“Avatar” fans have been anxiously awaiting an invite to return to the world of Pandora. While rewatching the film and visiting Pandora – The World of Avatar can satisfy them for only so long. Luckily, we are getting that in “Avatar: The Way of Water.” And those lucky enough to attend the D23 Expo this weekend got a glimpse into that world, the tribal dynamics, and more militarized colonization action. And maybe a few deep water scenes and laboratory experiments.
It’s been nearly 13 years since the original Avatar was released, and it is the rare time we’ve seen James Cameron revisit a world. Of course, he’s had a few follow-up sequels like Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Aliens. And a handful of original spectacles like Titanic. But none were as immersive as Avatar. So we will return to that world within a few weeks.
Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana then took to the stage to talk about how the film revolved around the themes of family and how excited they were to bring audiences back into that world and explore its oceans.
In the first scene, we see a group of Na’vi children swimming in the oceans of Pandora and interacting with the aquatic life – some of which look like stingrays, puffer fish, and coral. The scene itself was mystifying, with the CG water looking like the most realistic water, and the impressive 3D gave the scene added depth. It was almost to a point where you were swimming with these kids. However, its smoothing was distracting.
The second scene contained some archive footage of Sigorney Weaver’s Grace, who appears to be talking about the physiology of the Na’vi. As the same Na’vi kids we saw in the first scene are playing around in the laboratory, one jumps on top of the tank and says, “hi ma.” We assume that there is some sort of parental biological connection as another one of the Na’vi kids asks a human child, “who do you think knocked her up?” While some speculated that it was Norm Spellman (Joel David Moore), the human child said sometimes it’s not great to not know who your father is. That question leads us to believe that he has a connection to Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang).
The third scene revealed Quaritch, who appears to have transferred his consciousness into a Na’vi body. He seems to be leading a group of soldiers holding the Na’vi kids and the one human child hostage. But Neytiri and a group of Na’vi warriors arrive to save the children. While Neytiri shoots arrows from above, another kills one of the soldiers with an axe. As the children make their escape, Quartich approaches Neytiri and taunts her knowing full well who she is and her connection to Sully by calling her, Mrs. Sully.
The fourth scene contained an argument between Sully and Neytiri about leaving their home now that Quartich has returned. We then hear Sully say the “Wherever we go, this family is our fortress” line in the first trailer. But Neytiri clearly disagrees with the idea of leaving as she points out how she would use her late father’s bow to protect her people.
The fifth and final scene introduces a brand new Na’vi tribe, one that has green skin. The tribal leader is unsure of whether or not to accept Jake and his family into their homes as they present a danger to her people.
Though the quality of “Avatar: The Way of Water’s” visual effects was beyond impressive, as noted by the crowd’s reaction to what they were watching. However, when it came to the reception of the story, it was less than that of what we saw from the LucasFilm and Marvel Studio panels. But it’s hard to gauge everything without any context. In those scenes, we don’t know how these characters got to where they were, but I suspect things will make more sense once all the information is revealed.
And honestly, Cameron has proven that he knows how to wow audiences with spectacular visual effects and exciting set pieces.
“Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters on December 16, 2022.