Film Review: Avatar 2: The Way of Water (2022)

When my partner and I finished the film and left the cinema we were approached by a marketing person from the cinema to do an on camera post film interview. What I said to the camera I’d say in my review: never bet against James Cameron, he always delivers, epic, epic, epic. People seem often ready to doubt Cameron and yet time and time again he creates many of the most memorable movie experiences of my life. Titanic one of my all time favourite films, I would argue is the best romance/epic/disaster film ever made. The King of the sequels Cameron has also gave us one of the greatest sci fi films ever Terminator 2; one of the scariest films ever in Aliens 2, even excellent action/comedy in True Lies. A true master of cinema and a pioneer of technology. In an age where cinema has become streaming ‘content’ and most studio blockbuster films are unoriginal factory franchises, that seem to blur together, it’s almost a miracle when you see truly original content that is this epic in scale. I felt many of the same emotions watching Avatar 2 as I did to watching last years Dune: awe in a world so perfectly realised on such a monumental scale. It’s true that nothing will quite capture the original feeling of first seeing Avatar in the cinema in 3D in 2009. However in Avatar 2 when we first go to the underwater world I would say surpasses the visual effects of the first. Pandora feels like the most vividly created sci fiction world ever put to screen. The highlights of the film are easily the underwater scenes showcasing Cameron’s well documented love of the ocean and it’s protection. Especially breathtaking are the calmer scenes in the film where the cinematography of Russell Carpenter, who also did Titanic, takes your breath away. A common criticism of Cameron is his use of storyline’s that are on the simpler side. I would argue tap into archetypes of the collective unconsciousness, universal themes writ large. Yes the story is simple and the environmental messages of the film are as obvious and powerful as the last, however in avatar 2 this is combined with anti-colonialism, protecting wildlife and the strength of family message which make for a more emotional impact. I was moved to tears 3 times in the film. I highly recommend you watch it in 3D which in this context makes you want to dive into the world. Apart from the simple narrative my only other main fault with the film is that the first act requires a lot of exposition which pays off much more effectively in the 2nd and 3rd acts. The finally battle scene feels like the culmination of all his previous films with events of Terminator and Titanic. The budget for the film is between 350-400 million, which if it is at that upper reach it would make it the most expensive film of all time. You’ve got to see this in the cinema. At a time when epic original studio film experiences at the cinema seem to be dying in the face of tv and streaming, Cameron’s film feels like salvation for a vanishing art. Whatever minor flaws of the film melt away in the face of a cinematic experience that I haven’t had in over a decade. We are so lucky to have James Cameron making films, the master of the epic. 9/10


Film Review: The Banshees of Inisherin (2022)

Martin McDonagh’s ‘The Banshees of Inisherin’ is one of the rarest of films today: one in which you find yourself thinking I’ve never seen a film quite like this before. Yes I’ve seen films that deal with the Irish soul, wit, and/ or history, others with laugh out loud dark humour, others still with dark nihilistic meditations on the human condition. But I have never seen a film that plays all those thematic notes together to create a emotional and visual symphony that left me stunned. In a single scene of brilliant dialogue and impeccable acting you could be belly laughing to only frames later find yourself staring into the darkest reaches of the psyche and feeling empty. This film felt like a dark gut punch that left me deeply shaken. Much like the play ‘Waiting for Godot’ the first act’s absurdist dark humour, slowly gives way to contemplations on boredom, loneliness, time, companionship, civil war and ultimately the nihilist void, in the second and third acts. The film boasts one of the best casts in years, with wall to wall wickedly clever and poignant performances. This film could be looking at easily 4 acting nominations, with potentially some wins, a feat that is extremely rare in film history. The sweepingly beautiful but oppressively sparse landscape of Inisherin becomes a metaphorical mirror to the touching but gapingly empty characters as they move towards a crescendo of despair. Reminding me of dark folk tales, the larger metaphors and meanings of the film are revealed slowly and keenly until they are tragically inescapable. Amongst all the anguish, melancholy and dry Irish wit are haunting questions that are left unanswered. The film is at once a truly original film, a hilarious comedy and one of the darkest films I’ve seen in years. I left the film feeling psychologically naked, our collective humanity read so astutely in a tale without redemption. One of the best films of the year. 10/10