Initially, one might be surprised that a film as long as Avatar: The Way of Water (which clocks in at 3 hours and 12 minutes of runtime) was named the American Film Institute’s movie of the year. However, a deeper look into the director, James Cameron’s, filmography reveals this to not be as shocking of a feat. James Cameron is one of my favorite filmmakers. With his other directing credits being Titanic, The Terminator (1 and 2), and Aliens, it’s easy to see why he is so praised among a particular generation of film fans. This follow-up to his original Avatar film (which still holds the record as the highest grossing film of all time, beating Top Gun: Maverick and Black Panther) was very heavily anticipated. Due to the massive amount of time since the last installment of this gigantic franchise, many people doubted the great James Cameron. Still, the world quickly learned that was a fool’s errand. The Way of Water is now the third highest grossing film behind Titanic. James Cameron is the sole director behind the world’s three highest grossing films of all time.

The original “Avatar” is a movie I am (unsurprisingly) a huge fan of. It’s very relaxing to watch because of its fantastic visuals. The interesting, albeit cliche, story also makes great background noise – – you don’t have to think as much while watching the movie. The Way of Water is just as relaxing, if not more so. It puts the audience in a near zen state. 

The film follows Jake Sully and his family a decade after the first film. It shows them leaving Pandora and exploring the outside world. However, the villains from the last movie return to colonize Pandora after the continued destruction of Earth. Jake and his family must stop them from ruining the place he’s learned to call home. The plot is frequently paused for sequences of blue people swimming, which can make or break the movie for some. Personally, I loved those sequences. The animation is incredible, and nothing looks cheap or unrealistic. 

The last hour is one big action scene, one of the best I have seen in a long time. 2022 was a great year for action (re: Ambulance, RRR, Prey). Still, this film solidifies itself as a contender for best action movie of 2022. Its message about protecting the environment is admittedly generic. However, the film is successful at being different enough that the simplistic message isn’t a deal-breaker. It’s communicated in a way that is still powerful and effective. The visuals are the show’s real stars and they are fantastic. Make time for this one, and if you haven’t, rewatch the first. I promise it still holds up. They’re both worth watching, as the series is the biggest in the world. It’s made more money than any Marvel or DC entry, and it’s a series that will stick around for a long time to come, as three more sequels are on their way.The film should be released on Disney Plus this year, but it’s also available on Amazon for $19.99 to rent. Even if you missed it in theaters, Avatar: The Way of Water is worth watching in your home multiple times.

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