The 2nd week of 2023 I finally made it around to seeing the long gestating followup to the landscape altering first AVATAR film. Not so much because I had any real confidence in this film, or desire to sit through a 3+ hour film (though feedback has been nothing but great), no what swayed me to check this out theatrically, was the praise for the 3D, specifically courtesy of Dolby Cinema 3D, which there is less than 200 such theaters in the world, and one of them being conveniently near me and still showing AVATAR WAY OF THE WATER.
Long Story short, I saw the first film, back in 2009 at the same theater in Imax 3D, no Dolby Cinema 3D at that time, and that film deserved all its accolades and praise. The 3D was ground-breaking and the film enjoyable and compelling, it became a billion dollar movie, and launched the 3D craze/infrastructure, that had been dead for decades.
The film didn’t just put butts in seats, it changed the way cinema worked, it changed the technology of theatrical cinema and home cinema. I own 200 Blu-ray movies, due to the economies that rose up directly because of the success of that one, original James Cameron AVATAR film.
Fast forward thirteen years, and the sequel no one thought was coming, no one thought was needed, no one wanted, no one thought would be successful, myself included; no one except James Cameron believed in, and the effing thing is not only real, it is by all reports great, and another billion dollar success.
So Fast forward 13 years and I am sitting in an absolutely amazing theater, this Dolby Cinema 3D that was built largely to be here for AVATAR THE WAY OF WATER, and despite the good word of mouth, I have my doubts about a 3+ hour movie, and revisiting the world of AVATAR. So largely I pay this exorbitant ticket price just to check out this new Dolby Cinema 3D process. I told who I was with, if the film is not good or too long, we’ll just leave, and I mean it. The 3 hour time frame does not fill me with confidence, but then the movie starts… and I am swept away.
James Cameron, did it. Not only did he equal the success of his first film, this sequel AVATAR THE WAY OF WATER in every way is superior to the first film, and you do not have to see the first film to enjoy this one. The film brings you into the world smoothly. I am ENTRANCED from frame one.
I have seen David Lean’s LAWRENCE OF ARABIA projected in 70mm, perhaps the measure by which all theatrical experiences must be judged against; AVATAR WAY OF WATER in Dolby Cinema 3D, with the HFR sequences (I love that look, the fluidity of the motion) is simply the most visually astonishing film I have seen. It moves the needle past anything I have seen before, and is simply gorgeous and immersive… in effortless, no-eyestrain, not darkened, 3D.
The film is as far above previous 3D efforts today, as the first AVATAR was 13 years ago. The look of it is absolutely jaw-dropping, but what really surprised me is the story and performances and heart of the film, is as superlative as the visuals. This is masterful storytelling and is a great, impactful film without the sumptuous 3D, but married to the 3D… it becomes an emotionally moving and heartfelt film, and a triumph for James Cameron on every level, but particularly as filmmaker. It is a great film, directed and performed and shot and scored… greatly. If still showing at a Dolby Cinema 3D theater, and you have not seen it, see it. It is a viewing experience years in the making, and every year of effort pays off in the finished film.
A 21st century American Blockbuster and Masterpiece. Highest Recommendation in Dolby Cinema 3D.