The year of 2022 was excellent for cinema. It seems fitting that 2022 started with a long-awaited and excellently executed blockbuster in “Top Gun: Maverick,” and we get to end this year with much of the same. When a director of the caliber of James Cameron is willing to put as many resources into this — and the next however many films he wants to squeeze out of this world — it’s almost expected to succeed, though I don’t think it would be as big a smash as this new “Avatar” has been. If this is the direction of mainstream cinema, then I’m ready and willing to buckle up and enjoy the ride for the foreseeable future.
In the years following the events of the first film, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) have started a family during Jake’s term as chief of the Omaticaya clan. This family, made up of sons Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) have been playing their part in their insurgency against the imperialist Resources Development Administration (RDA). In that time, the RDA has been able to remake some familiar foes, most notably the late Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in Na’vi form. Because of this, on top of taking on and raising Quaritch’s son, Spider (Jake Champion), the Sullys have to take their family out of the familiar forests and take up sanctuary with the nautical Metakyina clans. Adapting to the ways of water (get it?) on top of a bloodthirsty colonel hunting you down might be enough to break even the toughest of families, so can the Sullys persevere?
I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the story, though very long, is not too terribly deep. Sure, I may be missing some things, but it’s hard to catch everything in a three-and-a-half-hour movie. On top of that, I don’t consider it an insult to call this movie shallow. I’d dare say, it’s quite the opposite. This is the fastest three-and-a-half hours I’ve ever had the pleasure of sitting through. Even though there’s a lot going on, I’m really happy to see that nearly everything has room to breathe, and I would dare say that most of the stuff here that is dropped quickly is almost guaranteed to be followed up in the next picture, which I am absolutely over the moon about! On top of that, the visuals on display here are world-class. Making a film with as much animation as this can run a little heavy in a lesser film. Fortunately, this is not a lesser film. In all honesty, I nearly forgot about the fact that this film is about 90% animated. I bought into this world every single time, and I probably will for the next eight or however many movies that Cameron wishes to make. He’s earned it!
If you like James Cameron, see this movie. If you don’t, you probably should anyway. I’d be selling it short in saying that this is a landmark picture in the state of today’s cinema, but I can’t find any other effective way to tell you that this film is incredibly important than just telling you to see this over and over. Did I mention that I think you should go and see it? Go and see it!