MESSAGE IN THE MOVIES
It’s been 13 years since writer-director James Cameron introduced the world to the moon of Pandora in 2009’s science fiction epic Avatar. Shortly after its success, Cameron announced that he would be planning four sequels. The Way of Water is the first, with three more scheduled to be released every other year.
The first film told the story of Jake Sully (Worthington), a paraplegic Marine who enters into a program in which he is transformed as an avatar resembling the body of another species – the Na’vi – who live on the planet Pandora. Although Jake is originally expected to work with the Resources Development Association (RDA) to exploit the natural resources of the planet, he befriends and falls in love with Neytiri (Saldana) and leads the peaceful Na’vi into a battle of resistance against the RDA. Following their successful victory, Jake is taken to the sacred Tree of Souls where he receives a complete metamorphosis into a Na’vi, leaving his human body behind.
Avatar: The Way of Water takes place about fifteen years later. Jake and Neytiri are parents of a blended family of youth – two sons and a daughter, one adopted child (from a miraculous birth), and a human boy. It’s a peaceful world and a lovely place to live.
That is, until the RDA returns, this time to colonize Pandora. The leader of this invading force is Recombinate Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who was killed in the first film but whose avatar is back for revenge and seeking the life of Jake Sully.
Jake and his family flee to another part of Pandora to find refuge but it is only a matter of time before the RDA arrives for another battle.
Before the next showdown, much time is spent getting to know some new characters, a new clan, and a beautiful new water-adjacent world. It is the joy of discovery that makes this film so special. Cameron and his team of hundreds create incredible vistas and awesome creatures, with the best CGI and 3D effects available.
The concept of peaceful coexistence is a good one – Jesus was a big advocate – but warfare and conflict are inevitable when cultures collide. I believe that James Cameron is sincere about using the Avatar films as cautionary tales to advance conservation of our natural resources. I just wish his stewardship didn’t include repurposing the plot from the first movie.
Without question, the special effects and art direction of this film are sublime. Pandora does seem like a wonderful place to visit every few years. I’m just hoping that next time, the visitors come in peace.
Halo and Pitchfork Rating:
Three halos: There is a beautiful world of ecological harmony to enjoy.
Three pitchforks: There is a beautiful world of ecological harmony to exploit with strong language, torture and killing; this is a tough watch for young children.
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Rev. Bruce Batchelor-Glader
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