AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER – Review by Susan Granger

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It’s been 13 years since James Cameron’s Avatar was released. And it’s well worth the wait to see his $350 million Avatar: The Way of Water, demonstrating how he uses cinematic technology to create a new, fantastical Na’vi realm on a distant moon called Pandora.

After his human form was killed, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) is resurrected as a 10’ tall Na’vi avatar. On assignment from the Resources Development Administration (RDA), he’s determined to colonize Pandora as a replacement for the dying Earth with the help of his recombinant Marine buddies.

What Quaritch doesn’t realize is that he left behind a human son, Spider (Jack Champion), who has become part of soldier-turned-liberator Jake Suilly (Na’vi-ized Sam Worthington) and Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldana) family, along with teenage Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), daughter of late RDA scientist, Dr. Grace Augustine (also Weaver); Kiri has a mystical connection with the Na’vi deity Eywa.

Together with these two adoptees, Sully & Neytiri have three biological Omaticaya children: eldest son Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), younger Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss).

Fleeing from villainous Quaritch and his treacherous ‘sky people,’ they take refuge on Awa’Atulu with Chief Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and his pregnant wife Ronai (Kate Winslet). The reef-dwelling Metkayina are an aquatic clan who introduce them to an underwater world with bioluminescent vegetation. That’s where Lo’ak befriends an outcast Tulkun (a gigantic, super-intelligent whale-like creature).

(The forest Na’vi has pale blue skin, luminescent freckles and thin tails, harmonious with their natural world, while the Metkayina’s skin is more turquoise with thicker, finny tails to enable swimming.)

Working with James Cameron, screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver have developed an emotional arc for each motion-captured character. The result is compelling, fully digital sci-fi, highlighted by cinematographer Russell Carpenter’s dazzling visual effects, particularly the breathtaking deep-sea sequences.

FYI: The original Avatar (2009) is streaming on Disney+. Note this sequel has no post-credit scene, teasing future Avatar adventures, scheduled for 2024, 2026 and 2028.

On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Avatar: The Way of Water swims in with a wondrous, visually stunning 10 – meant to be seen on the big screen

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.