- Totally worth the hype or just meh?
By Dimithri Wijesinghe
‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is a science fiction film directed and co-written by James Cameron and is the sequel to ‘Avatar’ (2009), which arguably was a technological marvel at the time of its release with the use of cutting-edge 3D technology.
The new tech for the sequel appears to be in line with James Cameron’s attempt at singlehandedly reviving the 3D cinema format, with some stories emerging of the film’s tech crashing some movie projectors in Japan; one theatre had to lower the 48 frames per second (fps) frame rate down to 24 fps. However, despite the superior tech, the film failed to claim the top ranking spot in Japan, topped by an anime basketball film titled ‘The First Slam Dunk’.
Returning over a decade after its first instalment and considering its promise of delivering absolute visual mastery, there was, of course, a great deal of hype around the release of this film.
While the sequel was announced by the director as early as 2010 following the widespread success of the first film, the necessity of developing new technology was widely discussed, particularly in order to film performance capture scenes underwater, which at the time was a feat never before accomplished.
The sequel is one of the most expensive films ever made and the director has said that it needs to be one of the highest-grossing films of all time to break even. While we wonder how good of a business model this really is for the producers of ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ to bet on Cameron’s vision, we suppose that they must be feeling a bit better considering that the film is already the third highest-grossing film released in 2022 globally, putting it behind only ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ and ‘Jurassic World Dominion’ and is expected to surpass $ 1 billion.
Was it worth the hype?
‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is, after all, a movie, and an individual’s enjoyment of a piece of art is subjective. However with a film such as this one, with all of its expectations and the attached hype, it is interesting to actually look into whether the film was worth it.
Brunch reached out to some film enthusiasts and regular filmgoers for their thoughts on the film. While some did dwell upon the wonderful technological marvel that is this film, the majority were able to separate the CGI fest from a good movie.
Hansika Edirimanna and Chamil Dilshan, two audience members whom we chatted with just as they were exiting the film screening, said: “I was a fan of the first one; for the time, it was a great technological achievement. However, now that some of that novelty has worn off, I was expecting more when watching this one. The story was really lacking; it was very average and not a great film writing-wise. Obviously the visuals were stunning, but wasn’t that expected? There was just nothing more.”
Prabath Swarna, back in Sri Lanka for the holidays, also shared his thoughts on the film, having been a fan of ‘Avatar’: “There was a lot of hype but I didn’t have big expectations because I didn’t think it could match the first one. I was amazed by the CGI and how brave they were to set the scene around water, which if I remember correctly is very hard to animate. However, plotwise it really wasn’t memorable, with very boring and predictable storytelling. I watched this at PVR and they had an intermission in the middle, but I don’t think that’s needed because you can walk out for a break and come back and you won’t miss any of the plot points.”
There were a few who swore that the story did not matter to them and that the technology and CGI were good enough and totally worth it, which we will not discredit as it is an opinion. However, even the diehards were unable to stand behind that bore of a first half, which was likely there for the viewers to immerse themselves in the world that Cameron had no doubt very meticulously crafted. But there’s really just so much vivid, pointless blue we can take.
Is it worth the watch?
Having watched the film ourselves and considering what others have had to say, if you are really just there for the spectacle of it then perhaps you might find some enjoyment in this film, maybe purely for the sake of having taken part in a moment of pop culture, although there’s going to be two more of these so maybe not that special of a moment. However, if you are actually looking for a dynamic and engaging cinema experience, then maybe you could just watch something else.