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Avatar: The Way of Water
What price entertainment?
Back we go to the exotic moon of Pandora in Avatar: The Way of Water, James Cameron’s long-delayed follow-up to his 2009 sci-fi epic Avatar. Times have changed as much for moviegoers as they have for Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), the formerly paraplegic U.S. marine who now fully inhabits the towering, blue-skinned body of an indigenous Na’vi tribesman. But unlike our politically polarized, pandemic-ravaged, streaming-centric corner of space, Pandora has become something of a paradise since the expulsion of the “sky people” (read: us greedy Earthlings) who wreaked all sorts of havoc in the first film.
Freed here of the need to establish the ins and outs of the alien society that he and a small country’s worth of technicians created from motion capture and CGI scratch, Cameron gets his goofball on in the first hour of Way of Water’s 192-minute runtime. He lovingly observes as Sully, his warrior wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their four half-human, half-Na’vi children live through a decade of peace and prosperity. They bound through lush foliage, forage for food and other necessities, and revel in nightly eclipses that turn the sky above Pandora into a luminous astonishment that would look great as a MacBook dynamic desktop background.
You’ll either go with the moment when the Sully clan takes a family photo (do the Na’vi have personal cameras?) or roll your eyes harder than you would at a George Lucas-helmed Star Wars prequel. Yet Cameron, one of the sincerest of super-spectacle megalomaniacs, has both the bucks and the bent to put over such unashamedly earnest looniness throughout Way of Water.
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