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Avatar: The Way of Water


Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Sigourney Seaver, Kate Winslet, Jemaine Clement, CCH Pounder, Britain Dalton, Edie Falco

Director: James Cameron

This big (in more ways than one) disappointment is more or less a rehash of the brilliant first movie, with the frequent insertion of underwater action sequences. Undersea thrillers were never my favourite genre - Thunderball is the weakest of the James Bonds partly for that reason - and the problems are compounded here by script and pacing that are, well, waterlogged.

Th action has moved on a number of years from the original, and our heroes Jake and Neytiri (Worthington, Saldana) are living in blue-skinned, pointy-eared bliss on the extra-solar planet of Pandora, joined now by three children who delight in riding waterborne dragonets.

An old enemy rears its head in the form of Quaritch (Lang), an aggressive psychotic racist who is now as blue as the rest of the 10-feet tall Na'vi and has risen, Lazarus-like, from the grave after being slaughtered with a plethora of arrows in the first film (D'oh!). Whereas the bad guys were previously after the mineral Unobtainium, which might solve Earth's energy crisis, they're now eager to get their hands on the rare chemical fluid Amrita, 'the single most valuable substance known to man'. Sound familiar? Of course it does. Like so many of the tropes in this underwhelming film.

So the Na'vis must flee to another tribe for shelter from invading forces, and overcome the 'reef folk's initial hostility before Quaritch and his army, riding new and improved exo-skeletons, can swarm across and duke it out (sounds just like an adult version of the recent cartoon feature Mia and Me: The Hero of Centopia in essence).

Acting is pretty ordinary and in any case subservient to the special effects, courtesy 'high frame rate' technology. The watery world may be fascinating in its conception, but interest in this unnecessary retread palls well before the end. The projected Avatar, 3, 4 and 5 sequels currently in the (water)works will certainly have to improve on this one.

David Quinlan

USA 2022. UK Distributor: Disney (Twentieth Century Studios). Colour (unspecified).
192 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 1, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 19 Dec 2022