film.
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