Avatar: The Way of Water | Nothing Is Lost

It’s no fun to spoil all the Cameron mixtape nods here. But allow me to at least indicate that you will get a new mini-Titanic in the movie’s astonishing third act once the Pandora folk—brought to life by actual performances through Motion Capture technology—and Sky People eventually face off amid the moon’s reefs and beyond. There will be claustrophobic underwater perils (for which the cast apparently practiced free diving), over-flooded tunnels, and colossal metal structures splitting and sinking with a thud, all captured with epic elegance by director of photography Russell Carpenter (also of Titanic) and edited with uncompromising coherence by Cameron, Stephen Rivkin, David Brenner, and John Refoua.


The whole package here is so ambitious, yet intimate and gently tempered in its quieter moments, that it feels heartening to be reminded of what a big-budget Hollywood movie can be when it refuses to get crushed under pointless piles of rubble and noise. Confessionally, this critic wishes that Cameron had room in his schedule to put out more than one film in over a decade and original movies in addition to the ones that belong to this big beautiful franchise. Still, it’s wonderful to have him back with a picture that feels like a theatrical event to be celebrated, nowadays a retro idea occasionally reminded by the likes of Nope and Top Gun: Maverick. These are Cameron’s own waters, and it’s significant to see him effortlessly swim in them again.